Dec 31, 2008

Wednesday December 31, 2008 Diane C. Baldwin

Theme: On the Road To Success

20A: Proceeded slowly: TOOK BABY STEPS

37A: Didn't hesitate: JUMPED RIGHT IN

52A: Accomplished easily: SAILED THROUGH

I am not sure I got the theme right. Those answers are three different manners to achieve one's goal, right?

This is probably the easiest Wednesday puzzle we've had in December. Simple clues, simple answer. "Nice life?" for VIE is a breath of fresh air. Nice has quite a few interesting museums: Musée Chagall, Musée Matisse, etc. I would like to visit there someday.

I really miss baseball, so I might have clued ESS (27D: Slalom trail) as "Season opener?". Lots of other ways to play with ESS, you know, "Slow start?", "Strong start?". Might be too risky to have "Sex start?" though.

Across:

9A: Patriot Allen: ETHAN. Or one of the Coen brothers. I could not grok "Fargo" when I first saw it in 2001. Very strange Minnesota dialect. Yah, you betcha!

15A: Jason's vessel: ARGO. Out of those Argonauts, Atlanta is the only girl, right?

19A: Like sailor's stories: SALTY. Do you know why SALTY dog is named so? What does "dog" refer to?

25A: Presidential nickname: IKE. I thought of ABE first.

33A: Binary digits: ONES. Zeros and ONES.

57A: Yoga position: LOTUS. My grandma used to make pickled LOTUS root for us during Chinese Spring Festival.

60A: Guernsey or Anglesey: ISLE. I've never heard of those two ISLES. Here is the map for Guerney. Wikipesia says "Guernsey is not part of the UK but rather a separate possession of the Crown, comparable to the ISLE of Man". What does "the Crown" refer to then? ISLE of Angelsey is in the northwest coast of Wales. I suppose "Sey" is a corrupted form of "sea"?

Down:

2D: City in a Shakespeare title: VERONA. "The Two Gentlemen of VERONA". Also the setting for "Romeo and Juliet".

3D: Tour guide: ESCORT. "Tour guide"? Really?

4D: Military hat: SHAKO. Without the across fills, I would not have got this plumed hat.

11D: Finland destination: HELSINKI. Is Finnish language very different from from Swedish?

32D: Broadcast again: RERAN

45D: Practiced conservation: REUSED. I think weekday puzzle should limit its prefix to two.

46D: Sought indirectly: ANGLED

47D: Old anesthetics: ETHERS. See, I understand this "Old", meaning "former" or "bygone". Some of the "Old" city clues drive me nuts.

51D: Ta-da!: VOILA. Done! See you tomorrow!

C.C.

Dec 30, 2008

Tuesday December 30, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Friends of Sloppy Joes

17A: Cheap, low quality wine: SNEAKY PETE

60A: Pal of Roy Rogers: GABBY HAYES

11D: 2002 Giants manager: DUSTY BAKER

28D: Clint Eastwood role: DIRTY HARRY

Well, I got DUSTY BAKER immediately, then obtained its symmetrical partner DIRTY HARRY very quickly too. I did have this "lucky" feeling and thought the other theme answers might be soil-y people, like golfer SANDY LYLE (Masters, and British Open winner) or someone MUDDY or SLUSHY.

Have never heard of SNEAKY PETE. Is it a slang? GABBY HAYES is not a name I could fetch out of my memory shelf readily. In fact, I don't remember where and when I stored it. I also encountered various problems at different spots: TAMMUZ & BUTE, SETI & EZIO, tough intersections for me.

I really like the clues for ACRE (49A: Part of a plot?) and IRENE (33D: Castle that danced), very clever.

Stan, I know you are reading this blog, please don't tell me the clue for BUTE (42A: Island in the Firth of Clyde) is your original. You have CLYDE as an answer for 50D: Glasgow waterway.

Across:

14A: New Italian bread: EURO. "Old Italian bread" is LIRA or LIRE.

15A: Refashion: ALTER. I like this "Re*" clue.

19A: Egyptian fertility goddess: ISIS. Ennui. Give me Bill Clinton's "IS IS" definition clue.

20A: Chafing-dish heat: STERNO. I wonder what's the origin of STERNO.

21A: Large knives: MACHETES. Have you ever been to a sugarcane field?

23A: '58 Presley hit: DON'T. No idea. If you find the clip, please share with us on the Comments box. I could only find his "Don't Be Cruel".

26A: Sub finder's acronym: ASDIC (Anti Submarine Detection Investigation Committee). Completely unknown to me. I could only think of SONAR.

36A: Sitcom equine: MR. ED. I am more used to the "Talking horse" clue. Was it a good show?

37A: Kicker Yepremian: GARO. Another unknown. Was he already bald when he was playing? Why was he named GARO instead of GARY?

45A: String along: COZEN. I was unaware of the "deceive" meaning of "String along".

51A: Heart rhythm: DIASTOLE. OK, according to Clear Ayes, diastolic blood pressure should be less than 80, and systolic pressure should be less than 120. Funny how I've never paid attention to this stuff before.

55A: Crooner Julius: LA ROSA. This is an interesting clip.

63A: Old defense acronym: NORAD. Its motto is 3D: Deter, Detect and Defend.

64A: Riga resident: LETT. Why LETT? Shouldn't its resident be called Latvian?

65A: Blackstone: ONYX

67A: Basso Pinza: EZIO. I forgot. This guy is in "South Pacific". What a strange name.

Down:

1D: Porgy's woman: BESS. "Harry's woman" too.

4D: Billboards, in Britain: HOARDINGS. New British word to me.

5D: Synthetic fabric: RAYON

6D: Matterhorn, e.g.: ALP. Gimme to me only when it's clued as "Mont Blanc, e.g."

8D: Stiff bristle: SETA. Stiff, stiff clue. Why can't we just have a normal partical "SET A good example" clue?

24D: Hebrew month: TAMMUZ. If the answer is not the 4-letter ADAR, then I am lost. TAMMUZ is the tenth month in Jewish calendar.

26D: Some Egyptian clerics: ABBAS. Oh, is that how Mahmoud ABBAS got his name? Good to know. What a mess there!

31D: Sister of Venus: SERENA. The Williams sisters.

37D: Carbonated beverage: GINGER ALE

48D: Cromwell's earldom: ESSEX

51D: Dealer's wheels: DEMO. Can we also clue it as "Obama's party"?

54D: River of Spain: EBRO. This flow-er travels entirely within Spain before it flows into the Mediterranean Sea. I've found out that the answer for a "River of Spain" clue is either RIO or EBRO.

56D: Court crier's word: OYEZ. I could only think of "All rise".

57D: Planet-finding grp.: SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Mine was NASA.

58D: In the matter of: AS TO

C.C.

Dec 29, 2008

Monday December 29, 2008 Allan E. Parrish

Theme: Unmovable Vehicles

20A: "An Aperture Monograph" photographer: DIANE ARBUS

59A: Guy with "really big shew": ED SULLIVAN

11D: Cher film: MOONSTRUCK

29D: Island off Africa: MADAGASCAR

Hmm, we need a *JEEP for a pangram grid. But still, this puzzle will rank high in scrabbliness, with three X'es, two Z's, two V's and one Q, all hallmarks of a Allan E. Parrish puzzle.

I was not familiar with the book "An Aperture Monograph" or the photographer DIANE ARBUS. What is a "Monograph" anyway?

I wish ENOS (23A: Son of Seth) were clued as "Slaughter of Cooperstown" and EXPO (12D: Large intl. show) were clued as "National, formally". So together with ORTIZ (17A: Baseball's "Big Papi"), they would form a nice baseball sub-theme. Too bad, David ORTIZ was hurt all the time when he was with the Twins.

I hope we get a Barry Silk puzzle soon. I miss his wicked Q's.

Across:

1A: Belle or Bart: STARR. Only knew Bart STARR, Packers' quarterback, and Ringo STARR, not Belle.

9A: Packing heat: ARMED. OK, tell me why the answer for "Looking for big bucks?" is IN HEAT?

14A: Minor prophet: HOSEA. What's the difference between a "Minor prophet" and a major one? Who decides that?

16A: Two-month pope of 1605: LEO XI. This would have been a tricky one without the crossing help, you know, it could be LEO IX, LEO II, LEO IV or LEO VI.

18A: Latin 101 verb: AMO

19A: Parkinson's medication: L-DOPA. Another "My Pet Goat" moment for me. How can I remember this weird medicine name?

24A: Brandy letters: VSO

25A: Some binary compounds: OXIDES. Whatever you say. I know nothing about chemical compound.

27A: Salinger girl: ESME. Salinger's "For ESME – with Love and Squalor". Learned it from doing Xword.

32A: Type of gong: TAM TAM. I tend to confuse this one with Tom Tom drum.

36A: Mont of the Alps: BLANC. Does anyone own a Montblanc pen? This one looks very expsensive.

37A: Episcopal cleric: VICAR

40A: Hit by Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas: BAD TO ME. No idea. Here is the clip. I went from BED TIME to BAD TIME, then BAD TO ME.

42A: Follow-up to a hit film, maybe: PREQUEL. I am eager to see "Angels & Demons", a PREQUEL to "The Da Vinci Code".

45A: Socialite Perle: MESTA. My brain keeps rejecting this name.

47A: Ticket: DUCAT. New slang to me.

57A: Richie's mom, to Fonzie: MRS. C

64A: Copier brand: RICOH. Canon and Xerox both have 5-letter too.

68A: Writer Calvino: ITALO. His name has become a gimme to me.

73A: SALT topic: N-TEST

Down:

1D: Like broken horses: SHOD. Why "broken"?

3D: Cinema canine: ASTA. TOTO is 4-letter too.

7D: Ice-smoothing machine: ZAMBONI. I was so happy I nailed this one. Have never been to a hockey game.

8D: Plains people: SIOUX. I like some of their names: Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, so evocative.

13D: Portuguese explorer: DIAS. He discovered Cape of Good Hope.

28D: Drudge: SLAVE

33D: What to make with Monty?: A DEAL. I guessed. I've never heard of "Let's Make a DEAL". Did not know who Monty is.

34D: Valetta's island: MALTA. Interesting "honey" etymology. Now I want a jar of MALTA honey. A bit trivia: MALTA is the smallest EU member.

36D: Ajax rival: COMET

41D: Reagan's attorney general: MEESE (Ed). If confirmed, Eric Holder will be our first African-American AG.

43D: Result of division: QUOTIENT. Have you taken a IQ test before? I have not. I fear I am borderline.

49D: Pop brand: RC COLA. Have never tasted this cola before. That's a great 1969 Mets collectible I suppose.

54D: Morris or Stewart of Arizona: UDALL. No idea. Stewart UDALL is JFK and LBJ's Secretary of the Interior. Morris UDALL ran for the president in 1976. I wonder what's the origin of this UDALL. It sounds so made-up to me.

56D: Composer Berg: ALBAN. Got his name from across fills.

58D: "Norma Rae" director Martin: RITT. New name to me also. Wikipedia says he also directed "Hud" and "The Long Hot Summer" . He must like Paul Newman a lot then.

61D: Clinging flora: VINE. Nice morning glory VINE. Rise and Shine!

C.C.

Dec 28, 2008

Sunday December 28, 2008 Josiah Breward

Theme: Santa's Upgrades

23A: Online funnies?: DOT(-COM) COMIC BOOKS

38A: Emoticon contests? KEY(BOARD) BOARD GAMES

70A: Collectibles featuring online notables?: E(-TRADING) TRADING CARDS

103A: Mini-Frisbee?: COMPACT (DISC) DISCUS

123A: Small round object? MICRO(SOFT) SOFTBALL

17D: Blazing blades?: HIGH (SPEED) SPEED SKATES

45D: Pick-up sticks call? PHONE (JACK) JACK STRAWS

I have never heard of JACK STRAWS before. JACK STRAW, yes, the ex British Foreign Secretary. Nice to see TRADING CARDS though. Hopefully I will be able to afford this graded 1956 Topps Mickey Mantle card someday, before I get too old.

BAH (79A: Scrooge's expletive) can not damp my enthusisam for this puzzle. Wow, what a great theme! Santa is a bit late though.

The clue for SUNUNU (74D: Political pundit John) confused the hell out of me. Can you call a current US Senator "Political pundit"? I don't think so.

I was not familiarwith PEPIN (43A: Son of Charlemagne), but Wikipedia says he is the father , not the son, of Charlemagne.

Also, too many Roman numerals for my taste:

63A: IV x XIII: LII

4D: Fifth of MMMDV: DCCI

67D: 1700 in letters: MDCC

I'd like to share with you three excellent answers using Roman numerals as hinted clues:

1500: PHYSICIAN

400: MUSIC MEDIUM

30: DIRTY MOVIE

I think I want Santa to upgrade me from C.C. to 200 today.

Across:

21A: Eric of "Top Hat": BLORE. Have never heard of this British comic actor or the musical "Top Hat".

22A: Newman of "SNL": LARAINE. I googled her name. Wikipedia says she is the original "SNL" cast member.

26A: "Seinfeld" gal: ELAINE. I did not find ELAINE's dance to be funny. "No Soup for You" episode is hilarious.

28A: Land of Oranjestad: ARUBA. OK, what does "-jestad" mean in Dutch then?

32A: E. O'Brien film: D.O. A. I got this answer from down fills. Saw this clue before.

34A: __ volente (God willing): DEO. In Islam, it's Insha' Allah.

47A: Heart rhythm: DIASTOLE. New word to me. I've never heard of SYSTOLE either.

51A: Actor Knight: TED. Here is a picture of him in "Caddyshack".

52A: Overrefined: EFFETE. If you say so.

55A: Volcanic rock ejecta: SCORIA. Holy hotwick. I completely forgot this word.

65A: Wire-service letters: UPI. Does it still exist? Feels like AP dominates all the news sources.

68A: Feudal laborer: ESNE. What's the difference between ESNE and SERF?

69A: Mary of "Where Eagles Dare": URE. A complete fail-URE for me. I can never remember this actress's name.

75A: Spanish red: ROJO. New Spanish word to me.

78A: Patriotic men's org: SAR (Sons of the American Revolution). "Patriotic women's org." is DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).

81A: Porthos, to Athos: AMI. Great clue.

82A: Satellite of Jupiter: ELARA. Unknown to me. How can I remember it? E LARA (Zhivago's love)?

90A: Place position: SECOND. Win, place and show, horse racing term.

95A: Full of: suff.: ULENT. As in opulent and fraudent. I went through lots of trouble getting this answer.

100A: Hemlock homes: NESTS. Why?

114A: Kind of ray: MANTA. Great picture. Is it edible?

127A: Antiknock fluid: ETHYL. Ha, I got it today.

128A: Adenauer: DER ALTE. I am more used to seeing ALTE is often clued as "Der ___: Adenauer".

129A: Pearson and Flatt: LESTERS. The answer revealed itself after I filled in the surrounds. I knew neither of them. LESTER Pearson was a Canadian politician who won Nobel peace prize in 1957. Wikipedia says LESTER Flatt is "one of the pioneers of bluegrass music".

Down:

2D: Tropical lizard: ANOLE. Such a strange mix of green and blue.

7D: R. Reagan's Star Wars: SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative). Introduced in 1983.

8D: "Fernando" group: ABBA. Here is the clip. It's a new song to me. Who is "Fernando"?

10D: Hornswoggled: ROOKED. "Hornswoggle" is new word to me.

13D: Rains and Debussy: CLAUDES. Monet too.

14D: Beat: LAMBASTE

24D: Wholly confused: CHAOTIC

29D: Incarnation of Vishnu: RAMA. No idea. See this picture. I bet I will forget it after lunch.

35D: Versifier Nash: OGDEN

38D: Bleaching vat: KIER. Have never heard of this vat before. Sounds like a German name to me.

40D: Gilberto of Bossa-Nova fame: ASTRUD. I forgot her name. Do remember the song "The Girl From Ipanema".

42D: Michael Caine film: ALFIE. "Jude Law film" too.

43D: Salad green: ESCAROLE. I always call it endive. It's quite bitter, so different from Belgian endive.

56D: Small isles: AITS. This word only exists in the crossword world, doesn't it?

58D: Center starter?: EPI. Epicenter.

59D: Windy City rail inits: CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). Wikipedia says CTA is "the second largest transit system in the United States and fourth largest in North America". New York City's MTA is the #1 I suppose? Who are the other two before CTA?

60D: Soprano Te Kanawa: KIRI. I googled her name. She is from New Zealand, and she sang at Diana and Prince Charles' wedding.

71D: Indonesian island group: ARU. I can never remember this island group (lower right corner).

72D: Long-snouted fish: GAR. Also called needlefish. This GAR is ruthless.

73D: Masticated: CHEWED. "Masticate" is a new word to me. Sounds so DF.

77D: University of Maine town: ORONO

83D: Dijon donkey: ANE. I wish it were broken up as AN E ("Wheel of Fortune" buy).

86D: Travel stamps: VISAS

91D: Trump namer: DECLARER. Bridge?

99D: "The Bells of __": ST MARYS. New film to me.

101D: Quantity of a look?: EYEFUL. Nice clue.

104D: Like successful jingles: CATCHY

111D: Boston cagers, for short: CELTS

112D: Small harbor: INLET. How is it different from cove?

116D: Ed or Leon: AMES. I got it from the across fills. AMES is always clued as "Iowa college town".

124D: Eng. instruction letters: ITA (Initial Teaching Alphabet). Too obscure for me. This is where I prefer the clue to be a partical, you know, "Call IT A day" sounds so much better.

C.C.

Dec 27, 2008

Saturday December 27, 2008 Tom Pruce

Theme: None

Total blocks: 27

Total words: 70

This grid looks unbelievably open and balanced. I wonder if it's because of the 27 neatly placed 7-letter words. And it only has six 3-letter words, probably the least I've seen in a TMS puzzle.

I did not like seeing ICE BOAT (3D: Winter craft), ICE AGE (62A: Glacial periods) and AGER (56D: Last of a teen?) in one puzzle. It does not look elegant to me.

I wish ECON (22A: M. Friedman's field) were clued as "Paul Krugman's field (abbr.)". He won Nobel prize in Economics this year and he certainly deserves a place in our puzzle.

I really like topical clues, you know, "I can see Russia from my house!" comic clue for TINA FEY amuses me. And I think "Obama's daughter" is a perfectly fine clue for "SASHA" yesterday.

Across:

8A: Skunk: POLECAT. I wonder what's the origin of "panda". We just call it "bear cat" in China.

15A: Play place: REC ROOM. I was thinking of the theater play.

16A: Prayers: ORISONS. Dictionary says that ORISON is a "doublet of oration" etymologically. What is a doublet?

18A: Organic compound: PENTANE. New word to me.

19A: Nightclubs: CABARETS

21A: Spiny-finned fish: MULLET. I only knew the awful hairstyle MULLET. See this picture. But aren't all the fish "Spiny-finned"?

25A: Clan sub-divisions: SEPTS. New word to me. Only knew SEPT as seven in French.

26A: Flat fish: SKATE. Came across this fish clue a few weeks ago. So ugly.

32A: Deprives of vigor: EMASCULATES. I thought of emaciates, but it's one letter short.

43A: Group of whales: POD. Last time when PODS was clued as "Movable classrooms", I thought it referred to "School of whales".

46A: 112 letters: CXII

47A: Jack-in-the-pulpit: ARUM. How can I remember this word? A RUM?

48A: End of land or sea?: SCAPE

55A: Loss of muscular coordination: ATAXIA. The prefix A means "not", and TAXI is a Greek suffix meaning "order". New word to me.

57A: Sweetbread: PANCREAS. Omigod, really?

59A: News: TIDINGS

61A: Author of "Gigi": COLETTE. Ha, gimme for me. COLETTE once said: "I love my past. I love my present. I'm not ashamed of what I've had, and I'm not sad because I have it no longer".

64A: Square dance leaders: CALLERS. New definition of CALLERS to me.

Down:

7D: "The Bartered Bride" composer: SMETANA. Would not have got his name without the crossing fills. I wonder what SMELTANA mean in his native language.

9D: City near Provo: OREM

10D: Chemist Pauling: LINUS. Holy moly, he is a two-time Nobel prize winner. But the only LINUS I knew is him.

11D: Crime novelist Loren D. __: ESTLEMAN. I googled this novelist. Feels like a consonant is missing from his name. Why not PESTLEMAN or NESTLEMAN?

12D: Colliery: COAL PIT. I did not know the meaning of "Colliery".

13D: Bening of "What Planet Are Your From": ANNETTE. Know Bening, who once claimed that the Columbia "Torch Lady" was modeled after her. Have never seen "What Planet Are Your From".

14D: Dreaded African flies: TSETSES

35D: Type of electrical cable: TRIAXIAL. I guessed. How is it related to cable coaxial?

37D: Of the ischium: SCIATIC. Hip related. Foreign to me. I did not what "ischium" is.

38D: Unusual stuff: EXOTICA. So close EROTICA in spelling.

39D: Fortress: CITADEL

40D: Altar constellation: ARA. Have not seen "Coach Parseghian" clue for a long time.

44D: Sleep inducers: OPIATES

58D: Last book of "The Alexandria Quartet": CLEA. No idea. Ink mentioned "The Alexandria Quartet" last time when we had LIVIA (clued as "Durrell novel") in John Underwood's "America's Major Wars" puzzle. CLEA is the name of a bi-sexual painter.

C.C.

Dec 26, 2008

Friday December 26, 2008 Allan E. Parrish

Theme: Vowel Progression

17A: Kitchen items: FRYING PANS

26A: Spots for tots: PLAYPENS

37A: Certain hair clips: BOBBY PINS

52A: Legendary coloratura soprano: LILY PONS

61A: Some cartoons: VISUAL PUNS

This reminds of Sallie's "facetious"comment several days ago. It has all the vowels in it and all the vowels are in proper order.

OK, if LILY PONS made the Times' cover, she has to be a legend then. I wanted her name to be LILY POND. But it broke the P_NS theme pattern.

Nice to see VISUAL PUNS in a grid, after our discussion of "Pinkie" several weeks ago.

Was disappointed by the SASHA (54D: Skater Cohen ) clue. You would think "Obama's daughter" is now famous enough to appear in our puzzle. I bet our editor "can't handle the truth", otherwise, he would have clued MEN (8D) as "A Few Good __''. This "Game pieces" clue bores me to pieces now.

Across:

6A: Sgt. Preston's crew: RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). I did not know who Sgt. Preston is. That dog looks very loyal.

16A: Bonn mister: HERR. Frau's husband.

26A: 1996 British Open winner: LEHMAN (Tom). Gimme for me. Pride of Minnesota. He was unstoppable in 1996. Then Tiger burst into the scene and you know what happened after that.

29A: Flash flood: FRESHET. New word to me.

40A: Pear choice: BOSC. I love Hosui (Asian Pear) more. It's crisper and sweeter.

44A: Hops kilns: OASTS. Do you know why there is always a white cone atop those OASTS?

48A: Latin I word: AMO. "I love". How to say "I love you, honey" in Latin?

49A: Jolie movie: GIA. Know the movie, have never seen it.

50A: Irish lass: COLLEEN. Got it this time.

55A: Thin layer: LAMINA. Thought of veneer.

55A: Lake Titicaca location: ANDES. See this map. New lake to me.

65A: Ringlet: CURL

67A: Principal artery: AORTA

70A: Brittany port: BREST. The red dot on the left. I just learned this city name the other day when LAIT was clued as "Milk of BREST" in another puzzle. Kind of DF, isn't it?

Down:

1D: Spanky's pal: ALFALFA. No idea. Have never heard of Our Gang before. Strange name.

2D: Certain writing implements: MARKERS

3D: Subjects for analysts: PSYCHES

9D: On-base mil. stores: PXS (Post Exchange). New abbreviation to me.

13D: Karen of "Little House on the Prairie": GRASSLE. Would not have got her name without across fills.

22D: Dancer Charisse: CYD. Alien to me also. Wow, look at this picture. She looks stunning. She is in "Singin' in the Rain".

24D: "Morning Joe" airer: MSNBC. The only MSNBC program I watch every day is "Hardball". Joe Scarborough appears as a guest from time to time.

27D: City near Santa Barbara: LOMPOC. According to Wikipedia, the name of the city is derived from a Chumash word "Lum Poc" meaning "little lake" or "lagoon". Not a familiar name to me. Here is the map.

30D: Underground Railroad leader: TUBMAN (Harriet). Is there a movie made about her life?

35D: Pathetic start?: SYM. Sympathetic.

38D: Actor Scott: BAIO. He looks familiar. I must have seen him somewhere before. But his name meant nothing to me.

39D: Vincent Lopez theme song: NOLA. See this clip. I just keep forgetting this song title.

49D: Nav. by satellite: GPS (Global Positioning System). Or "Family MD".

58D: Crisp bread: RUSK. See here for more information. It's the same as zwieback (twice-baked bread).

C.C.

Dec 25, 2008

Thursday December 25, 2008 Willy A. Wiseman

Theme: A Red and Green Christmas

18A: Eco-vineyards' product?: GREEN WINES (Red Wines. Eco=Green)

20A: Overnight flight to Ireland?: GREEN-EYE (Red-Eye. The Emerald Isle = Green)

33A: Sitcom set in Georgia?: RED ACRES ("Green Acres". Georgia soil = Red)

43A: Rookie emmet?: GREEN ANT (Red Ant. Rookie = Green)

57A: Embarrassed bird?: RED HERON (Green Heron. Embarrased = Red)

61A: Song about a jacket?: RED SLEEVES ("Greensleeves". How is "jacket" connected to Red? Red Jacket? If so, shouldn't jacket be capitalized?)

3D: Big star in canned veggies?: RED GIANT (Green Giant. Big star = Red)

40D: Five-dollar pickerel?: GREENFIN (Redfin. Fin is slang for five-dollar bill. Color of money = Green)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wow, I've never seen a weekday puzzle with eight theme answers, which are more commonly found in a Sunday 21*21 grid.

I muddled through this puzzle like a mad mouse. I got the theme quickly, but I was utterly confused by some of the theme clues, esp 61A & 40D. Have never heard of the song or the redfin fish. Did not know the meaning of "pickerel" either.

Great puzzle from our editor Wayne Williams (Willy A. Wiseman is an anagram of his real name). I liked the balance of four red colors and 4 green colors. Wish EVE (34D: Night before" were clued as "Night before Christmas, e.g.".

Across:

5A: Wrinkly fruits: UGLIS. Have never seen an UGLI in person.

14A: Royal role for Liz: CLEO. The "Advertising award" is CLIO.

15A: Pearl Harbor's island: OAHU. And UKES (56A: Hawaiian strings).

16A: Mystery story?: ALIBI. Nice clue.

23A: Abnormal wobbling: SHIMMY. Is this SHIMMY "abnormal"?

22A: Resembling: QUASI

32A: Game pieces: MEN. This clue has worn out its welcome.

36A: Comparative phrase: IS TO. I wrote down THAN first.

38A: Larger and deeper fiddle: VIOLA. "Larger and deeper"? Compared to what? Violin?

39A: Some NCOs: SGTS

47A: Cubic meter: STERE

55A: Serving dish: TUREEN. This one looks very fancy.

69A: Burst of energy: SPASM

Down:

2D: "Telephone Line" grp.: ELO. Here is the clip, not a familiar song to me. But when in doubt, fill in ELO.

4D: Battle cry: TO ARMS. Why? I don't get it. Do soldiers really cry "TO ARMS" on battlefield?

7D: Chop __ : SUEY. American Chinese food. I had never heard of it until I arrived in the US.

9D: Big letters in Detroit: UAW. Why are they so adamanet about not cutting the salaries? Sacrifice should be shared.

10D: Superficial proficiency: GLIBNESS

12D: Spain's place: IBERIA. "Portugal's place" too.

23D: Area meas.: SQ MI. Lots of trouble in this area for me.

29D: Rhone tributary: SAONE. No idea. See this map. I am not sure if it's accurate. SAONE is supposed to join Rhone at Lyon.

37D: Female monsters: OGRESSES. Only knew OGRE.

44D: Notes of scales: RES. Sometimes RES is clued as "Legal thing".

48D: Drinks noisily: SLURPS. We Chinese/Japanese SLURP when we eat noodles too.

49D: Resume: TAKE UP. Really? They are not synonymous to me.

49D: Greek stone seat for several: EXEDRA. New word to me. Also spelled as EXHEDRA. Alright, EX is a prefix for "out of", and HEDRA is Greek for "seat".

52D: Golf events: PRO-AMS. Have not seen Mark McGwire for a long time. He used to be very active in those PRO-AMS.

54D: Uno e due: TRE. Italian for three. I think the best clue I've seen for TRE is "It's past due".

59D: Half of MXIV: DVII. Roman 507.

62D: Moon buggy: LEM

C.C.

Dec 24, 2008

Wednesday December 24, 2008 Diane C. Baldwin

Theme: Play It Safe

20A: Way to lessen risk: HEDGE ONE'S BETS

41A: Ponder pros and cons: WEIGH THE OPTIONS

58A: Put out feelers, maybe: TEST THE WATERS

Did I catch the right theme? I seem to have trouble coming up with an apt title lately. Maybe too much pomegranate green tea?

I don't think the clue for HEDGE ONE'S BETS is accurate. The clue is asking for a noun phrase, while the answer turns out to be a verb phrase.

I had quite a few false starts this morning. Some of the clues are a bit unexpected. I like how NOSE (64A: Poke (around) intersects YENTA (55D: Meddlesome woman). It reminded me of the matchmaker YENTE in "Fiddler on the Roof".

Across:

9A: Felt, for one: CLOTH. Nice clue. "Linen, for one" would probably be too easy.

15A: Ex-QB Aikman: TROY. The guy on the right is Joe Buck, who has a rather distinctive voice.

15A: Scales sign: LIBRA. Interesting traits, Dennis.

19A: Love, French style: AMOUR. Ha, I wrote down AIMER carelessly, thinking "Love" is a verb.

23A: Words to live by: CREDO. ''I believe'' in Latin. "All Things Considered" (NPR) has a "This I Believe" statement segment every Monday.

37A: Spiny tree: ACACIA. Why is it called "Spiny tree"? Wikipedia says some of the most valuable ukuleles and acoustic guitars are made of ACACIA koa wood, like this one used by Taylor Swift. These flowers are so pretty.

44A: Decide with authority: DECREE. I am more familiar with the noun DECREE.

68A: German pistol: LUGER. New name to me. She is a LUGER too.

71A: Fencing equipment: EPEES. Better clue than "Fencing swords", which straightforwardly demands a plural answer. "Fencing gear" is a tricky clue too.

72A: Stat equivalent: ASAP. Probably a gimme for those doctors. But I was thinking of the sports figure "Stat", you know, ERA, RBI, etc.

Down:

3D: Bona fide: AUTHENTIC. I was only familiar with "in good faith" definition of "Bona fide".

4D: Mighty mount: STEED

9D: Paragon: CLASS ACT

21D: Sleepy's pal: DOC. Some of the rejected Seven Dwarfs names sound pretty good. I like Gloomy, Cranky and Silly.

22D: One on the run: ESCAPEE. I wonder why it's not ESCAPER. Oh, no, I don't like this alternate ending for ''The Shawshank Redemption'.

23D: Invade one's space: CROWD. I am not fond this clue.

29D: Revive a lost lesson: RETEACH. I wrote down RELEARN first.

38D: Matrimony prelude: COURTSHIP. Do you like short & intense COURTSHIP or long, gradual buildup one?

40D: Narnia's lion hero: ASLAN. Turkish/Persian word for "lion". I can never remember the name. Liam Neeson voices ASLAN in "The Chronicales of Narnia".

42D: Expectant beneficiaries: HERITORS. I was thinking of HEIR TO BE. At least, 4 letters fit perfectly.

53D: Missouri feeder: OSAGE. Also a type of orange.

59D: Old you: THEE. I was thinking of THOU. Still can't believe that I've never heard of THOU as a slang for "10 C-notes". Where have I been?

60D: Difficulties: WOES. I associate WOES with miseries rather than "Difficulties".

67D: Landscaping shrub: YEW. Now, which part of this YEW is poisonous?

C.C.

Dec 23, 2008

Tuesday December 23, 2008 John Underwood

Theme: Hollywood Actor Brothers

20A: Brothers Jeff and Beau: BRIDGES

22A: Brothers John and James: BELUSHI

39A: Brothers River and Joaquin: PHOENIX

56A: Brothers Ben and Casey: AFFLECK

59A: Brothers Alec, William et al.: BALDWIN

25D: Brothers Emilio and Carlos, a.k.a. Charles Sheen: ESTEVEZ

I am a bit confused by the clues. If it's "Brothers Ben and Casey", shouldn't the answer be plural form AFFLECKS?

I had absolutely zero familarity with the name PHOENIX. I watched and enjoyed Coen brother's "The Big Lebowski", but I did not know that Jeff BRIDGES was the guy who played "the Dude".

When you highlight all the six theme answers of this puzzle, the grid looks quite pretty, with ESTEVEZ crossing PHOENIX.

Why is the clue for "ONE L" (36D: S. Turow book) abbreviated? It's the original title of Scott Turow's book. If it were clued as "First year law student" related, then there should be an abbreviation hint.

Did you like the clue for AIMER (54D: Target sighter)? I would prefer a nice and romantic "To Love, in Paris" clue. It's so cold everywhere, hope this hot & sexy "Je t'aime... moi no plus" warm you up.

Across:

1A: Lead balloons: BOMBS

6A: NYC theatrical award: OBIE. No hesitation between TONY and OBIE this morning as I got the intersecting ODDS (6D: Track figures) immediately.

14A: To pieces: APART. Alright then, I love you APART. Hmm, it does not make sense. I guess I love you only "To pieces".

17A: Anatomical networks: RETIA. I only knew the singular form RETE.

24A: Birth-control pioneer: SANGER (Margaret). See here for more information. New name to me also.

28A: Writer Greene: GRAHAM. Knew his name. Have never read his books.

35A: Roman orator: CATO. "The Elder" ("The Censor") or "The Younger"? Wikipedia says The CATO Institute is named after CATO the Younger.

37A: Prince Valiant's wife: ALETA. See this list of all the characters. "Prince Valiant's son" is ARN. Both appeared in our puzzle before.

44A: Cinematographer Nykvist: SVEN. Unknown to me. I do like "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", but I've never paid attention to who the cinematographer is. Wikipedia says he "worked on over 120 films, but is known especially for his work with director Ingmar Bergman". He won 2 Oscars.

50A: Polish coin: GROSZ. No idea. GROSZ is 100th of a ZLOTY, which appeared in our puzzle a few days ago.

61A: Dublin's land: EIRE

63A: "Battlestar Galactica" role: ADAMA. Unknown to me. ADAMA is derived from ancient Greek "adamas" meaning "invincible".

64A: Rugged rock: CRAG. Looks too steep to climb.

Down:

2D: Puccini work: OPERA. "Tosca" doesn't fit. But it has 5-letter too.

3D: Metz morning: MATIN. Beautiful "Chanson de MATIN" clip.

4D: Female Fonda: BRIDGET. Is "Female" a wordplay on her movie "Single White Female"?

8D: Pitcher Hideki: IRABU. Former pitcher to be exact. His card is not worth much. Interesting, I did not know that Yankees fans called him "I rob you". That's a great play on his name I RAB U.

9D: Sportscaster Dick: ENBERG. "Oh My!". I do live under the rock. Have never heard of this guy before.

21D: Writer Segal: ERICH. I can never remember this author's name. How to pronounce ERICH? Like Eric? "Love Story" is so moving.

23D: Dr. Seuss book (with "The"): LORAX. No idea. What does "The LORAX" mean? Another whimisically made-up word?

32D: Newtons' filler: FIGS. Good clue.

39D: Chaplain: PADRE. It's "Military chaplain", isn't it?

43D: Angled fairways: DOGLEGS. OK, this hole doglegs to the left. I bet there are waters on the left so hookers will have trouble finding their balls. Most of my friends are slicers. I wish I knew how to fade/draw.

45D: Singer Mercury: FREDDIE. Foreign to me. I googled his name and found out that he wrote "We Are the Champions". I seem to remember that Josh Groban covered that song also, but I couldn't find it in the YouTube. Anyway, I love, love "You Raise Me Up", so good.

47D: Mammalian epoch: EOCENE. Would not have got it had I not cheated on the crossing GROSZ. Boy, my memory really sucks. We just had this word a week ago.

49D: Mercedes-Benz model: E-CLASS. E stands for "Einspritzung", German for "fuel injection", says Wikipedia. I've never heard of it before.

53D: Bob Hope film, "Call me__": BWANA. Learned this film from doing crossword. Swahili for "our father".

59D: __ noire: BETE. What, a kind of cake also? Doesn't sound appealing, does it? I would try it if it were called BELLA noire.

C.C.

Dec 22, 2008

Monday December 22, 2008 Josiah Breward

Theme: Sleigh Ride

17A: New York prison: SING SING

28A: Drake's snack cake: RING DING

46A: Getting a one-base hit: SINGLING

62A: Circus owner Charles: RINGLING

11D: Crazy person: DING-A-LING

35D: Delaying departure: LINGERING

Did I catch the right theme? I was getting dizzy with those *ING words. For a moment, I thought DOING (29D: In the act of) might be the tie-in theme answer. It's located in the very center of the grid. But I could not make much sense of it.

I have never heard of RING DING snack cake before. Thought DING-A-LING refers to male organ when you guys brought "My DING-A-LING" A few days ago. Now it's "Crazy person"?

Was stumped by a few proper names. Had to google. I rather like today's clues: short, succinct and straightfoward. Only wish KENYA (40D: Mau Mau country) were clued as "Obama's ancestral home".

Across:

1A: Daiquiri need: RUM. "Tom and Jerry need" for us during this time of the year.

4A: Yves' evening: SOIR. No hesitation between SOIR (Bon) and NUIT (Bonne) this time due to the intersecting SES (4D: His: Fr.). Also EAU (66A: Agua, to Fifi) and ETRE (68A: French 101 verb).

6A: Painter Modigliani: AMEDEO. His name escaped me completely. I really like this "Girl in Pigtail" painting.

14A: Actress O'Connor: UNA. She is in "The Invisible Man". New to me. Our editor used to clue UNA as "Actress Merkel".

16A: Actress Mercouri: MELINA. I googled her name. Wikipedia says she was nominated for Oscar for the Greek film "Never on Sunday". She looks stunning.

20A: Loudness unit: SONE. 40 decibles. PHON is also "Loudness unit". I forgot the difference between the two.

21A: Willingly, old-style: LIEF. Another archaic "Willingly" is FAIN.

23A: Uneasy feeling: ANGST. A rare consonant-laden short word.

24A: Non-stop: ON AND ON. Did anyone fill in ON A ROLL first?

30A: Mormon ltrs: LDS. Do you think Mitt Romney will run for president again? I think our governor Tim Pawlenty will.

33A: Membrane of grasses: PALEA. See this diagram. I would not have got it without the neighboring fills. I was thinking of PALEO, you know, the paleolithic diet, hunter/gather style: no grain/legume, lots of meat, veggie and fruits.

37A: NYC subway line: IRT. Opened in 1904 already? That's amazing.

43A: Fall garden?: EDEN. This clue is getting stale.

44A: Specialized lingo: ARGOT. I've never used this word in daily conversation. Jargon, yes.

51A: Setting free: UNTYING. One more *ING word.

55A: Part of ROK: KOREA. The current UN Chief Ban Ki-moon is from ROK (South Korea).

57A: "__ Sanctorum": ACTA. Quotaton mark? It has to refer to these books then. ACTA is a plural form of Latin "actus", meaning "official records, as of acts, deeds, proceedings, transactions, or the like".

59A: Half of CXIV: LVII. Roman for 57. Do you know what CCLD is?

60A: Journalist Fallaci: ORIANA. Sigh, another google. I just can't remember this lady's name. She wrote "The Force of Reason".

64A: Presidential also-ran Alf: LANDON. He lost to FDR in 1936.

67A: Heavenly creatures: ANGELS. And MANNA (3D: Heavenly food).

Down:

5D: Lithographer Redon: ODILON. Here is "The Spider". Musée d'Orsay has a nice collecton of his drawings.

6D: Six-out segment: INNING

9D: Hodgepodge: MELANGE

12D: Tolkien's trees: ENTS

13D: Hops kiln: OAST

22D: Michigan city: FLINT. A little trivia for you: FLINT is "the largest city in the United States with a one-syllable name". I did not know that. Also, GM was founded in FLINT in 1908.

25D: Dist. across: DIA (Diameter)

27D: Andes autocrat: INCA. Why "autocrat"?

31D: Bond picture: DR. NO. The first Bond movie.

32D: Let it stand: STET. Oppositeof DELE.

39D: Mine entrance: ADIT

41D: Former Scottish county: ARGYLL. See this map. Why did Scotland abolish all its counties in 1975?

47D: Old instrument plucker: LUTIST. "Old"? How so?

50D: Gettysburg victor: MEADE (George). I got his name after cheating on ORIANA. He looks very tall.

53D: Foch and Simone: NINAS. Here is NINA Simone's "My Baby Just Cares for Me". I was not familiar with actress NINA Foch.

54D: Lively dance: GIGUE. See this clip. I've never heard of this dance before. The GIGUE dance starts at 1:42 I suppose?

55D: Beverage nut: KOLA. Wow, lots of nuts in this pod. How many do you have to chew to get excited?

56D: Algerian port: ORAN. Camus was born here. So was designer Yves Saint-Laurent.

63D: Test for srs.: GRE. GMAT too, isn't it? For those who want to obtain MBA degree.

C.C.

Dec 21, 2008

Sunday December 21, 2008 Alan P. Olschwang

Theme: Black to Black

23A: Harry the magician: BLACKSTONE

25A: Drupe: STONE FRUIT

45A: Picnic staple: FRUIT SALAD

49A: Romaine, e.g.: SALAD GREEN

69A: Setting sun phenomenon: GREEN FLASH

72A: Portable torch: FLASHLIGHT

97A: Navigation beacon: LIGHTHOUSE

100A: Do domestic duty: HOUSECLEAN

121A: Tabula rasa: CLEAN SLATE

123A: Dark color: SLATE BLACK

I was not charmed by the theme itself. Felt bored actually. But my goodness, look at those theme entries: all of them are 10-letter long and are symmetrically placed in the grid. Very impressive.

What is your answer for 96D (Sound of hoofbeats)? Right now I have CLOP-CLOP. But shouldn't it be CLIP-CLOP? Am I wrong in the intersecting 105A: Greek letter (RHO)?

I would prefer a simple "Uncooked" for RAW (119A: Cold and wet") as WET is the answer for 28A: Soaked. I also disliked the clue for ANI (122D: Tropical blackbird) as BLACK is part of the theme answers. I wonder why our editor continues to eschew breaking ANI into AN I. "Wheel of Fortune" buy sounds like a perfect clue to me.

Across:

1A: Cornered: AT BAY

6A: Charlie Chan's comment: AH SO. Had no idea why Charlie Chan would utter such a Japanese style exclamation.

10A: __ - wip (dessert topping): REDDI. I've never used this topping. Is it similar to Cool Whip?

19A: Saclike cavity between joints: BURSA. Here is a diagram. It's "purse" or "pouch" in Latin. New word to me.

33A: Bear in Barcelona: OSO

34A: John and Tyne: DALYS. Knew golfer John DALY. He drinks and gambles more than he should. Tyne DALY is a new actress to me.

36A: Kathryn of "Law and Order: CI": ERBE. Sigh! I had to google her again. What a strange name! Why not HERBE?

42A: Noted chair designer: EAMES . Not familiar with Charles EAMES or his wife Ray EAMES. Wikipedia says that "Charles EAMES was greatly influenced by the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen". And EERO (43D: Eliel Saarine's son), would later become "a partner and friend".

52A: Clearasil target: ZIT

54A: Japanese P.M. Fukuda: TAKEO. He was the P.M. from Dec 1976 to Dec 1978. His son Yasuo also served as P.M. for Japan in 2007. I knew neither of them.

57A: Begins, slangily: GETS IT ON. Really? Are these totally made-up?

63A: Canvas coating: GESSO. This answer enabled me to make an educated guess on the intersecting IT'S GONE (38D: Roger McGuinn song). I could not find the song on YouTube.

82A: Industrial pollutants: abbr.: PCBS. It's banned in 1975.

87A: Bullfighter: TOREADOR. I can only remember matador.

102A: Center of central Florida?: EPCOT

103A: Web surfers: NETIZENS. Oh dear, I was not aware of this at all. It's a portmanteau of Internet and citizen.

108A: Virgil's shepherdess: DELIA. I simply froze on this clue. Can never remember this girl's name. Anyway, Virgil only mentioned her name in passing in his "Eclogues".

111A: One of Henry VIII's six: PARR. Catherine PARR, Henry VIII's 6th wife.

127A: Chinese province: HONAN. This answer drives me nuts. See this map. There is no HONAN. We call it HENAN (east of my hometown Shaanxi Province). And there is another province called HUNAN where Chairman Mao came from. DENG (13D: __ Xiaoping) was born in Sichuan Province.

129A: French title: COMTE. French for "Count". I love Dumas's "The Count of Monte Cristo". Its French title is "Le COMTE de Monte-Cristo".

133A: Tracker's trail: SPOOR

Down:

1D: Brother's keeper?: ABBOT. Good clue.

2D: Very fine netting: TULLE. It's named after the French city TULLE.

4D: Fancy haberdashery item: ASCOT TIE. That's cranberry color, isn't it?

7D: Night bird: HOOT OWL. I wonder why it's called HOOT OWL. Don't all the owls hoot?

9D: Went too far: OVER DID IT

11D: What I'll do if I'am wrong: EAT MY HAT

12D: British mil. honor: DSO (Distinguished Service Medal). Wikipedia says "The DSO was instituted on 6 September 1886 by Queen Victoria".

14D: Grenoble's river: ISERE. See this map. It flows into the Rhone River.

24D: Actress Kurtz: SWOOSIE. One more new name to me. Great picture. Wikipedia says "She got her unique first name "Swoosie" (which rhymes with Lucy, rather than woozy) from her father. It is derived from the sole surviving example, at the National Museum of the USAF, of the B-17D Flying Fortress airplane, named "The Swoose" or simply "Swoose" - half swan, half goose - which her father piloted during WWII."

45D: Odin's wife: FRIGG. Friday is named after her.

47D: Czar's decree: UKASE. This is the first time I encounter UKASE. I bet not many English words starting with UK*. I can only think of ukulele and Ukraine.

48D: Opposite of an elementary particle: ANTILEPTON. No idea. I don't know what LEPTON is either. I wonder how many solvers can fill in this answer without the adjacent help.

58D: Reggae's cousin: SKA

59D: Letters on a rubber check: NSF. Most of today's 3-letter words are easily obtainable today.

66D: Attached with stickum: GLUED ON

68D: Early TV series, "The __ Family": ALDRICH. Read here for more information. Completely unknown to me.

75D: Old Testament prophet: HOSEA. I wanted MOSES.

76D: Wooden tableware: TREEN. My goodness. How come I've never heard this simple word before?

92D: Come by: ATTAIN

93D: One-time jazz center Greg: OSTERTAG. Another google. This is so strange. I thought #0 or #00 is reserved for mascot.

99D: Brennan and Heckart: EILEENS. Both are actresses. EILEEN Brennan was Paul Newman's lover in "The Sting". EILEEN Heckart won the "Oscar for Best Supporting Actress" for the movie "Butterflies Are Free". I had to rely on the crossing fills. (Note: Sorry about the spelling mistakes earlier.)

101D: R.E.Lee opponent: U.S. Grant

104D: Pakistan ruler (1977-88): ZIA. Absolutely no idea. He doesn't look like a Pakistani. He got the job after overthrowing Ali Bhutto, father of Benazar Bhutto, who was assassinated last December.

107D: City in northwestern Iran: RESHT. Or RASHT. Here is the map. Once again, I got it from across fills. Wikipedia explains that the city is called "Gate of Europe" because RASHT connects Iran to European countries.

113D: Right-hand page: RECTO. Opposite of VERSO (even-numbered page).

125D: NCAA acronym: BCS (Bowl Championship Series).

C.C.

Dec 20, 2008

Saturday December 20, 2008 Robert H. Wolfe

Theme: None

Total blocks: 28

Total words: 70

Noticed how this puzzle differs from the ones offered by Allan E. Parrish and Barry Silk? It has no letter X, Z or Q. There are also no Matthew Higgins style obscure librarian words.

Just a simple, straightforward, pop culture-free puzzle, with no twisted gimmicks. I've seen ELEVEN (2D: Side-by-side ones?) clued as "One by one?" before, so there was no "Aha" for me today either.

After seeing those suffixes like ER, EST, ED and S, I kind of missed the old "Sea Eagle" clue for ERN (5D: Directional suffix). Also, "Serpent tail?" for INE (60D) lost its appeal to me several months ago. Don't you think "Carol ending?" is more fitting for the Christmas season?

I also disliked the clue for DENIABLE (37D: Possible to contradict). Can you come up with a better one?

Across:

1A: Hijiki or sargassum: SEAWEED. Here is the photo. Unknown to me. Easy guess though. I only cook with kelp and wakame. And nori for my rice ball wrapping.

2A: Greek letters: LAMBDAS. Got it from the down clues. This letter and OMICRON often give me trouble. So do those rivers in Europe.

16A: Iridescent: OPALINE. I think "opalescent" is more commonly used. Does anyone collect Fenton milk glass?

22A: Backs of neck: NAPES. I want to see SCRUFFS clued as "Backs of neck" in our puzzle some day. Lots of consonants in that word, not as many as STRENGTHS though.

28A: "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" co-star Garr: TERI. Where is TERI Hatcher's agent? Or he might think Tribune Media puzzle is too small for his client to make an appearance.

31A: Switch attachment?: EROO. Switcheroo. Smackeroo. Are you familiar with the slang Sockeroo?

33A: Insists upon the observance of: STANDS ON. I was only familiar with STANDS ON as in "STANDS ON the shoulders of giants".

38A: Gilded: AUREATE. Five vowels in this word. This is interesting. Have you ever used "Euouae" when playing Scrabble?

45A: French wines: VINS. Kind of boring clue, isn't it?

46A: Iris in heraldry: FLEUR-DE-LIS. Great to see its full name in a puzzle.

51A: Egyptian goddess of fertility: ISIS. OK, here is ISIS feeding her son Horus again. AMON/AMEN/AMUN is the "Egyptian fertility god". I wonder if President Clinton knows the meaning of IS IS.

54A: Open horse-drawn carriages: SHAYS. Here is an old one horse SHAY. Unknown to me.

62A: Country on the Adriatic: ALBANIA. See this map. Tirana is its capital. Lek is its currency. Wikipedia says that ALBANIA means "Land of the Eagle" in native language, hence the double-headed eagles on its flag. They sure don't look like eagles though.

67A: Stable seat: SADDLES

Down:

1D: Deli hangar: SALAMI. These are Cantonese style sausages, which are made of pork and sweet in taste.

2D: Side-by-side ones?: ELEVEN. 11.

3D: Victoria's consort: ALBERT. Easy guess. I did not know who was Queen Victoria's husband. Is that a real photo?

4D: Runs out of energy: WEARIES. I was thinking of WEAR OUT.

7D: Hereditary monarch: DYNAST. I only knew DYNASTY.

8D: Cut off: LOP. And 49D: Cut into: INCISE. Made me think of the Lorena Bobbitt story you guys talked about several days ago. I had never heard of it before.

12D: Spread far and wide: DISPERSE

13D: Foyer: ANTEROOM

24D: Certain musical chord: TRIAD

42D: Ancient empire on the Tigris: ASSYRIA. Wow, Its territory is bigger than I thought.

47D: Arctic boats: UMIAKS. I completely forgot this boat. Those guys look very cold.

48D: Minature train name: LIONEL. Forget about the train, I love "We Are the World". I only recognized LIONEL Richie, Michael Jackson, Kenny Rogers, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Willie Nelson and Bruce Springteen. Who is the singer at 2:29?

50D: Summer ermines: STOATS. He is adorable.

C.C.