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Jun 20, 2009

Saturday June 20, 2009 Michael Wiesenberg

Theme: None

Total blocks: 30

Total words: 70

For those who are not aware, our editor Rich Norris has eased up the puzzles to accommodate those who have difficulty adjusting to the late week LAT. In case you think you suddenly became cleverer and outsmarted him in the past several days.

Can you imagine this puzzle without the 4 "helper squares" on each corner? Probably a few obscure words.

Nice stacked-up long fills in Across:

1A: Much sought-after title object, in a 1930 mystery: MALTESE FALCON

14A: 1999 Winona Ryder movie: GIRL, INTERRUPTED

16A: Italian, e.g.: ROMANCE LANGUAGE

34A: Nose nipper in a Christmas song: JACK FROST

55A: Masthead listing: ASSOCIATE EDITOR

60A: Source of much hard wood?: PETRIFIED FOREST

61A: They have their ups and downs: TEETER TOTTERS

My first reaction for the Winona Ryder movie is "Autumn in New York", which also has 15 letters. I had trouble with 60A since I've never heard of petrified wood. I did get the FOREST part easily.

Favorite clue today is SOTS (50A: They're usually lit). So many slang for drunk: lit, stoned, bombed, loaded, etc.

Across:

17A: Desktop array: ICONS

18A: Word seen between surnames: NEE

19A: Partners may form one: Abbr.: LLC (Limited Liability Company). I penned in LTD first. How are those two different?

20A: Barcelona "but": PERO. No idea. It's MAIS in French.

21A: Scholarship-granting mil. program: ROTC

24A: "Got it": ROGER

26A: From Pitts. to Boston: ENE. This clue feels odd. "From ... to..." does not equal ENE grammatically. "Pitts to Boston direction" does.

27A: Catalog section: FOR HER. Had trouble obtaining this answer.

29A: Toons Pixie and Dixie, e.g.: MICE. Easy guess. I am not familiar with the "Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks" cartoon.

30A: Rare sign?: RED. Meat. Nice clue. Demi Moore eats only raw food.

31A: To be, to Brutus: ESSE

32A: Morphine, for one: OPIATE

36A: Altogether: IN TOTO. Learned this Latin phrase from doing Xword.

39A: P &G Pet Care brand: IAMS. Named after the founder Paul IAMS. I got the answer from Down fills. Alpo is all I know.

40A: Flesh-blood link: AND. Flesh AND blood. This refers to one's family, correct?

43A: Biceps toner: CURL. So you are a curler if you CURL?

44A: What you've got to do "if you want my love," in a Temptations song: EARN IT. I had ??RN IT sitting there forever. Thought of BURN IT.

47A: Prufrock's creator: ELIOT. Wiki says Prufrock comes from the German word "Prüfstein", meaning "touchstone". The book cover is so simple.

49A: French friend: AMIE. Female friend.

51A: Largest airport in OH: CLE. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Unknown to me.

52A: Fuzzy TV E.T.: ALF

54A: Kind of butter: APPLE. I've yet to try APPLE butter. Looks just like jam.

Down:

1D: Epoch in which grazing mammals became widespread: MIOCENE. Mio is from Greek meíōn, meaning "less". Cene is a suffix for "recent".

2D: Well-protected, in a way: ARMORED

3D: Southwestern plain: LLANO

5D: Letter-bottom abbr.: ENC

6D: __-Thérèse, Quebec: STE

7D: Kabayaki fish: EEL. Yummy, yummy, kabayaki simply means "grilled EEL".

8D: Nice location?: FRANCE. The French city Nice.

9D: "Rule, Britannia" composer: ARNE

10D: German semiautomatic: LUGER. Named after its inventor Georg LUGER.

11D: Intel product, briefly: CPU

12D: Earache: OTALGIA. OT(o) is prefix for "ear", and algia is a suffix for "pain". New word to me. Quite close to "nostalgia".

13D: Allow to worsen: NEGLECT

14D: Malcontent: GRIPER. A malcontent person. I was thinking of the adjective.

15D: Fiat: DECREE. A 5-letter answer would be EDICT.

21D: Tanner of '70s-'80s tennis: ROSCOE. No idea. He is left-handed. Dictionary says ROSCOE is from Germanic words meaning “swift” and “horse.”

22D: City on the Ural: ORSK. This has become a gimme.

23D: 1991 Grisham novel: THE FIRM. I've yet to see the movie.

28D: Rent splitter: ROOMIE. Rent is also the past tense of the splitting word "rend".

34D: Island in the Sulu Archipelago: JOLO. See this map. I wanted JAVA.

36D: Polar feature: ICECAP

37D: Group with no members, in math: NULL SET. No idea. This diagram looks very interestingly complicated. Where is love?

38D: Port of NE Italy: TRIESTE. Here is a map. It's on the Adriatic Sea. Only one letter (E) more than the sorrowful word "triste".

41D: Red figure: NET LOSS

42D: Joshua tree habitat: DESERT. The answer revealed itself. Joshua tree sounds biblical.

45D: Erle Stanley Gardner pseudonym: A. A. FAIR. Unknown to me.

48D: Understood: TACIT. Adjective, both mean "implied". I was in the past tense verb direction.

50D: Cathedral topper: SPIRE

53D: Magazine that first published "The Old Man and the Sea": LIFE. This one is in pretty decent condition. Hope it's not musty.

54D: "A line is __ that went for a walk": Klee: A DOT. Easy guess.

56D: Mt. Hood's state: ORE. Ha ha, I could not recall where Mt. Hood is.

57D: Vietnamese festival: TET. Yeah, limit TET to Vietnam. I dislike when it's clued as "Asian holiday". Ours is called Spring Festival. And it has different name in Korea & Japan.

58D: Pre-1868 Tokyo: EDO. 江戸, literally "bay door".

59D: New newt: EFT

Answer grid.

C.C.

Jun 19, 2009

Friday June 19, 2009 Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke

Theme: Diamonds Are Forever

17A: Start of a quote: I NEVER HATED A MAN

41A: Quote, part 2: ENOUGH TO GIVE HIM

64A: End of a quote: HIS DIAMONDS BACK

And ZSA ZSA (72A: Speaker of the quote, familiarly). Nice addition to the quote.

Zsa Zsa Gabor also said: I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house. I wonder how many diamonds/houses she has obtained through this strategy.

This is our first Quote/Quip themed puzzle since the LAT switch, correct? I polished it off rather quickly, with a few errors. The quote itself was very familiar, so I was able to fill in plenty of blanks without the normal Titanic Friday struggle.

My favorite clue today is OBI (61A: Band from the East?). I was picturing a music band not the kimono band. I also like the clue for DELETE (69A: Takeout order?). Thought it might have something to do with the takeout food order or gang's order to kill someone.

Across:

1A: Tolkien's Legolas: ELF. Legolas is portrayed by Orlando Bloom in the movie.

10A: Striker's bane: SCAB. Reminds me of the SNAFU (54A: Messy scenarios) during 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident. Many of the SCABS were actually conscientious workers.

16A: __ stick: POGO. I rather like "We have met the enemy and he is us" speaker clue for POGO.

20A: Shivering fit: AGUE. See, English is weird, words ending in AGUE (plague, vague, league, etc), have completely different pronunciations.

21A: State until 1991: Abbr.: SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic). Every time I see this clue, I see the birthmark on Gorbachev's bald head. Do you have birthmark also? Gorbachev's Nobel Peace is probably well-deserved.

22A: Part of a woodlands stash: ACORN. I still can't believe people once drank ACORN coffee.

23A: 1519 Yucatán arrival: CORTEZ. According to Wiki, Hernando CORTEZ's arrival caused the fall of the Aztec empire and started the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas. I obtained the answer from Down fills.

26A: Remote function: PAUSE

28A: "Rubáiyát" poet: OMAR. Wow, I just found out the OMAR means "first born son" in Arabic. No wonder so many people are called OMAR.

30A: "Star Trek" weapon: PHASER. Like this. Saw this clue before.

34A: Apple pie go-with?: MOM. Why? I wanted baseball, hot dogs or Chevrolet. None fits.

37A: Alcohol-based solvent: ACETAL. ACET(o) +AL(cohol). Perfume ingredient.

40A: Palestinian city: GAZA. GAZA Strip. Controlled by Hamas.

45A: Arrival: ADVENT

47A: Plane site: HANGAR. I don't think they will find the blackbox of that Air France Airbus. Quite a few conspiracy stories have been swirling around.

51A: Rolls partner: ROYCE. Rolls -ROYCE.

58A: Go furtively: SNEAK

63A: Radius neighbor: ULNA

68A: Mont Blanc, par exemple: ALPE. Mont Blanc is the highest peak of the Alps.

71A: Make (one's way): WEND. New word to me.

73A: Scout units: Abbr.: TPS (Troops). Which one is the eagle scout pin? Awesome collection.

Down:

1D: Pioneering computer: ENIAC. Developed in 1946.

2D: Shop talk: LINGO. Sometimes the answer is ARGOT.

3D: Lilas or tulipe: FLEUR. French for flower. The real flower. Not Rich Norris' fake Seine flow-er.

4D: Miler Sebastian: COE. He headed the London bid for the 2012 Olympics.

5D: Boston Garden legend: ORR (Bobby). Easy guess. I've never heard of Boston Garden.

8D: Violet lead-in: ULTRA. Misread the clue as "Violent lead-in".

9D: Manhattan liquor: RYE. I like Long Island Iced Tea.

10D: Period that started with Sputnik: SPACE AGE. In 1957.

11D: How, in Jerez: COMO. The answer would be "COMMENT" in Paris.

12D: Bio lab gel: AGAR. Food thickener as well. Made from seaweed.

13D: Former European capital: BONN. Capital of West Germany (1949-1990).

18D: Put the kibosh on: VETO. Latin for “I forbid”. The Sicilian ETNA volcano is literally "I burn".

19D: Recipe bit: DASH

24D: Salon or Slate, briefly: E-MAG. Eliot Spitzer is now a columnist for Slate.com. Too bad, he only writes financial stuff.

25D: Millard's predecessor: ZACHARY (Taylor). I can never remember the exact order.

27D: Earth-to-satellite connections: UPLINKS. Data path from earth to satellite. Opposite DOWNLINKS, data path from satellite to earth. Both new words to me.

29D: Like many Ariz. residents: RETD (Retired). More in Florida, right?

31D: Satirical Mort: SAHL. He is still alive.

32D: He played Emile in "South Pacific": EZIO (Pinza). Oh, the Broadway "South Pacific". I kept picturing the Emile in the film "South Pacific". EZIO Pinza won Tony for the role.

35D: __ Day: dietary supplement brand: ONE A. Wish those multivitamin pills are smaller.

36D: Maker of ShowHouse faucets: MOEN

38D: "Mazel __!": TOV. Hebrew for "Congratulations". I should say this to our Elissa for her HOURGLASS FIGURE. Hell will freeze over before I get a 24" waist.

39D: "The African Queen" co-screenwriter: AGEE. Katherine Hepburn has some fun description of the shooting of "The African Queen" in her biography. Amazing amount of alcohol were drunk everyday. The excuse was that the water there was unsafe.

42D: Went for more memory, say: UPGRADED. Computer memory.

43D: Dodge Viper engine: V-TEN. Easy guess. I did not really know the engine for Dodge Viper.

48D: 2004 World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Isao: AOKI. Just look at those highlighted green letters, you should be able to remember his name. One starts with I, one ends with I; One ends with AO, one starts with AO.

50D: Slap on: DAUB

53D: Virus named for an African river: EBOLA. Nice trivia. The river is in Congo.

55D: Bluegrass great Lester: FLATT. What's the technical name for their hats?

56D: Open, in a way: UNCAP

58D: "Arms and the Man" playwright: SHAW. I guessed. Have never heard of this play. I only know SHAW's "Pygmalion".

59D: Shade of green: NILE. Is it somehow related to the river? You would think NILE is "Shade of blue". Thought of LIME.

60D: What many jocks watch: ESPN. I like this clue.

62D: Don Juan's mother: INEZ. Spanish for Agnes, "pure"/"chaste".

65D: Cooper's tool: ADZ. Ha ha, I thought of the handsome Anderson Cooper (CNN) immediately.

66D: Consequence of getting bombed too often?: DTS (Delirum Tremens). "Bombed" is slang for drunk.

67D: Wet expanse: SEA. MER in French and MAR in Spanish.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Jun 18, 2009

Thursday June 18, 2009 Dan Naddor

Theme: Extra! Extra! (two letter X'es in each theme answer)

17A: One some roads, it might be several miles after the last one: NEXT EXIT

20A: Like interest on some bonds: TAX EXEMPT

36A: She may oversee an estate: EXECUTRIX

57A: Halo 2 and Project Gotham Racing, notably: XBOX GAMES

63A: Route on which to "get your kicks," in a pop standard: SIXTY-SIX

8D: Fajitas, for one: TEX-MEX DISH

29D: Product of a major 1999 merger: EXXONMOBIL

Holy cow! Total 14 letter X'es in the grid. NY Times' record is 13.

Typical Dan Naddor puzzle. Heavy themage. Perfectly placed EXECUTRIX. I like how it intersects the other two Down theme entries. New word to me though. But -TRIX is common feminine suffix, so the answer came to me rather quickly.

So sweet to see XI'AN (39D: Central Chinese provincial capital) in the grid, though the clue is inaccurate, to a nitpicking native Xi'Anese like me. XI'AN is the capital of Shaanxi Province, which is actually classified as Northwestern China. And XI'AN is often regarded as the most important city in Northwestern China. XI'AN (西安), literally "Western Peace".

But I totally understand Dan Daddor's "Central Chinese provincial capital". XI'AN, one of the oldest cities in China, is most famous for its terra-cotta soldiers. Chairmao and the Communist Party picked Beijing over XI'AN in 1949 to be the capital of China. And of course, I grew up there and I just mentioned it yesterday.

Across:

1A: Words spoken with glass raised: A TOAST

7A: Bellicose declaration: IT'S A WAR. And PAX (35A: Peaceful period). Roman goddess of peace.

13A: Disciplines: CHASTENS

16A: Snookums: DEARIE. Snookum does not sound sweet to me at all.

18A: Run out, as a subscription: EXPIRE

19A: Pitching start: ERA. Poor Johan Santana, he is losing steam now.

22A: HMO workers: DOCS

25A: They're just looking: EYERS. How many millihelens? Whom do you like better, Alessandra Ambrosio or Andriana Lima?

30A: Tic-tac-toe loser: OOX

32A: Colorful card game: UNO

33A: Building toy with apostrophe in its name: K'NEX. I only know LEGO.

34A: Campus hangout: QUAD. What exactly is a QUAD? We hung out at DORM.

40A: Delivery person?: MOM. Nice clue.

43A: Gumbo pod: OKRA. So sticky!

44A: Jedi adversary: SITH. No idea. Not a "Star Wars" fan. Wanted EWOK.

48A: PBS benefactor: NEA

49A: Sounds of hearty laugh: HA HA HA

51A: Rattler's threat: VENOM

53A: __ to a one's neck: IN UP. I am familiar with "up to one's neck", not with "in".

55A: Some House votes: NAYS. Some "State Duma votes" would be NYETS.

60A: Otto minus cinque: TRE. Italian for three. Otto (8) minus cinque (5). French five is cinq.

61A: "__ & Mrs. Miller": 1971 Beatty/Christie film: MCCABE. New film to me. Juliet Christie is a beautiful woman.

65A: Begin successor: SHAMIR. I got the answer from Down clues. SHAMIR is of Likud party, so is the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

66A: South Australia's capital: ADELAIDE. See this map. The city is named after Queen Adelaide, a Germanic name meaning “nobility.”

67A: Bottom lines: TOTALS

68A: In folders, say: SORTED

Down:

1D: Broken out in blemishes: ACNED. I only know the noun ACNE.

2D: Alcatraz, familiarly: THE ROCK. Movie title as well.

3D: Southern Mexican: OAXACAN

4D: 49th-state police gp.: AST. I suppose it's Alaska State Troopers?

6D: Gas company with a star logo: TEXACO

7D: Bordeaux brainstorm: IDEE. French for "idea".

10D: News article: WRITE-UP

11D: Go public with: AIR. Hmmm, Senator John Ensign was forced to AIR his extramarital affair yesterday. The forbidden fruit is always tempting. Sweeter too, yes?

12D: R & B artist Des'__: REE. Nope. Have never heard of this singer. Her original name is Desiree Weeks.

14D: His Western White House was dubbed La Casa Pacifica: NIXON

21D: Deletes: X'S OUT

23D: Portly pirate: SMEE. "Peter Pan" pirate.

27D: Chicago team, briefly: SOX. CUB as well.

31D: It fits in a lock: OAR. Oarlock. Of course I thought of KEY.

34D: In the capacity of: QUA. Sometimes it's clued as Sine QUA non.

38D: Guy with a helpful online list: CRAIG. Nice clue. I bought a few bobbleheads from CRAIG's List.

40D: Dallas NBAer: MAV. Mark Cuban is a colorful character.

41D: __ Miss: OLE. University of Mississippi.

42D: Often tailless feline: MANX CAT

45D: "We're done here": THAT'S IT

46D: Halloween jaunt: HAYRIDE. No idea. I've never seen anyone takes HAYRIDE during Halloween.

49D: Sticky: HUMID. Like the weather in Guangzhou, so HUMID. Takes days to dry my clothes in the raining season. Most Chinese do not have dryer at home.

50D: High points: APEXES. The plural of apex can also be apices. So close to apiece.

54D: Apollo's creator: NASA. Very timely fill. NASA is going to launch an unmanned rocket to the moon today. I wonder if anyone thought of Zeus, who is the father of Apollo.

56D: H.S. health course: SEX ED

58D: Much of the MTV Generation: X'ERS. I am one.

59D: 1944 battle site: ST LO. Close to Caen.

61D: Cheyenne hrs.: MST. I wonder if we have any fellow LAT solvers in Cheyenne.

62D: Comic Margaret: CHO. Korean-American. Chinese for CHO is Zhao or Cao.

64D: "Babi __": Shostakovich symphony: YAR. No idea. I suppose it's related to the Babi Yar massacre.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Jun 17, 2009

Wednesday June 17, 2009 Mike Peluso

Theme: They Are Angels

20A: Angel: HEAVENLY SPIRIT

36A: Angel: AMERICAN LEAGUER

53A: Angel: BROADWAY BACKER

Angel is rooted in Greek angelos, meaning "messenger". Demon is from Greek daimon, "divine power". Strange. Nothing diabolical. You would think it shares the same root as devil.

Anaheim Angels (I am used to their old name) won the World Series in 2002 when I was back in Xi'An. Fun to watch the playoffs in Chinese.

Dictionary also says angel can be a verb -"to provide financial backing for".

"Charlie's Angels" are missing. Who is your favorite? Lucy Liu is kind of mean in the film. Have never seen the old Farrah Fawcett/ Jaclyn Smith "Charlie's Angels". Oh, by the way, look at this terrific HOURGLASS FIGURE link J.D brought to the Comment section yesterday. Scarlett Johansson's measurements are shown to be 36-23-34. Incredible.

I had a bit trouble with lower left corner, otherwise, smooth solving. Favorite clue today is ABACI and 38D: Government finger-pointer?: UNCLE SAM. Can't believe the term was used in 1812 already.

Across:

1A: Rock concert equipment: AMPS

14A: Sonny and Cher, e.g.: DUET. "I Got You Babe". Their only daughter Chastity Bono has just decided to become a man.

15A: "The Many Loves of __ Gillis": old sitcom: DOBIE. Got the answer from Down fills.

17A: This, in Seville: ESTO. Or ESTA, the feminine "this".

19A: Swan lover of myth: LEDA. Mother of Helen of Troy.

23A: SFO datum: ARR (Arrival). SFO is San Francisco International Airport.

25A: Asian counters: ABACI. Plural of abacus. Count-er. Just like the wordplay on flow-er for river. Nice clue.

28A: Lady of Bavaria: FRAU. "Mrs." in German. Wife of HERR.

33A: Disney villainess __ de Vil: CRUELLA. From the "101 Dalmatians". I only saw the Chinese version of the movie. Could not remember her name.

41A: Portuguese capital: ESCUDOS. Monetary unit. I was thinking of LISBON. Wiki says ESCUDO is Portuguese for "shield". Shouldn't "Portuguese capital" be EURO now?

43A: Math subj.: ALG

46A: Supporter: ALLY

48A: Lundi follower: MARDI. Tuesday. As in MARDI Gras. Lundi is our Monday.

50A: Diamonds, to a fence: ICE. Fence is a person who deals with stolen goods.

58A: Assess: LEVY. Wrote down RATE first.

59A: Honor with barbs: ROAST. Like what those journalists do at the annual Gridiron Club dinner.

60A: Egyptian fertility goddess: ISIS. Wife/sister of Osiris.

62A: First place: EDEN. And ABEL (7D: Genesis victim). The real first families.

64A: Ideal for tubing, as a river: LAZY. I am stumped. Why?

65A: Senator from Kansas or North Carolina: DOLE. Bob DOLE (Kansas) or wife Elizabeth DOLE (North Carolina).

67A: Dark clouds, often: OMEN. Or "the writing on the wall".

Down:

2D: Grow exponentially: MUSHROOM

3D: Baseball's all-time leader with 4,256 hits: PETE ROSE. He should be in Hall-of-Fame. PETE ROSE played with a real passion.

4D: Colonnade of ancient Greeces: STOA. Colonnade is rooted in column.

5D: Bye that's bid: ADIEU. Bid ADIEU to.

6D: "Death, be not proud" poet: DONNE (John). He wrote lots of elegies.

8D: Boglike: MIRY

9D: Complete collections: SETS. Anyone owns 1955 Topps doubleheaders? Those cards look very neat.

10D: Ignore the script: AD-LIB

12D: Florentine ruling family: MEDICI. The Renaissance art patron family. I also learned this morning that the MEDICI family produced 3 popes (Leo X, Clement VII and Leo XI) .

21D: Beta alternative: VHS. History now.

22D: Zahn of TV news: PAULA. I watched her/CNN a lot immediately after 9/11. PAULA Zahn is a great cellist.

23D: He played Pierce on *M*A*S*H: ALDA (Alan).

27D: Parisian pop: PERE. Mon PERE, ma MERE, mes FRERES (brothers) et mes SOEURS (sisters).

28D: New Brunswick's Bay of __: FUNDY. No idea. See this map. Wiki says the name "Fundy" is thought to be a corruption of the French word "Fendu", meaning "split".

30D: Bass and others: ALES. Not familiar with Bass Ale brand. I don't drink beer.

33D: XXXV x X: CCCL. 35x10=350

34D: Fidel's successor: RAUL. Gimme, gimme. They are brothers.

35D: Lago contents: AGUA

37D: "I am ... __": Neil Diamond hit: I SAID. Here is the clip. Unknown to me.

39D: Put under: ETHERIZE. New verb to me. Same as anesthetize?

43D: Strolled lazily: AMBLED

44D: Texas border city: LAREDO. EL PASO came to me first.

45D: Humble oneself shamelessly: GROVEL. Both PANDER and KOWTOW have 6-letters too.

47D: Japanese computer giant: NEC

49D: "I'll Be Your Shelter" singer Tayler: DAYNE. Not familiar with the song.

50D: "A Doll's House" playwright: IBSEN (Henrik). The only Norwegian playwright I know.

51D: Spiteful: CATTY

54D: Court order: WRIT

56D: New Haven Ivy: YALE. The Bulldogs.

57D: Unit of mass, briefly: KILO. Kilogram. Equals to 2.2 pounds.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Jun 16, 2009

Tuesday June 16, 2009 Betty Keller

Theme: LUNCH (67A: Meal that precede the start of 17-, 29-, 46- or 62-Across)

17A: Wasp-waisted shape: HOURGLASS FIGURE

29A: What a big spender has plenty of: MONEY TO BURN

46A: Boardinghouse sign: ROOM FOR RENT

62A: Godiva gift: BOX OF CHOCOLATES

I don't know how to have a HOURGLASS FIGURE. It's impossible to have boobs/hips that are at least 10 inches bigger than the waist. But Scarlett Johansson does have one.

Besides CHOCOLATES, there are a few other food/drink bonus references in today's grid:

51A: Thé, basically: EAU. Thé is French for "tea". "Lait, basically" works for EAU too.

53A: Snapple product: ICE TEA. Should be ICED TEA.

5D: Quiche base: EGG

9D: Self-serve meal: BUFFET

4D: Poor substitute for 62A: CAROB. I've never had CAROB power. Don't understand why it's a "poor" substitute.

18D: 53-Across flavor: LEMON

Lovely puzzle. I enjoyed it.

Across:

1A: Italian ball game: BOCCE. Somehow I wanted BOCCA. One of the variant spellings is actually BOCCIA.

10A: Sgt. Friday's force: LAPD. Of "Dragnet".

14A: "What __!": "B-o-o-o-ring!": A DRAG

15A: Forbidden perfume brand?: TABU. TABU perfume by Dana. Better clue than taboo variant.

16A: Arced molding: OGEE

20A: Palm phone: TREO. Unknown brand to me.

21A: Tokien's Treebeard, for one: ENT

22A: Accept reality: FACE IT

23A: Emeril catchword: BAM. Emeril Lagasse. "Kick up a notch!" is another of his catchwords. Maybe I should count this answer as a bonus fill as well.

26A: Cleaning item: RAG

35A: Ovid's "I love": AMO. AMO, amas, amat. Te AMO.

36A: How the euphoric walk?: ON AIR. Nice clue. Much better than "Studio sign".

37A: "Look here, old chap!": I SAY. Had trouble getting this answer. British exclamation? Another chap answer is BLOKE (70A: Chap).

38A: Raps with barbs: ZINGS

40A: EPA-banned pesticide: DDT. And DEET (13D: Insect repellent compound).

41A: Harry Potter's Potions teacher: SNAPE. No idea. This guy looks evil. Is he a bad guy?

42A: Dix plus un: ONZE. French for 11. Dix is 10. 10+1=11.

43A: Moray hunter: EELER

45A: "Vamoose!": GIT. We had extensive discussions about GITS last time when it's clued as "Lights out".

58A:"If I Only __Brain": HAD A. The Scarecrow song from "The Wizard of Oz".

65A: The Auld Sod: ERIN. Have never heard of "The Auld (Old) Sod" as a nickname for Ireland.

68A: Head of France?: TETE. French for "head". Not the insecure, arrogant, attention-seeking Nicolas Sarkozy.

Down:

1D: Bangkok currency: BAHT. Loved the street food in Bangkok. 1 Thai BAHT = 0.029 US dollars.

2D: Glade target: ODOR. Can you believe that the brand names were not allowed in Xword before? How boring!

3D: Rock's Mötley ___ : CRUE. The only member I know is Tommy Lee.

10D: Lincoln's birthplace: LOG CABIN. In Hardin Country, Kentucky. I used to think he was born in Illinois.

11D: Flulike symptom: AGUE. Learned from doing Xword.

12D: Gilpin of "Frasier": PERI. Also the Persian fairy.

19D: "Othello" conniver: IAGO. You've got to remember this villain.

24D: "Famous" cookie man: AMOS

25D: South Carolina's __ Beach: MYRTLE. Wonderful golf courses there.

26D: Stubble remover: RAZOR

28D: Bonkers: GONZO. New slang for me.

30D: __ Raiders: consumer advocates: NADER'S. Does this organization still exist?

31D: Down-yielding duck: EIDER

32D: Utilities bill datum: USAGE

34D: Dmitri's dissents: NYETS. Russian for "no". I just found out that Dmitri means "earth-lover" in Russian. The current Russian president's given name is Dimitry. I suppose it's the same as Dmitri?

39D: Emerald or ruby: GEM STONE

41D: Span. miss: SRTA. The French equivalent is MLLE.

44D: Año nuevo month: ENERO

47D: Lord's holding: FIEF. Often clued as "Feudal estate".

48D: Prophet at Delphi: ORACLE. Warren Buffet is often called "ORACLE of Omaha".

52D: Ryder rival: U-HAUL

53D: "Fat chance": I BET

55D: Sign over a door: EXIT

56D: Cartoon explorer: DORA. DORA the Explorer.

59D: 8, for oxygen: AT NO (Atomic Number)

64D: Barrister's deg.: LLB (Legum Baccalaureus, Latin for Bachelor of Laws). I got the answer from Across fills. Why "Barrister" instead of "Attorney"?

Answer grid.

C.C.

Jun 15, 2009

Monday June 15, 2009 David W. Cromer

Theme: Two-way Talk

18A: "Framed" toon in a 1988 film: ROGER RABBIT

27A: Xerox product: COPY MACHINE

47A: In an awkward position: OVER A BARREL

61A: Like oysters in summer months: OUT OF SEASON

Argyle blogging.

These words are used when talking to someone using a two-way radio, like CBers and fire and police personnel or on walkie-talkies.

ROGER indicates that a message had been received and understood.

COPY refers to hearing a signal clearly enough to be understood.

OVER means "I have finished speaking for the moment, but am expecting your reply - go ahead".

OUT means "I have finished speaking, and the conversation is finished; don't reply."

#1 "Did you Get a COPY on that?"

#2 "ROGER that."

#2 "Anything else, OVER?"

#1 "That is all. OUT."

Across:

1A: Candy in a collectible dispenser: PEZ. Often with a theme.

4A: Great time: BLAST.

9A: Get to one's feet: STAND.

17A: Pi-sigma link: RHO. Greek Alphabet.

20A: Splendid display: POMP. A little Pomp and Circumstance.

22A: Keystone lawman: KOP.

23A: Houston team that became the Tennessee Titans: OILERS.

24A: Provide weapons for: ARM.

26A: Barn topper: VANE. As in a weather vane.

32A: Seaman's pronoun: SHE. All ships are SHE.

37A: Go through rehab, in a way: DETOX.

40A: Funny Philips: EMO. I never thought he was funny.

41A: Pusher chaser: NARC.

45A: "Goosebumps" author R.L.: STINE.

50A: Popular jeans: LEES. WHAT? Not Levis!

52A: More than dislike: DETEST.

57A: Gyro bread: PITA. But what is NAN? nan or naan?

65A: College town near Bangor: ORONO. And 66A: Mission to remember: ALAMO. Crosswordese places.

70A: TV-watching room: DEN. Who has a TV den anymore.

Down:

1D: Criminal, to a cop: PERP. That isn't what it means to us.

4D: Tap room: BAR.

5D: Kid's cry before "No hands!": LOOK MA. And 9D: Discolored with a spill: STAIN. How's it going, Tarrajo?

7D: Resign, with "down": STEP.

8D: It paves the way: TAR.

10D: Restaurant booth alternative: TABLE.

11D: Parisian cleric: ABBE. And 12D: Blanc's opposite: NOIR. French.

13D: Kids' book connectibles: DOTS. Connect a Dot is a precursor to crosswords, right?

21D: Bribe to a DJ: PAYOLA. Payola is a portmanteau of the two words "pay" and "Victrola" meaning to bribe to play on the radio. It came to light in the Sixties that some disk jockeys were taking money to play certain songs, which the record companies hoped would boost sales.

25D: House divisions: Abbr.: RMS. Some of those RMS are BRS.

26D: Abe of "Barney Miller": VIGODA. Abe VIGODA played the old detective on the show, Phil Fish. He had a short-lived spin-off show called Fish. He and his wife, Bernice, ran a group home. He's in the front; she is in the back.

29D: Land maps: PLATS.

30D: Blintz relatives: CREPES. Do you want some now?

31D: Funny business: HUMOR.

34D: Do very well: EXCEL.

38D: Lure via a sting: ENTRAP. One of the sneakiest I ever heard of, was a man and a woman want to purchase alcohol but the man says he left his wallet in the car and she pays it. She is not of age.

43D: Really likes: GOES FOR.

48D: November honorees: VETS. Veterans Day in 2009 is on Wednesday, the 11th of November.

49D: Turn into: BECOME.

50D: Sierra __: African republic: LEONE. Southwest of MALI. And 55D: Niger neighbor: MALI. Northwest Africa Niger is to its east.

53D: Peseta replacer: EURO. Former Spanish currency.

54D: Sporty auto roof: T-TOP. Removable panels over the driver and the passenger but leaving a center section, in theory, for greater strength in case of a rollover.

56D: Quickly, in memos: ASAP. As Soon As Possible.

63D: Sine qua __: NON. This phrase is Latin for "without which not", meaning, if an essential element is missing, it's not gonna happen.

Answer grid.

Argyle

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.

Jun 13, 2009

Saturday June 13, 2009 Brad Wilber

Theme: None

Total blocks: 30

Total words: 72

A complete fiasco today.

So many unknowns and unusual clues. Several wicked misdirections too. I was very frustrated when OIL did not fit for "37A: Whistler's output" (AIR). Didn't you also see "Whistler's Mother" when you read the clue?

I also had trouble understanding the grammar structure of the clues:

15A: Not act well: EMOTE. OK, both are verbs.

42A: Not shut out of: IN ON. What's the function of "shut" here then? Past particle? I'd have got the answer immediately if the clue were "Privy to".

This constructor Bard Wilber is known for constructing hard grids. According to Jim's database, all of his 13 NYT puzzles appeared on Fridays/Saturdays. And all of the 12 puzzles he created for LAT appeared on Saturdays.

I like how he stacked those triple-stacked 9-letter fills in each quadrant.

Across:

1A: Clublike weapons: MACES. Used in the Middle Ages.

6A: Vague: IMPRECISE

16A: Ripped poser: MALE MODEL. Ashton Kutcher was a MALE MODEL before. I had trouble understanding the clue. Google asked me "Did you mean "Ripped poster" when I searched.

17A: Key of Chopins's "Raindrop Prelude": D-FLAT. I had ?FLAT sitting there for a long time.

18A: Work on galleys: PROOFREAD. I was thinking of the boat galley.

19A: E-mail qualifier: IMO. So simple in retrospect.

20A: Jane's "Klute" role: BREE. No idea. This back-exposed dress looks familiar though. I must have googled "Klute" before.

22A: Martini & Ross product: ASTI. Penned in WINE.

23A: Placed just so: ARRAYED. I supposed so.

25A: Waldenbooks rival: B. DALTON. Wrote down BORDERS, which actually owns Waldenbooks. B. DALTON belongs to Barnes & Noble.

28A: Journalist Walters, casually: BABS. Not a fan of Barbara Walters. I like Terry Gross.

29A: Roughen before repainting: DEGLOSS. A new word to me.

31A: They're often baked: IDAHOS. Potatoes. BREADS popped into my mind first.

33A: Absorbed: LOST. As in thought.

34A: Salem summer hrs.: PDT. Salem, Oregon. I was thinking of the witch trials Salem.

38A: More gracious: POLITER

41A: Help-wanted request: SOS

43A: Sponsor of the Socceroos: QANTAS. The Australian airline. I was stumped. I had no idea that the national soccer team of Australia is called Scocceroo. I suppose it's a combination of soccer & kangaroo?

45A: Art developed by ancient samurai: JUJITSU. Literally "Art of softness". Ju means "soft", like "judo" (do is just dao/TAO, Chinese "way").

47A: Squabbling: AT IT. Mine was SPAR.

48A: 1962 Lancaster title role: BIRDMAN. From the "BIRDMAN of Alcatraz". Stymie for me.

51A: Fake it, in a way: LIP SYNC

53A: Mil. school: ACAD. Academy. Like West Point.

54A: Addams family nickname: TISH. No idea. Cousin ITT is the only one I know. And I learned his name from doing Xword.

55A: 1959 hit with the lyric "Fight the fare increase!" MTA. More familiar with the "1959 Kingston Trio hit" clue.

56A: Dated but popular: RETRO CHIC. Sigh! Could not come up with the CHIC part.

60A: "When __ detected, a thousand are suspected": Thomas Paine: ONE IS. From Paine's letter to George Washington. What does the quote mean?

62A: Separate: DISENGAGE. Verb.

63A: Cotillion honoree: BELLE. Often see DEB clued as "Cotillion honoree/gal".

64A: They may be studded: SNOW TIRES. I was thinking of the stud earrings. But EARLOBES is one letter short.

65A: Bass-baritone Simon: ESTES. Oh well, the only ESTES I know is Senator Kefauver (Adlai Stevenson's running mate). Here is a clip of this guy singing some song from "Porgy and Bess".

Down:

1D: Slant in columns: MEDIA BIAS. I feel stupid not getting this one, considering my interest for the OP ED pages in our newspaper.

2D: Auto feature: AM/FM RADIO

3D: Test pattern display: COLOR BARS

4D: Cockpit approx.: ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival).

5D: Save for later use: SET BY. I had SIT ON.

6D: Obstruct: IMPEDE

7D: Colt carrier: MARE

8D: Oslo Accords gp.: PLO. A rare gimme. Rabin was assassinated because he signed the Oslo Accords. Clinton actually rehearsed several times for this infamous photo.

9D: Hupmobile contemporary: REO. Easy guess. I've never heard of Hupmobile before.

10D: Band with the 1991 #1 hit "Unbelievable": EMF. No idea. Wiki says EMF officially stands for "Epsom Mad Funkers", but there are plenty of unofficial alternatives. Unbelievable!

11D: Lipstick shades: CORALS. Diane Lane is wearing a CORAL lipstick.

12D: Explanatory phrase: ID EST. That is (i.e.)

13D: Defunct defense gp.: SEATO (1954-1977). Another 5-letter defense gp. is NORAD.

14D: "Murphy Brown" house painter: ELDIN. No idea. The guy on the most left?

21D: "She-devil with a sword" of comics: RED SONJA. New name to me also.

24D: Guitar wood: ASH. Wanted KOA.

25D: Reputation stain: BLOT

26D: Mexican beer with XX on its label: DOS EQUIS. Foreign to me. According to Wiki, this brand was named "Siglo XX" ("20th century") to commemorate the arrival of the new century, and the bottles were marked with the Roman numerals XX, or Dos Equis (two Xs in Spanish).

27D: Stars in the Forum?: ASTRA. Latin for stars.

30D: Inkling: GLINT

32D: Kind of den: OPIUM. I did not know those OPIUM joints are called dens.

34D: Burger cooked like a grilled cheese: PATTY MELT. I've never seen my husband prepares his burger this way before.

35D: Foundation protector: DRAIN TILE. Absolutely no idea. The black stuff? I was thinking of the makeup foundation.

36D: Guinea pigs: TEST CASES. I can't believe it took so much effort to obtain this answer.

39D: Filet mignon cut: LOIN. Beef or pork?

44D: "Stillmatic" rapper: NAS. Well, it could only be EVE or NAS, the only two 3-letter rappers I know.

45D: Red Sox outfielder since 2007: J.D. DREW. J. D. Drew started his Major League career with the Cardinals.

46D: Driving errors: SLICES. Or HOOKS. Golf term. I don't know how to fade/draw.

48D: Foot specialists?: BARDS. Ugh. Metrical foot.

49D: Trap in the chalet: ICE IN. Verb phrase?

50D: "Midnight Cowboy" role: RATSO. Played by Dustin Hoffman.

52D: Commitment __: modern type with cold feet: PHOBE. Makes sense. I could only thought of FEAR.

54D: Buster Brown's dog: TIGE. I forgot his name.

57D: Windsor home: Abbr.: ONT. I did not know Windsor is a city in south Ontario. Kept thinking of the British royal family Windsor.

58D: Special effects technique, briefly: CGI (Computer-Generated Image). I drew a blank again.

59D: Laugh syllable: HAR. Is this a comic laugh?

61D: Video game letters: NES. No idea. Nintendo Entertainment System I suppose?

Answer grid.



C.C.

Jun 12, 2009

Friday June 12, 2009 Robin Stears

Theme: Try It!

17A: Where Jerry Garcia kept food for the band?: DEAD PANTRY (Deadpan)

28A: Minimalist wall hanging?: BLANK TAPESTRY (Blank Tapes)

47A: Small clergy group?: MICRO MINISTRY (Micro Minis)

64A: Wedding cake mock-up?: FAUX PASTRY (Faux Pas)

About a month ago, Rich Norris clued CHERRY GARCIA as "Ice cream flavor honoring a Grateful Dead icon" in his "Shades of Red" puzzle.

I figured out the theme very quickly, and immediately gave BLANK TAPESTRY and every other theme entry a TRY. I think this girl's micro mini skirt would look better without the big belt. Yes? Thought of WM's love for a cake blog and her "Faux Finisher" daughter when I filled in FAUX PASTRY.

I liked this puzzle a lot. It's BEAUT (36A: Doozy). The theme is so simple yet creative. The original base phrases and the new made-up entries are quite livley.

Lots of black squares, 44, the limit on Rich Norris's 15*15. Most of the other newspaper puzzles cap the number at 38.

Have a look at the constructor Robin Stears's blog. She has written several books.

Across:

1A: Schooner features? JIBS. Nice to start a grid with a letter J.

5A: Kingdom called the Friendly Islands: TONGA. Ugh. I thought of Bhutan where Gross National Happiness index rather than GNP is measured. TONGA is literally "South" in many Polynesian language, according to Wiki.

10A: Biblical plague insect: GNAT. Easy guess. I am not aware of GNAT's Biblical reference. I thought it's locust.

16A: Wear the crown: RULE. Or REIGN.

20A: Fertilizer source: ALGAE

22A: Tar Heel State university: ELON. Often clued just as "North Carolina university".

23A: 1990s speed skating gold medalist: KOSS (Johann Olav). Absolutely no idea. Johanna Olav KOSS is from Norway.

26A: One with a habit: NUN. A rare repeat clue.

35A: Chichi: ARTY. It's the same as ARTSY, isn't it? The clue made me think of Golf Hall-of-Famer Chi Chi Rodriguez.

38A: North Carolina country: ASHE. Unknown to me. Here is the map. Was it named someone surnamed ASHE?

40A: Blue shades: TEALS. The answer might be AQUAS if this were a Barry Silk puzzle.

42A: __ race: ARMS

45A: "East of Eden" brother: ARON. His twin brother is Cal. I thought James Dean was so so in the movie.

46A: Expressive rock genre: EMO. What exactly is the EMO genre?

51A: __-de-vie: brandy: EAU. Literally water of life.

56A: Bygone carrier: TWA. Recklessly wrote down SST.

67A: Blacken: SEAR. I love seared tuna, crusted with sesame seeds, YUMMY! (33D: Scrumptious).

68A: Slacker: IDLER

71A: Bear named for a president: TEDDY. T.R. originated "Speak softly and carry a big stick".

72A: Strategic WWI river: YSER. This has become a gimme. YSER river flows to the North Sea.

Down:

1D: Actress Pinkett Smith: JADA. Another gimme. Will Smith's wife. Both are scientologists, I think.

2D: Country on the Denmark Str.: ICEL. Ah, its most well-known citizen is probably Björk. I thought that swan address is rather cute. Don't understand why it's ridiculed.

3D: Crow: BRAG

4D: "Bad Blood" singer: SEDAKA. This singer does not look like Neil SEDAKA. Maybe I am familiar with the aged SEDAKA.

5D: Luggage-screening gp.: TSA (Transportation Security Administration). Established after 9/11.

6D: Part of BYO: OWN. Bring Your OWN.

8D: "The Day the Earth Stood Still" robot: GORT. Stumper. Here is a picture. Is it related to the Jewish robot golem?

10D: Beverage brewed in a gaiwan: GREEN TEA. "Gaiwan" is literally "lidded bowl".

13D: Many a "One Tree Hill" character: TEEN. The answer revealed itself. Not familiar with this TEEN TV drama.

18D: Drudge: PEON. Noun. I thought of TOIL first.

24D: 32-card game: SKAT. For three players.

25D: Flow: STREAM

27D: Plug-and-play PC port: USB (Universal Serial Bus)

28D: Like a close buddy: BOSOM

29D: Actress Christine: LAHTI. Total stranger to me. Wiki says her name is Finnish for "gulf"/"bay"/"cove". And she won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her role in "Chicago Hope".

30D: __ 2600: early game console: ATARI

31D: Road cones: PYLONS. Holy cow. I had no idea that these cones have a special name.

37D: Eponymous Chinese general: TSO

39D: Substitute for dropped items: ET CETERA. Probably my favorite clue today.

44D: Palindromic altar: ARA. This has become a gimme also.

48D: Equip: OUTFIT

49D: Something to keep a teller busy?: SAGA. Nice play on tell-er.

50D: Inferior: TRASHY. Somehow I thought of ersatz.

53D: Fresh approach?: SASS. The answer revealed itself. I did not know "fresh" can mean "impudent" as well.

55D: Bold alternative: Abbr.: ITAL. Italic.

57D: 1973 defendant: WADE. Roe v. WADE

58D: "Should __ acquaintance ...": AULD. Again, the answer revealed itself. I only know the song title "AULD Lang Syne".

61D: Della's creator: ERLE. ERLE Stanley Gardner. Della Street is the secretary of Perry Mason.

62D: Batik worker: DYER

66D: Meddle: PRY. Rhymed with the theme TRY.

Answer grid.

C.C.