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May 25, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012, Don Gagliardo and C. C. Burnikel

Theme: The Dynamic Duo see Double: Each single word verb (or gerund) has a middle letter doubled and the word split in two, with the remaining second word a four letter ING word. An interesting theme which revealed itself early, but a Friday chock full of fresh fill, some new words, some nice twists, and all we expect from our hometown heroes.

On with the show:

17A. Where to find joe at the hotel? : BRE(W) WING. Add a "W" and your coffee (beer) making (hi sons) because a wing in a hotel where they make coffee.

26A. Metal recycling center sound? : DUM(P) PING. Add a "P" and your recycling gets a sound.

35A. Bit of surfing damage? : BOAR(D) DING .Add a "D" and your surfing gets your board damaged.

49A. Gang of market pessimists? : BEA(R) RING. Add an "R" and you get a bunch on investors in a circle.

58A. Basketball contest champ? : DUN(K) KING. Add a "K" and you are LeBron James.

Across:

1. Plato's "T" : TAU. All Greek to me; I like a puzzle where I can start with a tau hold.

4. Golfing countryman of Sergio and Jose Maria : SEVE. Severino Baellesteros who sadly recently died while still young.

8. Petal oils : ATTARS. Learning moment for me, so I will give them a PLUG. Don't worry I did not get any 38A. Pay stub? : OLA. Payola.

14. Good times : UPS. Yes, in our manic/depressive world, we have our ups and downs.

15. Canned : AXED. No longer a literal way to terminate employment.

16. Big Apple musical attraction : THE METropolitan Opera. 64 Columbus Avenue New York, NY 10023.

19. 1980s Cabbage Patch Kids producer : COLECO. HISTORY. My mother-in-law, made them from the original pattern and sold them at the flea market on Sunrise before they were popular. The only dolls my boys had.

20. Pier gp. : ILA. International Longshoremen's Association. We see this union often. Nice peer/pier pun.

21. Clasp in a boardroom : TIE BAR. Have not worn ONE is years, also called tie tack.

23. Knock : RAP. hey do not knock the clue. marti, your RHAP music, too funny. You are the best.

24. When in Act I Hamlet's father's ghost first speaks : SCENE V. Loves me some SHAKESPEARE.(1:29)

28. Air intake spot : NOSTRIL. I nose this answer.

30. Address : SPEAK TO. Don't you speak to me like that!

31. NFL extra periods : OTS. Over Times.

32. Siouan language : OSAGE. All you need to KNOW.

34. "Illmatic" performer : NAS. Rhymes with JAZZ? (4:54)

40. Dirt : GRIME. How odd, as it is now next to NAS.

41. ISP option : DSL.Internet Service Provider Digital Subscriber Line.

44. Like C work : AVERAGE. We all work hard to see our writeups are not just average.

47. iPhone current events app : NPR NEWS. National Public Radio

51. Like string in cat's cradle : LOOPED. Took me years to master, It really

52. Bug : IRKed me.

53. Sister of Janet : LATOYA, of the Jackson family.

55. Rush find : ORE. I wanted MOSES but ti would not fit. I know it was the gold rush.

56. Muffle : DEADEN. Sound familiar?

61. Baby on a cliff : EAGLET. Not Claven.

62. "For here ___ go?" : OR TO? I'll have mine here, black.

63. Old pro : VET. Last week it was the doggie doctor.

64. Draft holders : STEINS. Yes the Stein family holds the biggest fantasy draft in all of South Florida. Oh, beer mugs, never mind.

65. Addams family nickname : TISH. I loved the ORIGINAL. (3:21)

66. Network logo since 1951 : EYE. HISTORY.

okay part deux, no not duh!

Down:

1. Soaking place : TUB. PRETTY GIRL. (partial nudity).

2. Jam fruit : APRICOT. The only fruit I do not like, I think it is:

3. Futile : USELESS.

4. Dated : SAW. Like this? LINK. (2:18)

5. Permit to leave the country : EXIT VISA. So much fresh fill, it is awesome.

6. Caesarean section? : VENI, VIDI, VECI. Classic misdirection.

7. Just beat : EDGED.

8. Where some kids spend summers : AT CAMP. HERE? (0:19)

9. 1912 Olympic legend : THORPE. A true American hero


10. Rolodex no. : TELephone.

11. Kafka novel : AMERIKA. LINK.

12. Takes back : RECANTS. Or is very careful with wine.

13. Like much rush hour traffic : STOPGO I have always seen stop'ngo

18. Desire : WANT.

22. Transported from another area, as a special work force : BUSED IN.

24. ___-Cat : SNO. Along with cone, another puzzle staple.

25. Switch back? : EROO. Switcheroo.

27. Twinge : PANG.

29. '70s-'80s Seahawks receiver Steve : LARGENT. Great WIDE RECEIVER.(3:28)

33. East Berlin was its cap. : GDR. German Democratic Republic. Really DDR. Kazie...

35. "Roseanne" star : BARR.

36. Some dental work : IMPLANTS. I wonder if they started this clue with teeth? (From C.C.: "Boob jobs" is our original clue.)

37. Fiddling tyrant : NERO.

38. Pig out : OVER-EAT.

39. Amount getting out : LEAKAGE. Wonderful word, like shrinkage.

41. Strip (of) : DEPRIVE. So if you give something are you priving?

42. Eliot's "___ Among the Nightingales" : SWEENEY. Nice to see some thing other than Cats from this POET.

43. '60s "trip" drug : LSD.

44. Puts up with : ABIDES. Had this last week as well, I guess I can stand the repetition.

45. "America's Funniest People" co-host Sorkin : ARLEEN. FAMOUS?

46. West Coast team : GIANTS. Baseball in San Fran.

48. Kindle rival : NOOK. I like my Kindle. I can increase font and read!

50. Literary no-show : GODOT. Beckett is still waiting, no not Kate.

54. Doctor Zhivago : YURI.


57. Half of MCII : DLI. I guess this all adds up.

59. ___-i-noor diamond : KOH. To rule the WORLD.

60. Verizon forerunner : GTE. General Telephone and Electronics.

Answer grid.

Well Guys and Dolls, time for me to roll up the sidewalk and off into the Florida midnight sun. Nice to see your grass Dennis. Nice to hear from you all. Lemonade.

Constructors' note:

Don came up with this idea while we were brainstorming our K-2 puzzle. It's challenging to make new phrases entertaining yet maintaining surface meaning. Again, we were a bit bold in our grid design and met a few challenges during the filling process.

May 24, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012 Bernice Gordon

Theme: The Boxer Rebellion.

Bernice Gordon turned 98 in January of this year! She usually constructs early week puzzles, so it is a great honor to write up this Thursday offering. Four grid-spanning theme entries define the common word BOXER, and she gives us a pangram just for good measure. Impressive!

17A. BOXERS : FIGHTERS IN A RING. Pow!

26A. BOXERS : SHORTS WORN BY MEN. Wow!

43A. BOXERS : POWERFUL CANINES. Bow!

56A. BOXERS : SHIPPING WORKERS. Now?

Marti here for your Thursday dissection. Let's see what Ms. Gordon has to offer us.

Across:

1. Pilgrim to Mecca : HAJI. One who had completed the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca is called a hajji (alternate spellings: haji, hadji).

5. Pop singer Miley : CYRUS. She gained fame as Miley Stewart / Hannah Montana on the Disney channel.

10. Window part : PANE. Damn you JazzBumpa! I automatically filled in "sill" without even looking at the downs!

14. Blackberry lily's family : IRIS

15. First lady before Michelle : LAURA. Bush. Michelle Obama.

16. Caddie's suggestion : IRON. My caddie's suggestion? "Take up tennis!"

20. They're seen on airport carousels : IDS. Identification tags on luggage.

21. Sculling tools : OARS

22. It gets into a lather : RAZOR. Fun clue, had me going for a minute.

23. Suggestion opener? : AUTO. Auto-suggestion, or the art of self-hypnosis.

24. Former Heathrow-based flier : BOAC. British Overseas Airway Company, merged with British European Airways in 1974 to form British Airways. And 59-Down - Merged Dutch airline : KLM. Can you say Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V.? Now merged with Air-France.

33. Some coins : CENTS. Makes sense to me.

34. Holliday and a dwarf : DOCS. I love it when a plural proper noun can have such a fun clue.

35. Single : ONE. One hundred cents?

36. Join forces : ALLY

37. Corpulent : OBESE. That's just wrong...

39. Not perjured : TRUE

40. Padua possessive : MIO. Not Neapolitan? 3:22

41. One of the Marxes : KARL. I laughed out loud at this one - I went through all five Marx Brothers before I realized Ms. Gordon was pulling my leg!

42. Drawn weapon : SWORD. Did you read the article? She once got an editor fired writing a clue as "The ___ mightier than the sword..."

47. Extreme desire : LUST. What do you lust for?

48. Team that pulls together : OXEN

49. Bottom deck : ORLOP. Maybe Spitzboov can elucidate. Isn't that the deck where the crew usually sleeps?

52. Old Broadway title beau : ABIE. A Jewish fellow and an Irish Catholic gal marry, despite their family's objections. Hilarity ensues.



53. Canada's largest prov. in area : QUE.bec. Map, so you can see for yourself.

60. Hoard, say : SAVE. Anyone watch "Hoarders"?

61. "Air Music" Pulitzer winner, 1976 : ROREM. Ned.

62. Screened fuzz : LINT. Oh, great clue! Who just mentioned the other day, that they thought lint was composed of missing socks? C'mon...you know who you are!

63. Copied : APED

64. Q-tips : SWABS. We all know where not to put them!

65. ___ en scene: stage setting : MISE. From the French "to place".

Down:

1. Music maker : HI-FI. I filled in "Harp" from the "h" off HAJI. grr...

2. Nothing like swampland : ARID.

3. Lively dances : JIGS

4. Suffix suggesting degree : -ISH. Ish thish how I shpeak when I have had a great degree to drink?

5. Some athletic shoes : CLEATS. Do any of you other golfers still have metal cleats? Our course banned them long ago. I don't miss them at all.

6. Plant with feathery leaves : YARROW. I have some in my garden. Lovely!

7. It spans nine time zones: Abbr. : RUSS.ia. Here's the map. (Can't find 9? Check out the little teal-colored blip on the left side.)

8. Ocean State sch. : URI. University of Rhode Island. Gimme.

9. Leader of Jose and Juan? : SAN. Fun clue for a crossword staple. San Jose and San Juan.

10. Maritime crime : PIRACY. Don't sail off the coast of Somalia!

11. St. that turned 100 in February : ARIZ.ona. Oh! I was thinking of St. Valentine!

12. Forbidden thing : NO-NO

13. One working on the RR : ENGR. Abbr. for "Engineer". Working on the railroad.

18. Tipsters : TOUTS. One who "touts" his skill at predicting the outcome of races, and sells those tips to desperate bettors.

19. Most Lebanese : ARABS

23. Superficially cultured : ARTY

24. Family business abbr. : BROS. Brothers.

25. Start of a story : ONCE. upon a time...

26. Troublemaker : SCAMP

27. Sun: Pref. : HELIO

28. Keeping food warm, as an oven : ON LOW

29. Children's author Scott : O'DELL. Don't know him. I was more into Nancy Drew mysteries...

30. Dimwit : MORON. And 37-Down: Bozos : OAFS.

31. Habituate : ENURE

32. They can't be ignored : NEEDS. What do you need?

38. Cologne first launched by Faberge : BRUT

39. Baseballer named for two cities : TWIN. Minneapolis and St. Paul are the Twin Cities.

41. Essen industrial family name : KRUPP. 400-year old German dynasty of manufacturers. Not to be confused with the Krups coffee maker - that's a different family.

42. Look of scorn : SNEER. JazzBumpa, you explained "leer" and "ogle" so well yesterday!

44. Fled to Gretna Green, say : ELOPED. Gretna Green is the Las Vegas of Scotland.

45. Finespun trap : COBWEB

46. Self-evident truths : AXIOMS

49. Greek mount : OSSA. Mount Ossa. Beautiful!

50. Gershwin wrote one "in Blue":Abbr. : RHAP. I never knew Gershwin was into rhap music. 7:03

51. Risky, TV show-wise : LIVE. Other than the news, are any shows still "live"?

52. Indian city on the banks of the Yamuna : AGRA. India - city - four letters: agra.

53. Cunard flagship for 35 yrs. : QEII. Queen Elizabeth II. She was re-fitted to help the troops in The Falklands. Then she was revamped again and sailed until she was retired in 2008.

54. Samovars : URNS.

55. Tivoli's Villa d'___ : ESTE. This place. You can see why it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

57. Taxing org. : IRS. Thank goodness that's over for me this year. Anyone file an extension?

58. The present : NOW. This instant! (Sorry - gotta go!)

Answer grid.

Hugs,
Marti

Note from C.C.:

Here is a lovely picture outside Dummy Dennis' condo. He has his breakfast in the deck every morning. Heavenly!

May 23, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 Jack McInturff

Theme: "Where pride goeth." The first word of each theme answer can precede the word "FALL" to yield a good, in-the-language phrase.

17A. *It's lower during dry seasons : WATER TABLE. This is the level below which the ground is completely saturated. Of course, in dry weather it will be lower, and you'll have to dig a deeper well. WATER FALL: the world's highest is Venezuela's Angel Falls, AKA "Kerepakupai Vená."

23A. *Index that measures skin sensation : WIND CHILL FACTOR. Not sure what I was expecting, but it sure wasn't this. Very apt description, though. It's a measure of how cold windy air feels on the skin, as compared to a colder temperature in still air. WINDFALL: an unexpected, unearned, or surprising gain or advantage. This expression dates back to the bad old days when all land was owned by the nobility (a title category granted with no sense of irony) and the picking of fruit or felling of trees was forbidden. But anything blown down by the wind was fair game.

36A. *Road trip respite : PIT STOP. From the world of racing, where pit stops are for refueling and tire changes done in less than a minute, to the vernacular. When traveling the LW and I strategize according to the distance between highway plazas: 36 miles - I think we're OK; 62 miles - nope, we're stopping here. PIT FALL: a trap placed or dug into the ground that captures whatever wanders into it. In the vernacular, any hidden hazard.

38A. *Winter storm respite for some : SNOW DAY. School is closed on account of snowy weather. When a SNOW DAY is expected, some of the grandchildren have a ritual of placing white crayons on the window sills and wearing their pajamas backwards. It doesn't always work. SNOW FALL: just exactly what you think it is.

47A. *Knocked loopy : DOWN FOR THE COUNT. Not like this. Totally without hope, like a boxer knocked down for the referee's count of 10. DOWNFALL: A sudden loss of wealth, status, or reputation from a previously exalted position.

And the unifier; 58. Lag, and a hint to what the starts of the answers to starred clues have in common : FALL BEHIND. The expression should be self explanatory. And, literally, the word FALL can go behind the first word each of five(!) theme answers - two of them grid spanning. Good, solid tight theme. Pretty impressive - no?

Hi gang, JazzBumpa here. Let's see if we can get through this thematically rich puzzle without FALLING BEHIND.

Across:

1. First country you'd come to if you sail west from Mumbai : OMAN. Oh, man, I did not know that.

5. Soft wood : BALSA. Remember model airplanes?

10. Out of sight, perhaps : AFAR. Especially for the nearsighted.

14. Sex researcher Shere : HITE. She wrote many books, including The Hite Reports on male and female sexuality, and books of advice for women about good and bad guys.

15. Online commerce : E-TAIL. Everything on line is E-whatever. Word play on retail.

16. CBer's handle : NAME. 10-4 good buddy.

19. Minor quarrel : TIFF. I had SPAT at first.

20. Cockney abode : 'OME. An 'ouse isn't necessarily one.

21. Part of many a plot : ACRE. My plot is smaller than that.

22. Fallen orbiter : MIR. This low orbit space station was assembled in orbit by the Soviet union starting in 1986. It was used for experiments in biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology until its DOWNFALL on March 21, 2001.

29. Pseudonym preceder : AKA. Also Known As.

30. Lewd look : LEER. This is a sidelong glance with lewd, sly, and/or malicious intent. OGLE is more of an open stare.

31. Old MGM rival : RKO. Radio-Keith-Orpheum (not Olberman) Pictures, one of the big five from Hollywood's golden age. Performers in their films included Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Katherine Hepburn. RKO produced Citizen Kane and the original King Kong. "It was beauty killed the beast."

32. Support staff? : CANE. Clever clue. My M-i-L is a citizen who needs a CANE.

34. Burn slightly : SEAR.

35. A boater may rest on them : OARS. At the end of the race, a hearty boater may rest on his laurels.

40. Barbados, e.g. : ISLE. A sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles, of about 166 square miles. Traditionally, the local economy was based on the citizen's cultivation of sugar CANE. In the last few decades it has diversified into manufacturing and tourism.

41. Carry : TOTE. Here, a verb. Can also mean a bag in which to TOTE things. But, see 53A.

43. Roger of "Cheers" : REES. This Welsh actor. Can't say I remember him.

44. Earth-friendly prefix : ECO. What would an earth-hostile prefix be?

45. Yours, to Yves : A TOI. Bah - French!

46. Collected dust : SAT. Idle. Nice visual. Well, maybe not nice, but apt.

53. Add (up) : TOT. I was ready to call foul here, since this word really should be spelt the same as 41A. But, the online dictionary recognizes this spelling, so I'll have to (grudgingly) let it go.

54. Greenish blue : TEAL. I assume this is the eponym.

55. What a winner may have to break : TIE. The only possibility of bringing baseball into this puzzle. C.C. mentioned former Tiger Brandon Inge yesterday. Here is a TIE breaking grand slam home run with his new team. Brandon had 16 RBI's in a week, and is now sidelined with a groin injury.

56. Get hot : BOIL. Literally or figuratively.

61. BMW rival : AUDI. A couple of German cars getting hot in competition.

62. Feudal lord, or his subject : LIEGE. Strangely, the word is derived, via Old French, from the Middle High German ledic, meaning free, empty, or vacant. Go figure.

63. Treated, as a sprain : ICED. To keep the swelling down.

64. Bark site : TREE. On the outside.

65. Latin bears : URSAE. Some are big and some are little.

66. Like child's play : EASY. Do you think this puzzle is child's play?

Down:

1. "Yikes!" : OH WOW! Gee whillikers! Expressions of surprise, amazement or dismay.

2. "__ Vice" : MIAMI. Another TV show I never watched.

3. When many start fifth grade : AT TEN. Sure enough, Nate will be TEN in August, and starts the 5th grade in September.

4. Society page word : NEE. From the French, I believe. It refers to a married woman's maiden name, frex: Catelyn Stark, NEE Tully.

5. "You __!": "Yep!" : BETCHA! Yer durn tootin' I won't get political.

6. Pong producer : ATARI. The height of video gaming technology, back in the day.

7. Two-time Grammy winner Patti : LABELLE. One of Patricia Louise Holte-Edwards' Grammys was for Burnin', these twenty years gone. Great pipes.

8. RSVP part : S'IL. This is where French children place their crayons blanc, in hope for a jour de neige. No, wait, RSVP is short for répond s'il vous plaît, i.e. "respond, if you please." S'IL means "if." It does not please me.

9. Draft pick : ALE. Now this is more like it. Misdirection, playing on NFL draft day, but an experienced pub crawler will not be fooled.

10. Prank : ANTIC. Obsolete pranks from days of yore are antique ANTICS.

11. Movement to promote equitable commerce : FAIR TRADE. Good luck with that.

12. Bowling equipment mfr. : AMF American Machine and Foundary, founded in 1900. Does anyone have more 300 games than Boomer?

13. Court arbiter : REF. Basketball or tennis.

18. Dishonest scheme : RACKET. Not a loud noise, nor a tennis implement.

22. Mess up : MAR. Josh Hamilton's Harrison's bloop single with one out in the ninth messed up Justin Verlander's bid for a third no-hitter on Friday. I don't think he was very happy.

24. Saint-Saëns' "__ Macabre" : DANSE. Based on a poem by Henri Cazalis about an old - yep, you guessed it - French superstition that the Grim Reaper calls the dead forth from their graves at midnight on Halloween, and they must dance for his diabolical violin playing until dawn.

25. Car dealer's offer : LEASE. Mine is up in nine months. Maybe next time I'll buy.

26. Plant with fronds : FERN.

27. Gumbo pods : OKRAS.

28. Optimistic : ROSY. My ROSY outlook for the Tiger's prospects this year is slowly turning into ashes.

32. Kid in Westerns : CISCO. A TV show that I did watch.

33. When many dig clams : AT LOW TIDE. It's certainly more convenient then.

34. Animal trail : SPOOR. Any sign or trace that can be followed: prints, odor, droppings, bread crumbs, etc.

35. Be a debtor of : OWE TO. Straightforward.

36. Mottled : PIED. Like a piper or windhover, maybe.

37. "Beetle Bailey" dog : OTTO. Arf!

39. Ancient consultant : ORACLE. One who was divinely inspired to give good advice or predictions.

42. Dots : TITTLES. The dots over lower case letter i and j, and used as diacritical marks in other languages (frex: Hägar) are tittles. The things you learn . . . (<=== these are not TITTLES.)

45. Back, at sea : AFT. Go to the back of the boat, s'il vous plaît,.

46. Naval builder : SEABEE. No mere acronym, this is the proper name for a member of the Navy Construction Battalion, derived from the initials.

48. "Honestly" : NO LIE. Words that often precede or follow a LIE.

49. Hägar's comics wife : HELGA. Lovely lady.

50. Erie Canal city : UTICA. In New York.

51. Dressed to the __ : NINES. Being rather informal, I generally only dress to the sevens.

52. Brother of Jack and Bobby : TEDDY. Kennedys

56. Night flier : BAT. Or a member of the Louisville AAA baseball team. I've seen them play the Mud Hens.

57. Sharer's word : OUR. Yours and mine.

58. Winter woe : FLU. Influenza, AKA the miseries.

59. Get out in the open : AIR. A nudist camp is a place where men and women go to AIR their differences.

60. Make haste : HIE. In order to not FALL BEHIND. A crossword stalwart.

Answer grid.

Well, despite my grousing, I liked this puzzle a lot, had fun blogging it, and got to work in more baseball that I first thought, and even a little music. (BTW, Nate's team won 8-6 last night.) Hope you like it, too.

Cheers!
JzB

May 22, 2012

Interview with Andrea Carla Michaels

Andrea Carla Michaels is a specialist in early-week puzzle. In fact, out of 32 puzzles she constructed for the New York Times, 16 are Mondays and 5 are Tuesdays.

I've mentioned before that it's hard to make early week puzzles. The themes have to be simple but fresh. The fill have to be familiar words/phrases. It's not uncommon for constructors to re-do a section or two just to remove a word editors consider a bit too hard for Monday/Tuesday grids.

Andrea is so good at producing smooth grids with fun entries. It's obvious that she always has her fans and solvers in mind when creating crosswords. She is also one of the most bubbling, encouraging and caring constructors I've never met.

Many solvers (myself included) missed the increase in size in your "Body of Water" puzzle last Monday. Has this happened before, where solvers failed to fully grasp the subtlety or extra layer of your theme?

Um, I would say that happens in every puzzle I create! But that's ok, I throw in lots of stuff to please myself (pangrams, increase in size of water in order, putting SHMEAR over the word BAGEL). I make them for others, but thank god for the blogs, before them, I'd never have known if anyone did them, much less notice the subtle touches. I tell myself folks are appreciating them on a subconscious level ;)

Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get into crossword construction?

Been doing crosswords all my life. Started making them by putting in friend's names and making birthday puzzles. Started with making them for TV Guide and Disney Adventures, inching my way up to the NY Times about 10 years ago...and the LA Times! I try and teach others how to make them as well. Only in the past few years have I started collaborating (and now have collaborated as often as solo efforts past 5 years!) so I had to learn how to use a computer in order to share info.

What mistakes did you make when you first started constructing and what advice would you give to budding constructors?

I was unaware there were rules as to how many black squares, how many words were allowed. I would save old grids from Monday-Wed and then fit my themes into them, adding a black square here, subtracting one there...so I actually had one in the LA Times with 80 words, a total
no-no...but who knew?

How would you describe your puzzle style? What kind of theme and entries fascinate you the most?

Well, I'm definitely a Monday gal! No matter WHAT day of the week I make (I have had a few Sundays, all with partners who carried me, gridwise) they get published Mondays. So I guess my style is easy. I've been told they are smooth, light, breezy (yay blogs!) but usually they are something fun I've noticed about film titles, or taking usual clichees and finding a threesome (now foursome, as four is the new three) that work together.

Which part do you normally spend the most time on in the construction process: theme brainstorming, gridding or cluing?

My cluing has to be straightforward, as I'm a Monday gal, as I've said. So I owe a huge debt now to Crossfire that Michael Blake forced me to learn. I now scroll down and find the clue I WOULD have written and click on that. So what used to take me days to type up, I can now do in 20 minutes! So the longest time is probably spent on brainstorming, finding a perfect third phrase to go with one or two I've stumbled across. Most of it is serendipitous...so when folks ask me how long it takes me to make a puzzle, I usually say "50 years!" bec I'm drawing on things that have slowly accumulated throughout the entire time of my existence on earth!

What is the most memorable puzzle you've made and why is it so special to you?

One of my first puzzles for the NY Times, maybe it was my first puzzle? was one on Earthquakes. I had SANANDREASFAULT going across the middle with EARTHQUAKE above and AFTERSHOCK below. I asked Will (Shortz) if he could make it look like a tear ran thru
it, to have it look like an earthquake had happened. He shifted the middle squares up a tiny bit and the next ones down a little. But folks thought something was wrong with their paper and didn't do it (bec you had to solve to get it that it was supposed to look all funky) and in the electronic version, they couldn't shift the squares so it looked super straightforward and lost the zing. Also it was a dream come true to have a Sunday puzzle, and Patrick Blindauer, whom I've collaborated on many larger puzzles which have been in the NYT and the WSJ, made that happen a few times over. My favorite was to have one where there were dozens of words with the letters ANT in them. I suggested to Patrick that the black squares look like paths thru an ant farm...within hours he sent a grid with the note "Do you mean like THIS?" The man is a genius! I also love a puzzle I got all the names of the cast of GILLIGANSISLAND (running across themiddle) Will said they all had to be the real names OR the character names but couldn't mix both. As miracles would happen, GILLIGANSISLAND was 15 letters across, and six of the cast members had parallel number of letters in their names!!! There are all sorts of puzzles I've loved but that's what comes to mind.

What puzzles do you solve every day and which constructors do you find most inspiring?

I usually only do one puzzle a day, I'm sorry to say. I do the NYT. But I do the LA Times at least once a week when a friend has made it, plus it appears in my local San Francisco Chronicle. It's not a snobby thing, it's a time thing.

Besides crosswords, what are your other interests?

I'm an avid film goer (mostly foreign films and documentaries. I play a ton of Scrabble semi-professionally, sometimes I teach a class in it.

My heart is in volunteer work, I work at various soup kitchens and visit with the elderly. Many friends died young from AIDS and that is close to my heart...they are not forgotten. I try and volunteer for every day I work for $. Professionally I name companies and products, so my life is mostly words words words and trying to make the world a slightly less hungry and sad place. Not to end on such a serious note, but it's the truth! Crosswords are my true passion tho, and I'm a solver first, constructor second, tho the balance has tipped the other way of late!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 Andrea Carla Michaels

Theme: You can be a comic book artist - If you can draw these simple shapes found at the end of the four longest answers, you may have a future as a comic book artist!

17A. Ships' drop-off location? : BERMUDA TRIANGLE. Not only ships but planes also have disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle.


26A. TV witch series based on L.J. Smith novels : THE SECRET CIRCLE. It premiered on September 15, 2011, on the CW Television Network. On May 11, 2012, the CW cancelled the series so you are forgiven if you missed it. It wasn't on my radar, or television, for that matter.

45A. 1989 Beijing protest site : TIANANMEN SQUARE. While most just remember the picture below, it was much more violent than that. A square is a special case of a equilateral rhombus with right angles.


59A. "Field of Dreams" field : BASEBALL DIAMOND. "Field of Dreams" is a film(1989) about Kevin Costner building a field(baseball) in a field(corn). A diamond is a square with its diagonals vertical and horizontal.

Argyle here. Four grid spanners; how neat is that?

Across:

1. "Star Trek" milieu : SPACE

6. Kermit, for one : FROG. (Muppet)

10. Droop : WILT

14. "Dear me!" : "OH, GOD!"

15. Pinocchio, at times : LIAR

16. "__ out?": choice offered a pet : IN OR. A dog always wants to be on the other side of a door; a cat just wants to sit in the middle of the open door.

20. Quid pro quo : SWAP

21. "If __ told you once ..." : I'VE

22. In silence : MUTELY

23. "I see," facetiously : "AH, SO!"

25. Marquis de __ : SADE

33. Like Dylan Thomas, by birth : WELSH. Or Richard Burton.

34. Caustic drain unclogger : LYE

35. Fly in the clouds : SOAR. Sure beats clouds of flies.

36. Fury : IRE

37. Helped with the dishes : DRIED

39. Calypso cousin : SKA

40. TV warrior princess : XENA

42. Cyclades island : IOS. If you go to this site, click on "View Ios on Greece map" to see where exactly where this little island is. The Cyclades are so called because they encircle the sacred island of Delos.

43. Can't stomach : HATES

49. Roller coaster feature : DROP

50. Brewer's kiln : OAST. It's hard to believe now that there was a time we didn't know what an oast was.



51. "Gone With the Wind" family : O'HARAs

54. Just fine, at NASA : A-OK

55. One of Chekhov's "Three Sisters" : OLGA. (Olga, Masha and Irina)

62. Ingrid's "Casablanca" role : ILSA

63. Unsuccessful '80s gridiron org. : USFL. (United States Football League)

64. Caesar or Waldorf follower : SALAD

65. Small fry : TOTS

66. Flimflam : RUSE

67. Box score numbers : STATS

Down:

1. Blubbers : SOBS

2. "That was a close one!" : [PHEW!]

3. Home of the Taj Mahal : AGRA

4. It can point you in the right direction : COMPASS. Certainly.

5. Student's Web address ending : .EDU

6. One of Baskin-Robbins' 31 : FLAVOR. (ice cream)

7. Bat mitzvah, e.g. : RITE

8. Blade on a boat : OAR

9. Made a pained face : GRIMACED

10. Bundle-up times : WINTERS

11. "Picnic" Pulitzer winner : INGE. William but there is a baseball player named Brandon Inge. C.C.? (From C.C.: Yep! He was with Jazzbumpa's Tigers for a long time. We had hoped Twins would pick him up.)

12. Recline lazily : LOLL

13. There's only one card it can beat : TREY. Beats the deuce.

18. Tiddlywink, e.g. : DISC. It seems to be interchangeable with DISK these days.

19. Autobahn car : AUDI

24. Devious laugh : HEH. Huh? It meant "Clever" on Sunday.

25. Eyelid irritation : STYE

26. Between, in poetry : TWIXT

27. "Ready or not, __ come!" : HERE I

28. Justice Kagan : ELENA

29. Beethoven's "Für __" : ELISE. For a different take on it. Link

30. Land by the sea, in Saragossa : COSTA. (Spanish) Zaragoza is on the Ebro River, many miles from the coast, however.

31. Staples Center player : LAKER. (Los Angeles)

32. Prepare to change, as a wrong answer : ERASE

37. Jurassic beast : DINOSAUR

38. Easy win : ROMP

41. San __ Fault : ANDREAS



43. Mil. command bases : HQ's. (headquarters)

44. Coin-operated cafeteria : AUTOMAT. Are there any left? Interesting answers. Link.

46. Bedouin, e.g. : ARAB

47. Pasta piece : NOODLE

48. Notable pen name in storywriting : SAKI. With an "I". (H. H. Munro)

51. Passing remarks? : OBIT. (obituary)

52. Saintly symbol : HALO

53. D.A.'s underling : ASST.

54. Politico Landon and an extraterrestrial : ALF's. Alfred and Alien Life Form

56. "Damn Yankees" seductress : LOLA

57. Pesky flier : GNAT

58. Extends, with "to" : ADDS

60. The NCAA's Fighting Tigers : LSU. Louisiana State University



61. Beast of burden : ASS


Argyle

May 21, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012 Jeff Chen

Theme: Shocking - This isn't a case of adding the first word to the unifier; they are the unifier. They are events that can happen to an electric current.

20A. Add a little gin to a party drink, say : SPIKE THE PUNCH. A spike is a very short increase in the electrical supply voltage, current or both. It is why we have surge protectors on our computers.

25A. Game requiring full 25-square coverage to win : BLACKOUT BINGO. Don't be surprised if we have blackouts this summer. Temperatures in the 80's already around here.

46A. Efficient, wordwise : SHORT AND SWEET. A short has some quite technical definitions but in short,(sorry) it is current going where it shouldn't.

52A. Front page staple, and, in a way, what 20-, 25- and 46-Across begin with : CURRENT EVENTS

Argyle here and, by my count, Jeff Chen's fourteenth Monday puzzle and another winner. I'm sure some may find a nit here or there but they will be small and varied.

Across:

1. Pound of poetry : EZRA. There are some interesting quotes about him in this Wikipedia article.

5. Hourglass trickler : SAND


9. Salami and turkey jerky, e.g. : MEATS

14. Steak and hamburger, e.g. : BEEF. No tofu.

15. Je ne sais __ : QUOI. I can't describe it.

16. "That's plenty for me" : "I'M SET". Things I say when offered tofu.

17. Chicago footballer : BEAR. Mike Ditka comes to mind.

18. Sputnik launcher : USSR

19. Girl who says "Uncle" : NIECE. Cute clue.

23. KGB counterpart : CIA

24. Like puppies and kittens : CUTE. Cute answer.

31. Lao Tzu's "__ Te Ching" : TAO
32. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" composer Jerome : KERN. Timi Yuro clip.(2:19)

33. Item in a squirrel's stash : ACORN

35. Sandwich rolled in a tortilla : WRAP

37. Fix, as worn brakes : REPAD. Around the shop, they'll tell you they had to replace the pads(and rotors and calipers) but not they had to repad your brakes.

40. Europe's highest active volcano : ETNA. Another view.

41. Leading the league : ON TOP

43. Prefix with -syncrasy : IDIO

45. Cut the grass : MOW

50. Minnesota's "crazy" state bird : LOON. Insert loon stories here.

51. Bubble wrap filler : AIR

58. Salami type : GENOA. OMG, they make tofu salami. (see below)

59. "Dang it!" : "OH, NO!"

60. Lake south of Niagara Falls : ERIE

62. Ignoramus : IDIOT

63. "Ouch!" : "YEOW!". 67A. Youngster : TYKE. 44D. Baby's boo-boo : OWIE. 47D. Baby's "piggy" : TOE

64. It may lose its mate in the laundry : SOCK

65. "Please, I'll do that" : "LET ME"

66. Cheeky behavior : SASS

Down:

1. Flow back : EBB

2. Puzzle pair? : ZEE's. (middle letters)

3. Bring in from the field : REAP

4. Chad's continent : AFRICA. Atlas.

5. Tight game : SQUEAKER

6. Vienna's country: Abbr. : AUST. (Austria)

7. Small snack : NOSH. Yiddish.

8. Lead the orchestra : DIRECT

9. Trifling matter : MINUTIA

10. Cardinal's honorific, after "Your" : EMINENCE

11. Words after gimme or wait : A SEC

12. Georgia __ : TECH. The Yellow Jackets of Atlanta, Georgia.

13. Jeanne d'Arc, for one: Abbr. : STE.

21. Punt, say : KICK

22. Brit's watering hole : PUB. Quiz: Where does the word PUB come from?

25. Some owls' homes : BARNS. And some live in The Owlery on the top of Hogwarts Castle's West Tower.

26. Averse : LOATH

27. Precious metal source : ORE

28. Let down, as one's hair : UNPIN. Reminds me of this song which I haven't heard in awhile, so here it is. Clip.(2:32)

29. "I haven't a clue" : "GOT ME"

30. "... but then, I could be wrong" : "... OR NOT"

31. Bill featuring Jefferson : TWO

34. "Don't reckon so" : "NAW". Too many quotes...naw.

36. Where to see sharks with cues : POOL ROOM

38. Sum up : ADD

39. Denies knowledge of : DISAVOWS. CYA

42. Divide according to ownership : PRORATE

48. Rankles : ANNOYS

49. Author Hemingway : ERNEST. Did you see his quote about Ezra Pound?

52. Formally turn over : CEDE

53. Military group : UNIT

54. Ellington/Strayhorn's "Take __ Train" : THE 'A'. Taking it literally. Clip.(3:00)

55. Grandson of Eve : ENOS

56. City fooled by a horse : TROY

57. Ailing : SICK

58. Hodges of the Dodgers : GIL. But he managed the New York Mets to the 1969 World Series title, one of the greatest upsets in Series history.

61. Squeeze (out), as a living : EKE

Argyle

May 20, 2012

Sunday May 20, 2012 Will Nediger and Andy Kravis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looks like this is Andy Kravis' debut. Congrats!

Across:

1. Cardiovascular implants : STENTS

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

12. Word with first, second or third : BASEMAN

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

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

21. With deception : UNTRULY

24. Telescope user's aid : STAR MAP

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

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

27. Luxurious fabric : SATIN

29. "The Price Is Right" action : BID

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

31. Fireplace shelf : HOB

33. Alumni newsletter word : NEE

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

37. VW followers : XYZ. Alphabet.

38. Doughnut shape : TORUS. Plural is tori.

40. Saws : ADAGES

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

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

48. Puts forward : POSITS

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

52. MSN alternative : AOL

54. Decides one will : OPTS TO

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

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

59. Loft filler : HAY

62. In the thick of : AMID

64. Hold water, so to speak : COHERE

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

70. GI delinquent : AWOL

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

76. Eczema symptom : ITCH

77. Hand raised in support, say : YES VOTE

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

82. Nocturnal insects : MOTHS

84. Fall in the rankings : SLIP

86. Puts on notice : ALERTS

87. Reservation waster : NO SHOW

89. Green gp. : EPA

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

92. Mozart movements : RONDOS

93. Big yawns : BORES

97. Many miles off : AFAR

98. Sales targets : QUOTAS

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

100. Chowderhead : SAP

103. Enterprise crewman : MR. SULU

105. Hairy TV cousin : ITT

107. Sale rack abbr. : IRR

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

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

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

113. __ avis : RARA

115. Archipelago component : ISLAND

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

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

123. Forearm bones : RADII

124. Prepare for a comeback tour : REUNITE

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

127. Burning : ARDENT

Down:

1. Putting on airs : SNOOTY

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

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

4. Discouraging words : NOES

6. Chic getaway : SPA

7. Citrus shaving : ZEST

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

9. Level of achievement : PLATEAU

10. Treaty-signing memento : PEN

11. Additions : ANDS

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

13. Shenanigans : ANTICS

14. Displayed zero talent : STANK

15. Go astray : ERR

17. Jai __ : ALAI

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

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

23. Fantasy writers' awards : NEBULAS. Guessed.

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

32. Heavenly body : ORB

34. Novelist Ferber : EDNA

36. Throw off : EMIT

38. __-frutti : TUTTI

39. Oceanographer's workplace : SEA LAB

41. Shortly : ANON

43. Blue hue : AQUA

44. "Twelfth Night" sir : TOBY

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

46. Four-sided figures : RHOMBI

47. Nursing a grudge : SORE

48. Comic strip punches : POWS

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

53. "Clever" : HEH

56. Isn't quite perpendicular : TILTS

58. Work to edit : COPY

61. Sealed : SHUT

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

65. Winged croakers : RAVENS

68. See to the exit : USHER OUT

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

71. Preminger of film : OTTO

72. Minus : LESS

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

75. "Get cracking!" : NOW

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

79. Gin berries : SLOES

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

81. Shepherd's comment : WOOF

83. Cookout aid : SPIT

85. Missing something : PARTIAL

88. Title for Brahms : HERR

90. Berry rich in antioxidants : ACAI

94. Tugboats, at times : PULLERS

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

96. Watering hole : BAR

98. One issuing a citation? : QUOTER

100. Penetrate the mind : SOAK IN

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

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

104. Slyly cutting : SNIDE

106. An official language of Sri Lanka : TAMIL

108. Knockoff : CLONE

109. Sec : JIFF

110. Hodgepodge : OLIO

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

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

116. Simple earring : STUD

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

120. Criticize : RAP

121. Big Band __ : ERA

Answer grid.

Happy Birthday to Mainiac!

C.C.

May 19, 2012

Saturday, May 19th, 2012, Robert H. Wolfe

Theme: None

Words: 68

Blocks: 35 (with 4 cheaters)

A brain-drain puzzle for me, but totally worth the effort~! I would have to say that today's 'theme' could be "try, try again", as I had to change several of my initial answers in order to get this one done. Lots of good clues, some new fill, and an odd-looking grid. Bob has quite a record of puzzles; here's the interview from C.C. Four long-letter climbers;

7D. Theater accommodation : STANDING ROOM - nice to see the (almost) full length answer to a common crossword fill, "SRO" - just lacking the 'only' part

11D. Summons : CALLS FORTH

20D. "Just so you know ..." : FOR THE RECORD - I was trying to get 'FURTHER MORE' to fit, but was lacking a letter

25D. Homemade radio : CRYSTAL SET - had it not been for this appearing in a crossword not long ago, I would have not gotten it at all

ONward, Orthorunicans~!

ACROSS:

1. "Fear not" : REST EASY

9. Knuckle under : ACCEDE - wanted SECEDE, and tried RELENT instead

15. Likely will : EXPECT TO

16. Betrayed a bias : LEANED

17. Backing an ancient empire, like King Herod : PRO-ROMAN - took me a bit to parse this one out; I was missing the "R", and thought PROTO-MAN??? No, I don't think so....

18. Charge with a lance : TILT AT - Don Quixote, TILTing AT windmills

19. Made a party to : LET IN ON - lots of what I would call "Dan Naddor" fill today

20. Lacking extra room : FILLED

21. RB's gains : YarDS

22. Sonny and Cher, e.g. : DUO

24. The Baltics, once: Abbr. : SSRs

25. Caspian Sea delicacy : CAVIAR

28. Père's son : FILS

30. Strict disciplinarian : MARTINET - straight up definition

32. Nickname for two very different TV doctors : BONES - these two