Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sunday, July 1, 2007 - Nancy Salomon and Bill Zais

I can't believe it's July already. In just a few days (on 07/07/07) our baby will be 18 years old. I know many parents lament the empty nest, but since we didn't even fill ours until we were in our 40s, we're returning to what we'd had for so many years. We're both very proud that the girls have become independent young women and have moved on to lives of their own. That doesn't mean, however, that we totally endorse the ways they went about it.

One more digression, then on to the puzzle. There was a comment posted at the syndicated puzzle (May 19) about my resemblance to Ava Gardner. For those who haven't been reading this blog regularly, the photograph is indeed the lovely and talented Ms. Gardner. She had appeared in several puzzles...generally clued as the ex of some famous man. Someone must have taken notice, as she has been appropriately clued (i.e., on her own merits) in several recent puzzles. But that picture of her is just too gorgeous, so it's staying. If you want to fantasize that I look like that, it is perfectly okay with me.

Today's puzzle--Diamond Jubilee--had circles in the grid, so you know I was happy. Although they were in the shape of a diamond, I had about 2/3 of the puzzle filled in before I finally realized what was going on.

First, the Diamond (diagonal) clues, starting at the * between 109A and 110A.[Note: letters in red appear in one square.]

NE: "Now I've seen everything!" (That's a first). I had that for the longest time. That's it? That all?

NW: Swipes a base (steals second)

SW: Show (finish third). As in win, place, case you're not following that thread.

SE: Didn't go out (stayed home). Again, I had stay for some time. Stays in was my initial guess.

Once I caught on, I recognized the brilliance of this theme! Each of the bases crossed with two equally clever clues.

69A: Classic Abbot and Costello bit (Who's on first) and 71D: New in theaters (first run). I knew that 69A must be referring to that, but it took forever to see where I was going.

26A: Supported (seconded) and 26D: Peerless (second to none).

49D: Precede the cleanup spot (bat third) and 66A: Commoners (third estate).

77D: Object of tornado destruction (mobile home) and 112A: "Get out of here!" (go home). Again, knew something was up, but what?

The other theme answers were common expressions clued as baseball puns:

22A: Cause of some baseball errors? (field trips).

23A: Texas ballplayer? (park ranger).

116A: Diamond border? (grass skirt).

121A: Complaint about a baseball playing area? (ground beef).

I always admire a stacked puzzle. In addition to the punny answers, we have:

1A: Suction devices (aspirators)

11A: Pepper-upper (stimulant)

20A: Knocked out (eliminated)

21A: Many an Alessandro Scarlatti work (opera seria). Did not know this and got it from the crosses. It's highly possible I'm wrong. If so, I'll hear about it.

125A: Longish stories (novelettes)

126A: It can be a relief (silhouette). Very confused when I had the OUE in sequence.

127A: Haunts (possesses)

128A: Not yet ready to be deposited (unendorsed). Like my paycheck, since I forgot to go to the bank yesterday.

There were also four 10-letter vertical stacks, some excellent.

2D: Racecar-generated air current (slipstream). Not sure if it's one word or two.

3D: Temporary residence (pied-à-terre). That's a beautiful word. Wonder if I can use it in conversation in the next few days.

80D: Dash holders (track meets). Pretty clever clue, IMOO.

81D: Failed, as a pass (incomplete). One of only a few football terms I know.

16D: More protracted (lengthier) took me longer to get than it should have, as did its counterpart in the grid, 83D: Awesome beauties (goddesses).

I could not remember what movie won the 1988 Best Picture, but the clue for 42A referred to the repeated line, "I'm an excellent driver," which gave me Rain Man. Dustin Hoffman was just incredible as Raymond.

Tripped up in a couple of other places. 15D: Scream for the Dream Team (USA USA). Didn't help that I couldn't get 32A: Kobe Bryant, e.g. (NBA star)...and that was because I was lost on 32D: Mystery writer Marsh (Ngaio). I had the GAIO and assumed the first letter would be a vowel. That's what I get for assuming.

38D: Turkey heads can be found here (Ankara) gets my vote for the funniest clue. The image it conjures up...

35D: Andy Hardy player, in 1930s-'40s film (Rooney). It's perfectly okay to point out that he was once married to Ava Gardner...but they would never have clued him that way. I rest my case. Or have I already rested it?

There's always so much to say about a puzzle this good, but I've said enough. I'm sure the other bloggers will find much more that I haven't covered.

The thermometer hit 100 today, and it may be hotter than that tomorrow. I think it's time to pour an ice cold one...Sunshine Wheat with a slice of orange.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Linda G

Friday, June 29, 2007

Saturday, June 30 - Byron Walden

It's always nice to finish a puzzle the day after I was totally crushed by one. I went into panic mode when I saw Byron Walden's name, but I just took a deep breath and jumped in.

The man is a genius. He always manages to stack long answers that aren't just long...they're @&$*#%' incredible fill.

Three stacks of 10-letter horizontal entries in the northeast:

5A: Small wonders (gifted kids)

16A: Dirt (inside info)

18A: Alley oops (gutter ball).

Three more in the southwest:

52A: It can keep ballfields dry (alcohol ban)

55A: Lots to offer (real estate)

57A: Bank holdings? (telephones)

We also get three vertical stacks of 8-letter answers, in the northwest and southeast. My favorite in each corner:

2D: Title city in a 1983 George Strait hit (Amarillo). I was never a huge country music fan, but I always liked George Strait. You Look So Good in Love was my favorite of his songs.

36D: Starchy bite (Tater Tot). I was baffled until I got a few of the crosses, then it became obvious.

I had never heard of 5D: Check for credibility, in modern lingo (giggle test). For the most part, I don't use modern lingo.

32A: Be profligate, in a way (sow one's wild oats). That's better than good.

There is a plethora of words ending in O. In addition to inside info, we have 15A: Novel that ends "By noon, the island had gone down in the horizon; and all before us was the wide Pacific (Omoo), 31A: Writer who was a source for Verdi's "Rigoletto" (Hugo), 40A: 1961 film also known as "The Job" (Il Posto), and 48A: Predecessor of the boliviano (peso). Also bro (26D: Good bud), Sho (33D: "Weeds" channel, briefly) and OOO (34D: Line struck through by a winner) -- tied for the most clever clue, IMOO.

The co-winner was 27D: Result of too many rusty nails on the road? (DUI).

The connected clues took me some time to decipher...44A and 31D (U.S. route and hwy, respectively).

Well, I don't want to be up late (44D: Burning the midnight oil), so I'll call it a night. See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Friday, June 29 - Mike Nothnagel

In the past month, I've given Mike Nothnagel an award for his best themed puzzle, as well as one for his best themeless. Today, he earns the award for the hardest puzzle.

There are others out there who will get through this puzzle with no difficulty. Some will have to Google to finish. Some will Google and still won't finish. I fall in the last category.

I thought that knowing 35A: 2002 sci-fi role for Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) would blow the grid wide open. It didn't.

Other answers I knew:

1A: Sitcom character with a leather jacket that's now in the Smithsonian (The Fonz). Who else?

17A: Have no dinner companions (eat alone). A good guess, and it panned out.

19A: They're numbered in golf (irons). So are woods and holes, but I got it from the cross of 4D: Glazed dessert (flan).

33A: 1974 Chicago hit (Call on Me).

39A: Teacher's request of a publisher (desk copy).

60A: Treats similar to Mallomars (S'mores).

9D: Bygone carnivore (TRex).

25D: Player of Dr. Kiley on "Marcus Welby, M.D." (Brolin).

That's all I knew, and I needed crosses to figure some of them out. I Googled some of the more obscure (to me) films and managed to fill in a bit more...

Including 14D: Omaha and Spokane were once in it (Kentucky Derby). But that still wasn't enough help. After all of that, I still had several blanks. And it's getting late.

I still think the world of you, Mike, and I love your puzzles. You and Friday were just too much for me.

See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007 - Joseph Crowley

Every time I see an unfamiliar name on the byline, I wonder if it's an inaugural puzzle. If this is--Joseph Crowley, you done good!

We have a colorful menu in the grid today, with the following theme answers:

14A: Colorful opening course (mixed green salad)

17A: Colorful spread (orange marmalade). My favorite, although it doesn't work too well with peanut butter...better with cream cheese.

37A and 39A: Colorful dessert (rainbow sherbet)

61A: Colorful breakfast food (blueberry muffin)

64A: Colorful entree (red beans and rice)

I love to see the letter K in the grid, and we get it twice in one word! 22D: Mall station (kiosk), sharing its second K with 42A: Oscar-nominated Icelandic singer (Bjork). Struggled a bit because I initially had I want for 33D:(Obstreperous child's cry) instead of I won't. I think I heard an equal number of both cries from our girls when they were younger.

A flash from the past at 6A: Title name after the lyric "What's it all about when you sort it out" (Alfie). Geez...1966 seems like just yesterday!

I liked the intersection of 24D: Taj Mahal's home (Agra) and 32A: Neighbor of Ivory Coast (Ghana). Both have been in the puzzle before, and they'll surely be back. Note to self...

11D: "Snap out of it!" actions (slaps) reminded me of the scene in Moonstruck when Loretta (Cher) says that--and does that--to Ronny (a very young Nicolas Cage). I guess Cher was also 20 years younger then, but she doesn't look all that different...other than the fairly recent platinum hair phase.

50A: Bit of Madison Ave. planning (TV ad) was my other stumbling area. The V was the last letter I entered into the grid, due in large part to the fact that I had no clue what was going on with 43D: Game on an 8 x 8 board. Actually, I still don't. Is it Reversi? Or Reverse 1? Am I close?

53A: Beat at a hot dog contest (outeat) gets the award for best clue and best answer. I entered it right away but thought it would prove to be wrong. Duh! (30D: "Well, obviously!") It wasn't.

By far, the weakest answer in the puzzle is 7D: Not owners (leasers). I know that's probably a word, and probably one that people actually use. In the world of real estate, lawyers and leases, though, they would be called lessees...but that's a pretty small price to pay for such an entertaining puzzle.

Good night.

Linda G

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wednesday, June 27 - Barbara Olson

Middleman (noun). 1 a trader who buys commodities from the producer and sells them to the retailer or, sometimes, directly to the consumer; 2 a go-between, intermediary; 3 theme of the New York Times puzzle, June 27, 2007, by Barbara Olson, revealed at 34A (Go-between, and a clue to 17-, 24-, 49- and 57-Across).

The four theme answers--each containing man in the middle--are:

17A: Newts and such (salaMANders)

24A: Take apart (disMANtle)

49A: Salon job (perMANent)

57A: Locale of Uhuru Peak (KiliMANjaro)

A fun theme...a bit of a challenge...spicy fill. What more could you ask of a Wednesday puzzle?

For starters, how about several mini-themes?

I don't think I've ever seen salamander in a puzzle, but there were other icky and/or slimy things, including 20A: Nocturnal beetle (scarab), 45D: Garden pests (snails), and 41D: Rarer than rare (tartare). Raw meat = not safe to eat. Ick.

And a musical mini-theme, with 14A: Bowed, in music (arco), 37A: Prized violin, briefly (Strad), and 32D: Soul mate? (heart). If you've ever taken piano lessons, you've played Heart and Soul.

Nice to see Spam clued as something other than junk email (40A: Canned fare since 1937). I guess I could have included that with icky and slimy things. Why it's a favorite food in Hawaii is beyond me when they could be eating fresh fish.

Did not know 1A: Great Trek participant of the 1830s (Boer), but was able to get it from the downs. That didn't help me much with 23A: Senior Saarinen (Eliel), because I didn't know 18D: Actress Powers of "Cyrano de Bergerac" (Mala). Could have been Mara, crossing with Elier.

Do not get why 37D: Wren's cathedral is St. Paul's. Was that the architect or something? Yep...Sir Christopher Wren. I was thinking bird, which is what they wanted me to think.

At opposite corners of the puzzle, we have 1D: Stout-legged hounds (bassets) and 43D: Old salts (sea dogs). Too bad the skinless hot dog wasn't in this one.

Speaking of dogs, our sweet Dooley managed to get into the shed this morning. The bad news...there's rat poison in there, and he got into it. The good news...I discovered it right away and was able to take immediate action. You don't need details. Anyway, he spent the day at the vet, getting a massive dose of Vitamin K. They expect a full recovery, since it was discovered so soon. If I hadn't seen him come out of the shed, I would never have known that he'd gotten into it. Dr. Koons said he would have died within a couple of days, and we would never have known what happened to him. Scary...from now on we'll make damn sure the shed is always locked. Stupid rats and mice. The only downside of living in a wooded area.

Favorite clues and/or answers include 38D: X marks it (the spot), 48D: Swindler's work (con job), and Trinity member (Son).

Least favorite: 34D: "__ mia!" (Mamma). That just looks wrong. I think it should be Mama. The only acceptable variation (IMOO) is Momma, and that just doesn't work. Mamma looks too much like it has something to do with mammary glands. But I just checked, and I guess that's the way it was spelled in the musical. What do I know?

I know that this is a wrap. See you tomorrow...

Linda G

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tuesday, June 26 - Ray Fontenot

Ray Fontenot isn't a name I'm familiar with. I'm curious to know if this is his inaugural puzzle.

The theme is an all-day film festival...the four theme answers are well-known movies whose last words capture the various "show" times.

20A: First showing at an all-day film festival? (1988) - Tequila Sunrise

25A: Second showing (1970) - Red Sky at Morning

44A: Third showing (1975) - Dog Day Afternoon

49A: Final showing (2004) - After the Sunset

I'm not much of a morning person...and definitely not a sunrise person...but I might have seen Tequila Sunrise--it looks somewhat familiar, and I like Michelle Pfeiffer. I saw the morning and afternoon shows. Liked one, really liked the other. Didn't see After the Sunset and couldn't tell you anything about it.

I always think themes are clever, in large part because I don't think I could come up with one. This was an easy theme, and once you got one theme answer, it was pretty easy to guess at least the endings. I was thinking Tuesday Afternoon at first. Likely confused because Tequila Sunrise was also a song.

[Digression following...At KC's request, I've posted some pictures of Dooley and Barnabas, along with our daughters. You can see them here. Thanks, KC.]

Esau makes another appearance at 53D, clued as Biblical twin. He's joined by Biblical liar (Ananias) at 43D.

Yesterday we had True/False Test. Today they reprise their roles--albeit separately--at 51D: Loyal (true) and 42A: Disloyal (false).

X is in the grid again 57A Graph line (axis) and 49D: Pink-slipped (axed).

Favorite words in the grid:

35A: Crystal-lined rock (geode)

15D: Self-important sorts (tin gods). We all know one (or more) of those.

33D: Eco-friendly (green). I know someone who will be happy to see this answer. Be sure to check out his always-entertaining commentary on the New York Sun puzzle.

38D: San Francisco and environs (Bay area). I just looked at that as one word and wondered what in the world bayarea was...kind of like...well, never mind.

45D: Nissan, once (Datsun). I don't remember when that changed. I used to own a Datsun, I have never owned a it was some time between 1973 and now.

54D: Gallery-filled part of the Big Apple (SoHo). When we were in New York City a few years ago, I learned that Soho meant South of Houston Street...or the area south of Greenwich Village. It was a great place to meander...lots of shops, galleries, cafes, and other places to spend money.

Well, it's now ten of (29D: A little before the hour). Not so! (32D: "That's a lie!"). Okay, it's really ten after...but I wanted to use a couple of answers in a real sentence. I agree, that's pretty lame (2D: Poor, as excuses go). But no harm (52D: Damage) done!

Enough already! Good night...see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Dooley and Barnabas

KC asked to see pictures of Dooley and Barnabas, so here are a couple.

This one's not very timely. It was our 2006 Christmas card photograph. Dooley is on the left, and Barnabas ("Son of Consolation") is the little black dog. They wandered up to our house about seven years ago. And here are their sisters...Leslie is on the left, Elaine on the right.

Let's see what else I can find.

Here's Dooley in one of his favorite places...the Sleep Number bed. Dooley's sleep number is 45.

Barnabas also likes the Sleep Number bed...but any bed or chair will do just fine.

Did these boys wander up to the right house or what?

Linda G

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Monday, June 25 - Kurt Mengel and Jan-Michele Gianette

There's nothing like Monday to make you feel smart again.

I'm calling the theme Opposite Options (Opposites Attract didn't seem quite right), and the four theme answers are:

20A: Course option (pass/fail class)

37A: Response option (yes/no answer)

44A: Electric light option (on/off switch)

59A: Quiz option (true/false test)

For the record, I would never want to take a pass/fail class. Gimme an A! I dislike yes/no answers, and I try not to ask questions that will let them pass for a response. And I would never give (or want to take) a true/false test. I am, however, okay with light switches being on or off. Just use energy efficient bulbs, please.

I tried to time myself today and instanly went into panic mode. It didn't help that I started out with the wrong answer for 1A: "Get out of here!" (scat). I had shoo, which made for some interesting answers when I got to the Downs. It took me a full two minutes to get past that, but it was smooth sailing from then on. Even with the delay, I finished in 8 1/2 minutes, and I'm content with that.

I thought the theme was kind of fun. Once I figured it out, the other theme answers were easy to get. The only course option I could think of initially, though, was something about auditing a class. Just skipped that answer, as well as the others, until I had some of the downs in place. Then...piece of cake.

In addition to the theme answers, other multi-word answers were:

11A: Shoo off (chase away)

35D: "Go fast!," to a driver (gun it!). I have never said this...probably because I've never robbed a bank and needed to make a quick getaway.

36D: Back then (at one time). Yes, at one time, I could stay up all night, I could get out of bed in the morning without groaning, I could go on and on...

The other place that tripped me up (after I'd rectified the shoo/scat problem), was 42A: Dweller along the Volga (Tatar). I have never heard of that word and wouldn't have gotten it except for the crosses. The only problem was that I was unsure of the final crossing, 39D: Western U.S. gas giant (Arco), and the R was the last letter to fall. I entered seven others into AcrossLite before the puzzle was accepted. The fact that it was is the only way I know that the answer is correct.

Interesting double reference to ages. 48A: Person under 21 (minor) and 70A: Person under 20 (teen).

66A: "Praise be to __" (Allah) is offset by the biblical reference at 7D: Eve's second son (Abel).

28A: Old photo shade (sepia) brought back wonderful memories. My parents were married in 1948, and their wedding album is all sepia photographs--all beautiful. My favorite has my mother on the floor, with her dress spread out in a circle. Her bridesmaids' bouquets are arranged around the circle, and my father is sitting next to her. My mother died 25 years ago, my father 5 years ago. Of course, I miss them both, but I'm so thankful for the pictures and the memories.

And that seems like a good place to stop. Maybe have a glass of wine and look at some pictures.

See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sunday, June 24 - Eric Berlin

Today's puzzle, No Appointment Necessary, by Eric Berlin, is just what the doctor ordered. Not tear-your-hair-out difficult, but challenging enough to keep boredom at bay. And circles in the grid--something we random thinkers are always happy to see.

If you hadn't already figured out the theme answers by the time you reached 65A: Alternative title for this puzzle (The doctor is in), it was easy enough to go back to the circles and fill in some of those blanks. The theme answers are:

23A: Wall Street worker (SEcUritieS analySt). You can read all about Dr. Seuss here. I was surprised to find out that he wasn't really a doctor at all.

39A: Broadway's "The Producers," e.g. (MusiCal COmedY). Dr. Leonard McCoy, better known as Bones on Star Trek, was played by DeForest Kelley. He is best remembered (by me, anyway) for often saying, "I'm a doctor, not a [fill in the blank]," depending on what he was being asked to do.

50A: They might come back to haunt you (FAmoUS LasT words). I'm sure someone out there knows who Dr. Faust was. It's late and I'm not looking it up.

84A: Appetizers served with sauce (ShrimP cOCKtails). Most of my friends raised their babies on Dr. Spock. I think Mr. Spock might have been better.

91A: It might go in a tank (WATer SOfteNer). Although a fictional character, Dr. John Watson was really a doctor, as well as Sherlock Holmes's confidante.

109A: Elizabeth Dole once led it (DEpartMENT Of labor). I initially thought this was American Red Cross, but it didn't fit. Nor would it have produced a doctor. This one made me laugh for several reasons. First, the name is just so funny. Second, the only trivia I know about Dr. Demento is that he's one of Bart Simpson's mortal enemies. Third, every time I looked at the answer, I saw Department o'Flab.

Every time I got stumped on this puzzle (several), I walked away for at least fifteen minutes, then came back and saw something that had had me staring stupidly for far too long. The last section to fall was the northeast. 16D: Gradually substitute (rotate in) and 17D: One way to argue (heatedly) eluded me forEver. Only when I had those two did I get 53A: Blu-ray players, e.g. (Sonys). I am technologically impaired and don't know about Blu-ray players. I'm just beginning to understand iPods.

Also looked at--and didn't see--several others, including 96A: One way to be taken (aback). Geez, I had A_A_K and still didn't see it. It was the very last word I entered in the grid. Actually had 81A: More than enjoyed (ate up) early on, but every time I'd see it, I was sure I had something wrong. What the hell did ATEUP (pronounced a-toop) mean?

Very good guesses that turned out to be right:

38A: Terre's counterpart (mer). I'm embarrassed to say that I think I remember this word from Titanic. Please remember that my daughter was then 14 and in love with Leonardo DiCaprio. I can't tell you how many times I saw that movie.

102A: Language from which lemon and julep come (Farsi). I knew that 102D: Wash out had to be fade, and there's only one language that starts with an F and has five letters...except that 102D turned out to be fail, which still made my guess work out.

116A: Tempter (siren). I did think snake first, though.

74A: Car that won the 1939 and '40 Indy 500 (Maserati). Guessed that with only the two As in place.

Today we get a double-dose of Bible names. 10D: Mess of pottage buyer (Esau) and 61D: 10-Down's father (Isaac), as well as a playground clue that's better than the standard retorts we usually see. 70D: Playground taunt (sissy).

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out 59D: "__ Say, " 1939 #1 Artie Shaw hit (They). It's only significant if you remember that Artie Shaw was once married to the lovely and talented Ava Gardner.

In addition to Farsi, some words that I don't recall ever seeing in a puzzle include 1A: Dogs named for a region of Japan (Akitas) and 20A: Mrs. Gorbachev (Raisa).

Stumbled for a while on 89A: Symbol on a 6 key (caret). I was thinking letters on a phone pad, not the ^ that appears on a keyboard as the uppercase of 6. Also struggled with 58A: Game played with a 1/2- to 3/4-inch ball (roulette). A ping pong ball was the smallest I could think of, and I knew that wasn't small enough.

My favorite clues include 38D: Cheese place (mousetrap), 21A: Start a pot going (ante), and 119A: 10-year prison sentence, in gang slang (dime).

It got awfully close to 100 today, and I'm whipped. I should have taken a siesta (121A: Time out?) but didn't. So I'm calling it a night.

See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Friday, June 22, 2007

Saturday, June 23 - Patrick Berry

I'm trying to remember how I usually do with Patrick Berry's puzzles, but I'm drawing a blank. All I know is that I didn't find this one too difficult, considering it's Saturday.

I loved the two 10-letter entries. 29A: Talking during movies? (voice overs). An answer with two Vs -- how cool is that. 38A: Bad shoes to run in (spike heels). How about bad shoes to walk in? For the record, I think it should be spiked, rather than spike, but I'm okay with it.

And how about those 9-letter answers. Horizontal stacks of three north and south, and vertical stacks of two east and west.

First the north three, followed by the south:

1A: Replacement (spare part).

15A: It's pictured in Van Gogh's "Starry Night Over the Rhone" (Ursa Major). Best way ever to clue this.

17A: Vaudeville bigwig (Top Banana).

55A: Wood-and-chicken-wire enclosure (rabbit run). This makes me think of run, rabbit, run. Something out of a reading primer.

58A: First novel in Cather's "prairie trilogy" (O Pioneers). One of only a few gimmes.

60A: When "anything can happen" on "The Mickey Mouse Club" (Wednesday). I don't get why this is the answer. Don was a big fan and he doesn't get it, either. Maybe it's from a more recent version.

The Eastern stacks...

12D: "Try before you buy" products (shareware). I was so sure it was trial size.

13D: Acting job (portrayal). One of those that was hard to see, even with most of the letters in place.

And the Western...

30D: Flavorful hamburger bun (onion roll).

31D: Pinned on (imputed to).

Some of my favorite clues:

3D: Org. that funds shelters (ASPCA). Not tax shelters, as I originally thought.

9D: It doesn't give you the full picture (trailer).

23A: It's made to measure (ruler).

42A: Bud's bud in comedy (Lou). I think we had something about Abbott and/or Costello recently.

46A: Ready to be drawn (on tap). That took me entirely too long. I was thinking drawn in every other sense...a caricature, tired looking, drawn and quartered (ick).

57A: Railed area, often (altar). Definitely in a Catholic or Episcopal church. Don't know about any others.

Much more to say about this one. Be sure to check out the links in the sidebar for further commentary.

Today was Take Your Dog to Work Day. Sister Karen brought Calli, her 2-year-old Yorkie, and Annie, her 15-year-old Schnauzer. They were both so darn cute. Males (dogs, anyway) tend to mark their territory, so it seemed a good idea to leave Dooley and Barnabas home.

Enjoy the weekend. I plan to stay out of the 100+ degree heat and drink plenty of water...and do plenty of puzzles.

See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Friday, June 22 - Mike Nothnagel

I've been waiting for another Nothnagel puzzle! And here it is...

Themeless puzzles tend to be more difficult for me--no answer gives way to another. And late-in-the-week themeless puzzles have been left incomplete on occasion. This one moved pretty smoothly, though, leaving me to wonder if I'm more on Mike Nothnagel's wavelength than, say, Quarfoot. If you're a regular reader, you know that two of his have been left with multiple blanks since I started this blog.

I deemed Mike's last puzzle--the Timothy Leary quote--as his best ever. Now I'll amend that to his best themed puzzle ever, and this one as his best themeless. Two 15-letter entries, one of which is a four-word phrase, and just packed with lively fill.

5D: Birthplace of the first giant panda in North America to survive to adulthood (San Diego Zoo). That was the first thing I entered. We'd been to the San Diego Zoo several years ago, and I thought I remembered reading that. To doublecheck, though, I moved to 38A: Cold evidence (sneeze), and knew that I was on the right track with zoo, then on to 21A: Martini go-with? (Rossi). Excellent clue. Definitely my favorite.

That ties in nicely with 54A: Disneyland attraction since 1955 (Mr. Toad's Wild Ride). We went to the San Diego Zoo after spending several days at Disneyland -- and that was a favorite ride for the girls. The trip was a gift from a dear family friend to celebrate the adoption. On that day the two became four. It seems like just yesterday.

16A: One concerned with school activities? (marine biologist). It was late when I solved, and I somehow missed the question mark. It didn't help that I had _AR_N_ which meant that parent went in for a time.

23D: Cause for some fluff filling (slow news day). I love these multiple word entries. Fluff temporarily waylaid me, since I was thinking marshmallow fluff, a filling of sorts. The birthday cake that was waiting at the office yesterday had chocolate frosting, topped with something white (I think it was marshmallow fluff) and chopped nuts between the layers, and chocolate frosting all over. It was to die for. I'm going to have another piece for breakfast, just as soon as I finish this. Anyone care to join me?

Other noteworthy multiple word answers:

34D: Have as a boss (answer to). This made me laugh, in a very irreverent way. Prior to this job, I worked for someone who was clueless about what I did, and I absolutely refused to answer to her. It didn't make her happy, although my resignation probably did. Tee-hee.

35D: The orange variety is black (pekoe tea). An excellent clue that I had to read multiple times. I already had _EKO_T__, and I didn't think anything would work in there.

12D: Link between DNA strands (base pair). I absolutely did not know this and wouldn't have gotten it without the crosses. I am not a scientist--rocket or otherwise.

15A: Plans named for a Delaware senator (Roth IRAs). I'm very familiar with them, but it took me longer than it should. Just wasn't thinking of them as plans, I guess.

18A: Comment after "So" (I lied). Initially I had I said, but that caused all kinds of trouble with the downs. If I didn't know it ended in D, I might have entered sue me.

Really liked 15D: Collector of bizarre facts (Ripley) and 17D: Books with many cross references? (Bibles). There are actually many bizarre facts in the Bible as well.

Had some trouble with 8D: Bearer of scales and plates (Atlas) because I had 19A: Itself, as a legal phrase as ipso, rather than ipsa. I don't think I've ever seen it spelled that way. For this puzzle, though, I'll let it slide.

Also stumbled at 57A: Sweethearts (steadies). The DIES ending was a bit confusing. Don and I are still sweethearts after almost 30 years, but I don't think of us as steadies.

Liked the cross at 37A: Worn rocks (jewelry) and 37D: Maker of a wake on a lake (jet ski). Don't recall that J is in the puzzle very often, and the jewelry clue was most clever. Don't forget to wear your rocks today.

Euler--that great mathematician--makes an appearance at 27A, clued as Mathematician seen on a Swiss 10-franc note. Didn't know that he appears on a note, but I had the E, so it was pretty much a no-brainer.

I could go on and on, but I have much to do today. See you all in a day (43D: Tomorrow).

Linda G

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Thursday, June 21 - John Sheehan

When I saw six clues in all caps, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. And I got it.


John Sheehan's Thursday puzzle is a winner in my book. I don't ask much, really. Anagrams, circles in the grid, anything out of the ordinary, and I'm a happy solver.

I think this took me about a half hour, but it's always exciting to finish a Thursday puzzle sans Google.

The six theme clues and answers are:

20A: PROSE (knotted ropes)

28A: TORSO (tangled roots)

37A: SAP (faux pas). My favorite. Not only is it a great word, it has an X.

39A: LEAD (bad deal)

45A: GENRES (tossed greens)

55A: BAIRNS (addled brains). This was the aha answer for me.

Once you got the theme, the answers fell pretty quickly. Unscramble the clue and come up with an adjective.

I was equally pleased with some of the fill and eXcited to see X appear two more times.

33D: Fifth-century invader of Britain (Saxon) and 42A: Car bar (axle).

11D: One of two A.L. teams (Sox) and 19A: Kiboshed (nixed).

The two anniversary clues were nice, sitting there side by side like a happy couple. 6D: Fifth-anniversary gift (wood) and 7D: 55th-anniversary gift (emerald).

Also liked the intersection of 46D: In position to inherit the throne, say (eldest) with 59A: Progeny (issue). That's a word I might not have done without a legal background.

Clever cluing at 59D: Measures of brightness (IQs), 66A: Well-known maker of two-by-fours (LEGO), 51A: Yarn producer? (liar), and 10D: You can see through it (iris).

A couple of answers I didn't much care for:

3D: Spasm (throe). It just looks funny in the singular.

49D: Ripe for a trial lawyer (suable). Not a word in my book, but I liked the theme so much, I'm willing to let it slide.

For some reason, the northwest corner eluded me for the longest time. I just couldn't think of anything for 1A: Smithereens (bits), and all I could think of for 14A: Source of misery was woes, rather than the correct ache. Once I got bits, then 1D: Support (back) came to me, and it all fell into place.

When I read the clue for 44A (Turn blue, e.g.), my first thought (morbid as it may be) was die, which I wrote in. That made 26D (Cornered) a complete mystery. What would end in ai? Then another aha moment! Dye (that's a better way to turn blue!) opened my eyes to see that at bay was the answer for 26D.

I can't make any sense of 5A: America's Cup, e.g. I'm certain that the downs are correct, but that gives me ewer. Can anyone explain that one?

I get to have another birthday tomorrow without getting any older. For some reason, my co-workers thought my birthday was the 21st. Bring on the cake!

And I hope to see you then.

Linda G

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wednesday, June 20 - Bonnie L. Gentry and Victor Fleming

I always get a good feeling when I see a puzzle with circles in the grid, and today's was no exception.

I knew 1A and 1D, clued as 1982 Richard Pryor/Jackie Gleason film (The/Toy). Great start, but it didn't tell me much about the theme. When I got to 19A: Draftsman's tool (and a hint to this puzzle's theme), I hit the jackpot with T-square, one of the few drafting tools I know. At that point, I just put all the Ts in place and went from there.

It goes without saying that a grid like this is going to have a lot of three-letter entries, but I didn't mind. Tat (34D: Fashion a doily), Tut (50A: King in a celebrated 1970s U.S. tour), tit (32D: Relative of a chickadee), Tex (23D: Singing Ritter), rut (46D: Endless 9-to-5 job, e.g.), and rat (59D: Disloyal sort). By far the best was 12D: Plays a campus prank on, informally (TPs). I never did this, and I'm happy to say I never had it done to me.

Some of the other T-fill was entertaining. 27D: Go __ (deteriorate) (to pot), 62A: Hand-color, in a way (tie dye), 15D: Dutch beer brand (Amstel), and 41D: "__ Cheerleaders" (1977 film) (Satan's). Don't have a favorite, though. Especially liked 14D: Gridiron formation (winged T) and 52A: Attend to the final detail (cross a T).

We see JaiAlai in the grid often, but it threw me this time because of the way it was clued. 4A: Half court game? (Jai). I was pretty sure about 4D: Title guy in a 1980 Carly Simon hit (Jesse), but I just couldn't figure out what half court game meant. Eventually it came together.

Interesting clue at 61A: Field of unknowns? (algebra). Initially had nothing, then the downs gave me EBRA. I thought it might be a two-word know, some kind of bra. That's been a recurring word of late. Also in that corner was 56A: Ferris in film (Bueller), giving the final nod to 57D: Wall St. action (LBO) -- leveraged buy-out for those who aren't familiar with the term.

To the left of that, 55A: Commits to, as an interest rate (locks in), sitting atop 60A: Intent, as a listener (all ears). Cross a T and tie dye (see above) combine to make that the best corner in the grid. IMOO, of course.

38D: Big name in cellular service (T-Mobile). Not my choice of phone, but it's in the grid fairly often. The longer words usually open up a lot of the grid, but in this case, it didn't help much...I had most of the acrosses over there. Where I needed the long answer was 22D: Influential group (inner circle). Couldn't remember 20A: Satchel in the Hall of Fame (Paige), and wasn't sure what kind of tax they wanted in 31A (land).

Not many (42A: A few) comments these days. I enjoy reading your take on the puzzle, too. You can always post anonymously if you're feeling shy ; )

And thanks to Orange for pointing out that Victor Fleming's co-constructor was Bonnie L. Gentry, NOT Bobbie L. Gentry as the online puzzle showed. Some of you may remember that Bobbie Gentry sang Ode to Billie Joe.

Linda G

Monday, June 18, 2007

Tuesday, June 19 - John Underwood

If you're familiar with college names and locations, you probably breezed through the theme answers in John Underwood's puzzle. Especially so if you caught the different directions the answers were taking:

20A: Home of Smith College (North Hampton MA)

29A: Home of the U.S. Military Academy (West Point NY)

44A: Home of Notre Dame (South Bend IN)

52A: Home of Michigan State (East Lansing MI)

I would have preferred to see them appear in North, South, East, West order. Not a huge problem...

As easy as the theme answers were, that's how difficult I found some of the fill.

1D: Score after deuce (adin)

9D: Steven __, real-life subject of the 1987 film "Cry Freedom" (Biko). Sorry, hadn't heard of it or him.

41A: Unicorn in a 1998 movie (Nico). Or him/her.

22A: Like some heirs (sole). I had sons for the longest time, and it was really messing with my downs. I was pretty sure of 6D: Mingo player on "Daniel Boone" (Ed Ames), but with the SS ending (as a result of sons), I started second guessing myself. Was it James Arness? Had Smith College moved to some other city in Massachusetts?

Some clues and answers I really liked:

1A: The gamut (A to Z). Shouldn't have stumped me for even a minute, but it did.

16A: Gen __ (Xer). Mostly I liked the X, which then became part of 11D: Former lovers, e.g. (expartners). Very much liked the options apparent in that clue. Exhusbands would have fit in the grid, but I don't think there's a two-letter state abbreviation that ends in U. Anyway, I'd already determined that Smith College had not moved.

37A: Suffix with psych- (otic). My first thought...not that I am, mind you. I'm also not insane (47D: Ready for the rubber room), although my children and a few close friends might think otherwise.

There were three other ten-letter answers in the grid, all worthy of a mention:

28D: Devotees of fine dining (epicureans). Not a word you see in the puzzle every day.

18A: Wildlife manager (game keeper). Bartender wasn't long enough.

59A: Sites for stargazers (planetaria). Sure, it looks odd as a plural, but when you need to make it fit a grid, you do what you need to do.

Rex Parker recently confessed his man-crush on Paul Rudd. I have similar feelings about Charlize Theron. That said, I didn't know that she played Aeon Flux, which appears as two answers in the extreme southeast, at 61A and 64A. I fell in love with her (figuratively) in The Cider House Rules. Come to think of it, Paul Rudd was also in it.

49A: "Blame It __" (Michael Caine film) (on Rio). I think we have a subtheme going here. Michael Caine played the doctor in The Cider House Rules--he was superb.

Okay, enough about that movie. It was good, but it was depressing. The book, by John Irving, was even more so...difficult to read in parts.

Back to the puzzle. I'm getting to like the [bracketed] clues. Today we have 3D: [see other side] as the clue for over. Nice one.

I do (42A: Words of commitment) believe I'm finished for the night. See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Monday, June 18 - Randall J. Hartman

After a day of celebrating (my birthday, as well as Father's Day), it was nice to sit down and blast through Randall J. Hartman's Monday puzzle.

The three theme answers all relate to water, specifically, [something] of the [some body of water]. Huh? Here they are:

20A: She offered Excalibur to the future King Arthur (Lady of the Lake)

37A: Popular canned tuna (Chicken of the Sea)

48A: Columbia, in an old patriotic song (Gem of the Ocean)

Ordinarily, I'm ecstatic when I get a 15-letter answer with no letters in place. In the case of 37-Across, though, I guess it was pretty much a no-brainer. Still...

The winner for best clue is 1A: #1 number two who became the #2 number one (Adams). I'm sure glad I did this puzzle before dinner (i.e., before beer). As it was, I had to read the clue several times. I thought it might have something to do with Hertz and Avis. After doing the downs in the northwest, I hit on it. For those of you who may still be confused...John Adams was Washington's vice president. He then became the second U.S. president.

Nice little religious mini-theme going with 17A: Food from heaven (manna), 19A: __-again (like some Christians) (born), and 25D: Holy city of Islam (Mecca).

Enjoyed seeing My bad at 10D, clued as "Oops! I made a mistake." I never said that until a few months ago. If it's in the New York Times, though, I guess it must be okay to say it.

And speaking of okay to say it, we have sex at 58D, clued as Topic for Dr. Ruth. It's always good to have an X in the grid, and especially good if its cross is a great word like Essex (64A: County ENE of London).

My sweet Don makes an appearance at 13D, even though he's clued as "__ we now our gay apparel." He was gracious enough to let my birthday trump his Father's Day.

A big thank you to Mr. Hartman (and/or Mr. Shortz) for 61A: Do, as a puzzle (solve). It's about time we all got some recognition for what we after day...sometimes to the exclusion of everything else.

Favorite word of the puzzle has to be 38D: Crayfish dish (etouffee). We had a really good Cajun restaurant in town for about two years. Their etouffee was to die for. The college owned the building they were in and didn't renew their lease. The building was needed for expansion that hasn't happened...almost two years later.

One of Rex's favorite words is in the puzzle again at 23A: Garment accompanying a girdle (bra). If you didn't read his post a few days ago, you should. By the way, I wear a bra at least 350 days a year, but I have never worn a girdle. The two do not go hand in hand, so to speak.

For some ridiculous reason, I scheduled physical therapy for 8:00 tomorrow morning, so I must get to bed early. This go-round is actually helping, owing in large part to the fact that we had a diagnosis to work with. And I love Matt and Nicole. I get 20-30 minutes of massage on my arm, shoulder and upper back, followed by 20 minutes of electrical stimulation (and hot packs) to my bicep and shoulder. I am definitely getting a lot of bang for my co-pay.

Good night, sweet dreams.

Linda G

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sunday, June 17 - Tony Orbach & Patrick Blindauer

Tony Orbach and Patrick Blindauer put their heads together on this puzzle--Rear Axle--and came up with a winner. Challenging, but not impossible, and just plain fun.

I ended up with a theme answer that I didn't understand. Once I got the second one, it was clear what was up, Doc!

How did the theme play out? The letters LE are omitted from commonly used phrases, which are then clued in amusing ways.

23A: Yosemite Sam's cursing of Bugs Bunny's food? (dang carrots). This was the one I didn't get until later. Oh! Dangle carrots!

28A: Explanation for why some pillows do weird things? (trick down theory). I did pay attention in class when we learned about the trickle down theory.

47A: Basic food choice? (bread and butter pick). I love bread and butter pickles, so I saw it with only a couple of letters in place.

68A: Short-term worker who causes utter disaster? (the temp of doom). The funniest answer...hands down. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a favorite in this house.

86A: Jazz-loving young entomologist? (Boogie Woogie bug boy). My favorite of the bunch. I enjoyed singing along with Bette Midler's version of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.

112A: Meal for the Three Little Pigs? (family sty dinner). This was the last one to fall into place for me. Family style dinners are not my favorite--I tend to eat way too much.

118A: Work on analytical psychology? (The Jung Book). The psych student in me found this one amusing. In a class called Deconstructing Disney, I saw The Jungle Book in a new light.

Not just great theme answers...there's some pretty terrific fill to boot.

I always enjoy seeing the Beatles and/or their songs clued in the puzzle. They got me on this one, though. 47D: "P.S. I Love You" and "Revolution," e.g. (B sides). Didn't help that I didn't know 55A: Noontime service (sext).

Also didn't know 49D: Bet to win and place (exacta), although I think I saw it in a recent puzzle. The only betting word I know is trifecta--besides JaiAlai, that old puzzle standby.

I love anagrams (so does my friend, Spherical Ham), so it was a real pleasure to see 63D: Position that's an anagram, appropriately, of "notes" (steno). We've had steno a couple of times recently, but this is the best clue ever.

Also liked seeing 18D: "Gilligan's Island" castaway (Mary Ann). She was my favorite of the female characters. The professor was my favorite of the men.

In no particular order, some clever clues that deserve mention:

3D: Stuntwork? (bonsai). Almost laugh-out-loud a way.

12D: Cover for a grandmother (shawl). I wore shawls in the 70s, but I wouldn't dream of wearing one now!

13D: Hot spot (kiln)

48D: "Be saved!" (Repent!)

61D: Like Limburger cheese (stinky). I have never smelled Limburger cheese, but I think I'd rather not.

90D: Lose in one's drawers (misfile). Too funny. I didn't have a clue where they were going with this one. Saved by the acrosses.

91D: Not oral (on paper). Had written at first--a good wrong answer. And that's all I'm sayin' on that.

I liked the way they clued 34A: "Stupid," in Spanish (!). Mensa is the Latin word for table. According to Wikipedia, the Mensa Society was meant to indicate a round-table society of equals. Does that mean we're all in that 98th percentile?

I could go on and on with this puzzle, but I'm sure the other bloggers will cover the ones I missed.

Happy Father's Day to all of you fathers out there!

Linda G

Friday, June 15, 2007

Saturday, June 16 - Joe DiPietro

Joe DiPietro's Saturday themeless was one tough puzzle. After my initial read-through of clues, I had only a couple of answers:

19A: Fisherman's supply (worms). Thought that was it, wrote it, erased it, wrote it again.

21A: Defibrillator users, for short (EMTs). That one ends up in the puzzle fairly regularly, although they keep finding different ways to clue it.

22A: [Just like that!] (snap). Got it--just like that!

31A: Passed-down strands (DNA). One of those plural answers that doesn't end in an S.

54A: Son of Leah (Levi). It pays to know some of the Bible names.

Those few answers didn't really open up a lot for me. I ended up Googling to get a couple of obscure 46A: Delaware, the __ State. I thought it was First State, but that wasn't working. Apparently, it has other nicknames, including Diamond State.

That gave me a little more to work with in the lower right quadrant, confirming that 40D: Words from the wise was actually proverb. A bit tricky, since it seemed at first that the answer would be plural. But a proverb does contain words--seven on average, according to Wikipedia.

There were several two-word answers that ended with...are they prepositions? Someone help me's late and I'm tired.

15A: First in line (next up)

23A: Follow (go after)

25A: Falls at the hands of (loses to)

8D: Want in the worst way (ache for)

39D: Went for (aimed at)

The award for funniest clue goes to 3D: Like some T-shirts and eggs (extra large). I didn't see that answer until I had the X, then I felt rather stupid for not having seen it sooner. I couldn't figure out what those two could possibly have in common.

My three favorite answers:

16A: Woman who's just too cool? (ice queen). Ooh, love it.

59A: Place to order rolls (sushi bar). Too clever.

61A: Further evidence (Exhibit B). I had the last two letters in place and was sure I had something wrong. What word could possibly end in TB?

That then threw me with 52D: Sauce thickener (roux). I had the UX but roux just didn't come until I got the O. Thank you, poolside (56A: Where many people may lie).

We had a clue in a recent puzzle, and I tried to put New Delhi in for the answer. It was wrong, but it was the right answer tonight and it came right to mind for 36D: Residence of some Indians.

I was totally baffled by the answer to 28D: Wicker work (A Time to Die). I was thinking baskets, furniture, and the like. Thank you, Dogpile. Tom Wicker wrote the book, A Time to Die: The Attica Prison Revolt.

See you tomorrow night.

Linda G

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Friday, June 15 - Nancy Joline

I got a very late start tonight on the puzzle and actually dozed off in the middle of it. Nancy Joline gave us a fairly tough one, with six 10-letter words and/or phrases.

1A: Energy source (granola bar). I boldly entered wind power, a great wrong answer.

15A: Home of the National Automobile Museum (Reno, Nevada)

17A: First lady who was once a prominent radio actress (Evita Peron). Why in the world was I trying to think of a United States first lady? I saw the movie and listened to the soundtrack a hundred times!

61A: One who deals in futures (horoscoper). Not a great word on its own, but it works well in the grid, and the clue was a good one.

64A: Construction equipment (erector set). Don has such fond memories of his first (probably only) erector set. When he retires, I'm going to buy him another one. Don't tell.

66A: Angels (messengers). Okay, I guess that works.

There are also three vertical stacks in each corner of seven-letter answers. I'll pick a favorite from each corner.

3D: Brutes (animals) wins in the northwest.

14D: Gentleman of Verona (Signore) is the one I got, but I loved 13D: Drub (plaster). 12D: "Survivor" setting, 2004 (Vanuatu) was impossible for me. Never watched the show, and had to Google to confirm the answer that I got from the acrosses.

39D: Where drinks aren't on you (open bar)

44D: Tramp (traipse). I was thinking the other kind of tramp so entered trollop once I had the TR in place.

There were several other one-word clues like that, and I got trapped by a few.

25A: Swell (neato). Not the kind of swell I had in mind.

39A: Pops (old timer). I thought of pops, as in explodes.

54A: Spots (ads). Several other meanings for spots, but none that would fit in three squares.

65A: Break (rest). Oh, that kind of break. I could use one.

My favorite clue was 31A: X maker, at times (voter). My first thought was lover (X being kisses to O's hugs), then I was thinking about someone who couldn't write.

I'd better wrap this up. I need to make an appearance at the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast tomorrow morning. Every year they fund our organization through their generous grants, so all of our employees volunteer to do a two-hour shift at the breakfast. I was smart enough not to sign up for the 6:00 a.m. shift. Funny thing about getting older...I used to be a morning person, but I can barely drag myself out of bed before 7:30. And it's all I can do to stay awake past 10.

And here it is almost 11:00. Good night.

Linda G

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Thursday, June 14 - Donna Hoke Kahwaty

Donna Hoke Kahwaty--I haven't heard the name before, but I think I'll remember it. Her themed puzzle left me puzzled!

I finished it with no major problems (and no Googling!) but it took me at least ten minutes to see--and completely understand--the theme, revealed at 38A: (Ingenuous...or like 17-, 24-, 50- and 60-Across (artless). The four theme answers, each a commonly used expression minus the letters ART, are:

17A: Con man's pay? (sting salary) -- st(art)ing salary

24A: Satan? (he of darkness) -- he(art) of darkness

50A: Slapstick staples? (surprise pies) -- surprise p(art)ies

60A: Parts of dollhouse dinner table settings? (mini glasses) -- m(art)ini glasses

They made sense to me in roughly that order...heart of darkness was actually the first one I understood, although I initially thought we had a rebus on our hands. I've heard Satan referred to as the prince of darkness, so I tried for a while to get PRINC in the first square, but 4-Down just made no sense that way.

In addition to the theme answers, there are four 10-letter answers in the grid, two of which were gimmes.

11D: Jailed (up the river). Most likely without a paddle. Nice tie-in with 10D: Transportation around the Aleutians (kayaks).

12D: Dry season danger (forest fire). That was an answer back when I guest blogged for Rex Parker in April. It started a major discussion about what constituted a shade of green. Anyway, that was one of the gimmes. We live in the desert, get very little rainfall (duh!), and fires are all too common.

29D: Cartoon beeper (Road Runner). Likely a gimme for many of you.

30D: Restaurant companion (dinner date).

Some of my favorites--because of clever cluing, clever answers, or just because:

41A: Joie de vivre (vim). I just love the expression. A couple of weeks after I quit my job at the homeless shelter, one of the guests commented to a staff member that the joie de vivre was missing from the place. That's one of the nicest compliments I've ever received.

49A: Disturbs the peace, in a way (snores). It's clever, but it's really not funny to some of us (wink).

3D: Polish locale (nail). Yeah, I was trying to think of a place in Poland for the longest time.

18D: Symbol of blackness (soot) and 23D: Symbol of whiteness (snow). Very cool, although I wanted coal.

58D: Verbal elbow? (psst). That gets the award for the most clever clue and answer.

61D: "Where did __ wrong?" (I go). It seems we had a rather lengthy discussion on this answer once before...although this was a better clue for it.

62D: Bert Bobbsey's twin (Nan). That's been in the puzzle in the last few months. If we're ever asked about the second set of twins, their names are Flossie and Freddie. They're the blonde twins; Nan and Bert were brunettes. I loved The Bobbsey Twins...and Nancy Drew. I don't know how I feel about a new Nancy Drew. Well, actually, I do. I don't like it at all. It's like Betty Crocker. They should have left her alone. This woman is not Betty Crocker.

That's it for tonight. See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wednesday, June 13 - Curtis Yee

I was really smokin' on Curtis Yee's Wednesday puzzle, or so it seemed.

Three long acrosses for the theme answers...

17A: Scrap the original strategy (go to plan B)

30A: Loop looper (the Chicago L)

49A: Muscle shirt, e.g. (sleeveless T)

...wrapped up cleverly with 66A: What the ends of 17-, 30-, and 49-Across spell (deli order).

The only problem was, I originally had 17 across as Rethink it--a perfectly good wrong answer. It even fit with the clever 3D: On empty (out of gas). But that was about as far as I could go with the downs (not to mention that the theme didn't make any sense). So I had to go to plan B.

The BLT was just one item in this veritable feast (24A: Big spread). We also had 19A: Party spread (pates), 11D: Ballpark buy (hot dog), and 40D: Spicy bowlful (salsa dip). Somewhat connected to this mini-theme were 49D: Cooks, in a way (steams) and 13D: Use again, as a Ziploc bag (reseal).

There's also a Spanish mini-theme going on in the grid. Uno and dos appear at 29 and 28 D (clued as adding up to tres). 26A: Mrs., in Madrid (Sra.) and 41D: 2007, por ejemplo (año) round it out.

Some lively fill to spice things up:

33A: Restrained (on a leash)

46A: Metropolis figure (Lois Lane). Yes, I had Superman first. Who didn't?

38D: "Who's on first?" asker (Costello).

50D: Stay out of sight (lie low)

51D: Call for more (encore)

and my favorite...44D: Curse, of sorts (evil eye).

I am totally exhausted, so it's time to head for bed, although we don't have a Serta (57A: Mattress giant). It's a Sleep Number bed by Select Comfort (I'm a 45), and it's calling me. Good night.

Linda G

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tuesday, June 12 - Jonathan Gersch

Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace...

This poem always comes to mind around my birthday, because I've always thought I was born on a Tuesday. I found this nifty website that confirmed it.

What does that have to do with Jonathan Gersch's puzzle? Well, it's another Tuesday's child, and it's also full of grace--with an easy but clever theme.

What's more, it's the first pangram I've seen in a while (all 26 letters of the alphabet are in the grid) other than occasions when that was the theme itself.

The theme is revealed at 36A: Word that can follow the starts of 17-, 23-, 51- and 59-Across (knots). The four theme answers are:

  • 17A: Spoonerism, usually (slip of the tongue).

  • 23A: Sight along the Thames (Windsor Castle)

  • 51A: Hoedown folks (square dancers)

  • 59A: San Francisco tourist attraction (Fisherman's Wharf)

I was onto this theme sooner than most (themes, not solvers). Got 17A without difficulty, but because of an error in 3D: Slickers and the like (rainwear), I had rainGear...which made 23A look strange indeed. I haven't been there, but I'm relatively certain there's nothing on the Thames that begins with Ginds. Once I got that mess straightened out, I was well on my way. I may not know sports, but I know my knots.

Perez is in the grid two days in a row, today at 1A: Former U.N. chief Javier __ de Cuéllar. I love that its cross is zoo, clued as Madhouse. I've worked there, as have most of you.

Another good cross at 49A: Like some dental floss (unwaxed) and 39D: Crew's leader (Coxswain). There were some pretty tacky ways they could have clued unwaxed. I'll leave that to your imagination.

I really like the crossing of homonyms at 8D: Grandmother of Enoch (Eve) and 15A: Gutter site (eave). The Eve of Destruction...could be interpreted a number of ways.

Be sure to check the links at the sidebar for further commentary. I'll see you all tomorrow.

That's all (finis).

Linda G

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Monday, June 11 - Harriet Clifton

This is what I like to see...a fresh, fun Monday puzzle following a bugger of a Sunday. Harriet Clifton gives us five theme answers, all clued as Short on Dough. Your theme answers are:

17A: Flat broke
21A: Strapped
41A: Feeling the pinch
56A: In the red
66A: Tapped out

We've all been there, maybe as a college student, or a young newlywed, or not so young and maxed out the credit cards. So...none of the theme answers were too hard to draw from memory, but none of them were boring either.

Some snappy fill as well, including a couple of sports clues that were actually gimmes for me. That's saying something, as many of you know.

9D: Three-time P.G.A. champ (Snead). My dad was a huge golf fan, and Sam Snead was one of his favorites.

64D: Baseball's __ the Man (Stan). Okay, you don't have to know much about sports to know Stan Musial. According to Wikipedia, he's the only player to hit five home runs in one day - he did it in a doubleheader against the New York Giants in 1954. I remember it well (just kidding).

I absolutely loved the cross of 14A: Fairy tale meanie (ogre) with 2D: Wrinkly fruit (Ugli). According to their website, "When buying the UGLI® brand of tangelos do not be misled by their appearance, you will love their sweet and tangy flavour." If you haven't tried one, take the plunge.

V makes several appearances in the grid. Once at 32A: Over-the-top review (rave) and 34D: Church official (vicar), and again at 46A: Aquafina competitor (Evian) and 43D: "Enough already!" (I've had it). I seem to remember that one in the not-too-distant past.

Hmm, U and V, but no W, X or Y. We do have Z, shared by 53D: #1 to Avis's #2 (Hertz) and 71A: (the second part of 22D: "White Men Can't Jump" co-star) Rosie Perez. I saw the previews but not the movie. I loved (to hate) her as Nicolas Cage's wife in It Could Happen to You. I've already told you how I feel about him.

Interesting clues and/or answers:

20A: Kind of paper for gift-wrapping (tissue). Nicer reference than a nose-blowing clue.

40A: Tiny criticism to "pick" (nit). Again, it could have been an ugly clue.

61A: Bits of wisdom? (pearls).

42D: Polite refusal (no, sir). When our girls' elementary school was doing Annie, all of the kids who wanted one were given a part. During the audition, the principal asked one of our girls if she would like to sing something for them. She replied, "No, thank you, sir." He later said that he'd never been rejected so nicely.

29A: Finger food at a Spanish restaurant (tapas). A young couple recently moved here and opened a tapas bar. We haven't yet tried it but need to do that soon.

10D: Word repeated after someone starts to show anger (temper). I can guarantee that if I'm angry and someone says that to me, it is not going to calm me down.

One final comment about 8D: Jenny Craig regimen (diet). I just want to remind everyone what the first three letters of the word spell. Enough said.

I hope you all enjoyed the weekend. See you tomorrow night.

Linda G

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Sunday, June 10 - Bob Klahn

There are some things I love about doing the Sunday puzzle. I get it early enough that I can do it leisurely...a few minutes here, a few minutes there. It's always better when I come back to it. Easier to see some things that I hadn't seen before.

And on Sunday we have the bonus of a theme title, which sometimes helps me get some of the longer answers.

Neither of those things helped today.

I don't want to know how much of my day I spent doing it, although I did get some things done in the house and in the yard.

When I finally finished it, I still had no clue what All About National Public Radio had to do with the theme answers, so I walked away from it again. This happened one other time and I emailed Rex, who was kind enough to help me out. During my time away from the puzzle, though, I went to his blog to read comments about the Saturday puzzle...and he'd already posted Sunday. Yeah, I peeked, and it's a good thing. I could have looked at the finished puzzle for hours and I wouldn't have seen it.

The eight theme answers all contain NPR--the first word ends in N, the second word begins with PR.

23A: Tax relief, e.g. (campaigN PRomise)

39A: Mary Shelley subtitle, with "The" (ModerN PRometheus). Did not know this. Did know that they were referring to Frankenstein, which was published when she was nineteen.

58A: TV star who directed the 1999 documentary "Barenaked in America" (JasoN PRiestley)

83A: Fall event, usually (seasoN PRemiere)

101A: Matter of W.W. II secrecy (ManhattaN PRoject). Because W.W. II was abbreviated, I was looking for an answer that was.

121A: Serigraph (silkscreeN PRint). We have five gorgeous framed serigraphs done by a local artist, Ron Hoeksema. He no longer does them, and they're hard to come by. The ones shown at this gallery's website are not his best ones, IMOO.

3D: Contortionist (humaN PRetzel). Just the other day, fellow blogger Green Genius featured a contortionist on his blog. Even if you don't do the New York Sun (I don't get to it every day), his commentary is always an enjoyable read. He's big into books, including comics. Today's post was about books he bought when a local bookstore went out of business.

66D: Russian literary award established in 1881 (PushkiN PRize). No clue on this one, or its cross at the K -- 92A: World's biggest city built on continuous permafrost (Yakutsk). I know it's in Russia, and I know I don't want to live there.

I was able to get bits and pieces from the few gimmes I had. Occasionally, I'd have enough letters that I could guess a word. Sometimes it turned out to be right.

7D: 1914 Booth Tarkington novel (Penrod). I think we had to read Seventeen when I was in high school, almost forty years ago. Not too surprising that I don't remember a thing about it. According to this site, Seventeen and Penrod were his best -- described as amusing tales about boyhood and adolescence.

I got a laugh from 59D: Initial sounds of a relief effort? (plop plop). Does Alka Seltzer still do those commercials? I guess so. In fact, they had a contest to redo the song. You can see the new commercial here.

Here's a madness that occurs way too often. I have seen the movie at least a half dozen times, and I could not for the life of me remember 100D: The whale in "Pinocchio" (Monstro). I had to have almost all the letters in place before I got it.

Likewise, I struggled with 110A: Dudley Do-Right's love (Nell), even though I could see her, and hear him call her name.

I didn't do any better with 34A: Doc's wife in "Come Back, Little Sheba" (Lola). I remembered that Shirley Booth played her and that I cried at the end.

There is one answer I absolutely cannot make any sense of. Unless I have something wrong with the crosses, how in the world is EGGS the answer to 56D: Adam and Eve, at a diner? I'm sure I'll be embarrassed when I find out the answer. I'm not embarrassed when I don't know something sports related, but I have a feeling this one isn't.

I'm calling it a night. See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Friday, June 8, 2007

Saturday, June 9 - Karen M. Tracey

I know I've read Karen Tracey's comments at Diary of a Crossword Fiend, but I couldn't remember how many of her puzzles I've seen in the last several months. I did some checking around and found five or six--all fairly difficult puzzles that I really struggled with.

I'd like to say that this one was easier...

...but I'd be lying.

Check out the scarcity of black squares--only 25 in the whole puzzle. And talk about out-of-the-ordinary fill! I know that I haven't seen any of these in recent puzzles:

1A: Extracurricular activity traditionally for men (glee club)

15A: Digitalis source (foxglove)

28A: Valium, generically (Diazepam)

38A: Opera that opens on Christmas Eve (La bohème)

50A: County holding part of Yosemite National Park (Mariposa). It would have been a gimme if it had been clued "Spanish for butterfly."

23D: Shameless hussies (Jezebels)

And how about this clever cluing?

52A: Old-fashioned letter opener: Abbr. (Messrs). I was trying to think of an abbrevation for some antique knife or sword.

54A: Complex component (neurosis). That's just too good. And there's a nice psychological tie with 33D: Extreme bovarism (egomania).

59A: Not fleshed out (skeletal). Ditto.

I had very few gimmes in this. I guessed 4D: Einsteins (eggheads) from the H...the result of knowing 19A: Fix at a farrier's (reshoe).

40A: Best Actor nominee for "Affliction," 1998 (Nolte). Did I say yesterday that I have the hots for Nicolas Cage? I meant Nick Nolte. I fell in love with him as Tom Jordache in the 1976 miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man. This was before the days of VCRs, so I had to stay home all those nights to watch it...and I was single! I just saw that it's available on DVD. I just might have to get it. I tried to read the novel (by Irwin Shaw) earlier this year, but it just wasn't the same. Some things just need the visual.

I had a couple of partial answers. 14D: Pirates' domain (open seas). I was thinking high seas, but none of the acrosses were making sense. Not that 9A: Measure of reflected light (albedo) or 18A: Kind of case (dative) made much sense. Oh, duh, now I get it. That kind of case. My dictionary lists as an example: I gave the book to Jack. I gave him the book. When I had *A*I*E, I wanted it to be valise. That's the kind of case I was thinking.

Another partial answer for me was 32D: Colt handler (gunsmith). I knew it had something to do with guns (as opposed to horses). My childhood home was on Winchester Lane in Gun Club Estates. Others streets were Colt, Garand and Browning. That's the only way I know anything about guns.

A few weeks ago we had smew, which appears again at 47A, clued as Old World duck. I love its intersection at the W...41D: Qualm (twinge). Mostly I love that I remembered it.

Just yesterday we had hater, clued as Misanthrope. Today it appears at 58A: Bigots (haters). A better clue today, IMOO.

I liked 11D: River craft (bateau), although I only know it as a neckline. A very flattering neckline.

And I haven't even mentioned all the Scrabbly letters. Foxglove (see above) shares its X with 3D: Has substance (exists), and its V with 7D: A.C.C. member (UVA). I assume that has something to do with sports--my weakest area.

That's a wrap. I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Friday, June 8 - Randolph Ross

Today's unthemed puzzle is by Randolph Ross, and so is the syndicated puzzle du jour. How cool is that!

This one really wanted to kick my butt. Three horizontal stacks of eleven, top and bottom. Three vertical stacks of ten, left and right.

My big break was a gimme on 1A: 1971 hit with the lyric "He danced for those at minstrel shows" (Mr. Bojangles). That song touches me as much now as it did then, especially the line about his dog.

It was very exciting to get the next long across, 15A: Film in which Ford was president (Air Force One). I spent a couple of minutes trying to figure out when Gerald Ford was in a movie. I'm sure I wasn't alone there.

Another big break occurred in the southern stack. 59D: "__ who?" (sez) really opened things up there. I knew we were looking at zones for 63A: Protected areas, but it took a minute to figure out safety. That gave me 48D: After-dinner request (decaf), which led to 48A: Most of Mauritania (desert). With a couple of letters in place, I got 56A: Oscar winner between Tom Hanks and Geoffrey Rush (Nicolas Cage). Omigod, I so have the hots for that man.

I made the mistake of reading the clue for 61A: Subject of "The Double Helix" aloud. Don hollered out "DNA," but I got molecule on my own. We are quite a team...and he's okay with my having the hots for unattainable men.

I was also stumped temporarily on 32A: Grammy winner Blige. I knew she was Mary, but I completely spaced that she was Mary J.

Here's where I really made a mess of things. 13D: "Buy now," e.g. (broker's tip) was originally (in my puzzle, anyway) sales pitch. That gave me not sleep for 20A: Have insomnia, instead of the correct answer, lie awake. I don't remember the mistakes beyond those two, but there were several.

I confess that the only way I dragged myself out of that mess was to Google 12D: Girl group with the 1986 #1 hit "Venus" (Bananarama). Sorry, my loyalty is to the version by Shocking Blue.

I love Miles Davis but was initially stumped by 26A: Group on Miles Davis's "Birth of the Cool," e.g. (nonet). Ah, yes, the number in a group, not a group that was playing with him.

Ooh, and I just love 29D: Malice aforethought (evil intent). Both the clue and the answer are wickedly delicious!

Also delicious is 44A: McIntosh cousins (winesaps). Great for munching, great for applesauce, great for pies. Mmmmm.

I have had it (40A: Seen enough) for tonight. See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Thursday, June 7 - Nancy Salomon

Don't you just love the moment when you realize that Thursday's puzzle has to be a rebus! Nancy Salomon serves up another good one.

The theme, revealed at 38A: 1961 Del Shannon lyric (and title of this puzzle), is My Little Runaway, one of the few gimmes in the puzzle...that is, until I realized that meant she was on the lam. Those three letters share a square in the theme answers:

15A: Southwestern trees (alamos), with 10D: Tree-lined promenade (alameda)

17A: "It's not my fault!" (don't blame me), with 9D: Frontier sharpshooter (Calamity Jane)

19A: Not giving the police any more information (clamming up), with 1D: Total chaos (bedlam)

32A: Hubbub (clamor), with 33D: Hobbled (lamed)

47A: Fiery (aflame), with 28D: Con games (flimflammery)

54A: Double dessert (pie ala mode) was the giveaway answer for me. It was paired with 55D: "Ah, for the good old days," e.g. (lament)--an entertaining clue/answer.

59A: Some crime deterrents (street lamps), with 60D: Eastern priests (lamas)

I was surprised that 16A: Job at a lineup (IDing) was a gimme. Is that a sign that I've been doing these puzzles for too long? I mean...should that have been a gimme?

Doing puzzles for this long, though, means I've finally learned some of the clues and answers that show up time and again.

64A: Soul singer Baker (Anita). I'd never heard of her until I started doing these.

66A: River of Flanders (Yser).

67A: "Tell Mama" singer James (Etta)...although I'd like to see a reference to Etta Place every now and then.

18D: Cap'n's underling (Bos'n). Don told me this one the last time it came up. This time I remembered it. For those who don't know, it's the abbreviated version of boatswain, a petty officer in charge of the deck crew.

My vote for the most clever (or original) clue/answer pairings:

9A: Water-to-wine town (Cana). If you paid attention in Sunday school, you had this one.

22A: Long line in Rome (popes).

43A: One way to serve ham (on rye).

6D: Get together without fanfare? (elope).

That's it for tonight. See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Wednesday, June 6 - Richard Silvestri

Today's puzzle went down easier than yesterday's. Must be that Richard Silvestri added a spoonful of sugar. Y not?

The four theme answers were common words/phrases, except the last word of each had a variation on the spelling -- changing the I to Y.

20A: Stealing some computer memory? (taking a byte)

54A: Always use the term "coloring agent"? (never say dye)

11D: Ways to make lefts and rights? (turnstyles)

29D: Assorted hydroxides? (pack of lyes). Especially interesting in that it followed Tuesday's Leader of the Pack theme.

Nice to see Kelly Clarkson clued (along with Taylor Hicks) at 17A (Idol). I'll confess that I've never seen an episode of American Idol, but I've seen some of the winners perform since they won. Kelly Clarkson is more than the first winner--she's the best of them. I was hoping to see her in Las Vegas as part of her tour, but it conflicts with our Hawaii trip. Now it looks as though I'll have to drive to Denver to see her in July. Maybe we can get a hotel within walking distance of The Pepsi Center.

There were several words in this puzzle that I absolutely did not know, although I was able to get them with crosses.

9A: Perfume from petals (attar)

13D: Basketball's Tomjanovich (Rudy). Never heard of him, but I like his last name.

32D: Cordwood measure (stere). It's a cubic meter.

57D: Sledge (dray). We've had sledge before as an answer, but I don't remember how it was clued. I'm fairly certain it wasn't clued as "dray."

Words I really liked seeing in the puzzle, or clues that I thought were 51D: First-rate (primo). That's one of them.

3D: Running __ (amok). For as long as I can remember, I have liked that expression. One of my favorite movies is The American President. Annette Bening's character, Sydney Ellen Wade, apologizes to President Andrew Shepherd (played by Michael Douglas) for behavior she describes as "vanity run amok." Love the the movie. Come to think of it, I'm about due to watch it again.

22D: Get to the point? (taper). That clue ties in with the more graphic 19A: Like unfortunate bullfighters (gored).

26D: Outfielder's asset (arm). It's simplicity makes it great.

34D: Makeshift screwdriver (dime). Now I know that it's perfectly fine to use something else in a pinch. It's been validated by the New York Times! I would have preferred that it referred to a knife, since I tend to use that more often, but...

43D: Audio receiver (ear). They used to get me with this one...time and again. No more.

63A: Tiger club (iron). I thought they were looking for Tiger Beat, but that wasn't working out. A couple of the downs...and...voilà!

Alas (25A: "Too bad!"), it's getting late, and I have much to do before bed.

Linda G

Monday, June 4, 2007

Tuesday, June 5 - Barry C. Silk

The long ride home from Denver must have taken a toll on me. I struggled through Barry Silk's Tuesday puzzle, although I did manage to finish.

The theme was revealed at 38A: 1964 #1 hit by the Shangri-Las...or this puzzle's theme (Leader of the Pack). I sang along with it, but it was never a favorite of mine. The theme answers, all clued as "38-Across, in a sense," are:

18A: Ace of Spades.

28A: Alpha Male. My personal favorite. We have two male dogs. When they get territorial, we remind them that Don is the alpha male, not either of them.

45A: Den Mother.

59A: Marlboro Man. My least mother and too many friends died as a result of smoking. I remember the Marlboro ads well--they were intended to make filtered cigarettes seem less feminine. Apparently nothing said MAN like a cowboy. Two of the men who depicted him died of lung cancer. You can read more about it here. Of special interest...The Marlboro Man was listed on USA Today's list of Imaginary Luminaries: the 101 most influential people who never lived.

Leader of the Pack and Marlboro Man weren't the only answers from the sixties. Others were:

14A: Actor Gulager (Clu). I had a major crush on him. I think he played on The Virginian.

57A: "Uncle" of old TV (Miltie). That's Milton Berle, for those who don't know him.

5D: One-named singer for the 1960s Velvet Underground (Nico). Did not know this, but got it from the crosses.

10D: "Little" '60s singer (Eva).

55D: Guthrie who sang about Alice (Arlo).

58D: "Mockingbird" singer Foxx, 1963 (Inez).

I guess I could also include 2D: Friend since high school, say (old pal), since that was also in the sixties.

That's quite a blast from the past.

I'm finally wise to the time clues--they used to throw me, but not any more. 9A: Morning hour (ten am).

If 24A: Secular (laic) isn't in the Pantheon, it should be. It's been in several puzzles in the last couple of months. Other words making a reappearance include:

35A: Verdi aria (Eri tu)

52A: Five-star (A-one)

65A: Being of service (utile)

69A: Tibetan beast (yak)

29D: War god on Olympus (Ares)

37D: Prefix with space (aero)

There were probably an equal number of words that I don't recall ever having seen in a puzzle.

16A: Throat dangler (uvula). That has to be one of the funniest looking words.

42A: Excite (arouse). This is when I realized how tired I was. I had everything except the O and couldn't see the word. It didn't help that I completely spaced on 40D: Gmail alternative (AOL).

43A: Italian flowers (fiori). Conversely, it looks and sounds beautiful.

Was happy to see 11D: Hosiery shade (nude), only because that clue is typically used for ecru. I have never even seen ecru hose and would never wear them, although I would never wear nude hose either. Gimme a little color.

The English-major-shoulda-been in me liked seeing 36D: Often-misused pronoun (whom). I also liked 54D: Categorical imperative philosopher (Kant). I remember very little from Philosophy, which I foolishly took as an honors class, but I remember Kant. I hope you're reading this, Dr. Matchett.

The cortisone shot is beginning to do its magic. I have more movement in my left arm than I've had in six months. I'll start physical therapy next Monday. I hope that one shot will do it and that I can avoid surgery, but only time will tell.

It's time to think about getting ready for bed. Tomorrow...

Linda G