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Oct 24, 2009

Saturday October 24, 2009 Thomas Heilman

Theme: None

Total words: 70

Total blocks: 30

Today's grid reminds me of a Saturday themeless by Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily, with grid-spanning triple stacks at the top and bottom. Noticed it has CAUTIONARY TALES also?

Here are six 15-letter fill:

1A. Obsolete item: A THING OF THE PAST. Antiquity is too short. Multi-words continue to pose problems for me.

16A. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and others: CAUTIONARY TALES. Not familiar with Goethe's poem "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" at all.

17A. Pet that's larger than a toy: MINIATURE POODLE

60A. Tax service, familiarly: INTERNAL REVENUE

65A. It may be awakened after a period of inattention: RENEWED INTEREST. Very nice clue/fill.

66A. Retail security staff: STORE DETECTIVES. Another name for security guards?

Definitely a challenging puzzle for me. I think our eased-up phase is officially over.

Across:

18. Group originally named the Jolly Corks: ELKS. Unknown trivia to me. The name derived from a bar trick introduced by the group's organizer.

19. Zaire's Mobutu Sese __: SEKO. In office 1965-1997. I can never remember this guy's name.

20. No longer serving: Abbr.: RET (Retired)

21. Bk. before Job: ESTH (Esther). After Nehemiah. I peeked at my Bible book list.

24. Themes: TOPICS

27. Try to bean, in baseball: THROW AT. Another baseball reference is RBIS (37A. Diamond stats). Throwing at a player's head is really dangerous.

30. Easing of tension: DETENTE. I used to confuse it with international agreement ENTENTE.

31. Roadside grazer: DOE

32. False show: PRETENSE

36. Verdi aria that translates to "It was you": ERI TU. Nailed it. Eri = Were. Tu = You.

41. Hearty entrée: RIB ROAST. And ROE (44A. Caviar, say). And PAO (12D. Kung __ chicken). Hungry?

45. Quantities possessing only magnitude: SCALARS. Escaped me again. Vectors possess magnitude and direction.

50. Seat of Washington's Pierce County: TACOMA. Not familiar with the county name at all. Bing Crosby was born in Tacoma (grew up in Spokane).

51. 1956 Mideast crisis site: SUEZ. The crisis was resulted from Egypt's nationalization of the Suez Canal.

52. Part of a loop: ARC

57. McAn of shoes: THOM. The brand was named after a Scottish golfer Thomas McCann.

Down:

1. Tiptop: ACME

2. Shadow: TAIL. Verb.

3. Hid out, with "down": HUNKERED

4. "Yea, verily": IT IS SO

5. Actress Vardalos: NIA. She wrote and starred in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding".

6. Contracted, as an illness: GOT

7. Burden: ONUS

8. Cab hailer: FARE. Oh, I did not know FARE can refer to a person.

9. Serious trip: TREK

10. Some triangle sides: HYPOTENUSES. Stumped. The side of a right triangle opposite the right angle.

11. WWII zone: ETO (European Theater of Operations)

13. Second man on the moon: ALDRIN (Buzz)

14. Choose: SELECT. Penned in OPT FOR.

15. Safari menace: TSETSE. Waiting for JD to tell us whether she saw TSETSE during her safari exploration.

22. Local govt. unit: TWP (Township). I failed again.

23. Half-baked: HAREBRAINED. Is this rooted in "The Tortoise and The Hare" fable?

25. They may end with 27-Down: OTS. And TDS (27D. Passes may result in them: Abbr.)

26. Equal: PEER. Noun.

29. Alaska and La., once: TERRS

30. Remove pitch stains from: DETAR. Always want UNTAR.

33. Spanish uncle: TIO. Oncle in French.

35. Alice's chronicler: ARLO. D'oh, "Alice's Restaurant". I was thinking of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland".

38. Soviet leader who signed SALT I and II: BREZHNEV (Leonid). In office 1964 to 1982. I only know the Chinese translation of his name.

39. Biennial games org.: IOC (International Olympic Committee). Winter and Summer Olympics are two years apart from each other.

40. Tennis unit: SET

42. Descartes's conclusion: I AM. "I think, therefore I am" (Cogito, ergo sum).

43. Nashville sch.: TSU (Tennessee State University). No idea. Their nickname is the Tigers.

45. Connecting flights: STAIRS. Of course, my mind flew to the airport. Very clever clue.

46. Customs exemption for an auto: CARNET (kahr-NEY). It's a "customs document a customs document allowing an automobile to be driven at no cost across international borders". New word to me.

47. Customer ID: ACCT NO (Account Number)

49. Czar known as "the Great": PETER I. He reigned from 1682 to1725.

55. Narrow opening: SLIT. Too large (and high) a slit?

56. Normandy river: ORNE (awrn). The D-Day river. And OUSE (58D. York's river). Prounouced like "ooze", meaning "water". Learned both from doing Xword.

59. "Miracle" 1969 World Series winners: METS. The "Miracle Mets", managed by Gil Hodges.

61. Chariot ending?: EER. Charioteer.

62. "Self-Reliance" essayist's monogram: RWE (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

64. Lab caretaker? VET (Veterinarian). Lab here is short for labrador. The question mark did not prevent me from going in the laboratory direction.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Oct 23, 2009

Friday October 23, 2009 Merle Baker

Theme: IXNAY (60A. Slangy turndown, and a hint to how 17-, 22-, 32-, 47- and 51-Across are formed) - IX is nixed from familiar phrases.

17A. Health nut?: MISTER F(IX)IT

22A. "Make him an offer he can't refuse," e.g.?: DON QU(IX)OTE. The memorable line is a quote from Don Corleone ("The Godfather").

32A. Where hogs go hog-wild?: SWINGING S(IX)TIES. Hilarious clue/answer.

47A. DVDs?: N(IX)ON-TAPES. Not a smooth fill for me.

51A. Cocktails at an exotic resort club?: M(IX)ED DRINKS. Was ignorant of Club Med (Méditerranée), so I had trouble understanding the connection between MED & "exotic resort club".

This puzzle reminds of Gareth Bain's NIXON puzzle, where ON is nixed in every theme entry. And NIXON is placed in the lower right corner as well.

Nice pangram (all 26 letters are used at least once). But the theme took me too long to grok, though I got IXNAY rather early. Several peeks at the cheat sheet today.

Across:

1. Angle: SLANT

6. Like disco dancers: GO-GO. Go-go dancers.

10. "Wow": GEE

13. Explorer __ de León: PONCE. He named Florida Florida, meaning "flower".

14. Structural sci.: ANAT. Body structure.

15. Nightclub in a Manilow song: COPA. Copacabana (At the Copa), referring to the famous nightclub Copacabana (The Copa) in NY City.

16. Atlanta university: EMORY. And GONZAGA (41A). Spokane university). The latter stumped me. Wikipedia says it's a private Catholic Jesuit university and listed Bing Crosby as one of its notable alumni.

19. Prefix with dermal: EPI. Epidermal.

20. PC support person: TECH. See techie in grid more often.

21. Village paper?: VOICE. Village Voice, the free weekly newspaper in NY. They give out the annual Obie Award. Nice clue.

25. Toy in a holster: CAP GUN

26. Eightfold: OCTUPLE. Adjective. Noun is octuplet, like the Octuplet Mom.

28. Arg. neighbor: URU (Uruguay). Can't be Bra(zil), Par(aguay) or Chi(le) because the constructors/editor prefer a full word rather than an abbreviated country name.

29. IM provider: AOL

30. Arles assent: OUI. Alliteration. Arles is where van Gogh painted many of his masterpieces.

31. Get ready, briefly: PREP

36. Satirist Mort: SAHL. Thank God I committed him to my memory.

37. Blood classification letters: ABO. O for me.

38. "__ who?": SEZ. With P?Z?? in place, I should have got PIZZA (31D. Food in a flat box) immediately.

40. Source of 20s, for short: ATM. And NCR (4D. Big name in 40-Acrosses).

45. Comfort for a griever: SOLACE

50. Tolkien tree creature: ENT. Anglo-Saxon word for "giant".

53. Bugs chaser: ELMER. Elmer Fudd.

56. Lighten up?: DIET. Nailed it immediately.

57. Stiller's comedy partner: MEARA. Jerry Stiller and Anna Meara, Ben Stiller's parents.

58. Form 1040 ID: SSN

59. Lhasa __: APSO. The breed originating from Tibet. APSO is literally "bearded" in Tibetan.

Down:

1. Swimwear brand: SPEEDO. They sponsor Michael Phelps.

2. California city near Vandenberg Air Force Base: LOMPOC. See this map. Literally "little lake" in its Native Indian language. I simply forgot.

3. Consecrate using oil: ANOINT

5. Mystery writer Josephine: TEY. No idea. The only Josephine I know is Hart, whose "Damage" is just brilliant.

6. Reproductive cell: GAMETE. Sperm or egg.

7. In the cooler: ON ICE

8. Deep wound: GASH

9. Polo Grounds hero: OTT (Mel). NY Giants played in the Polo Grounds.

10. "I don't get it": GO FIGURE

11. Gastronomes: EPICURES (EP-i-kyoors). And SAVORERS (32D: 11-Down, e.g.). Both posed problems to me, though I remember we had epicure/epicurious discussions on the blog before. Savorer sounds so made-up.

12. Gone from the plate: EATEN UP. I liked how it parallels EPICURES.

15. Photoshop command: CROP

18. Author Hunter: EVAN. Also known as Ed McBain.

20. Turnpike collection spot: TOLLGATE

23. Small game bird: QUAIL. Cantonese style quail is often glazed with honey, very tasty, crispy too.

24. Resting atop: UPON

25. Two-wheeled artillery wagons: CAISSONS (KEY-suhn). Only know the military funeral caisson.

27. "A __ of Wine, a Loaf of Bread ...": JUG. And Thou (Beside me singing in the Wilderness).

30. Notable 1969 bride: ONO. Liked this new clue.

33. Battered repeatedly, in slang: WHALED ON. New phrase to me.

34. ThinkPad maker: IBM

41. Attends: GOES TO

43. Biological divisions: GENERA. Wow, I had no idea that plural of genus is genera.

44. Down a sinful path: ASTRAY

52. Pocatello's state: Abbr.: IDA. Have never heard of the city Pocatello, home of the Idaho State University. Named after some Indian tribal chief Pocatello.

53. Brit. record label: EMI. One of the four major record labels: Sony, Universal, Warner and EMI.

54. Latin law: LEX. Learned from doing Xword. The plural is leges (LEE-jeez).

Answer grid.

C.C.

Oct 22, 2009

Thursday October 22, 2009 Dan Naddor

Theme: Great Food - Each theme answer ends with a /ood/ pronunciation.

17A. Lost it: CAME UNGLUED. Say it ain't so, Joe (Torre). I bet he RUED some of his strategies.

25A. Dismissed out of hand: POOH-POOHED

37A. Like Starbucks coffee, every 30 minutes: FRESHLY BREWED. Wrote down FRESHLY GROUND first.

48A. "That's too bad, man": BUMMER, DUDE. Do you like "The Big Lebowski"? The Dude is a strange character.

60A. "I don't feel like cooking" option: TAKE-OUT FOOD

Is this the Tiger Woods inspired puzzle, Dan?

Those different theme entries sure cover all the possible /ood/ sound spellings. Plus, 20 non-theme entries with 6 or more letters, very high Dan Naddor index. Nice long Downs in NE and SW corners.

I was stumped immediately with MALAGA and MCCOYS, but managed to fill in all grid with only two peeks at the cheat sheet. A success for me, so happy MOOD here in Minnesota.

Across:

1. Sweet Spanish wine: MALAGA. Named after the Spanish city Malaga where the wine originated.

11. Inst. that turns out lieutenants: OCS (Officer Candidate School). And GIS (62A. Enlistees, briefly).

15. Cause of a worldwide 19th century fever: GOLD. D'oh, the Gold Rush. I was thinking of the sickness fever. AGUE jumped into my head. Too bad there is no other way to clue the Peter Fonda movie ULEE'S (51D. "__ Gold").

16. Old school dance: HOP. How old?

21. In copious amounts: GALORE. Oh, I forgot BRA (19. Victoria's Secret offering). Which one do you like the best?

22. Ivy in Philly: PENN. And YALE (23. Ivy in New Haven). Nice consecutive "Ivy" echo.

27. Pizazz: STYLE

29. Trumpet sound: BLARE

30. Party list: INVITEES. This easy entry makes all the Down 3-letter fill readily obtainable.

36. Bug: VEX. Irk is another 3-letter word.

40. Bard's "before": ERE. Bard's "always" is E'ER.

41. Software customers: USER BASE

42. Three-time world champion alpine skier Hermann: MAIER. No idea. This guy is from Austria.

44. Feast where the Haggadah is read: SEDER. Haggadah is pronounced as huh-GAH-duh. Dictionary says it's literally "narration" in Hebrew.

54. Brazilian soccer legend: PELE. His campaign definitely made an impact in Brazil's Olympic bidding.

55. Prime Cuts in Gravy brand: ALPO. Not a pet person. This dog food brand always stymies me.

56. Crude fleet: OILERS

58. Busy co. on Valentine's Day: FTD. Ah, red roses & chocolates.

63. Slurpee relative: ICEE

64. Capital on the Missouri River: PIERRE. Capital of South Dakota. Charming little city.

65. Wee hour: ONE

66. High degrees: Abbr. PHDS. Boy, academic "High degrees". I recklessly penned in NTHS.

67. Aftershock: TREMOR

Down:

1. Real people?: MCCOYS. What's the meaning of "the real McCoy"? The cleverness of the clue is lost on me.

2. Biblical debarkation point: ARARAT. The landing place of Noah's Ark.

3. How bad excuses are given: LAMELY

5. Guzzling sound: GLUG. New word to me.

6. "Piece of cake!": A SNAP

8. Club for country kids: FOUR-H. It stands for head, heart, hands and health.

10. Anomalous: ODD

11. Austin Powers catchphrase: OH, BEHAVE! Absolutely no idea. "Austin Powers" just looks silly to me.

12. Trapped: CORNERED. Kept wanting ENSNARED.

13. Stretchy fabric: SPANDEX. Lycra is the most famous spandex brand.

18. Day-__: pigment brand: GLO

22. D.C. deal maker: POL (Politician). Wanted SEN.

26. Preoccupy: OBSESS.

28. Make certain: ENSURE. No INSURE dilemna this time.

31. Videotape type: VHS

32. Land in la mer: ILE. French for isle.

33. Norse god of single combat: TYR (teer). Oh, "single combat" god, good to know. I simply thought of him as "god of war".

34. Diminish: EBB

35. Pitching stat: ERA. However Cole Hamels pitched last night, Phillies won!

37. German miss: FRAULEIN. Man, I was so influenced by Jazzbumpa's "chen" being German diminutive when he commented on the Gisele Bundchen picture. I wanted Frauchen.

38. Put back in force, as an expired tax: REIMPOSE

39. Blubber: WEEP. Whale fat too. Speaking of fat, I simply can't get used to the taste of coconut oil. I do believe in many of Mercola's diet/nutrition ideas though.

40. Economic warfare tactic: EMBARGO

43. Funnyman Philips: EMO

45. Mar the beauty of: DEFORM. Thought of DEFILE initially.

46. Corrida snorter: EL TORO. Spanish for "the bull".

49. Raid target: ROACH. The bug killer Raid. I was picturing a police raid.

50. Protected by levees: DIKED

52. __ volente: God willing: DEO. Whenever I see "God willing", I hear Muslims' "Insha'Allah".

53. Spew lava: ERUPT

57. Show signs of life: STIR

60. Service reward: TIP. And FEE (61. Service charge). Nice clue echo again. Loved the last four consecutive S starting clues.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Oct 21, 2009

Wednesday October 21, 2009 Donna S. Levin

Theme: Hockey Penalties - the starting word of each theme answer is a type of hockey penalty.

17A. Electrical worker's action: TRIPPING A SWITCH. A tripping penalty is called when a player trips an opposing player with his stick/his body.

24A. Discount retailer's action: SLASHING A PRICE. A slashing penalty occurs when a player slashes/swings at his opponent with his stick.

41A. Feuder's action: HOLDING A GRUDGE. A holding penalty is caused when a player grabs/holds his opponent from moving with his body/stick.

54A. Accused speeder's action: FIGHTING A TICKET. A fighting penalty happens when a player engages in a physical fight with his opponent.

47D. Place where the starts of this puzzle's four longest answers result in a penalty: RINK

Without RINK the unifying answer, I'd never had figured out the theme. Not a hockey fan, not wild about our Minnesota Wild at all.

Hope my understanding of above terms is correct. Those penalties all result in a 2-minute stay in the penalty box, correct, Dennis?

Definitely a tougher puzzle than last Wednesday's. I was stalled several times.

Across:

5. Benchwarmer: SCRUB. Second-stringer.

14. Spiritual guide: GURU. Sanskrit for "teacher".

15. Pageant trophy: TIARA. Always associate trophy with cup.

20. Stuff to capacity: SATIATE. Surfeit is 7-letter too.

21. Like the healthiest corned beef: LEANEST. Oh, speaking of food, I did not have a cold or flu. Just ate something I should not have touched.

22. White House advisory gp.: NSC (National Security Council)

23. "Don't tase me, __!": BRO. Uttered by a University of Florida student during a John Kerry appearance.

35. Exaggerated publicity: HYPE. And RAN IN (39A. Arrested). Man, the balloon boy hoax. The family sure got the fame they craved.

40. Parson's home: MANSE

46. Traffic jam causes: CRASHES

50. Toronto skyline landmark: CN TOWER. Now Dubai Tower is the tallest, with 160 floors.

57. Two-time U.S. Open winner Fraser: NEALE. I drew a blank. An Aussi. I thought Slazenger is only a golf ball brand.

58. Opposite of aweather: ALEE. Aweather is in the direction of the wind.

60. Freezing cold: GELID. Was stumped last time when Allan E. Parrish clued it as "Quite cold".

Down:

1. Bilko and York: Abbr.: SGTS. Anent abbr, wish we had NHL today.

2. Subtle emanation: AURA. Funny how I've never got tired of AURA as a crosswordese.

3. "True __": John Wayne film: GRIT. What's your favorite John Wayne movie?

4. Rotate face-up, as one's palm: SUPINATE (SOO-puh-neyt). New verb to me. I only know the adjective supine (lying on the back). Prone is lying on your face.

5. Pain in the side: STITCH. Oh, I've never heard of the term side stitch, though I've experienced such pain after reading the explanation. I was picturing pain au chocolat. Pain is French for bread.

6. Movie: CINE. I fell into the FILM trap.

7. Tabloid: RAG

8. Russia's __ Mountains: URAL. The Europe/Asia border mountain.

9. America's pastime: BASEBALL. Cole Hamels is going to pitch for the Phillies tonight. Hope he won't disappoint Barry Silk and all your Phillies fans.

10. Key of Beethoven's Ninth: D MINOR. The answer emerged itself.

12. Gremlin and Pacer: AMCS

13. Capital of Thailand?: BAHT (baht). Capital here refers to currency. See these images. Bangkok is so far away now.

18. Out of fashion: PASSE

19. Time irregularities, in sci-fi: WARPS

24. Prefix with foam: STYRO. Styrofoam.

25. Boutonniere site: LAPEL. Just learned that Boutonniere old French for "buttonhole".

27. Spanish sweetheart: NOVIA. Or fiancée/bride. Feminine. Novio is masculine sweetheart or fiancé/groom. Both new to me.

29. "Of Thee __": I SING

30. Thicket: COPSE. Same pronunciation with cops. I used to confuse it with corpse.

31. Olympics sword: EPEE

32. Peacock Throne occupant: SHAH. The name comes from the shape of a throne, having the figures of two peacocks standing behind it.

36. Challenging the rapids, maybe: CANOEING. Several non-theme ING-ending words in this puzzle.

37. Police cruiser: RADIO CAR

40. Poly- equivalent: MULTI. Both mean "many".

42. Sprints: DASHES

46. Corp. money bigwigs: CFOS. Andrew Fastow (ex-Enron CFO) will be out in 2 years.

49. Dagger of yore: SNEE. Scottish dagger. Learned from doing Xword.

50. Colombian cartel city: CALI. Gimme, right? I've mentioned the drug connection a few times. Loved the C C C alliteration.

51. How many employees are pd.: WKLY

55. Word before Friday or pal: GAL. Thought it's Girl Friday.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Oct 20, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 Bruce Venzke

Theme: "The Problem Was the Answer" - The theme the constructor came up with when he couldn't think of a theme.

20A: Suffering writer's block: COMING UP EMPTY

36A: Suffering writer's block: FRESH OUT OF IDEAS. Glaring crossing with SASS (29D: Get fresh with).

54A: Suffering writer's block: DRAWING A BLANK

Argyle again. Three theme puzzle again. Same difficulty level again.

TORSI rhymes with horsey: Who knew? I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of the week brings.

Across:

1A: Modify to fit: ADAPT. I had alter first.

10A: Early late-night host Jack: PAAR.

14A: __-Bismol: PEPTO. It will put you in the PINK.

15A: It smells: NOSE. And sometimes, it runs.

16A: Golden Fleece ship: ARGO. Jason's ship.

17A: Devoured every bit of: ATE UP. Puts you in the "Clean Plate Club". And EATS DIRT (38D: Admits an embarrassing error ). Clunker of the day! EATS CROW is the proper term, isn't it? Plus, two derivatives of EAT should not be allowed in one grid.

24A: "Days of __ Lives": OUR. "Like sand through an hour glass."

25A: One of the Musketeers: ARAMIS. Athos, Porthos, and ARAMIS.

28A: Paintings by dadaist Max: ERNSTs. Max Ernst, 1891–1976) German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst is considered to be one of the primary pioneers of the Dada movement and Surrealism.

32A: Sport __: family vehicle: UTE.

33A: Is bratty: ACTS UP. How many "up" in this grid? I counted three.

42A: Modeling session activity: POSING. Very sexy POSING from Gisele, just to get Dennis' blood flowing.

43A: Frequently, to a poet: OFT.

44A: Docking spot: PIER.

46A: Black Sea resort: ODESSA. Just one of the PIERS at ODESSA.

50A: Offers from a genie: WISHES.

52A: Small bill: ONE. The genie may offer three WISHES but I'd settle for just ONE.

58A: Pinza of "South Pacific": EZIO. He was the plantation owner Emile.

60A: Space-saving abbr.: ET AL.. Gee, this won't save any space in my closet!

61A: Many sculptures: TORSI. I googled TORSI and I got this....

64A: Krupp Works city: ESSEN. Kazie mentioned sometime ago that it's literally German for "to eat". Five letter German city. The Krupp family, a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments. The manufacturer of coffee makers and espresso machines, Krups, has just one "P".

66A: Letters after pi: RHOs.

67A: Color-coded Monopoly cards: DEEDS.

Down

1D: Geronimo's tribe: APACHE.

3D: Ancestors in Darwin's theory: APEMEN. echo 9D: Sailor: SEAMAN.

4D: Spitter's sound: PTUI.

5D: Exceptional: TOP NOTCH. Combining the two.

6D: Acquire, as liabilities: INCUR. What ARE the liabilities of seed spitting?

7D: Cartoon flapper Betty: BOOP.

8D: Maui, for one: ISLE. Did you all get this immediately?

10D: Carbo-loader's choice: PASTA. And ATKINS (49D: Diet guru who wouldn't have recommended 10-Down). The so-called "high protein" diet. Do you believe in any diet?

11D: Military mascot: ARMY MULE. The Navy's is a goat. This fill intersect two theme answers, so does TOP NOTCH, EATS DIRT and INDEBTED.

12D: It goes before beauty, so they say: AGE.

21D: Enthusiasm: GUSTO.

22D: Get too personal: PRY.

26D: "__ sin to tell ...": IT'S A.

30D: Henry Higgins, to Eliza: TUTOR. My Fair Lady.

31D: NYSE debuts: IPOs. New York Stock Exchange. Initial Public stock Offering (IPO)

34D: Apartment house manager, slangily: SUPE.

36D: Go with the __: FLOW.

39D: "Shrek" ogress: FIONA. and 45D: "Cross my heart": I SWEAR. You'd better believe her.

40D: Obligated to repay a loan: INDEBTED.

47D: Few and far between: SPARSE.

51D: Reform Party founder Perot: H.ROSS.

55D: Rash symptom: ITCH. But don't scratch, it will get infected.

56D: Prefix with second: NANO. Meaning "billionth". Also an Apple iPod model.

58D: Earth-friendly prefix: ECO.

59D: Reheat, nowadays: ZAP. Better use here than when it was clued as skipping over ads.

Answer grid.

Argyle

Notes from C.C.: Thank you for the well-wishes, everyone. I'm getting better and will be back blogging tomorrow morning. Welcome back, Clear Ayes, WM and Windhover (You need to download some free crossword puzzle application to solve LA Times on your iPhone.)

Oct 19, 2009

Monday October 19, 2009 Mark Bickham

Theme: All Keyed Up - the last word of each theme answer is a computer key.

17A: "Keep out" sign: DO NOT ENTER

24A: Pay for everyone's dinner: PICK UP THE TAB

40A: "All exits are blocked" situation: NO MEANS OF ESCAPE

50A: Throng management: CROWD CONTROL

62A: Four-on-the-floor, e.g.: STICK SHIFT

65D: Computer feature that ends each of the five longest across answers: KEY

Argyle here.

It hasn't taken our editor long to ramp things up it seems. Certainly harder than past Mondays, what with a Ceasar assassin and Jungian principle. And a new (to us) constructor, too boot. A nice mix of letter count although a little heavy on the use of "S". OTOH, very limited use of "RE-" and "-ED"s.

There are some entries that a casual solver might find hard but have become "gimmes" to the rest of us, ODER for one. How to account for these words when judging the relative difficulty of a puzzle, I don't know.

Across:

1A: "Overhead" engine parts: CAMS.

10A: __ the lily: ornament to excess: GILD. "GILD the lily", to add unnecessary ornamentation, a special feature, etc., in an attempt to improve something that is already complete, satisfactory, or ideal. By itself, GILD is to add gold leaf to an object.

14A: Doing the job: ON IT. Force of habit; I put AT IT first.

15A: Between, quaintly: TWIXT. Tastier without the last "T". And OPE (33A: Not shut, in verse). And ANON (2D: Soon, to a bard). All poetic fill.

16A: There oughta be one, so it's said: A LAW.

19A: Turn on a pivot: SLUE.

20A: Jungian feminine principle: ANIMA. Animus for the musculian principle. I am hoping someone can explain why the inner man is feminine.

21A: Coll. major for a future concert artist: MUS. Clunky.

32A: Peter, Paul or Mary: SAINT. All those three are saints. Nice play on the folk group "Peter, Paul and Mary". Then we also have the abbreviated STE (5D: Sault __ Marie).

34A: German river: ODER. May not known to all. Should be known to anyone doing crosswords on a regular basis. Polish/German border river.

45A: WWII submachine gun: STEN. British 9 mm submachine gun. The US used the B.A.R.(Browning Automatic Rifle) The M1918 was chambered for the .30-06 Springfield rifle cartridge and was designed by John Browning

54A: Witchy woman: HAG.

60A: Norse war god: ODIN. The Norse chief god. Tyr is "Norse war god" too.

67A: Division of society: CASTE. In Indian, esp.

69A: __ helmet: safari wear: PITH.

70A: Ease, as fears: ALLAY. I confess, I had RELAX and BELAY before ALLAY.

71A: Home on a limb: NEST. Cute.

Down:

1D: Musical finale: CODA.

4D: Defeat decisively: STOMP. Wow, a rather strong word I don't remember seeing used before in a puzzle.

7D: On, as a lamp: LIT.

8D: Like churches, vis-à-vis most taxes: EXEMPT. Wonder why the sudden use of vis-à-vis and a little shaky on that use.

9D: Rooster's gait: STRUT. I've seen some that were most comical.

10D: Tank filler: GAS. Simple but I like it.

11D: Unable to read: ILLITERATE.

12D: First lady before Michelle: LAURA.

13D: Dork: DWEEB.

22D: Small stores: SHOPS.

25D: Traveling show worker: CARNY.

26D: Sedona and Sorento: KIAS. A pair of SUVs from the Korean manufacturer. Sedona is an echo from Saturday. KIA is an abbreviation too. KI = "Rising" in Korean. A = Asia.

27D: Not made of interlaced parts, as fabric: UNWOVEN. This feels awkward.

30D: "American __": IDOL. Is anything happening with IDOL right now?

31D: Precious stone expert: GEMOLOGIST. This and 11D were a couple of nice, legitimate ten-letter fills.

35D: Stitch over: RESEW.

37D: Man of La Mancha: SENOR. Another great wordplay on Cervantes's "Don Quixote - Man of La Mancha".

38D: Acted like: APED. Are you happy with this clue/answer; it seems it wasn't liked very much the last time we had it.

39D: Contact or zoom: LENS.

41D: "All kidding __ ...": ASIDE.

42D: No-food protest: FAST.

47D: Snazzy entrance: PORTAL.

50D: Bite vigorously: CHOMP. STOMP and CHOMP, a strong echo here.

51D: Pie slice edges, geometrically: RADII. Plural of radius.

52D: One of Caesar's assassins: CASCA. Publius Servilius Casca was the first to strike Caesar with a dagger. Only remembered this after looking up the answer. Brutus is another assassin.

53D: Actress Lindsay: LOHAN. Showing off her talents.

57D: Longest river: NILE.

58D: Roswell sightings, briefly: UFOS. Roswell, NM is the the site of Area 51 (which doesn't exist either...or does it?)

59D: Printer's "let it stand": STET.

61D: To the __ degree: NTH. Echo of yesterday!

63D: One of many in the Aegean Sea: Abbr.: ISL. Abbr. of island or isle.

64D: Windy City transportation org.: CTA. Chicago Transit Authority or the band.

Answer grid.

Argyle

Oct 18, 2009

Sunday October 18, 2009 Alan Arbesfeld

Theme: The Ultimate Sandwich - NTH is sandwiched in each theme answer, spanning two words.

24A. Course covering the Roman Empire, perhaps: ANCIENT HISTORY

34A. Pentathlon event: JAVELIN THROW. More familiar with the sole word javelin rather than javelin throw.

51A. Rehearse quickly: RUN THROUGH

59A. "Under Milk Wood" playwright: DYLAN THOMAS. A Welsh writer/poet. Stranger to me. I've never heard of the play "Under Milk Wood".

77A. Malfunctioned: WENT HAYWIRE

89A: Gardener's gift: GREEN THUMB. Our KittyB sure has a green thumb.

102A. One of the Seven Sisters colleges: MOUNT HOLYOKE. Have vaguely heard of this college. Wikipedia says Emily Dickinson spent sometime here.

121A. College accommodations: STUDENT HOUSING

And 123D. Ultimate degree hidden in eight puzzle answers: NTH

I thought "sandwich" implies that NTH is inserted in an existing base phrase, but it's not. Good play on our crossword stalwart NTH.

This puzzle is of perfect difficulty level to me. I was engaged throughout the solving (some Sundays I was not), with a few "D'oh" V-8 moments, a few peeks at the cheat sheet and a few erasings.

As the norm with our Sunday puzzle, quite a few clever clues and unfamilair words/names for me.

Across:

1. Place to surf: THE NET. Internet surfing.

7. Like the best straight, in poker: ACE-HIGH. And DEAL IN (93A. Include, at the poker table).

14. Creature that divides to multiply: AMOEBA. The single-celled creature.

20. One-named Tejano singer: SELENA. She was murdered by a fan. J-Lo played her in the movie.

22. Scams: BUNCOS. Or Bunkos. New word to me.

23. Like hawks, vis-à-vis doves: PRO-WAR

27. Pilot: FLIER. And AIR BASE (43A. Post with planes).

28. "You're not telling the truth!": THAT'S A LIE

29. White Rose __-Tea, first instant iced tea: REDI. It simply means "ready", yes?

31. Take pieces from?: DISARM. Pieces=firearm. Great clue.

33. Noodge: PEST. Forgot the meaning of "noodge", a variant of nudge.

42. Jazz singer Anderson: IVIE. No idea. Wikipedia says she was best-known for her performances with Duke Ellington's orchestra between 1931 and 1942.

44. __ Raton, Florida: BOCA. Literally "mouth" in Spanish.

48. Chaos: BEDLAMS

50. Slangy "OK": YEH. Thought it's "Yeah".

55. Gods' drink: NECTAR. Root word for nectarine, my favorite fruit of the summer. Gods' food is ambrosia.

57. Bambi's aunt: ENA. Bambi & ENA are the only two "Bambi" characters I know.

58. British county: SHIRE

62. Lunes y martes, e.g.: DIAS. Spanish for "days". Lunes y martes = Monday and Tuesday.

65. Small songbird: WREN

66. Mother of the Titans: GAEA (JEE-uh). The Greek earth goddess.

69. Attend: GO TO

71. Deity skilled at archery: AMOR. Roman love god. Eros for the Greeks.

83. Toon skunk Pepé : LE PEW. The constant "l'amour" seeker.

85. Vintage auto: REO

87. __ Sebastian Bach: JOHANN. The greatest composer of the Baroque period.

88. Lux. neighbor: GER

92. Org. with a longstanding journal: AMA (American Medical Association). "The Journal of the American Medical Association".

95. NC State's gp.: ACC (Altantic Coast Conference). Stumper for me.

97. Starts: ADVENTS

101. Turner on screen: LANA. She was married to Artie Shaw for a few months.

104. Bank-confiscated auto, briefly: REPO

107. Reach rudely for: GRAB AT

111. Hints at: ALLUDES TO. Quite a few verb + preposition fill in today's grid.

113. Poland Spring competitor: EVIAN. Ours is Aquafina.

117. Bandleader's cry: HIT IT

123. "Driver carries __": robbery deterrent: NO CASH

124. Like a stiff drink: POTENT

125. Operative, as a rule: IN FORCE

126. Psychologist's concern: TRAUMA. Psychological damage is hard to treat.

127. Horseplay sounds?: SNORTS. Why? I got the answer from crosses.

128. Vegas light source: NEON GAS

129. __-skelter: HELTER

Down:

1. Recipe amts.: TSPS (Teaspoons). TBSPS is tablespoons.

3. "The Time Machine" race: ELOI. Yummy meal for the Morlock.

4. Old movie house staple: NEWSREEL

5. Canine coat?: ENAMEL. D'oh, teeth.

8. Child's plea: CAN I

12. Classy fellows: GENTS. Harmon Killebrew is a true gent, so is the guy on his right, of course!

13. __ yoga: HATHA. The most popular form of yoga, isn't it, KQ/Moon?

14. Slightly more than one can tolerate: A BIT MUCH. Multi-word fill elude me often.

15. Dishevel: MUSS

16. Recorded with a VCR: ON TAPE

17. French school: ECOLE. The students are élèves.

18. Tennis great Becker: BORIS. No idea. According to Wikipedia, he is the youngest-ever winner of the men's singles title at Wimbledon at the age of 17.

19. So far: AS YET

25. "Portia is Brutus' __, not his wife": Shak.: HARLOT. From Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar". I was clueless. LOVER does not fit.

27. All done, in Verdun: FINI. French for "over". I've never head of Verdun, a city in NE France. It's picked to rhyme with "done".

30. Radius times two: DIAMETER

32. "If __ a Rich Man": I WERE. From "Fiddler on the Roof".

34. Were in accord: JIBED. And AGREE (60D. Go along).

35. Big name in labels: AVERY

36. Gore who wrote "Lincoln": VIDAL. His mother was once married to Jackie Kennedy's step-father.

37. "__ see it my way ...": Beatles lyric: TRY TO. No idea. Those are the opening words of the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out".

38. Letter-shaped girder: H-BEAM. Same as I-BEAM, correct? I forgot our discussion result last time.

39. Enthusiastic: RAH-RAH. Ardent is six-letter too.

41. It's bad to be behind them: BARS. Behind the bars. Excellent clue. I was in the deadline direction.

44. __ B'rith: B'NAI. Literally "Sons of". B'nai B'rith = Sons of the Covenant.

45. Naturalist John: MUIR. The founder of Sierra Club.

47. Invitation word: WHEN

49. "The King and I" teacher: ANNA. Anna and the King.

52. Berlin conjunction: UND. German for "and".

53. "I'm amazed!": OH WOW

56. Indian tea: CHAI. "Chinese tea" is just CHA.

63. Turkish general: AGHA. Or AGA.

64. %#&!#! ones: SO AND SO'S. I thought those symbols refer to the F word.

68. "This seems familiar" feeling: DEJA VU. All over again.

70. Actress Daly: TYNE. Learned her name from doing Xword.

71. Pond organism: ALGA. The plural form is ALGAE.

72. Hired soldier, briefly: MERC. Mercenary, not a familiar abbreviation. Neither is VIRG (114D Arlington's state: Abbr.).

73. Crude cartel: OPEC. Nice C.C. alliteration.

75. Cross, in Cádiz: CRUZ. Another C.C. alliteration. Now I have a better understanding of Penélope CRUZ.

78. Ladies' club policy: NO MEN

79. U __, '60s UN secretary general: THANT. U is just Mr. in Burmese. Thant is his only name.

80. White house?: IGLOO. In Arctic. White indeed. Very clever clue.

81. Freshen, as a stamp pad: REINK

82. Banks of baseball: ERNIE. Hall-of-Famer. Played his entire career with the Chicago Cubs. What Els? ERNIE!

84. Ladies' hoops gp.: WNBA. Our WNBA team is called Minnestoa Lynx, owned by the same guy who owns the Timberwolves.

86. "Dreams From My Father" memoirist: OBAMA. He'd probably be happier with a Nobel Literature rather than Nobel Peace.

90. Digressions: TANGENTS

91. West Coast castle builder: HEARST. The Hearst Castle.

94. Not ordinary: ATYPICAL. Cool entry.

98. Spoils, as a grandchild: DOTES ON. I can picture how Jazzbumpa spoils his grandchildren.

101. "Turn it up, please": LOUDER. I like the er-less clue.

103. Pakistan's second-largest city: LAHORE. Karachi is the largest city.

104. Woodworking files: RASPS

105. John with a colorful wardrobe: ELTON. Oh, he is a SIR too.

106. Demoted planet: PLUTO

108. Dylan's "Ballad of __ Man": A THIN. Unknown to me. I did get BAEZ (96A. "Diamonds & Rust" singer Joan) though. Both were at Woodstock, right?

109. Wilderness Road pioneer: BOONE (Daniel)

115. Andean of yore: INCA

116. Mighty long time: AGES. Wrote down AEON first.

120. Whaler's direction: THAR. "There", as in "THAR she blows!"

122. ET carrier: UFO. What if aliens do exist?

A warm welcome to all our Canadian solvers. I enjoyed your comments last week and hope to hear more of your solving experience on Sundays.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Oct 17, 2009

Saturday October 17, 2009 Barry Silk

Theme: None

Total blocks: 27

Total words: 68

Again, 34 Across fill, and 34 Down fill, just like Barry's last COLE HAMELS puzzle. He seems to like this kind of balance.

No surprise. A pangram. All the 26 letters are used, at least once: 2 J's, 1Z, 1 X and several K's. (Update: Sorry. Argyle noticed that letter H is missing).

Smooth solving for me. Only peeked at the cheat sheet once for the crossing of EVANS (19A. "Macbeth" (1962) Emmy winner Maurice) and AKINS (4D. 1935 Pulitzer-winning playwright Zoë). I should have guessed with an N.

Wikipedia says Maurice Evans was an English actor noted for his interpretations of Shakesperean characters, and Marilyn Monroe's "How to Marry a Millionair" was based on Zoë Akins's play "The Greeks Had a Word for It".

Across:

1. Spears on the table: ASPARAGUS. Easy & healthy start.

10. Joplin at Woodstock: JANIS. Intersecting JIMI (10D. Hendrix at Woodstock). Nice "Woodstock" echo.

15. Basin that can result from a seismic landslide: QUAKE LAKE. New term to me.

16. Uncooperative words: I WON'T

17. Without equal: UNRIVALED. Like the Yankees' wealth, and arrogance.

18. 1980s attorney general: MEESE (Ed)

20. European ruler for 72 years: LOUIS XIV. The Sun King. He started the Haute Couture. Seed entry, Barry?

22. "I claim that!": DIBS

25. It ebbs and flows: TIDE

26. GI show gp.: USO (United Service Organizations)

27. Cotton Bowl site: DALLAS. The annual Cotton Bowl is played at the Cotton Bowl Stadium.

29. Give way: COLLAPSE

31. Spartans' sch.: MSU (Michigan State University).

33. Apprentice: TRAINEE

34. Home Depot kitchen department array: FAUCETS

39. It creates an adjustable loop: SLIPKNOT

40. It may be cracked by a spy: CODE. Barry's original clue might just be "It may be cracked".

43. Essayist Francis et al.: BACONS. Kevin is another Bacon.

46. "Concord Sonata" composer: IVES (Charles). Again, the answer revealed itself. Not familiar with this composer or his piece "Concord Sonata".

47. In __: seething: A RAGE

48. Notes after fa: SO LA. Wrote down SOLS first.

49. Alter, perhaps by using unethical techniques: REJIGGER. New word to me. JIGGER seems to have the same meaning.

51. Tehran language: FARSI. Moderan Persian.

52. Nuts: CRAZY

53. When business is slow: OFF-SEASON

56. Iron-rich meat: LIVER. True, but the smell of liver is just so strong.

57. Everly Brothers hit that begins "I bless the day I found you": LET IT BE ME. Here is the clip.

58. Musical exercise: ETUDE

59. Spoke to: ADDRESSED. Typical bottom edge word, with letter D's and S's.

Down:

1. Water conduit: AQUEDUCT. Rooted in aqua (water).

2. Driver's glare blocker: SUN VISOR

3. Certain conic section, in math: PARABOLA (puh-RAB-uh-luh). Got the answer. Don't really know what a parabola is.

5. Speeds (up): REVS

8. Guitar relative: Var.: UKELELE. Oh, variant of Ukulele.

9. Spiritual Arizona resort: SEDONA. My god, snow on the ground?

11. Blown away: AWESTRUCK

12. 1944 Sartre play: NO EXIT. The famous line "Hell is other people" is from this play. Sartre's "Nausea" is 6-letter too, but it's a novel (1938).

13. Where most stay when it rains: INSIDE

14. Martin and Allen: STEVES

21. Ship in 1898 news: USS MAINE. Gimme, right? We just had MAINE clued as "Ship to remember" several days ago and Martin mentioned the phrase "Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain".

23. Lunchbox alternative: PAPER BAG

27. Comic Carvey: DANA

30. Like wax museum figures: LIFE-SIZED

32. Has dinner: SUPS. And SCARFED (39D. Gobbled (down)).

34. Beat with a stick: FLOG. Verb.

35. Signs on the back: ENDORSES

36. Arduous: TOILSOME

37. Tense, as relations: STRAINED

40. Oater wagon formation: CIRCLE. Hence the idiom "circle the wagon".

41. Past the pain of breaking up, say: OVER IT. Again, the answer jumped out itself.

42. "Been there, done that" feeling: DEJA VU. Literally "already seen".

44. Biological ring of color: AREOLA. AREa + OLA. Again, like this.

48. Swedish autos: SAABS

50. "Did __ and gimble in the wabe": "Jabberwocky": GYRE. Obtained the answer from crosses also. "Jabberwocky" is pure nonsense to me.

51. Fancy party: FETE

54. Florist letters: FTD (Florists' Transworld Delivery)

55. Churchill's title: SIR. Churchill's mother was American.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Oct 16, 2009

Friday October 16, 2009 Dan Naddor

Theme: V Formation - W + long vowel sounds are changed into V + same long vowel sounds in the first word of a familiar phrases/name.

18A. Seat for eating scaloppine?: VEAL CHAIR. Wheelchair. Scaloppine refer to thinly sliced pieces of meat, especially veal, dredged in flour, sautéed, and served in a sauce. Unknown to me. I thought it's Italian for scallop. Scallop also means "thin boneless slice of meat" in cookery.

23A. Tool for a dueling snake?: VIPER BLADE. Wiper blade. I gather blade here means teeth?

36A. What Tarzan became after years of swinging?: VINE CONNOISSEUR. Wine connoisseur. Probably Dan's seed entry.

49A. Egotistical describer of laws of motion?: VAIN NEWTON. Wayne Newton. Newton's law of motion.

55A. Paleontologist's ski resort discoveries?: VAIL BONES. Whalebone. Vail is a Colorado skiing resort (Aspen is another one).

Five V theme answers. Roman numeral for five is V. Maybe just a coincidence.

Sometime last month I mentioned that I hoped to finish a Dan Naddor puzzle (sans cheating) before German pulls out of Afghanistan. Well, I did. Aced this puzzle today. Figured out the gimmick rather quickly and simply filled in blank after blank.

Today's Dan Naddor Index (total non-theme entries with 6 or more letters) is 10. Quite low in his standard.

Across:

1. Seawater component, to a chemist: NACL. Salt.

5. Egypt's Mubarak: HOSNI. Got the answer from crossings. I only know Mubarak as Mubarak. He's been the Egyptian president since Sadat's assassination in 1981.

10. Adriatic Sea country: Abbr.: ALB (Albania)

13. "In other words ...": I MEAN

15. Decide to participate: OPT IN

17. Oktoberfest dance: POLKA. Timely fill, esp for Dennis, who has been organizing the Oktoberfest in his area. Can you picture him dancing polka?

20. Speaker's stand: LECTERN

22. Blue Cross competitor: AETNA. And INS (29. 22-Acr. business). A simple cross-reference.

26. Home of the witch who melted: WEST. The Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard of Oz". And EAST (65A. Home of the witch buried under a fallen house). The Wicked Witch of the East. They are sisters. Glinda is the Good Witch of the North.

27. Earth tones: OCHRES

28. Newspaper ad meas.: SQ IN (Square Inch)

30. Sainted fifth-century pope: LEO I

31. Playfully: IN FUN

33. Org. once headed by Heston: NRA. Gimme, right? I've mentioned this fact a few times before.

40. Half and half: ONE. Simple fun clue.

41. Madison's neat roomie: UNGER. From "The Odd Couple".

42. Bottom-line negative: LOSS

43. Sykora of the NHL: PETR. Again, got his name from crosses. I don't follow hockey. He's the right winger for our Minnesota Wild. I presume Petr is Czechoslovakian for Peter?

44. "The Tempest" king: ALONSO

52. Month for fools?: APRIL. April Fools.

54. Uranium-238, e.g.: ISOTOPE. Easy guess. I know nothing about Uranium-238.

57. "Au contraire!": NOT SO. And NO SIR (51D. Boot camp negative).

60. Nest egg item, briefly: IRA. Hey, Dow is over 10,000 now.

61. Cheri of "SNL": OTERI

62. Firestone Country Club city: AKRON. The Bridgestone Invitational is played here.

63. Arch site: Abbr.: STL (St-Louis). The Gateway Arch was designed by our crossword pal Eero Saarinen.

64. Passover meal: SEDER. Funny "20 Things to Do with Matzah".

Down:

2. Latin 101 verb: AMO. AMO, amas, amat.

3. Texting device: CELL PHONE

4. View from Cleveland: LAKE ERIE

5. Shack: HOVEL

6. "The Barber of Seville," e.g.: OPERA. Rossini's most famous opera.

7. Represents: STANDS FOR

9. Peruvian ancestor: INCA. The Inca Empire was centered in Peru.

12. Sacha Baron Cohen title character: BORAT. Quite raunchy.

14. Mother-of-pearl: NACRE

21. Atlanta-based sta.: TBS. TNT, CNN, they are all based in Atlanta.

23. Saab competitor: VOLVO. Latin for "I roll".

24. Trap during a winter storm, maybe: ICE IN. This has become a gimme.

25. Prefix with distant: EQUI

31. Deep-rooted: INGRAINED. Like bad habits.

33. Aquarium fish with an iridescent stripe: NEON TETRA. How is it different from common tetra?

34. Rene of "Ransom": RUSSO. And Mel Gibson. Not a bad movie.

35. Burning desire?: ARSON. Nailed it immediately.

37. Stick in a parlor: CUE. The pool stick.

38. Airing in prime time, say: ON TV

39. Hardly a speed demon: SLOWPOKE. I am one.

45. Hotelier Helmsley: LEONA. "The Queen of Mean".

46. Lincoln's Confederate counterpart: DAVIS. Jefferson Davis, the CSA president.

47. Separately: APART

50. Grenoble's river: ISERE (ee-ZAIR). It flows to the Rhone.

53. Debt-laden corp. takeovers: LBOS (Leveraged Buyouts)

56. Suffix with Capri: OTE. Capriote, native of Capri. Cypriote is native of Cyprus. Learned from doing Xword.

58. Mariner's "Help!": SOS. Mayday too.

59. Que. neighbor: ONT (Ontario). Where Toronto is.

Answer grid.

C.C. the Victorious Mandarin Loon

Oct 15, 2009

Thursday October 15, 2009 Todd Gross

Theme: WRENCH (48D. A type of one begins the answers to starred clues)

20A. *Bakery fare named for their shape: CRESCENT ROLLS. Crescent wrench has a head shaped like a crescent. And it has a adjustable jaw to fit nuts/bolts of different sizes.

29A. *Quixotic reveries: PIPE DREAMS. Pipe wrench is also an adjustable wrench, used to grip and turn pipes. Did you hum "To dream the impossible dream ..." while filling in the answer?

45A. *Playground fixture: MONKEY BARS. Monkey wrench was named after the inventor Charles Moncky. Wikipedia says it's an old type of adjustable end wrench and was popular in the nineteenth century.

54A. *Beat poet who wrote "Howl": ALLEN GINSBERG. Allen wrench is a L-shaped bar with a hexagonal head at both ends. Used to turn screws/bolts with hexagonal sockets.

Man, I just call a wrench a wrench. Had no idea they have so many different names. But the answers were all easily obtainable due to the straightforward clues.

Very smooth puzzle. High Dan Naddor Index (total non-theme entries with 6 or more letters). I counted 21. The side by side placement of LOON (36D. Minnesota's state bird) and MANDARIN (37D: Official spoken language of China) just elated me. Mao Ze-dong is Mandarin Chinese. Mao Tse-tung is Cantonese spelling. Maddening differences, aren't they?

Those who solve NY Times regularly is probably familiar with today's constructor Todd Gross. He just made his NY Times debut with a Sunday "Let's Play Bingo" last month. Today's WRENCH is his first LA Times. Congratulations, Todd!

Todd also said Mike Peluso (one of our regular LAT constructors) helped him get this puzzle in "Rich-ready" format. And the puzzle was accepted before our TMS Daily /LAT switch. It's initially intended as a Wednesday puzzle, but moved to Thursday obviously due to this ease-up phase.

Across:

1. Premium movie station: SHO. Also HBO.

4. Hammer-wielding Norse god: THOR. The Norse god of thunder.

8. First voice of Mickey Mouse: DISNEY. Oh, I did not know Walt Disney was the original voice.

15. Will Rogers prop: ROPE. Will Rogers had Cherokee roots.

16. Rallying cry: ONWARD. No idea. Have never heard this word at the ball games.

19. Scrubs, as pots: SCOURED

23. Actress Holmes: KATIE. She is married to Tom Cruise, taller than he is, obviously.

32. 1953 Western hero to whom Joey cried "Come back!": SHANE. "Come back, SHANE".

34. Vacation home, maybe: RENTAL

41. Sunday dinners: ROASTS

43. Certain Sri Lankan: TAMIL. Tamils mostly live in north-eastern Sri Lanka. They speak Tamil of course.

47. Immortal racehorse Man __: O'WAR. The most famous racing horse in history, right?

51. Opie's dad: ANDY. From "The Andy Griffith Show".

52. Coffee dispenser: URN

53. Eagle's nest: AERIE

58. Ohio city north of Columbus: MARION. Got the answer from crosses. Interesting, Wikipedia says both John Dean (Nixon/Watergate fame) and President Warren Harding grew up here. Hmmm...

62. Really digs: IS INTO

64. MMX ÷ X: CCI. 2010 ÷ 10 = 201.

65. Basic doctrines: TENETS

66. One-armed bandit: SLOT. One-armed bandit is a slot machine.

67. "__ Haw": HEE

Down:

2. "Way to go!": HOORAY

3. Little barn fliers: OWLETS. Owls are far-sighted. They have difficulty seeing things up close.

4. Cease-fire: TRUCE

5. L'eggs product: HOSE

6. Good thing to keep when hearing opposing views: OPEN MIND. Keep an open mind. I like the clue. Also like the clue ASSET (53D. It's a good thing). It's all good, as Lois often says.

7. Bureaucratic waste: RED TAPE. I wonder why red tape and red herring are both red.

8. "Take care of it": DO SO. Do you use this phrase in your conversation?

9. "Batt. not __": INCL. Included? I never pay attention to the abbreviations in those packages.

10. Puffed up, as a sprain: SWOLLEN

11. Make queasy: NAUSEATE

12. Throw wide of the mark, say: ERR. Nicely placed beside YDS (13D. NFL gains).

22. Ham holder: RYE. And BUN (46D. Hot dog holder). "Holder" clue echo.

26. Detroit-based financial org.: GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corporation). Owned by US government now.

27. Capital on a fjord: OSLO. Why the heck is Norway rather than Sweden awarding Nobel Peace?

29. Variously colored flower: PANSY

30. Small weight units: DRAMS. 1/16 of an ounce.

31. One way to lower an APR: REFI. APR = Annual Percentage Rate. I did not even see this clue. The answer emerged all by itself.

39. Traveling show: CARNIVAL

42. Toronto's includes the CN Tower: SKYLINE. The Dubai Tower has surpassed CN Tower as the tallest building in the world.

43. Quotas: TARGETS

44. Leopold's co-defendant: LOEB

49. Snoopy's flying persona, e.g.: AIR ACE. Snoopy the Flying Ace.

50. Baseball's Jackson, a.k.a. "Mr. October": REGGIE. Because he always delivered during World Series games. Despite his performance against the Twins, A-Rod is no Mr. October, nope!

55. Ex-senator Trent: LOTT. Yep, he has his own lobbying business now.

56. Genesis grandson: ENOS. Grandson of Adam/Eve. Son of Seth.

57. Pixar clownfish: NEMO. From "Finding Nemo".

58. Sch. near Harvard: MIT

59. Enzyme suffix: ASE. Pineapple contains some enzyme which breaks own protein, hence pineapple juice is sometimes used to marinade and tenderize meat.

Answer grid.

C.C.