Feb 1, 2015

Sunday Feburary 1, 2015 Gail Grabowski

 Theme:  "You Must Be Joking" - A is changed into U in each theme entry.

27A. Flea? : DOGGIE BUG. Doggie bag.

29A. Sign of a barbecuer's inattention? : SMOKING BUN. Vivid clue. Smoking ban. Not in casinos, unfortunately. Sad life in casinos.

48A. Most miles logged in a pickup, say? : TRUCK RECORD. Track record.

64A. Blizzard in Birmingham? : SNOW FLUKE. Snowflake. Never been to Birmingham. Too warm to snow there.

81A. Vessel that inspires ideas? : THINKING CUP. Thinking cap.

99A. Shack made of aluminum wrap? : TIN FOIL HUT. Tin foil hat.

102A. Cowardly lion, once? : YELLOW CUB. Yellow cab. I love the clue.

36D. Prospector's close attachment to his helper? : MULE BONDING. Male bonding.

40D. Reservation for an upper berth? : BUNK DEPOSIT. Bank deposit.

Once again, Gail started her theme answers in Row 4 rather than the traditional Row 3. This allowed her to put the two 11's in the Down slots.

Such a simple and elegant theme. I learned from making my own Sundays that it's hard to achieve Gail's elegance and smoothness. You need to always put solvers in mind when filling the grid.


1. Item worn diagonally : SASH.  I was picturing the one-shoulder T-shirt.

5. Guess : STAB

9. Suffix with techno- : PHOBE

14. Hate the thought of : DREAD

19. Expressive dance : HULA

20. Taylor of "Six Feet Under" : LILI

21. Kind of artery : RENAL

22. Out of practice : RUSTY. My Xi'an dialect is very rusty now. This makes me smile. Xi'an is the capital city of Shaanxi Province.

23. David Cameron's alma mater : ETON

24. "... the __-coloured ink": Shak. : EBON

25. Corkers? : IRISH. Oh, one from Cork.

26. Taper off : ABATE

31. Oz. sextet : TSPs

32. Signs up : JOINS

33. Blowup: Abbr. : ENL (Enlarge)

34. Mutual respect : COMITY. What we have here in our Corner.

37. Action film staples : STUNTS

39. Ever so slightly : A WEE BIT

43. Fundraiser's call list : ALUMS. Boomer's high school is quite aggressive in their fundraising.

44. Geometry subject : PLANE

45. Manner of moving : GAIT

46. 108-card game : UNO

47. Wide margin : MILE

51. "Breaking Bad" Emmy winner Gunn : ANNA. She played Skyler.

52. Calendrical brink : EVE. Is "Calendrical" a word you use?

53. Common product in Super Bowl ads : BEER.  And 89. Colorado-based brewery : COORS

54. Fluffy accessory : BOA

55. Brought out : EVOKED

57. Blood work charges : LAB FEES

59. Ones that tip a lot : CANOES. Lovely clue.

62. Hang on the line : AIR-DRY

63. PBS URL ender : ORG

67. Sault __ Marie : STE

68. Enjoy a home-cooked meal : DINE IN. I wonder how often Splynter dines in. I don't think he or Argyle cooks.

71. Garage capacity : ONE CAR

72. Faddish gift that has ranged from kittens to crocodiles : CHIA PET. Never had one. This stuff does not appeal to me.

76. "Day __": 1969 Peter, Paul and Mary hit : IS DONE

77. Motor oil letters : SAE. For Society of Automotive Engineers. I wanted STP.

78. Dull thing to be in : A RUT. And 60D. Every seven days : A WEEK. To me, these two are partials, though clued otherwise.

79. Flowery tribute : ODE

80. Blood line : VEIN

86. Warts and all : AS IS

87. Follower of directions? : ERN. Western.

88. Industry mogul : CZAR. Drug Czar.

90. Singer/songwriter Travis : TRITT

91. Uses Elmer's on once more : RE-GLUES

93. "__ Fideles" : ADESTE

95. Laudable : WORTHY

96. Play the wrong golf ball, say : ERR. Two-stroke penalty in your league also, Gary?
97. Quarters : ABODE

98. First name in architecture : EERO

107. Break down slowly : ERODE

108. Weeper of myth : NIOBE

109. Like Arizona's typical climate : ARID

110. Raid discovery : KILO. As in drug.

111. Tough tissue : SINEW

112. "The Chew" co-host Hall : CARLA. We had her before.

113. Confirmation, e.g. : RITE

114. Peak near Messina : ETNA

115. Nautical poles : SPARS

116. Long-eared equines : ASSES

117. Safe document : DEED

118. Fiscal __ : YEAR


1. Storage spot : SHED

2. Modern prefix with fill : AUTO. The software constructors use has a Autofill function.

3. Trudge : SLOG

4. Punter's statistic : HANG TIME

5. Yawning, perhaps : SLEEPY

6. 1970 Poitier title role : TIBBS. Mr. Tibbs.

7. Baseball family name : ALOU

8. Microsoft search engine : BING. Yellowrocks' preferred search engine.

9. Cell user : PRISONER. Prison cell.

10. Recluse : HERMIT

11. Subway selection : ONIONS. They have quite a few restaurants in China.

12. Enjoys the sun : BASKS

13. Inclusive school acronym : EL-HI. Just won't go away.

14. Where to find stories on Friday? : DRAGNET. Joe Friday.

15. Debris : RUBBLE

16. Son of Isaac : ESAU

17. Mail-routing abbr. : ATTN

18. Salon supply : DYE

28. Followers' suffix : ISTs

30. Fresh bean sprout? : NEW IDEA. Another nice clue.

32. Basement buildup : JUNK. Ours is full of worthless baseball cards.

34. Caravan mount : CAMEL

35. Three-time A.L. batting champ Tony : OLIVA. Here he is with Boomer. TTP mentioned how nice Ernie Banks was the other day. Tony Oliva is the same. Rod Carew is rather distant.

37. Speak indistinctly : SLUR

38. Washington's Sea-__ Airport : TAC

39. Rhine tributary : AAR

41. Word with circle or city : INNER

42. Apple polisher : TOADY

44. Defensive hoops tactic : PRESS

45. "__ your father" : GO ASK

48. Driving need? : TEE

49. Virus in 2014 news : EBOLA. We have an Ebola Czar!

50. __ d'Alene : COEUR

51. Angiogram image : AORTA

53. Initiate : BEGIN

56. Call on : VISIT

58. Carefully controlled refrigerant : FREON

59. First name in late-night : CONAN. Not into this guy.
61. Bears' org. : NFC

65. Respectful reply : NO SIR

66. Linen shades : ECRUS

68. Salvage crew member : DIVER. I meet lots of interesting people in our flea markets. One of the coin dealers is a diver/treasure hunter.

69. Rhone tributary : ISERE

70. Los Angeles-based ISP : NETZERO. I did not know they're based in LA.

73. Military drill syllable : HUP

74. Author Wharton : EDITH

75. In a mood : TESTY

78. Farm fraction : ACRE

82. Is down with : HAS. And 85. Came down with : GOT

 83. Pitchers may hold them : ICED TEAS. Of course I was thinking of baseball! Iced Lemon Tea (with honey) is the default summer drink in Hong Kong.

84. Bloodhound asset : NOSE

86. Scrolling convenience : ARROW KEY

88. Dating concerns for teens : CURFEWS. Our college dorm lady closed the door at 11:00pm sharp. Crazy days.

90. Turf maintenance brand : TORO

92. Library, e.g. : LENDER. IRS does not send libraries the tax form instruction booklets this year. Made Boomer mad. Do you all e-file?

93. Detests : ABHORS

94. Bar order : DOUBLE

95. Like many metal joints : WELDED

97. Rap sheet entry : ALIAS

98. Type smaller than pica : ELITE

99. Fool, with "up" : TRIP

100. Macbeth's burial site : IONA

101. Worshipper of the sun god Inti : INCA. I normally spell "worshiper" with one P. You?

102. School attachment? : YARD. I think I put in MARM first.

103. Lackawanna's lake : ERIE

104. Make mention of : CITE

105. Prismatic bone : ULNA

106. Animal that doesn't sound very interesting : BOAR. Ha ha.

107. Season opener? : ESS. So is PRE.


Jan 31, 2015

Interview with Ned White

Today's themeless is Ned White's 6th puzzle for the LA Times. Ned also has had 11 puzzles published by the New York Times, 10 of them are hard Friday/Saturday themeless. And he made all of them by hand! I don't think I can even keep the clue numbers correct without help from my software.

We don't often get a mini-theme on Saturdays, I hope you enjoy how Ned put this puzzle together. I  also love very much how he values his solvers and his advice to new constructors.

Ned White, Bangor Daily News

I was surprised to learn last August that you did not use Crossword Compiler. I presume this puzzle was made by hand also?

Yes, it was. But I've recently stopped tormenting myself and now use Crossfire, which works nicely on a Mac. Most of my published puzzles have been by hand, but the trauma and bloodshed just aren't worth it anymore.

What are the seed entries of this puzzle and what trouble did you encounter while filling in the grid?

I was looking for two crossing spanners that resonated with/played off each other for the "seed answers", and I loved both CLICK IT OR TICKET and USE INDOOR VOICES, since they're both warnings and one's used on the highway and the other, often, in a hallway, and they both have a subtle sense of fun about them. I also wanted THE RULES at 62 Across to help anchor the puzzle with what they call a "mini-theme." The challenge was 1 Across, 8 letters ending in C. Also, MALIK at 44 Across... One Direction is still a popular group, but this was clearly one of those "you probably don't know it, but here it is anyway" kind of answers. TETE A TETE gives easy letters to cross through, so I'm not so thrilled with it, but I thought it was cool getting all of EDIE FALCO in the grid. It's all give and take.

Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you get into crossword construction?

My background and training is in creative writing, and my career has been in novels, scriptwriting (TV and corporate, drama and documentary), and occasionally creative direction. Writing has its good and lean years, so after watching the movie "Wordplay" during a lean-ish year, I said, "I can do this." Followed by, "I think I want to do this." Well, several months later, I had my first acceptance, but it took me a few weeks to get that puzzle just right. When it was published three years later as a Saturday, "Rex Parker" was appalled by how hard it was. I had to agree. But I could also have told him, "Forget about how hard it is to solve, you have no idea how hard it was to make." It was a monster.

I should add, my first published puzzle (in the NYT) used the same grid as today's LAT puzzle. I debuted at the age of 63, I think, and that's quite a bit later than most, but I felt ready for anything, anytime. Age is not an issue. Bernice Gordon gave us great stuff into her triple figures (I just learned of her passing today... the tributes to her are inspiring and moving). So yes, I got a late start, but I'm actually kind of proud of it, and I intend to keep at it for quite a long time.

Which part do you enjoy the most in the construction process: theme development, filling or cluing?
Others have said, and I agree, themeless puzzles are easier to construct than themed puzzles, but harder to have accepted because the bar has been raised so high in the last year or two. Most of my puzzles are themeless, but I'm having a lot of fun with theme ideas that involve simple wordplay and puns. But different editors have different senses of humor, so you never know.

Cluing is always difficult for me. It takes me a solid 8 hours to clue a 15X. For fill words in a themed puzzle, I attempt misdirective or punny "question mark" clues for varying percentages of the answers, depending on which weekday the puzzle is best suited to. ETE for a Monday is probably "Summer on the Seine" and for a Friday "Nice time for a tan?", but there's just so much you can do with crosswordese like that. Otherwise, I strive to avoid cluing that's been used before, but I'm not always successful. Editors like Will and Rich and more recently Patti Varol always seem to be more creative than I, and I'll see one of their clues and ask, "Why didn't I think of that?" Trying to outguess them (to be more devious and clever) is nearly impossible for me. I had SCOTS in an NYT themeless, and Will kept my "Firth class?" clue. I had NAE in the same puzzle with "Firth refusal?", but that one didn't make the cut.

You've made both themed and themeless puzzles. What are the major differences in your approach to fill?

Themed puzzle fill, at worst, can be workmanlike, but now we see more and more really sparkling "crunchy" longish stuff crossing through 2 or 3 themed answers. Themeless puzzle fill has to keep reaching for the new, fresh, original, and surprising, and keep 3- and 4- letter fill words to a minimum. Some constructors will do anything for a pangram, or for a super high Scrabble count, but to me that's secondary to entertainment value and some fun in the grid. If I could give one piece of advice to new constructors (and I still consider myself fairly new at this, with barely two dozen puzzles in print), it would be "don't aim for the fences; give the solver a good time." I think we're seeing an excess of virtuosity in construction - quad stacks, very few blocks, etc. - and it's impressive but it doesn't necessarily make for a good solve with spanners that don't have much interest or bite (it can also force some very ugly downcrossing fill). I used to aim for a certain level of virtuosity, but no more. I want people to laugh, or at least smile, when they do my puzzles.

Besides crosswords, what are your other hobbies?

Carla and I live on a backwater cove on the coast of Maine in a house we built about 3 years ago, so one "hobby" is working on the property. Otherwise, I do some photography, play some guitar and piano, and there's lots of veggie gardening in the summer and attempts at mackerel jigging. I also blog weekly with the Bangor Daily News (Journeys Over a Hot Stove) about our road trips and different residences all over the U.S. mixed with regional recipes and food and topics that are completely unrelated. Usually, the posts are "humorous," or try to be, but sometimes they're quite serious. I've driven through 49 states, and I think the blog, on the whole, shows a deep affection for the diversity of landscape in this country, the people who live there, and the different sense of "soul" I've sensed in different regions. A few of my posts are "love letters" to a tiny town or a particular corner of a state or some stranger who made a lasting impression.

Saturday, Jan 31st, 2015, Ned White


Words: 70 (missing Y,Z)

Blocks: 32

Phew~!  This one drained me mentally.  The proper names and biology just did me in ( I counted 17 in all ).  First I had to switch to red-letter, then Google, and finally to a straight up cheat.  Oh well.  Still, I enjoyed the challenge, and I was thrilled to get a "mini-theme" on Saturday~! The last time I had Mr. White for a constructor, I was in the middle of the summer bench project (that's 41a.) - while I'm not interested in the hostess from there anymore, I'm still hopelessly in love with the blue-eyed hostess.  Anyway, one spanner crossing one climber:

36a. School hallway warning : USE INDOOR VOICES

8d. Highway warning : CLICK IT OR TICKET - The national highway traffic safety admin's campaign to get you to wear your seatbelt; I always do.  Some male driver humor here

And the "reveal";

62a. Things to obey, like 36-Across and 8-Down : THE RULES


1*. Plant reproductive structure : SPORE SAC - I got the "C", which led me to "sac", and on from there

9. Sharpens : WHETS - D'oh~! Not HONES

14*. Lindbergh nickname : LONE EAGLE - name - His Wiki

16. Goat __: chaotic situation, in slang : RODEO - Never heard of this; around here, we call it a clusterf**k

17. European travel pass : INTERRAIL - One of their itineraries lets you stop at Neuschwanstein Castle

18. "You Must Love Me" musical : EVITA - Total WAG - but then again, a 5-letter musical....

19. NYC travel org. : MTA

20. Trig function : ARCSEC - Cosine worked, too, but the abbr. "trig" meant otherwise

22. West end? : ERN - Western

23*. Internal walls : SEPTA - Biological term - as a carpenter, I was baffled trying to figure out what interior walls are called ( as opposed to 'bearing' walls, i.e. )

26*. Lizard that can shed its tail : SKINK - OK, so I threw in GECKO to start - Bzzzt~!

27. Passing event? : FAD - Dah~! I had to cheat the "D", but that finally opened up the NE

28. Book ending : ISH - Bookish

30. Like 23 of Haydn's symphonies : IN D - I put the "IN" part down, then waited....

31. Standing losses? : LAPS - when you stand up, you lose your lap - that's a kindergarten joke

32. Signifies : ADDS UP TO

35. "What have we here?!" : "HELLO~?!"

38. Fingers : NAMES

39. Media section : PRESS BOX - Dah~!!! My mind was stuck in the library, trying to get "Children's" to fit

40. Anthologies : ANAS - I goofed and put in ADAs, but that was 75% correct

41. Project : JUT - the verb, not the art/construction/school kind

42. Number of single-syllable U.S. states : ONE - Which one?  I know the answer~!

43. Cosmo, for one : MAGazine

44*. One Direction singer Zayn __ : MALIK - name

46*. Kirkuk native : IRAQI - name

50. "Every Moment Counts" gp. : USO - I pondered "REM", the music group

51*. 1965 Nobel Peace Prize recipient : UNICEF - I thought it might be this man, who just passed away, but his Nobel Prize was 1964

53. Vow taker : NUN

54. 8-Down and others : SIGNS - I have to admit, I have not seen "click it or ticket" as a sign; just the TV spots

56. A carve turn may be taught in one : SKI LESSON - Dah~! Dah~! Dah~!  First, I read it as "Caught", and not Taught, so I was stuck in the mental rut of carving wood, thus I was trying to get "WOOD KNOT" to work - or something like that. 

59. Bring forth : EDUCE

60. S-shaped sofa : TÊTE À TÊTE - aww, a kissing bench

61. Company with antlers in its logo : DEERE


1. Diets, with "down" : SLIMS - Ooops, went with TRims first

2. Bridge overseas : PONTE

3. Slated : ON TAP

4*. R&B artist Des'__ : REE

5. "As wicked dew as __ my mother brush'd": "The Tempest" : E'ER

6. 1979-'80 Fleetwood Mac hit : SARA

7. Food stabilizers : AGARS

9. Highway closer, perhaps : WRECK - yup, that'll do it

10. Highway lane, for short : H.O.V. - High Occupancy Vehicle; I think it's a colossal waste here on L.I.; a better solution would have been a zipper wall

11*. Four-time Emmy-winning actress : EDIE FALCO

12*. Four-stranded DNA structure : TETRAPLEX - uh, OK - the Wiki

13. Scoundrels : SO-AND-SOs - ugh; just wasn't coming to me

15. Where "Hamlet" opens : ELSINORE - there's a castle there, too - more here

21. Object : END - the noun, not the verb

24. Spruces (up) : TIDIES

25. Like-minded orgs. : ASSNs

29*. __ Bannon, Paul Newman role : HUD - I've heard of it, but never seen it - IMDb

31*. Jerry who wrote lyrics for many Presley songs : LEIBER - ugh, please

32. How a stage line might be spoken : AS AN ASIDE - I got this, and it gave me some hope in the SW

33. Rabble-rouser : DEMAGOGUE

34. Champion of the common man : POPULIST

35*. Successor to Anwar : HOSNI

36. Not laughing : UNAMUSED

37. Brandy designation : VSO - Very Superior Old

41. 31-day mo. : JAN - on the first pass with no perps, could have been MAR, JUL, AUG, OCT, & DEC as well

44. Beaux-arts venue : MUSÉE - Frawnche

45*. Sports commentator Olbermann : KEITH

47*. Adams who shot El Capitan : ANSEL - ah, but I know this guy~!

48. Repeat exactly : QUOTE

49*. Novelist Hammond __ : INNES

52. Run : FLEE

55. Big name in bar code scanners : NCR

57. Tin __ : EAR

58*. Tommy Pickles' dad in "Rugrats" : STU


Note from C.C.: 
Happy Birthday to dear Bill G, who has brought us lots of fun and uplifting links since he joined our blog. Whenever he sees a feel-good story via Barbara's Facebook or other sites, he shares with us immediately. Bill's posts are always cheerful and lighthearted, even his comments to those mean anons are polite. My heart aches with him for the tragic loss of his son Dan. I'm also very grateful for Bill's steady presence on our blog the past few years. The Comments section just does not feel complete without Bill's late night posts.

Barbara & Bill

Jan 30, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015 Paolo Pasco

Theme: "Back in the Game"

Phrases containing the word "back" are treated literally, with the target word "backed up."

16. Deep-sea creature, literally : PMUH WHALE. Humpback whale.

20. Alternative strategies, literally : LLAF PLANS. Fallback plans.

40. Infomercial offers, literally : YENOM GUARANTEES. Money-back guarantees.

55. Toddler's transport, literally : YGGIP RIDE. Piggyback ride

65. Preflight purchase, literally : REPAP BOOK. Paperback book.

Marti here on an unusual Friday. I do not think we have seen Paulo in the LA Times before, so congratulations on your debut.  Paolo did collaborate on one devilishly clever puzzle with Frank Longo in the Fireball crosswords earlier this month, and I understand that he is a high school freshman? Move over, David Steinberg!

I figured out the theme immediately with the first one, which helped me to zip through the rest of them. But I did get slowed down in several spots. Let's see what they were.


1. Ones calling the shots? : REFS. Waited for perps - could also have been "umps."

5. Rock blasters : AMPS. Waited for perps - could also have been "TNTs."

9. Californie, for one : ETAT. Solid.

13. Apple variety : iMAC. Yep, I'm typing on one right now.

14. Goal for a runner : SEAT.

15. Renaissance painter Veronese : PAOLO. Shoutout to himself? I have linked "The Wedding at Cana" before.

18. Mozart's "King of Instruments" : ORGAN. Gimme!

19. Seat of Dallas County, Alabama : SELMA. The small city that had a huge impact on the Civil Rights movement.

22. Churchill, for one : TORY.

24. "Who, me?" : MOI? and a clecho at 53-Across. "Who, me?" : NOT I !

25. 1,000 G's : MIL.lion. G's are short for "grand," or one thousand dollars.

27. Goes out for a bit? : NAPS.

30. Fusion, for one : ECOCAR. Ford Fusion.

35. Receptionist on "The Office" : ERIN. No clue - all perps.

37. It's frowned upon : NO NO.

39. Yellowish tone : OCHRE.

43. Time to say "¡Feliz año nuevo!" : ENERO.  "Happy New Year!" is said in January.

44. Pioneers' journey, say : TREK. Like the Mormon migration from Illinois to the Rocky mountains.

45. Unpopular spots : ACNE.

46. Buck : RESIST.

48. 1980s surgeon general : KOOP.

50. Dennings of "Thor" : KAT.

51. __ lane : HOV.

61. Alley wanderers : MUTTS.

64. Certain Middle Easterner : IRANI.

67. Pirouette, essentially : PIVOT.

68. Settled down : ALIT.

69. "Truth in Engineering" automaker : AUDI.

70. First place? : EDEN.

71. Bothersome parasites : LICE.

72. Block (up) : STOP.


1. Steals, with "off" : RIPS.

2. Former "Fashion Emergency" host : EMME. She broke the mold of the model world.

3. Surface fractures : FAULT LINES. Hey, it wasn't my fault!

4. Blockhead : SCHMO. Love that word.

5. Fire proof : ASH.

6. Courses taken consecutively? : MEAL.

7. Depressing atmosphere : PALL.

8. Energy : STEAM.

9. "Downton Abbey" title : EARL. Had to wait on perps before deciding between "lord," "lady" or EARL.

10. Draped garment : TOGA.

11. The first "A" in A.A. Milne : ALAN. Sheesh...misspelled again!  (^0^)

12. Piles : TONS.

15. Michael Jackson, e.g. : POP ICON. Had to wait on perps before deciding whether it would be ICON or Idol.

17. Tip off : WARN.

21. One on the other side : FOE.

23. Half a philosophical duality : YANG. The other half is, of course, "yin."

25. "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution" author Nicholas : MEYER. Crap. I wanted Doyle. It's Dr. Watson's "lost manuscript" about Sherlock Holmes. Followed immediately by:

26. Adler of Sherlock Holmes lore : IRENE. Remember "Scandal in Bohemia"? She is the only character who ever outwitted Sherlock.

28. Look down : POUT.

29. Snideness : SNARK. Ohhhh-kaaaaay...

31. Numerical prefix : OCTA.

32. "Look at this!" : CHECK IT OUT.

33. Battleground : ARENA. The big one is on Sunday in Glendale, AZ.  Our local supermarket is called "Big Bunny," and they outfitted the huge mascot on the roof with Gronk's # 87. Cute!

34. Start over, in a way : RESET.

36. Sushi seaweed : NORI.

38. Layered snack : OREO.

41. Venue involving a lot of body contact : MOSH PIT.

42. "Right Now (Na Na Na)" artist : AKON. All perps.

47. Rogers Centre team, on scoreboards : TOR.onto.

49. Majestic display : POMP.

52. Like some popular videos : VIRAL.

54. Big brass : TUBAS.

55. "Heavens to Betsy!" : YIPE.

56. Crossword component : GRID.

57. Collapsed : GAVE.

58. Aware of : IN ON.

59. Where many subs are assembled : DELI. Cute misdirection.

60. Really, really cool : EPIC. Really?

62. Stir : TO DO.

63. Pass over : SKIP.

66. Downed : ATE.

That's it for this week. Thanks for letting me walk in your shoes today, Lemony!


Note from C.C.:

Bernice Gordon, the oldest LA Times constructor, passed away yesterday. You can click here for the obit. Here is her most recent puzzle for us.

Jan 29, 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015, Marti Duguay-Carpenter

Theme: Can you saw a sawbuck for me?

For the younger generation, a sawbuck is a ten dollar bill. This derived from the Roman Numeral X meaning ten, which looks like one end of a sawhorse. C-note meaning a hundred is also from the Latin. Anyway, marti has taken the word TEN and broken between two adjacent fill which are all clued by the first clue, cross-referentially- a variation on the break a word theme like we saw yesterday from Jeffrey Wechsler. Yesterday was an outie, and today is an innie. There is a double symmetry of the break 1/3 having t/en and 2/4 te/n. with 1/4 10 letters and 2/3 9 letters. The reveal is a central gridspanning 15. The fill is heavy on 5 letter words, some of which are tough like ERISA, ICAHN and TABOR and there are some nice 7-8 letter fill such as AMNESIA, CD RATES, EERIEST, HASTIER, NICE DOG, ROB ROYS, BREAD BIN, STAY HERE, many of which required work. Pinch hitting for marti, so let's get to work.

14A. With 15-Across, accounting unit : DEBIT. 15A. See 14-Across : ENTRY. Our system of mathematics, and accounting are based on the base 10. (10 in the theme).

29A. With 31-Across, anathema : BETE. 31A. See 29-Across : NOIRE. We have had bete noire before clued before as bete___?(8/12/14) and _____noire?(9/30/14). (9 in the theme). Aren't you all glad we had this word Tuesday?

44A. With 47-Across, some receivers : TIGHT. 47A. See 44-Across : ENDS. Rob Gronkowski is the New England Patriots star receiver. LINK. (0:29)(9 in the theme).

65A. With 66-Across, National Book Award-winning novel by Don DeLillo : WHITE. 66A. See 65-Across : NOISE. I did not know the book, but I knew the theme. (10 in the theme).
and the reveal
37A. Question about change, which hints at the hidden feature of four two-part puzzle answers : CAN YOU BREAK A TEN? (15).


1. Some portrait frames : OVALS. I had some trouble with this beginning even though I have a big oval frame in my living room holding a picture of my mother with her brothers when she was little.

6. Noble __ : GASES. Back on track.

11. Singsong syllable : TRA. Well, Lah di dah!

16. Like some aces : RED. So many different kinds of aces- cards, tennis, air warfare, tests....

17. Manage : SEE TO. I always think of,,,

18. Walking __ : ON AIR. What TV show theme music?

19. Sound after a satisfying swig : AAH. How cool that this is next to...

20. Scotch cocktails : ROB ROYS. The Scotch version of a Manhattan, it was named by a bartender at the Waldorf after a Broadway play about the Scottish hero, RECIPE.

22. Zenith : ACME.

23. "I won't hurt you" : NICE DOG. This was all perps,

26. Not as deliberate : HASTIER. This was hard, though once filled makes sense.

28. Toothbrush-endorsing org. : ADA. American Dental Association.

32. Worlds : REALMS. A word I got used to from watching my sons playing video games.

35. __ legend : URBAN. We have urban legends, dictionaries, even cowboys; where is the love for suburbia?

42. Blue Grotto locale : CAPRI.

43. "Ramona and Beezus" co-star Gomez : SELENA. Another STAR (1:41) created by Disney?

49. Set-__ : TOS.

50. Malady in the 2000 film "Memento" : AMNESIA. I could not remember what this movie was about.

52. Like the best occult films : EERIEST.

55. It's about a foot : SHOE. Sock fits this misdirection as well.

56. Yield figures : CD RATES.

58. Figure under a line : SUM.  Simple visual.

59. Fife-and-drum drum : TABOR. From the same Latin root where we get Tambourine.

60. Two cents : INPUT. Cute clue/fill.

64. Bardic before : ERE. The Bard?

67. "M*A*S*H" titles : LTS. Lieutenants. Actually they had lots of majors and captains there.

68. Private : INNER.

69. Mount : STEED. A horse is a horse, of course...


1. Pigs out (on) : OD'S.

2. Center of gravity? : VEE.  Tricky.

3. Presidential nickname : ABE.

4. Petrol unit : LITRE. You see, they do not say gasoline, so...

5. Gave up a seat : STOOD. So simple, but the political aspect slowed me. In the UK, they stand for Parliament, I think, even more confusing.

6. One of six British kings : GEORGE. I am still waiting for King Ringo.

7. Year in Tuscany : ANNO. Year in Italian, the same word as Latin.

8. "Wait for me" : STAY HERE.

9. Pension law signed by Ford, briefly : ERISA. Employee Retirement Income Security Act

10. Jordan neighbor: Abbr. : SYRia.

11. Gillette razor : TRAC II. Along with ATRA, regular crossword stuff.

12. Hole enlarger : REAMER. hard to remain pc with this clue/fill.

13. Cleave : ADHERE.

21. Comes to the surface : BOBS UP.

22. Harsh-sounding, to some : ATONAL. And MUSIC (2:16)  to others.

23. Traffic stopper? : NARC. Drug traffic. A classic miss m deception.

24. Notion : IDEA.

25. "Elf" actor : CAAN. ACTOR James, not to be confused with 51D. Corporate raider Carl : ICAHN. This was easy for me, but this MAN may not be as well known unless you have worked in the investment world. Both names are variations of the Hebrew family name Cohen.

27. Shoshone Falls river : SNAKE.

30. Shroud city : TURIN.

33. Chinese evergreen : LYCHEE. Nuts to these obscure clues.

34. Zoo security features : MOATS.

36. Droopy-eared hound : BASSET. Do you all remember this early TV star? LINK. (1:18)

38. Wonderful container? : BREAD BIN. Sounds British; the clue should be Wonder-ful (Wonder bread)?

39. Bordeaux bean? : TETE. A French reminder, but still no answer as to why the head /brain is called 'bean.'

40. "The Dukes of Hazzard" officer : ENOS. A break from the biblical reference, played by Sonny Shroyer, a former FSU football player like Burt Reynolds. His character became so popular they had a spin-off called Enos.

41. Tammany Hall caricaturist : NAST. Perhaps the most famous political cartoonist in America.

44. Mortarboard frill : TASSEL.

45. "That upset me!" : I'M HURT.

46. Speakers of Tolkien's Noldorin language : GNOMES. I very much enjoyed both the Hobbit and the The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but was completely unaware that the Noldorin Elves were originally called Gnomes, but what eles starts GN? READ?

48. Costing more : DEARER. "Oh, dear, that's too dear, dear."

53. Jockey's handful : REINS. Cute, evocative clue.

54. "This __ a drill!" : IS NOT. A scary set of words.

57. Mechanical repetition : ROTE.

59. Prefix with light or night : TWI. Rhymes with...

61. "Easy as __!" : PIE. No, but a doable Thursday, don't you think?

62. Wear and tear : USE.

63. Former Ohio governor Strickland : TED. I am not sure what is special about this one term GOVERNOR, but it is time to go anyway.

Here is some insight into the puzzling mind of our own marti:

We were at a local restaurant when DH asked the waitress, “Can you break a ten?” I seem to count words like some people count sheep, and immediately realized that could be a 15-letter unifier. So I toyed with the idea, and had the devilish idea to break the word “ten” across two entries.  But that meant the paired entries would have to be cross-referenced. (Sorry BarryG, but it wouldn’t work any other way!!)

As always it is great to blog a marti puzzle,  she includes so many whimsical bits, and once I remembered to not write Friday in the title, it all went well. Thanks for  reading and enjoying a marti jeudi (play day) and now you can look forward to her Friday write up. Lemonade out.

Jan 28, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 Jeffrey Wechsler

Theme - On EDGE in the OUTER Zone.  The word EDGE is broken to form bookends around the theme answers, thus representing the OUTERmost letters of the fill.

17. Fraternal meeting place : ELKS LODGE.   From their website:  Elks invest in their communities through programs that help children grow up healthy and drug-free, by undertaking projects that address unmet need, and by honoring the service and sacrifice of our veterans.

27. "The Cask of Amontillado" writer : EDGAR ALLAN POE.   Certainly not his most famous work.   Nice to see the entire name spelt out, though

41. Where to read candidate endorsements : EDITORIAL PAGE.   And those hilarious letters to the editor.

54. Periphery ... and, literally, the periphery of 17-, 27- and 41-Across : OUTER EDGE.   As far out as you can get without leaving, spilling out or otherwise departing.

 Hi Gang, JazzBumpa here.  There are 3 ways to break EDGE and Jeffery found them all.  Are you on EDGE?   Let's see how edgy the rest of this puzzle is.


1. Help for Holmes : CLUE.  A hint to help Sherlock crack the case, when the game is afoot.

5. All hands on deck : CREW.   A description, not a command.   First big misdirection of the day

9. Baby food, usually : PUREE.   A food substance chopped and mashed into a smooth consistency.

14. "Can you give me a __?" : HINT.   No, Sherlock.  You're on your own.

15. Bass' red triangle, e.g. : LOGO.   Like this, having nothing to do with fish:

16. Dove rival : IVORY.   Bath soaps.

19. Sense & Spray air freshener maker : GLADE.   Replace odor with fresh scent.

20. "Here are the facts," briefly : FYIFor Your Information.

21. Garden outcast : EVE.   After the sneaky snake did his work the garden was uninhabited.

22. Dark suit : SPADES.  Another misdirection, clothed in wordplay.  But we won't be fooled.

23. Central church area : NAVE.  Where the congregation congregates.  Where do the knaves go?

25. Pacific Northwest capital : SALEM.   Oregon

31. Reduced in number : FEWER.   Not as many as there used to be.

32. Track tipsters : TOUTS.      A person who "professes to have, and sells, advance information on or betting selections for a race. Tip Sheets are also sold at the track which are published by these touts."

33. Train cos. : RRSRail Road companies. 

35. Yankee nickname since 2004 : A-ROD.   Alexander Emmanuel "Alex" Rodriguez (born July 27, 1975) is one of the greatest Baseball players of all time, and one of the most despised of our time.

36. Asparagus, mostly : STEMS.  As you can see.

37. Nemesis : BANE.  A ruinous person or thing.

38. ENE or WSW : DIR.  Abbreviated DIRections, without misdirections.

39. Set straight : ALIGN.   To arrange things in their proper positions.  Another misdirection

40. Golfer Palmer, to fans : ARNIE.  Arnold Daniel Palmer (b. Sept. 10, 1929) was a well known professional golfer.  Once many years ago, I played at his Bay Hill course in Florida, and killed a squirrel with a worm-burning drive.  Caught that poor little fella right square in the head.  Also, I once had lunch with Arnie.  True, he was across the room at a different table, but we were both having lunch.

44. Much of the time : OFTEN.  More frequent than now and then.

45. Kitchen add-on? : ETTE.  A cleverly clued affix fill.  Kitchenette. MEH!

46. Yemenis' neighbors : SAUDIS.  They have a new King.

49. "__ been thinking ..." : I'VE.

50. NASA thumbs-up : A-OK.   All systems are go.

53. Acme's opposite : NADIR.    Extremes of ups and downs.

57. Most clubs in a pro's bag : IRONS.   ARNIE tells me this is about golf clubs.  I wonder if Jeremy Irons and Tiger Woods ever played with Mr. T and Lucille Ball?  

58. Scott Turow memoir : ONE L.   The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School

59. Vulcan mind __: Spock's skill : MELD.   A telepathic link allowing individuals to share thoughts and be of one mind, so to speak.  In this sense, the word is a portmanteau of melt and weld that originated in the late 30's.  It's also the reason why nobody ever wanted to play canasta with Mr. Spock.

60. Principle : TENET.  Typically the principles of a belief system.

61. Superstorm response org. : FEMA.   Federal Emergency Management Agency.   They do a heckuva job.

62. Functions : USES.  Purposes.


1. "Cutthroat Kitchen" competitor : CHEF.   Who decided that cooking is a competitive event?

2. Easter bloom : LILY.

symbol of purity, hope, innocence and peace
symbol of purity, hope, innocence and peace
symbol of purity, hope, innocence and peace

3. Critical comment : UNKIND WORD.  Evidently not constructive criticism.

4. Aliens, briefly : ETsExtraTerrrestials.

5. Prosperous, after "in" : CLOVER.   Well off, perhaps even set for life.  The turncoat Max Scherzer comes reality to mind.   This expression alludes to cattle happily feeding on clover.

6. Took the bus : RODE.

7. Fabergé creation : EGG.

8. Reason for hand-wringing : WOE.   Alas and a lack.

9. Sloppy farm digs : PIG PENS.  Go hog wild.

10. Tanning booth light, for short : UV LAMP.    Emitting Ultra-Violet rays to promote tanning, wrinkles, premature aging and possibly skin cancer.  The things we generally call lights should properly be called lamps.

11. Freeway, e.g. : ROAD.    

12. Earth, to Hans : ERDE.   The German word for earth.

13. Windows to the soul, so they say : EYES.  Poetic.

18. "Reading Rainbow" host Burton : LEVAR.   No idea.

22. Mattress supports : SLATS.   Actually these wooden boards support the box spring upon which the mattress sits.

24. Matured : AGED.   My motto: what I lack in youth, I make up for with immaturity.

25. Liqueur in a fizz : SLOE GIN.  Typically made from grain neutral spirits, which is not gin, and the sloe plum, which is not a plum.   In other news, the Battle of Bunker Hill was not fought on Bunker Hill.

26. Barnard grad : ALUMNA.  A female graduate from a traditionally all female university.

27. Like 27-Across' work : EERIE.  Strange, weird, disturbing.  Ravens, anyone?

28. Clothes : ATTIRE.

29. Fruity drinks : ORANGEADES.  Analogs to lemonades, not to be confused with either our resident Lemonade nor benefit concerts for needy Oopaloompas.

30. Bert's buddy : ERNIE.  Muppets.

31. Fleeting fashion : FAD.   Muppets have been around for 60 years.

34. "Get it?" : SEE?.  With your EYES?

36. Schedule openings : SLOTS.  A few free moments.

37. Sassy tyke : BRAT.  

39. Initially : AT FIRST.   In the beginning.

40. More fitting : APTER.   With a little bit of luck, you will never again see this collection of letters.

42. Salt additive : IODINE.  Valuable micronutrient.

43. Low parking garage floor : LEVEL A.  Ground floor, probably

46. Bad mood : SNIT.

47. Bern's river : AARE.    Map.

48. Noodle bar order : UDON.   Per Wikipedia:  Udon (饂飩?, usually written as うどん) is a type of thick wheat flour noodle of Japanese cuisine.

49. List component : ITEM.

51. Gawk at : OGLE.

52. Classic sneakers : KEDS.

54. "That knocked the wind out of me!" : OOF.  Onomatopoeia for the sound of forced exhalation.

55. Sorbonne one : UNE.  The French unit.

56. Aussie runner : EMU.  This flightless bird has absolutely nothing to do with Eastern Michigan University, whose mascot is an eagle.

Well, there were a couple of clunkers that put me on EDGE, but over all, a fine offering with a well executed theme and some nice long verticals.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cool regards!

Jan 27, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 Ed Sessa

Theme: Tuesday Toadies - All are dupes that get used.

57A. Classic comedy team, with "The" ... and what the last words of 20-, 38- and 44-Across comprise : THREE STOOGES

20A. Rock used for hammering, e.g. : STONE AGE TOOL

38A. Shari Lewis' Lamb Chop, memorably : SOCK PUPPET

44A. First piece moved in chess, often : QUEEN'S PAWN

Argyle here. Eighty words but it although it didn't feel like that many. All the letters except J Z.


1. Many an Amman man : ARAB

5. Grab, as ice cubes : TONG

9. Seuss character who "speaks for the trees" : LORAX

14. Ship bottom : HULL. Perhaps Spitzboov can elaborate.

15. Auth. unknown : ANON. But we know anons; they're not all bad.

16. Fit to be tied : IRATE

17. Opposed to : ANTI

18. Flat-topped elevation : MESA

19. Consumerist Ralph : NADER

23. Mousse kin : GEL

24. NBC skit show : SNL. (Saturday Night Live)

25. Neighbor of Can. : USA

28. Seasoned veteran : PRO

31. Sneaker brand : KEDS

34. Sharper, as vision : KEENER

36. One that falls in the fall : LEAF

40. Media workers' org. : AFTRA. (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists)

42. Mentalist Geller : URI

43. Home of baseball's Marlins : MIAMI

47. Takes a load off : SITS

48. "Incredible!" : "UNREAL!"

49. __ Piper : PIED. Def. having two or more different colors.

51. Half a colon : DOT

52. Blog VIPs : EDs. (editor)

53. Bubble bath spot : TUB

55. Arctic sea bird : AUK

63. Mexican mom : MADRE. (madre política : mother-in-law) Plus 63D. Mother's Day month : MAY. (el día de la madre, diez de mayo)

66. Wrap for a sprain : TAPE

67. Agatha Christie's title : DAME. She was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth in 1971.

68. Universal principle : AXIOM

69. Letter-named thoroughfares in Bklyn. : AVEs. Full of snow, I suppose.

70. Soprano Gluck : ALMA

71. Gossipmonger : YENTA

72. Religious offshoot : SECT

73. Ringful on a belt : KEYS


1. Triumphant cries : A-HAs. When I 'got' 73-Across.

2. Littlest of a litter : RUNT

3. Voice below soprano : ALTO

4. Showy jewelry : BLING

5. Fare steamed in corn husks : TAMALEs

6. Ten C-notes : ONE G. 10 x $100 = $1,000

7. Wine quality : NOSE

8. Annoying swarm : GNATS

9. Kitchen flooring : LINOLEUM and 41D. Detested thing : ANATHEMA. I had trouble spelling these two climbers.

10. Like much early history : ORAL

11. "Cool!" : "RAD!" (radical)

12. Had a bite : ATE

13. Gen-__: boomer's kid, usually : Xer

21. Surprised scream : [EEK!]

22. Cleaning up after the mess? : ON KP. in the service.

25. Still owed : UNPAID

26. Appear that way : SEEM TO

27. Palette user : ARTIST

28. Inscribed award : PLAQUE

29. Check from the IRS : REFUND. They may be late this year.

30. Films featuring chaps in chaps : OATERS. (Westerns)

32. Fasten, as buttons : DO UP

33. Junkyard metal : SCRAP

35. Protestant denom. : EPIS. (Episcopal)

37. Let loose : FREE

39. Fuzzy fruit : KIWI

45. Insult : SLUR

46. Most shipshape : NEATEST

50. Lovebirds, e.g. : DUO

54. Software test versions : BETAs

56. George Eastman's camera : KODAK

57. Easy race pace : TROT

58. Whence icicles hang : EAVE

59. Building detail, briefly : SPEC. Specification, different from on spec: Speculation.

60. Big windstorm : GALE

61. Award for a sitcom : EMMY

62. Red and Coral : SEAs. The Coral Sea.

64. Bough breaker : AXE. Axe must have been too dull to chop it.

65. Racket : DIN