Jan 25, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010 Susan Miskimins

Theme: Organic Problems - Descriptive idioms ending with the adjective of person's various organs.

18A: Dispirited: DOWNHEARTED.

38A: Loud and long-winded: LEATHER-LUNGED.

55A: Easily offended: THIN-SKINNED.

3D: Cowardly: LILY-LIVERED.

27D: Imbecilic: LAME-BRAINED.

Argyle here. Ambitious Monday puzzle. Five theme entries for a Monday, wow! Oh, and I checked; the skin is considered the largest organ of the body.

Suffix Ss abound: Total 13. Too many.


1A: MSN competitor: AOL.

4A: Infants "in the woods": BABES. "Babe in the woods", an innocent, unsuspecting person.

9A: Terror: FEAR.

13A: Reagan's "Star Wars" prog.: SDI. (Strategic Defense Initiative)

14A: High-level storage areas: ATTICS.

16A: "Othello" villain: IAGO. Crosswords favorite villain.

17A: Condiment in 51-Across: SEL. (French salt)

20A: Safe haven: ASYLUM. Where Buckeye lives.

22A: Drinks dog-style: LAPS.

23A: Land surrounded by agua: ISLA. (Spanish: water & isle)

24A: Globe: SPHERE.

27A. You may be told to button or zip it: LIP.

30A: Tigers' dens: LAIRs.

32A: "Alley __": OOP. The comic character with a girlfriend named Ooola.

33A: Apiece: EACH.

34A: Austrian city with a sausage named for it: VIENNA. The little sausages that come in a can.

36A: Watson's partner: HOLMES. (Sherlock)

40A: Like a serious sin: MORTAL.

41A: Outlying town, vis-à-vis the city: SUBURB.

42A: Rocks to refine: ORES.

43A: Groundhog Day mo.: FEB..

44A: Feudal peons: SERFS.

47A: Longtime Massachusetts senator Kennedy: TED. RIP

48A: Chicken, so to speak: SCARED.

51A: Normandy city: CAEN. French. The river Orne runs through it into the English Channel.

52A: Saturate: SOAK.

53A: 1966 musical about a marriage: "I DO, I DO".

60A: Presently: NOW.

61A: German automaker: AUDI.

62A: Misprints: ERRATA.

63A: Poet's "before": ERE.

64A: Cream of the crop: BEST.

65A: Back-talking: SASSY.


1D: Attack violently: ASSAIL.

2D: Black Sea port: ODESSA. The only Black Sea port I know of.

4D: Grammy winner Erykah: BADU. She wears her where many ways, so pictured her in a hat.

5D: Diminutive energy sources: ATOMS.

6D: Incidentally, in texting shorthand: BTW. (By The Way)

7D: "Ich bin __ Berliner": EIN.

8D: Carry laboriously: SCHLEP. Always nice to have some Yiddish.

9D: Fraser and Douglas trees: FIRS.

12D: Word after fishing or lightning: ROD.

19D: Chimp, for one: APE. By the way, look at this wonderful video about an orangutan and a dog Bill G. brought to us yesterday.

21D: Dogie catchers: LARIATS. Dogie is a motherless calf in a cattle herd. Also spelled, dogey, dogy.

25D: Fried corn bread: PONE.

26D: More rasping, as a voice: HOARSER.

28D: Like much tea in summer: ICED.

29D: Acidity nos.: PHS.

31D: __ good example: SET A.

33D: Crete-born artist with a Spanish nickname: EL GRECO.

35D: Org. with Bruins and Coyotes: NHL. Hockey's Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes.

36D: O'Hare, for United Airlines: HUB.

37D: Burden: ONUS.

38D: Traditional wisdom: LORE.

39D: Mechanic's grease job: LUBE.

40D: Bon __: witticism: MOT.

43D: Muslim wonder-workers: FAKIRS.

45D: Bogart's hat: FEDORA.

46D: Flurried, e.g.: SNOWED.

48D: Seaman's "911": SOS.

50D: Weight-loss regimens: DIETS.

52D: Grumpy mood: SNIT.

54D: June 6, 1944: D-DAY.

55D: Drinkers may run one up: TAB.

57D: Points out, as a perp: IDS.

58D: "Right to bear arms" org.: NRA.

59D: "If I Ruled the World" rapper: NAS.

Answer grid.


Jan 24, 2010

Sunday January 24, 2010 Gail Grabowski

Theme: Gross Word - Letter C in common phrases is changed into letter G.

27A. Tammany Hall expo?: GRAFT FAIR. Craft Fair. Wikipedia says Tammany Hall served as "an engine for graft and political corruption". And the term "Tammany Hall" is now used to refer to a corrupt system of buying or controlling votes.

29A. Result of a run?: STOCKING GAP. Stocking Cap. A bit of clear nail polish can fix the stocking run.

52A. Glutton for fuzzy fruit?: PEACH GOBBLER. Peach Cobbler. Sweet! My favorite theme entry today.

79A. Low-priced drink holder?: ECONOMY GLASS. Economy Class.

105A. Mr. Clean?: GRIME SOLVER. Crime Solver.

109A. Telemarketing at dinnertime?: PHONE GALL. Phone Call. Gall indeed.

37D. Award for the best flop?: GOLD TURKEY. Cold Turkey. Flop = Turkey. Fun answer.

42D. Kid in a ditch?: TRENCH GOAT. Trench Coat. Kid = young goat. Thought of Windhover and his kidding/lambing.

Normally I love the theme titles on Sunday puzzles. Always clever, succinct and to the point. Not today though. I was expecting real "gross" words embedded in each theme entry. The "Gross Word" & "Crossword" play somehow does not work for me.

The theme concept itself is marvelous. All the original base phrases are common and solid. Sometimes an unfamiliar idiom or slang can stump a non-native speaker in understanding and the subsequent appreciating of the rationale/cleverness of the newly formed theme phrase.

There's always a simple & quiet elegance with Gail's puzzles. They seldom intimidate me (I nailed most of her tricky wordplay today) and I often feel fully engaged. Sometimes I zone out halfway on Sunday puzzles. Had to peek at the answer sheet for a few person's names.


1. Junk, e.g.: BOAT. Did not fall into the MAIL trap.

5. Lawrence's men: ARABS. "Lawrence of Arabia".

10. Adapter letters: AC/DC

14. Sired: BEGOT

19. High style: UPDO. High hair style.

20. Principle: TENET

21. Stadium replaced by Citi Field: SHEA. The old Mets' stadium. Replaced in 2009.

22. Brand on a range: AMANA

23. Hard to fathom: DEEP

24. Monthly reading for some: METER. Utility meter.

25. Markers: IOUS. New meaning of "markers" to me.

26. Railroad car: DINER

31. Before now: EARLIER

32. Cultivate: RAISE. And GREW (105D. Cultivated). I am very into clue weaving.

33. Talk about salvation, e.g.: Abbr.: SER (Sermon)

36. Wealthy widow: DOWAGER. Someone please count the total alliteration in this puzzle.

40. Childish retort: AM TOO

43. Single-minded sort: NERD

44. Excuse that's often exaggerated: SOB STORY. Got me.

45. Mystery writer Nevada: BARR. Sure a mystery to me. Have never heard of this writer. She was born in Nevada.

46. "Quit fidgeting!": BE STILL

49. Gp. that supports malpractice damage award limits: AMA. So do I.

50. Sculptor Nadelman: ELIE. Nope. Another mystery figure to me. Elie is Hebrew for "high".

51. Thing to grind: AXE. An axe to grind.

55. Inferior cookware: TIN POTS

57. Day-care charges: TOTS. My sister-in-law owns a Day-care center.

58. Put in stacks, say: SORT. So simple in retrospect.

61. Dais VIP: EMCEE

62. 2009 A.L. MVP Joe Mauer, e.g.: TWIN. Hmm, this is for KQ and me. Thanks, Gail/Rich.

66. Pirate's loot: SWAG. Slang.

68. Makeup item: ROUGE

71. Ones acting badly: HAMS. Every actor hams, bad or good.

73. It's sometimes enough: ONCE. Once is enough.

75. Like Dorothy's magical shoes: RUBY RED. Silver in the original novel. Ruby red films better.

77. Identify: PEG

84. Frat party supply: KEG. And BEER (8D. Brewski).

85. Wide-eyed: AGOG

87. "Told you so!": SEE?

88. "Too much information!": SPARE ME. What I always want to say to Jose Canseco.

89. __ majesty: high treason: LESE. Literally "injured" in French.

90. Open-bodied antique auto: ROADSTER

92. Verve: ELAN

93. Vestibule: FOYER

94. Posh properties: ESTATES. Alliteration again. Posh Spice jumped into my mind first.

95. Font flourish: SERIF. Another alliteration.

97. Film noir blade: SHIV. The prison knife.

100. Carrier more likely to be tipped: CANOE. Very descriptive clue.

101. Accumulates: PILES UP. Put in AMASSES first.

112. Burn slightly: SEAR. Or CHAR.

113. Ad infinitum: NO END

114. Utah ski resort: ALTA. The name escaped me. Close to the Salt Lake City.

115. Cybermemo: E-NOTE. I'd like to see E-LOVE someday.

116. Nail to the wall: HANG

117. Oklahoma native: OSAGE. O Sage!

118. Jupiter neighbor: MARS

119. Lost strength: WANED

120. Affectedly flamboyant: ARTY

121. Try to prevent: DETER. And HINDER (98D. Impede).

122. Dutch cheese: EDAM. Named after the Dutch town where the cheese was first produced.


1. Move slightly: BUDGE

2. Verdi work: OPERA. Have not seen AIDA for a while.

3. "Be __ ...": start of a polite request: A DEAR

4. Penthouse place: TOP FLOOR

5. Charge for cash: ATM FEE. Sigh. ATM itself or ATM combined answer often give me fits, no matter how easy it's clued.

6. Get back, as lost trust: RE-EARN. And RE-RIG (32D. Get (a ship) ready to sail again). One RE prefix is enough.

7. Start to knock?: ANTI. Start of the word antiknock. Nailed it.

9. Orchestra sect.: STR (String)

10. The way things stand: AS IT AS

11. Go for: CHOOSE

12. Court tie: DEUCE. Tennis court.

13. Port container: CASK. "Port" here is wine.

14. Half of a "Which do you want first?" pair: BAD NEWS. Great clue/answer. I always want good news first. You?

15. Leave the country, perhaps: EMIGRATE

16. Turf controller: GANG. And EDGER (70D. Turf tool). Another clue weaving.

17. Draft status: ONE A

18. Infield protector: TARP. Baseball reference is always welcome!

28. DVR brand: TIVO

29. Urban play area: SANDLOT

30. Indicators of equal pressure: ISOBARS

35. Adam's third: SETH. Brother of Abel and Cain.

36. Capitol cap: DOME. Another alliteration.

38. One of a noted quintet: ERIE. The five Great Lakes "quintet".

41. Saying: MAXIM

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

44. Topping for chips: SALSA

46. Push in some chips: BET

47. Right direction?: EAST. Right on the map. My favorite clue today.

48. Heavily financed deals, briefly: LBOS (Leveraged Buyouts)

52. Pound product: POEM. Pound here is poet Ezra Pound.

53. Incidentally, in chat rooms: BTW

59. Heavenly bodies: ORBS. Poetically.

60. Hall of Fame goalie Patrick __: ROY. No idea. Don't follow hockey.

63. Beau: WOOER

65. Two-stripers, e.g.: Abbr.: NCOS

67. Fat unit: GRAM. 1 G = 9 calorie.

69. Ninnies: GEESE. Wanted ASSES again.

72. Sonnet sections: SESTETS. The last six lines of a sonnet.

74. Augustus, for one: EMPEROR. Augustus was the first emperor of the Roman Empire.

76. Benefit: USE

77. Whittle: PARE

78. Bigheads: EGOS

80. Bocce pair?: CEES. There are a pair of letter Cs in the word Bocce.

81. Certain Ivy Leaguer: YALIE

82. 1980s-'90s women's tennis player who was #1 for a record total of 377 weeks: GRAF (Steffi). And LOVE GAME (89D. Shutout for 82-Down). Shutout game.

83. Actor Cariou: LEN. Easy guess.

86. Sydney salutation: G'DAY MATE. For Kazie.

91. Drenched: STEEPED

93. Grind, in a way: FILE. Oh, nail.

95. Scholar: SAVANT

96. Get-up-and-go: ENERGY

97. Spot remover: SPONGE

100. Spelled-out: CLEAR

102. Dressing recipient: SALAD. Love Waldorf Salad.

103. Part of UHF: ULTRA. UHF = Ultra High Frequency. Not a familiar abbr. to me.

104. Suffix with proto-: PLASM. Suffix meaning "tissue"/"living substance".

106. Sofer of soaps: RENA. One more alliteration.

107. Pic to click: ICON

108. Org. concerned with ergonomics: OSHA

109. Masquerade (as): POSE

110. Pressure: HEAT. Why? I don't get it.

Answer grid.


Jan 23, 2010

Saturday January 23, 2010 Robert H. Wolfe

Theme: None

Total blocks: 36

Total words: 70

This puzzle is anchored by three 15-letter grid-spanning colloquial idioms:

17A. Words of consolation: YOU CAN'T WIN 'EM ALL. You win some, you lose some.

36A. "Don't cry over spilt milk": WHAT'S DONE IS DONE. Can't change the past.

54A. Sassy reply to criticism: IT'S A FREE COUNTRY! I'll do what I please!

Excellent entries, aren't they?

Alas, the rest of the fill and clues do not awe me as much. My multi-word woe continued. Some of the answer phrases are just not in my vocabulary and a few clues are simply too vague for my knowledge and enjoyment.

Felt like walking on ice the whole solve. Maybe it's solid ground for Dennis.


1. Cellbound?: IN PRISON. Bound in prison cell. Thought it might be mobile phone related.

9. Activates: TRIPS. Like "trip a switch". My hats off to you if the answer came to you immediately.

14. Sanctioned: VALIDATED

16. Brownish pigment: SEPIA. The old photo color.

19. Group with PCPs: HMO. PCP: Primary-Care Physician.

20. Día de San Valentín sentiment: TE AMO. "I love you" in Spanish. Día de San Valentín = St. Valentine's day.

21. Carbon compound: ENOL. Carbon is the same as organic, isn't it?

22. Boardroom illustration: CHART

24. Letter-shaped hardware used to strengthen joints: T- PLATE. Like this.

26. Fish also called a blue jack: COHO. Only know it as "Silver salmon". Does have some blue hue.

28. Bravo maker: FIAT. Not familiar with Fiat Bravo.

29. See a pro, say: TAKE LESSONS. Nope, did not come to quickly.

33. __ blue: SKY

38. Vague quantity: ANY. FEW too.

39. Fish tales: TALL STORIES. And LIED (48A. Wasn't true).

40. Chilean bread: PESO. The "bread" in late week puzzles often refer to money.

41. Submit formally: FILE

42. Back on the water: ASTERN. Back of a boat. Opposite bow.

45. Good thing to be up to: SNUFF. Idiom: "up to snuff". Nailed it.

49. __ Peters, author of Brother Cadfael mysteries: ELLIS. No idea. Pseudonym of British author Edith Mary Pargeter. See the book cover.

51. Intercepting device: TAP

58. Big name in falsetto: VALLI (Frankie). Of "The Four Seasons".

59. Street hazard: OPEN SEWER. I just felt so dumb.

60. Take out, in a way: ERASE

61. View for 6-Down: TREE TOPS. And SANTA (6D. Flier over 61-Across).


1. Creeper: IVY

2. Sodium hydroxide, in chem class: NAOH. Only know the sodium symbol NA.

3. Juicy fruit: PLUM

4. Bounce: RICOCHET

5. State with a panhandle: Abbr.: IDA. So many states with panhandles. The clue typifies the "could be this, could be that" toughness of the whole grid.

7. Web-footed mammal: OTTER

8. Not experienced in: NEW AT

9. Literary monogram: TSE (T.S. Eliot). The first person who popped into my brain.

10. Do a foundry job: REMELT. Did not know the meaning of "foundry".

11. Old toothpaste with a spokesbeaver: IPANA. "Brusha, brusha, brusha".

12. Fly: PILOT

13. Maison room: SALLE. French for "room". Maison is "house". I misread as "Mason room".

15. Not too smart: DIM

18. Out of the running: NOT IN IT. Not fond of any "Not ..." answer. Opens doors for NOT FULL, NOT UGLY, NOT SEXY, anything not. Arbitrary-prone.

23. Arm holder?: HOLSTER. Firearm. Loved the clue.

25. Falsely present (as): PASS OFF

26. Four-time Oscar-winning lyricist: CAHN (Sammy)

27. Fine: OKAY

28. Antagonists: FOES

29. Defunct carrier: TWA. Howard Hughes's airline.

30. "Roots" Emmy winner: ED ASNER. He played Captain Davies on "Roots". I need "Lou Grant" to make the fill a gimme.

31. Helpless?: SOLO. Nice clue.

32. NBC hit since '75: SNL

33. Land: SOIL

34. Joint with a cap: KNEE

35. "Works for me": YES

37. Fisherman's aid that floats with the current: DRIFT NET. New to me.

40. Rides on a path, perhaps: PEDALS. Perhaps, yes.

42. Full of energy: ALIVE

43. Indian strings: SITAR

44. Magnetic induction unit: TESLA. Named after Nikola Tesla.

45. Nodded: SLEPT

46. More pleasant: NICER

47. Rte. through six Eastern state capitals: US ONE. US. Route 1 runs from Maine to Florida.

50. Fifth sign: LEO. Zodiac sign.

52. Welk's upbeat: A TWO. Lawrence Welk trademark count-off: "A one and a two". Beat me.

53. __ school: PREP

55. Old-fashioned word of disapproval: FIE

56. Deploy: USE

57. Vintage nos.: YRS. On wine bottle.

Answer grid.

See you tomorrow, Crucigangsters! Thanks for the word yesterday, Jerome. FYI, cruciverbalist is a person who loves crosswords. From Latin crux/cruc "cross" + verbum "word", a modern back translation of English "crossword".


Jan 22, 2010

Friday January 22, 2010 Fred Jackson III

Theme: L-adder - Letter L is added into a B-starting four-letter first word of a familiar phrase/name.

17A. Scrabble cheat?: B(L)ANK ROBBER. Bank Robber. The blank tile in Scrabble.

53A. Singer who loves flashy jewelry?: B(L)ING CROSBY. Bing Crosby. Flashy jewelry = Bling.

11D. Perform a sheepish hip-hop number?: B(L)EAT THE RAP. Beat the Rap.

25D. Boring boss?: B(L)AND LEADER. Band Leader. Alliteration in the clue.

Can you also change BOND GIRL into a BLOND GIRL or does the girl have to be BLONDE? Any other similar pattern convertible B???/BL??? phrase came to your mind?

Bonus fill: ELL (2D. Wright wing, maybe). Playing on "Right wing". Ell has a 90-degree right angle. Wright here refers to architect Frank Lloyd Wright, right? Tricky clues like ELL abound in this puzzle. I was severely challenged and humbled.

Also noticeable are the French references in the grid:

38A. Printemps follower: ETE. Printemps is French for "spring".

7D. French friar: ABBE. Alliteration again. "French cleric" does not have the same sound appeal.

22D. Agua, across the Pyrenees: EAU. Water in the north of Pyrenees (France) is EAU and "agua" in the south (Spain).

54D. Paris article: LES. French for "the". Like "Les Misérables".


1. Golf relative?: JETTA. Golf and Jetta are both Volkswagen models. Stumper for me. Don "Hard G" just clued GOLF ODYSSEY as "Duffer's trip through Scotland?" (Volkswagen/Honda) last Sunday.

6. Camp sight: CANOE

11. A favorite is a good one: BET. Wanted PET.

14. Liquid fat: OLEIN (OH-lee-in). New word to me. Is it present in olive oil?

16. Language of Southeast Asia: LAO

19. Cause of star wars?: EGO. Celebrity "star". Nice play on "Star Wars".

20. Isn't on the level: SLOPES

21. Put one's cards on the table: DEALT. Tricky past tense "Put".

23. Doctor's order: LAB TEST

26. Babbles: PRATES

27. White Rabbit's cry: I'M LATE. I've never read "Alice in Wonderland".

28. "Like, wow!": FAR OUT. Cool!

30. Antiquated alpine apparatus: T-BAR. Alliteration gone wild! Lovely!

31. Curl beneficiary, informally: BICEPS. Weightlifting "Curl".

32. Solution for a bad hair day: HAT

36. Moisturizer target: DRYNESS

39. Traffic reg.: ORD (Ordinance)

40. Miss Muffet, before the spider showed up: EATER. From the nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffet". She was eating curds and whey before the spider showed up.

41. E-mail heading word: FROM

42. Stay a while: LINGER. Sojourn is one letter too long.

44. Viselike device: C-CLAMP. Due to its C shaped frame. Got me.

46. Future doctor's project: THESIS. Ph. D. "doctor".

48. Caribbean music genre: CALYPSO. I could only think of Reggae.

49. Oater prop: RIATA. Or REATA.

50. Low areas: SWALES. Marshy/swampy low tract of area. Learned from doing Xword. Can you find peat there?

52. Stop: END

58. Bartender's concern: AGE

59. Leave alone: LET BE

60. Piercing look: GLARE

61. "__ Rosenkavalier": Strauss opera: DER. German for "the". Not familiar with "Der Rosenkavalier" (The Knight of the Rose). Surprised to see both DER and LES in the same grid.

62. "The Federalist" component: ESSAY. How many essays?

63. Ninnies: YO-YOS. Did not know "yo-yo" is a slang for "a stupid person".


1. Position: JOB. Had a hiccup on this one.

3. Break fluid?: TEA. Play on "Brake fluid". Tea during coffee/tea break.

4. Old West badge: TIN STAR. Like this? Tin material does not carry an authoritative cachet at all.

5. Low sock: ANKLET

6. Take for one's own use: CO-OPT

8. Catches: NABS

9. East Ender's flat: 'OME (Home). H sound is dropped in East Ender/Cockney dialect.

10. Pendant pair: EARDROPS. Drop earrings.

12. Boston College athlete: EAGLE. Unknown to me.

13. Whistle sounds: TOOTS

18. American Beauty, e.g.: ROSE. Great clue. I bet many were thinking of the film.

23. Collectible print, briefly: LITHO. The real collectibles are signed & limited edition.

24. Fossilized resin: AMBER

26. Wash. title: PRES (President). Would prefer "Washington title, briefly" clue.

28. More delicate: FINER
29. Andy Roddick, at times: ACER

31. Data measure: BYTE. Computer data.

33. Tiny quantities: ATOMS

34. A conductor might pick it up: TEMPO. Liked the "it" in this clue.

36. Subject to contradiction: DENIABLE. Excellent entry.

37. Tattered duds: RAGS

41. Achieve a piloting milestone: FLY SOLO. True.

43. Suffix with Mao: IST. Maoist. My Dad could recite every word of Chairman Mao's "Little Red Book".

44. Math class, briefly: CALC (Calculus)

45. Service providers?: CLERGY. Religious service.

46. Its gradual loss leads to baldness: TREAD. Oh, tire baldness.

47. Depend (on): HINGE. Nice change from RELY.

48. Shrewd: CAGEY

50. Convenes: SITS. Why? I don't get this one.

51. Org. with the Chicago Sky and Seattle Storm: WNBA. Knew neither of them. Our local team is Minnesota Lynx.

56. Pal: BRO. Mac/Bud too.

57. "May I help you?": YES?

Thanks for the sweet comments on the blog birthday yesterday, everyone, esp Linda. Thanks for remembering the date.

Answer grid.


Jan 21, 2010

Thursday January 21, 2010 Gareth Bain

Theme: BREAK THE ICE (65. Warm things up, and what 17-, 28- and 50-Across literally do) - The word ICE is broken and spans across each two-word common phrase.

17A. One that creates a current in the current: ELECTRIC EEL. It generates "electric current" in the "water current".

28A. DNA researcher: GENETIC ENGINEER. I forgot what's the difference between DNA and RNA again.

50A. Fitness staple: AEROBIC EXERCISE. Swimming, jogging, etc. Improve your body's use of oxygen.

This "split a word" theme idea itself is not novel. We've seen a few since the LAT switch. But Gareth Bain brought the whole concept to a new dimension by placing the unifying answer BREAK THE ICE in the grid. A bit similar in concept to his NIXON puzzle where ON is nixed in each theme entry and NIXON itself is gridded at the lower right corner.

Quite a few sparkling clues in the puzzle. I especially like the following "They":

73A. They must be met: NEEDS

12D. They may not be speaking: EXES

63D. They're barely passing: DEES. Grades.


1. Colorado resort town: ASPEN. The ski resort.

6. Roman commoner: PLEB

10. Who blows thar?: SHE. Thar she blows!

13. "April Love" singer: BOONE (Pat). Here is the clip.

14. Talks deliriously: RAVES

16. Witch's specialty: HEX. Thought it's BREW.

20. Floor model: DEMO

21. __ alcohol: fusel oil component: AMYL. No idea. From Greek ámylon (starch).

22. Shakespearean feet: IAMBS. Poetic feet.

26. Kissers: YAPS

35. Horror filmmaker Roth: ELI. Have never heard of this guy. Welcome to the crossword world, new ELI!

36. James Brown's genre: SOUL. James Brown is "The Godfather of Soul".

37. Allow: ENABLE

38. A flat one may evoke a wince: NOTE. Wrote down JOKE first.

42. Starting line advantage: POLE. Car racing starting line?

43. Puccini works: OPERAS

46. Wilson's predecessor: TAFT. The only president who also served as Chief Justice.

49. Actress Ullmann: LIV. Norweigian. Used to think she's from Sweden.

53. "The fool __ think he is wise ...": "As You Like It": DOTH

54. Silver encouragement?: HI-YO. "Hi-yo Silver, away!". The Lone Ranger's shout to his horse Silver.

55. Duke __: video game hero: NUKEM. I had NUKE? sitting there forever.

58. Ireland, poetically: ERIN. The answer seems to be ERIN instead of EIRE whenever there is "poetic" involved.

60. Ale feature: HEAD. Foam.

64. Ace's value, at times: ONE

68. Beverage suffix: ADE. Lemonade.

69. Barracks VIP: SARGE. Why is Barracks in plural form?

70. Rubber duck-loving Muppet: ERNIE. "Sesame Street".

71. Short flight: HOP

72. Tints: DYES. Plopped HUES.


1. Between the sheets: ABED. Bed sheets.

3. Housman work: POEM. A.E. Houseman the British poet. I misread the clue as Houseman.

4. "More!": ENCORE

6. Butcher's best: PRIME CUT

7. Like some negligees: LACY. Do you like the color?

8. "Brideshead Revisited" novelist Waugh: EVELYN. Not familiar with the book at all.

9. Buzzer: BEE

10. Ersatz: SHAM

11. Basil or chervil: HERB. Nice rhyme.

15. Add sneakily: SLIP IN

18. Sine or cosine: RATIO

23. See 25-Down: A SNAP. And IT'S A (25. With 23-Down, "Duck soup!"). "Duck soup" is a slang for "piece of cake".

27. Census datum: AGE

28. Italian port: GENOA. A bit south of Milan.

29. Sneak off to the altar: ELOPE

30. Compound in some explosives: NITER. In TNT.

31. Enrapture: ELATE

32. Where Christ stopped, in a Levi title: EBOLI. Levi's "Christ Stopped at Eboli".

33. Hudson River's __ Island: ELLIS

34. "Still Me" autobiographer: REEVE (Christopher). Katharine Hepburn's autobiography is simply titled "Me".

41. Unpopular legislative decisions: TAX HIKES

44. WWII enders: A-BOMBS

45. Take a load off: SIT. Good clue too.

47. Épéeist's ruse: FEINT

48. Shot: TRY. Give it a shot/TRY.

51. Heartening: CHEERY

52. Stick together: COHERE

55. Ararat lander: NOAH. Noah's Ark landed in Mount Ararat.

56. Edit menu command: UNDO

57. Don't let go: KEEP

59. Fashion: RAGE. In rage. Did not come to me readily.

61. Mozart's "__ kleine Nachtmusik": EINE. "A Little Night music".

66. "Far out!": RAD

67. Barnyard bird: HEN. Owl too.

For those who do not visit the Comments section, Rich Norris (LA Times Crossword editor) told Dennis yesterday that starting in February, we'll only see Dan Naddor's puzzles every other week. "At that rate, his puzzles will last for the entire year and perhaps flow over into 2011--a fitting tribute to one of the finest constructors I've ever had the pleasure of editing."

Also, from Don "Hard G" Gagliardo: "I just received my February issue of The Crosswords Club, and Dan has a puzzle in there! So you might want to pass that on to your readers in case they do not know this. There is also one by Rich, recent LA contributor John Lampkin has one, veterans Alan Olschwang and Fred Piscop are represented, and there is an intriguing-looking one by Mark Bickham. Contact number is 1-800-433-4386."

Answer grid.


Jan 20, 2010

Wednesday January 20, 2010 Barry Silk

Theme: Noshes - Common two-word phrases in which the second word is a SNACK FOOD. (35A: With 63-Across, this puzzle's theme: and 63A: See 35-Across).

20A: Microprocessors: COMPUTER CHIPS.

27A: Shipping thingies used as a filler: PACKING PEANUTS.

43A: Bits of user information created by Web sites: BROWSER COOKIES.

51.A: Contortionists: HUMAN PRETZELS.

All the snacks are in plural forms and are contained in a non-snack context.

Argyle here with a Barry Silk puzzle just one pesky 'J' away from a pangram.

I think we may have a wide range of opinions on this one but I'm a little under the weather so I could be wrong. Well, it's getting late, I better get to it.


1A: Caesar's reproach: ET TU.

5A: Plays a trump card, in bridge: RUFFS. New to me. The word comes from an old card game.

10A: #2: VEEP. (Vice President)

14A:. Caution: WARN.

15A: 1946 high-tech unveiling at the Univ. of Pennsylvania: ENIAC. Electronic Numeral Integrator and Computer

16A: On Hollywood Blvd., say: IN LA. (in Los Angeles)

17A: Way out: EXIT.

18A: Mizuno Corporation headquarters: OSAKA. Mizuno Corporation is a Japanese sports equipment and sportswear company.

19A: Sty resident?: SLOB.

23A: Poet Lowell: AMY. Amy Lowell (1874—1925) was an American poet of the imagist school who posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926 for her collection, "What's O'Clock".

25A:. Tennyson's twilight: EEN. Echo. Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during much of Queen Victoria's reign.

26A: Beginning: ONSET.

32A: Persian Gulf ship: OILER. I see they are still being hijacked.

34A: Court response: PLEA.

37A: Water color: AQUA. Misleading clue?

41A: Grammy winner Braxton: TONI. Pic and 29D: "Why Can't I?" singer Liz: PHAIR. Pic

42A: Subjects for searching or saving: SOULS.

48A: "Me, too!": SO AM I.

49A:. Buddy List co.: AOL. Formerly known as America Online, they reinvent themselves every few years and this is one of their gimmicks, like CBS Radio online.

50A: Eastern discipline: ZEN.

56A: "Back __ hour": store sign: IN AN.

57A: Budapest-born conductor: SOLTI. I haven't made him a gimme yet but I am able to fill him in with perp help.

58A: "Good heavens!": OH MY.

61A: 15th century date: MCDI. 1401

62A: Place for a bracelet: ANKLE.

64A:. Wet expanses: SEAS.

65A: Shocking weapon: TASER. Taser "shocks".

66A:. Rare bills : TWOS.


1D: Farm mom: EWE.

2D: It's based on purchase price: TAX. Okay, if you have a local sales tax, what is it? Mine is 7%.

3D: Scooter kin: TRICYCLE.

5D: Get back in business: REOPEN. Where is Dennis going this time?

6D: Like heroes who deserve more credit: UNSUNG. Nice clue.

7D: Italian automaker: FIAT.

8D: Counterfeit: FAKE.

9D: Fight memento: SCAR.

10D: Hindu god incarnated as Krishna: VISHNU.

12D: Runs off to wed: ELOPES.

13D: Beer with a blue ribbon logo: PABST.

21D: Subject of the play "Golda's Balcony": MEIR. Golda Meir was the fourth prime minister ('69-'740 of the State of Israel.

23D: Per unit: A POP. I had EACH; shoulda known better.

24D: E or G follower: MAIL.

28D: Mauna __: KEA. (An inactive volcano in Hawaii.)

30D: Common Market letters: EEC. (European Economic Community)

31D: Biblical refuge: ARK.

35D: "Mayday!": SOS.

36D: D.C.-to-Albany dir.: NNE. Okay so long as you didn't think Albany, GA.

37D: Just fine: A-OK.

38D: '50s TV scandal genre: QUIZ SHOW.

39D: Title beekeeper played by Peter Fonda: ULEE. Ulee's Gold

40D: Part of PGA: Abbr.: ASSN..

41D: Mattress size: TWIN.

42D: Step on it: SOLE. Awkward clue.

43D: Dribble: BOUNCE.

44D: Holiday Inn rival: RAMADA.

45D: Muscat residents: OMANIS. Muscat is the capital and largest city of Oman.

46D: Ranch roamers: CATTLE. with 59D: 46-Down call: MOO.

47D: More slime-like: OOZIER.

48D: Leveling wedges: SHIMS.

52D: Jr.'s exam: PSAT.

53D: First name in gossip: RONA. (Rona Barret)

54D: Fraternal group: ELKS.

55D: Room at the top: LOFT.

60D: Gridiron gains: Abbr.: YDS.

Answer grid.


Jan 19, 2010

Tuesday January 19, 2010 Dan Naddor

Theme: Sports Nicknames - Famous athletes in various sports known by their nicknames.

20A. MAGIC: EARVIN JOHNSON. Has not died of AIDS, which made him decide to retire for awhile, but then return, then retire, then return, then retire again. Claims to have slept with 10,000 women.

26A. TIGER: ELDRICK WOODS. Going after Magic's record.

46A. PRIME TIME: DEION SANDERS. Played both baseball and football. How many other sports has he courted?

53A. YOGI: LAWRENCE BERRA. Voiced 10,000 malaprops.

Bonus sport personalities:

41A. Palmer with his own "army": ARNIE.

58A. Nastase with a racket: ILIE.

60D. Kareem, formerly: LEW. Alcindor.

Al guest blogging today. Bet you all are jealous I got to do one of Dan's. It upped the ante on the usual Tuesday fare.


1. Somewhat warm: TEPID. "Luke"warm. Who the heck is that, you may ask? Luke is a Middle English form of the Old English hléow meaning warm or sunny, from as early as 1205.

6. Polio vaccine developer: SALK. Injected form. Sabin created the safer oral version. There is an interesting chart that offers circumstantial evidence that pesticides had a more likely role.

10. Wheel edges: RIMS.

14. Like top-quality beef: PRIME. The highest rating of a combined high ratio of marbling with the youngest maturity of beef.

15. Prefix with logical: IDEO. Having a doctrine or philosophy.

16. Jacques's state: ETAT. French for state. Coup d' etat is to overthrow the government (state).

17. Phi Beta __: KAPPA. The oldest Academic Society, founded Dec 5, 1776 at William and Mary.

18. Earth inheritors, with "the": MEEK. Beatitude in the book of Matthew.

19. Water barrier: DIKE. Also a French word meaning "men's clothing".

23. Saint Francis's home: ASSISI. Italy.

25. Little Red Book follower: MAOIST. One who follows, not a sequel.

30. Madre's brother: TIO. Spanish. Aunt is TIA.

31. Silky synthetic: RAYON. Actually it is only semi-synthetic. And 49A. Glossy cotton fabric: SATEEN. A structure in the weaving process, can be made from different materials, like cotton and rayon.

32. Volkswagen sedan: JETTA. Derives from the German language word for 'jet stream', reflecting the period in Volkswagen's history when it named its vehicles after prominent winds.

36. Stuff of headlines: NEWS. Pretty much Haiti these days. 200,000 dead and 1.5 mil homeless. Everything else sort of pales in comparison.

38. Cooking apples: ROMES.

40. Teen detective Nancy: DREW. The original 56 books were written by 8 different authors.

43. Stories: TALES. Had to wait to make sure it wasn't SAGAS or EPICS or even EDDAS.

45. Hagen of Broadway: UTA. Died at 84 in 2004.

52. Bath sponge: LOOFAH. How to harvest and make them.

57. Akron's state: OHIO. Where Goodyear was started.

59. Tells really badly, as a joke: KILLS. Not to be confused with SLAYS, which means the opposite.

62. Suvari of "American Pie": MENA. Also the "rose petal" girl in American Beauty. I guess she's American...

63. Society oddball: NERD. A badge of honor to some...

64. And the following, in bibliographies: Abbr.: ET SEQ. Latin phrase et sequens (et sequentes, et sequentia).

65. Pigged out (on), as junk food: OD'ED. Overdosed.

66. Takes one's turn: GOES.

67. Cinema chain: LOEWS. Originally a chain of nickelodeons in Cincinatti, OH.


1. Rd. often spanning an entire state: TPK. No turnpikes in WI, this abbr. gets me all the time.

2. Historical span: ERA.

3. Shuts up: PIPES DOWN. Nice opposition.

4. Damage: IMPAIR. As in hearing, for example.

5. Letter opener?: DEAR SIR. or John.

6. California's __ Valley: SIMI. North of LA, near Thousand Oaks.

7. Yemen's Gulf of __: ADEN. Part of the Indian Ocean, south of Yemen, north of Somalia.

8. Actor Cobb: LEE J. Death of a Salesman.

9. City north of Indianapolis: KOKOMO. Unless you listen to the Beach Boys, then it's a Jamaican Island now known as Sandals Cay.

10. Like Rudolph: RED NOSED. Or W.C. Fields.

11. "Who's calling?" response: IT IS I. Pretty formal. Also not very helpful.

12. Strong sharks: MAKOS. They can get pretty big.

13. Surgical tube: STENT.

21. Goldsmith's Wakefield clergyman: VICAR. Set in rural eighteenth-century England, The Vicar of Wakefield chronicles the life of Vicar Charles Primrose, his wife Deborah, and their children. Narrated by the protagonist, the novel recounts the reversal of the Vicar's modest fortunes and a series of blows to the family's unity. Daughter Olivia marries a scoundrel who subsequently deserts her. The family loses all their money, and son George must end his engagement. The family is forced to move to a smaller house, which catches fire. Primrose is injured saving his family. Although destitute, Primrose finds the inner strength to rise above circumstances and to comfort those around him. The novel ends with a series of improbable resolutions that restore the Vicar and his family to their previous happiness and good fortune.

22. Trip to Mecca: HADJ. Religious pilgrimage that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so.

23. Health insurance giant: AETNA. Latin name for Mount Etna. Not to be confused with Prudential, which uses the Rock of Gibraltar as its symbol.

24. More devious: SLIER.

27. Former Japanese capital: KYOTO.

28. "Witchy __": Eagles hit: WOMAN.

29. Law school beginners: ONE LS. 1L

33. Test type with only two possible answers: TRUE FALSE. Technically, three. Leaving it blank means "I don't know". Had a teacher that gave negative points for guessing wrong answers, as opposed to zero if you didn't answer.

34. Aquarium fish: TETRA.

35. Covered with water: AWASH.

37. Hardly a main drag: SIDE ROAD.

39. Black Panthers co-founder: SEALE. Bobby.

42. Very wide shoe: EEEE.

44. Coral reef explorer's device: SNORKEL. Or a Sergeant in Beetle Bailey.

47. Unit with six outs: INNING. A little tricky at first. There are two sides that play each inning.

48. Frito-Lay chip: DORITO. Ali Landry

49. NFL replay feature: SLO-MO.

50. Responded to a massage: AAHED.

51. Strong string: TWINE.

54. Egyptian played by Liz: CLEO. She fell on her Asp.

55. Green land: EIRE. Or ERIN. Always have to wait for perps.

56. Dream worlds?: BEDS.

61. Four-sided figs.: SQS. Kind of a dud abbreviation, but how else to fit in 64A. ET SEQ?

Answer grid.


Jan 18, 2010

Interview with Stella Daily

Like Tyler Hinman, Trip Payne and our LA Times constructor Doug Peterson, Stella Daily is one of those few top-notch speed solvers who have regularly constructed puzzles for various major newspapers.

Since April 2002, Stella has had over 90 puzzles published by LA Times alone, 89 of them are collaborations with Bruce Venzke. Together they've also made 14 puzzles for the NY Times. Stella's puzzles also appeared in the NY Sun, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, etc.

We've solved four of their puzzles since the switch last March. Stella just told me that she's quitting constructing. I decided to run this interview as a special since we might not see another Daily/Venzke byline again. They've stopped submitting to LAT as a team several months ago.

What is your background and how did you develop an interest in crossword construction?

I have both a scientific and a writing background -- I studied chemistry in college (and, in fact, my first published puzzle, which ran in the LA Times, had a chemistry theme) but I've always loved to write, and eventually I discovered medical advertising, which is a marriage of both science and writing. I've solved crosswords since I was a junior in college. I attended my first tournament in 2001, when I was living not too far from Stamford, and did horribly. I resolved that I was never going to be that low in the standings again and I began solving much more often. Once I was solving a lot, constructing a puzzle seemed like a natural step.

What is the highlight of your crossword construction career and what's the best puzzle you've made? Why?

Highlights: I've really enjoyed working with Rich Norris from the very beginning -- he's willing to take the time to give detailed feedback and I've come a long way from the first puzzle of mine that he published years ago. Also, I've enjoyed being a part of CrosSynergy, because the editing is done by group review, and the constructor gets to address any issues pointed out in the review as he or she wishes. Since I'm the clue-writing half of Daily/Venzke, when we submit a puzzle to another outlet, a lot of the "me" part of the puzzle gets lost when the editor decides to rewrite some clues. But with CrosSynergy, I can address what the others are asking for and still keep my voice intact.

It's hard to pick one "best" puzzle, but one of my favorites was "Oh, You Beautiful Doll!" which was Bruce's and my first collaboration for CrosSynergy. The four theme entries were RAGGEDY ANN, RAINBOW BRITE, AMERICAN GIRL, and BETSY WETSY, which I thought was fun and inclusive of several decades' worth of pop culture. I want puzzles to embrace more recent references, not just stuff from the fifties and sixties, and I thought that puzzle was a great balance between older (RAGGEDY ANN, BETSY WETSY) and newer (RAINBOW BRITE, AMERICAN GIRL) pop culture.

How did you start working with Bruce Venzke and what does the collaborating process look like?

My first published puzzle -- the one with the chemistry theme -- was a solo effort. It was customary at the time to announce one's debut on the Cruciverb-L mailing list, so that's what I did. Bruce sent me a note to say he was impressed by how much thematic content I'd managed to stuff into the puzzle, and how did I do my grid work so well? I responded back saying that it required a heroic effort on my part, because I didn't (and still don't) consider grids my strong point. He said, "Really? Well, I hate writing clues!" I don't remember which of us said "Wanna work together?" at that point, but that's pretty much how it happened.

As for the collaboration process, one of us will come up with a theme (you'll notice that on some of our puzzles, his name comes first, and on others, mine does; whichever name is first is the one who came up with the theme), at which point Bruce builds a grid. If it's my theme, he may ask me to come up with different entries if it will make the grid-building process easier. Then he sends me a grid. I'll look over the grid to see if there are any too-similar answers that need to be removed, or if there's a word I don't know how to clue, and if grid changes are needed, I shoot it back to him to take care of that. If not, I write the clues, and he submits it to whatever publication we've decided is best for that particular puzzle.

You've been very prolific & creative, where do you normally find your theme inspirations?

It's funny, I don't think of myself as prolific, which is part of why I'm getting out of constructing! Bruce and I have been working together long enough that we have a large back-file of old themes -- maybe we sent a puzzle to the NY Times and it wasn't right for Will Shortz, but it's still a good theme and worthy of use somewhere else, for example. So we've been working out of that back catalog for some time. But when I was generating theme ideas more, I would say that inspiration always seemed to be a feast-or-famine thing. I'd hear a phrase and suddenly be able to think of six themes related to the phrase within minutes, or I could go for months without a new idea. My friends do tease me that I'm always counting letters -- if I hear a short, interesting-sounding phrase, I immediately tally up the number of letters to see if it would fit into a 15x15 grid!

What kind of puzzle do you solve every day? And who are your favorite constructors?

I'm an A-division solver (Bruce is not!), so I do a lot of puzzles. Every day, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CrosSynergy (if I haven't already solved the puzzle during the review process), and Newsday, and once a week the Onion, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, Merl Reagle's puzzle. I also do puzzles in books, like Simon and Schuster or New York Sun collections, when I'm getting ready for the tournament.

My favorite puzzle is the Onion's, because it's written mostly by people from my generation. Crosswords tend to skew toward an older audience -- there are so many pop culture and history references from TV shows I'm too young to have seen, Cabinet staff from presidential administrations long before I was born, radio shows, old news stories, that sort of thing. We're all supposed to know who Clem Kadiddlehopper is, but when I write a clue that refers to, say, "Gossip Girl," and put it into a CrosSynergy puzzle, the other reviewers invariably respond with, "Who? What? I've never heard of that!" It's not that I think Clem Kadiddlehopper needs to go away entirely (though I wouldn't mind), but as a 31-year-old I like to solve puzzles that refer to the world we live in now, not the world of 40 or 50 years ago. The Onion puzzle is great for that. Plus it has less of the "Sunday morning breakfast test" filter on it, which I also enjoy.

My favorite constructors are the harder ones -- Bob Klahn, Byron Walden (even though he cost me the B championship in 2005), Brendan Emmett Quigley, Frank Longo, Joe DiPietro, basically the whole Saturday crew.

What's the reason for quitting making crossword? And what's your planning for the future?

For a while, puzzling was a huge part of my life, and if you asked me to describe myself in three sentences, one of those sentences would invariably be about crosswords. But more and more, my life has expanded to include a lot more than just puzzles. I was recently promoted to a senior management position at the advertising agency I work for, plus I now run marathons, sing in a choir, take Argentine tango classes, and study philosophy through an Ayn Rand Institute program. Plus, I got married last year and I do like to see my husband once in a while! So as these other parts of my life have grown tremendously, puzzles have felt less and less like something I do for fun and more like something I *have* to do, and that's not how I want to feel about it. So last year I told Bruce I wanted to stop doing puzzles once our last agreed-upon CrosSynergy puzzle was done.

Bruce is much more into constructing than I am, and he's going to continue on solo (or perhaps collaborating with others on occasion). He's always wanted to do more constructing together, and I've kept pushing him to do less, both because I simply didn't have time to enjoy it and because once we started doing it on a deadline, as CrosSynergy works, I felt like my ability to come up with good ideas was compromised. I have to work on deadline every day in my day job, and that's fine, but it doesn't work too well for me when generating theme ideas -- the ideas flow much more freely for me when there's no pressure. So now that I've removed that pressure from myself, I'm not saying I'll never construct again -- if I have a really great idea, I'll work on a grid for it and send it out. If that means I produce one puzzle a year where I used to co-produce twenty, that's completely fine with me. I just want that one puzzle to be one I thoroughly enjoy making! And I'll still be around at the tournament every year -- I certainly haven't stopped solving, and I will continue to try to beat Tyler :)

Monday, January 18, 2010 James Sajdak

Theme: Terms of Endearments - The first word of each familiar phrase is a word one might address a loved one.

20A: "The Nutcracker" dancer: SUGAR PLUM FAIRY

32A: Piano bar piano, often: BABY GRAND

45A: Pooh's food source: HONEY TREE

58A: Executive's golden parachute, e.g.: SWEETHEART DEAL

Argyle here. Baby Grand here. A cute Monday puzzle with echos from yesterday.

1A: Gremlins and Hornets, briefly: AMCs. (American Motors Corporation)

33D: Car: AUTO.

44D: Popularly accepted tales: LEGENDS. (Acura Legend)

61D: Pervasive emanation: AURA. (Saturn Aura)

Vehicles may be TWEAKED. (9D: Fine-tuned.) That might make them RACY. (12D: Risqué.) Then take them out where the road is PAVED.(65A: Covered with asphalt.) And if they're a bright color 27A: Canary color: YELLOW. like this, even better. Just watch out for guys like these, 5A: Bay Area law enforcement org.: SFPD. (San Francisco Police Department)


9A: When repeated, consoling expression: THERE. "There, there" and a pat on the back does wonders.

14A: Cat's cry: MEOW. Cats and Dogs 3D: Welsh dog: CORGI. 51D: __ apso: dog: LHASA. Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet and apso is a word in the Tibetan language meaning "bearded," so Lhasa Apso simply means "long-haired Tibetan dog."

15A: South Seas edible root: TARO.

16A: Female: WOMAN.

17A: Being, to Brigitte: ETRE. Language lesson. 67A: Behold, in old Rome: ECCE.

18A: Sleep like __: A LOG.

19A: Heroic tales: EPICS.

23A: Well-thrown football pass: SPIRAL.

24A: Like the night: DARK.

25A: Omaha's state: Abbr.: NEB..

38A: Ross of "Lady Sings the Blues": DIANA.

39A: Currency on the Continent: EURO.

40A: Lieu: STEAD.

42A: Bit of affection from Fido: LICK. From all the avatars we've been seeing, this must be a gimme for many.

43A: In the least: AT ALL.

47A: Zoo swinger: MONKEY. A lot of animals mentioned today.

49A: Grand Canyon State sch.: ASU. (Arizona State University)

50A: Neuter, as a male horse: GELD.

53A: Blows, volcano-style: ERUPTS.

62A: Pantomime performer at the circus: CLOWN.

63A: Border on: ABUT.

64A: Roy's cowgirl partner: DALE. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

66A: "No problem": "SURE".

68A: States unequivocally: AVERS. 4D: Take a vow: SWEAR.

69A: Bio lab gelatin: AGAR. Bio lab is an echo, too. (Sat. 53A)

70A: Take ten: REST.


1D: "What __!": "Yuck!": A MESS.

2D: Got together (with): MET UP.

5D: Desktop tools: STAPLERS.

6D: Apple-picking season: FALL.

7D: __ as a peacock: PROUD.

8D: Religious doctrine: DOGMA.

10D: Navajo neighbor: HOPI. Our Southwestern Indians Map

11D: Mideast chieftain: EMIR.

13D: Naval Acad. grad: ENS..

21D: "You __?": butler's question: RANG. I immediately thought of Lurch.

22D: Cook in oil: FRY.

26D: Shower alternative: BATH.

28D: Light, happy tune: LILT.

29D: Lion's den: LAIR.

30D: "Fool me __, shame on you ...": ONCE.

31D: Waves behind a ship: WAKE. What's the story behind Wake Forest?

32D: Smile from ear to ear: BEAM.

34D: Muffin stuff: BRAN.

35D: The sun in sunny side up: YOLK. Also yellow.

36D: Prefix with classical: NEO.

37D: Comic Carvey: DANA.

41D: Military runaway: DESERTER.

46D: Mongolian tent: YURT.

52D: Fix, as a computer program: DEBUG.

54D: Milk source: UDDER.

55D: Quiet companion?: PEACE.

56D: Locker room powders: TALCS.

57D: Icy winter weather: SLEET.

58D: Many a Balkan native: SLAV.

59D: Made on a loom: WOVE.

60D: Washstand pitcher: EWER.

62D: Tax returns pro, for short: CPA.

Answer grid.