Friday, August 31, 2007

Saturday, September 1 - Karen M. Tracey

A tough Saturday puzzle from Karen Tracey sent me to Google for more than a couple of answers.

Tough doesn't mean not means Saturday puzzles are hard, and Karen never disappoints.

Several things I had never heard of, including:

14A: Music maker "played" by the wind (Eolian harp). Here are some you can buy for your garden.

36A: Cellist who debuted at London's Wigmore Hall at age 16 (Jacqueline Dupre). I'm sure that Ultra Vi knew the answer, but I sure didn't. It sure would have given me a nice toehold.

47A: Ancient Greek sculptor famous for his athletes in bronze (Myron). Oh, that guy looks familiar, but the name sure wasn't.

52A: Shakespearean scholar Edmond (Malone). The only Malone I know is Sam, and that's not a Saturday clue.

38D: He wrote "In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king" (Erasmus). I thought it was H. G. fit, but it didn't.

One of my favorite answers in the puzzle is 17A: Stereotypical nerd (Poindexter). We had a Barbie board game that was similar to Mystery Date. Everyone wanted a date with Ken, and woe to the player who ended up with Poindexter. He was the ultimate nerd, way before the word was used. According to Wikipedia, the two are synonymous. Poor Poindexter.

I wasn't a Gomer Pyle fan, but someone in my house was. I saw it enough that I was able to get 45D: Gomer Pyle expletive (Shazam).

A slew of long answers, all better than good.

57A: Expensive choice for a commuter (gas guzzler). Very appropriate. I noticed today that gas went up about fifteen cents a gallon because of the holiday weekend. I'm sure glad I drive a Toyota. Even with a V-6, I get 26 mpg in town...32 on the highway.

60A: "Madame Butterfly," updated (Miss Saigon). Didn't see it but several friends did.

10D: Fashionable resort area (Côte d'Azur).

11D: Piñata decoration (crepe paper). One of only a few gimmes for me.

12D: Not put off (undeterred). I was undeterred by the difficulty of this puzzle. I just Googled (and guessed) away.

26D: Salt halter (avast matey). I wanted something having to do with hypertension. Her answer was much better.

27D: It'll knock you out after you knock it back (Mickey Finn). There's apparently no real agreement about what goes in a Mickey Finn, but this article has some interesting information, including pop culture references.

32D: Like some diamonds (square cut). With a couple of letters in place, I was able to get this one, somewhat opening up that corner of the puzzle. The Q wasn't much help, although I did add a U after it.

Clever clues at 48A: Inclusive pronoun (he/she), 56A: Problem ending (atic), 61A: Peer on a stage (Gynt), 13D: Raid victim (pest) and 15D: Instant success? (Nescafé).

Good multiword answers include 1A: Backup (Plan B), 10A: Size in a lingerie shop (C cup)...a gimme this time around, 20A: Fluffy, perhaps (house pet), 39A: Invite to one's penthouse suite (ask up)...that one's been done before, so I was able to get it, and 50A: Cautious people stay on it (safe side).

Another guest blogger joined the roster. A big thanks to Wendy for her willingness to take the Monday puzzles. Tuesday is still up for grabs...any takers? Remember, I'll pay the going rate for guest bloggers...exactly what I've been paid for the four times I've done it.

Here's the Saturday grid.

If you're traveling over the Labor Day weekend, be safe. If you're not, I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Friday, August 31 - Paula Gamache

Thank goodness for Google. Without it, there's no way I would ever have finished this puzzle. But it took me so long to solve it that I am completely exhausted, so this will be brief.

There actually wasn't that much to Google, but some of the answers I found gave me a toehold.

Only a couple of gimmes in the puzzle:

1A: Be an agent of (act for). Don't know why I guessed that, but it was right.

15A: Hawaiian "thank you" (mahalo). That's a word that we used often when we were there. The locals were so friendly and so helpful. We're looking forward to experiencing the spirit of aloha once again...just three weeks from tomorrow. And mahalo to those who have agreed to be guest bloggers...Robert, Rick, Howard and Dave. There are still Monday and Tuesday slots available. Let me know if you're interested in filling in one or two days.

22A: Grooming brand introduced in 1977 (Atra).

37A: "__ Peak" (1997 Pierce Brosnan film) (Dante's). Didn't see it, but I'd heard of it.

1D: Unscrupulous (amoral)...that's probably more like a good guess, since I had the AM in place.

3D: Fights with knights (the Crusades)...and with only the TH.

23D: Ancient meeting places (agoras)...a word I know only from crosswords.

There were some good long answers.

33A: Constellation seen on the flags of Australia, Samoa and Papua New Guinea (Southern Cross). This is one of the answers I got from Google. I know two constellations, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. If I can remember this one, I'll know three.

38A: Parliamentary address? (Madame Speaker).

10D: Skin pics? (cheesecake). Sorry, no visuals here. Liked the similar clue for 12D: Skin pic? (tat). I have actually heard people refer to their tattoos in the abbreviated form.

25D: Cleaning product that may be useful after a party (spot remover).

There were several words that don't appear often in puzzles. 18A: Catholic (eclectic); 43A: Striking figures (picketers)...clever clue, that one; 54A: Void (abrogate); 59A: Opposite of diminish (heighten); 2D: Pantheon heads? (capita)...another clever one; 8D: Scale developer (Richter); 39D: Speak explosively in anger (sputter)...I associate that more with cartoon characters, like Daffy Duck; 40D: Dumps (pig pens); and 45D: Bad-tempered (snarly), by the time I finished this puzzle.

29D: Short, close-fitting jacket (hug me tight). Have never heard that expression, and it isn't in my dictionary. Too tired to Google it, but if someone has, please let me know what turns up.

Liked 61A: Cardinals' gathering place (St. Peter's). I tried to think of the name of the stadium where the Cardinals played their home games.

I'm off to bed. Here's the grid.

...and I'll see you tomorrow.
Linda G

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Thursday, August 30 - Victor Fleming and Bruce Venzke

I recognize the names of both of these constructors, but I don't recall seeing a joint effort between the two of them.

Their questions for us today are...who, what, where and when? In that order:

61A: End of a line about "friends" (...who needs enemies).

12D: "Huh?!" (What in tarnation!). That's not something I would say, but I can picture a cartoon character saying it. I was able to figure it out anyway, so I must have heard someone say it.

17A: 1961 Connie Francis hit (Where the Boys Are). Sometimes it just pays to be this old. A 15-letter gimme is a nice way to start a Thursday puzzle. It wasn't just a was also a movie about spring break in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, very close to where I lived.

3D: 1952 Doris Day hit that was an even bigger hit for the Lettermen in 1961 (When I Fall in Love). Okay, I'm not old enough to remember it by Doris Day, but I do remember the Lettermen. According to Wikipedia, it was recorded by almost everyone. Another long gimme.

Some of the fill is nothing short of terrific.

15A: Dig up (exhume). That's not a word you see in puzzles every day. It crosses with 2D: Thrill (exhilarate), another good word.

16A: Vicious sorts (piranhas). Whenever I hear the word, I think of the scene in Tarzan...the little elephant who worries that there are piranhas in their watering hole.

19A: Up to no good (sinister). Could have been clued, "like Snidely Whiplash."

37A: Eponymous rink jump (Salchow). I never remember how to spell it. The jump was named for its inventor, Ulrich Salchow.

44A: __ Beach, Fla. (Delray). It could have been confusing for some that Florida was abbreviated. For those of us who lived near there, it was simply called Delray...Beach was redundant.

4D: __ Acid (old name for hydrochloric acid) (muriatic). Why would they have to change the name of an acid? Here's everything you wanted to know about it but were afraid to ask.

I'll have to brush up on my Jewish months. I would never have gotten 25D: Passover month (Nisan) but for the crosses.

Pretty clever clues to pep up some of the 3-letter answers: 24A: Madras title (Sri); 36A: Gore follower (tex); 50A: Long on screen (Nia).

55A: Children's author/photographer Alda (Arlene). Many years ago, I read that Alan Alda had surprised his wife, Arlene, with a trip to...somewhere like Paris. He'd arranged with her assistant to clear her calendar, had all her clothes packed...he'd taken care of everything. Fast forward more than twenty years. I remembered her name and guessed that she was a children's author and photographer.

Did not know 40D: One of the men waiting in "Waiting for Godot" (Vladimir). Once I had the VL in place, though, it was pretty easy to guess what should follow.

There were plenty of multiple word answers in the puzzle.

7A: En route (on the way). Good guess that panned out, although I missed the cross at 7D: Be in charge of (operate). I had oversee until it just wouldn't work.

32A: Hold 'em challenge (I raise). I know zero about the game, but I figured there were bets involved.

58A: "Here, I can help you" (permit me). That sounds like pretty fancy talk. I'd just say, "Here, I can help you."

63A: Not be honest about oneself (live a lie). I'm sure I've seen this phrase in a puzzle in the past, clued pretty much the same. But it works.

65A: Derides (sneers at). One of those where you initially might have put an S at the end. I know I did.

66A: Become, as mush (turn to). That's what my banana did in my tote bag the other day. Great cluing there.

I can hardly keep my eyes open another minute, so I'll call it a night.

Here's the grid. For the third night in a row, it's 100% correct.

See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wednesday, August 29 - Jayne and Alex Boisvert

I hadn't gotten very far into Jayne and Alex Boisvert's puzzle before I noticed something was up. I thought maybe it was Thursday...but, no, it's Wednesday, and they've surprised us with a rebus.

Generally, I'm all thumbs when it comes to a rebus, but this time I nailed it early on. In this case, the puzzle was ALL THUMBS.

The theme answers are:

20A: Expresses scorn (THUMBs one's nose) with 1D: Barnum midget (Tom THUMB). A dead giveaway for most.

29A: 1966 Rolling Stones hit (Under My THUMB), with 33D: Kind of sketch (THUMBnail).

43A: Scan (THUMB through), with 26D: It may stick out (sore THUMB).

51A: Human hand characteristic (opposable THUMB), with 56D: Encouraging sign (THUMBs up).

Another nice's also a pangram, which means several Scrabbly letters.

Much of the fill is only four- and five-letter words, but there are some good ones.

15A: 20 Mule Team compound (Borax). We had Boraxo just the other day.

16A: Canadian dollar bird (loon). Green Genius had a picture of a Canadian dollar on his blog last, a gimme. He's also honored at 35A: Eco-friendly (green). If I'm not mistaken, there's some connection between that and his blog name.

26A: Blowhard's speech (screed). The word itself makes me think of fingernails on a chalkboard.

38A: Nymph of Greek myth (Naiad). Remember that name. It comes up often.

41A: Prison-related (penal).

47A: Tubular pasta (ziti). A little late, Brent, but here it is. See his comment last Sunday that ziti should have appeared near nose or lips on the Getting Ahead puzzle.

Thanks to playing Scrabble with my mother many years ago, I knew 48A: Place to dock (quay). That was a word she frequently played, and I remember challenging her the first time she used it.

58A: Rhone feeder (Saone). European rivers and I don't get along, but I was able to get this one from the crosses.

Other good stuff includes 4D: Tchotchkes (trinkets)...I hope the clue doesn't ever appear as an answer, though; 29D: Dickens's __ Heep (Uriah); 32D: Big Three meeting place (Yalta); 38D: Anxiety may be a symptom of it (neurosis); and 44D: Rappers' skill (rhymes).

I like that pane and pone appear side by 52D: Plexiglas unit and 53D: Corn bread, respectively.

Here's the (again, 100% accurate) grid.

So far, twelve of the sixteen blogs are covered for my vacation. There are available slots for both Monday and Tuesday puzzles...easy to solve, easy to blog. I'll walk you through the whole process, and you'll be able to get help from fellow guest bloggers. Let me know if you're interested. It'll be fun...that's a promise.

See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tuesday, August 28 - Linda Schechet Tucker

This was fairly easy for a Tuesday puzzle...and I checked my solution, so there won't be a repeat of yesterday's faux pas. My face is still red.

The theme is revealed at 62A: Where the first words of 17-, 26- and 47-Across may be found (herb garden). The three theme answers are:

17A: It's worth listening to (sage advice).

26A: Sherlock Holmes portrayer (Basil Rathbone). A long gimme, which also gave me a heads up on the theme.

47A: Perfect shape (mint condition).

It's too bad rosemary wasn't in there. They could have clued it in relation to Rosemary's Baby. I can't believe that was 1968...I was still in high school. What was I doing watching movies like that? Digression following, complete with the recipe for tonight's dinner. Boneless chicken thighs, lightly oiled and rubbed with brown sugar, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Grill on medium high heat five minutes each side. Serve with dipping sauce (1 cup orange marmalade, 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp rice vinegar, warmed up). It was absolutely delicious.

Back to the puzzle...starting with what I didn't know but got from crosses.

4A: "The Song of __," old French epic (Roland). I'd have been sunk if I hadn't remembered that lava is the source of basalt (6D) and that Fort Ord is the former Army post on Monterey Bay (5D). Don was stationed there in 1969.

44A: Laughing (riant). I can't believe I've never heard this word used in my life. I was sure I had something wrong.

61A: River of Switzerland (Aare). These damn European rivers will be the death of me. It didn't help that I wasn't familiar with 54D: Knife handle (haft). The A was the last square I filled in...playing the vowel game until the puzzle was accepted.

3D: English philosopher called "Doctor Mirabilis" (Roger Bacon). I took Philosophy but I don't remember this guy. I had all of the acrosses, though, so I never even saw the clue.

Boy oh boy (10D: Cry of glee), I liked some of the multiword answers. In addition to that one (and the theme answers), we had 21A: Conduct a survey (ask around), 54A: Variety of rose (hybrid tea), 30D: They're controlled by the moon (ocean tides), 38D: Catcher of sound waves (outer ear), and 48D: Dated (old hat).

31D: "Peter Pan" dog (Nana). Everyone knows Nana, unlike Cinderella's dog from a recent puzzle.

Liked 36A: Where San Diego is: Abbr. (So. Cal.). I was pretty sure they weren't looking for Calif.

60A: Decorative sofa fabric (toile). According to this article, toile is making a comeback and can be used in any room.

52D: Old Oldsmobile (Alero). How can it be considered old when it was made until 2004? An old Oldsmobile is a Cutlass...I had one a hundred years ago.

That's all for tonight. Here's the (100% accurate!) grid...

See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Monday, August 27 - Steven Ginzburg

A theme + some out-of-the-ordinary fill = the acme (10A: pinnacle) of Monday puzzles!

The theme is revealed at 68A: Tiny critters found twice each in 17-, 38- and 60-Across (ants).

And you'll find the ants hiding in the three theme answers:

17A: Operation for a new liver or kidney (ORGAN TRANSPLANT). Always nice to have a long gimme.

38A: Beneficial substance in fruits, vegetables and tea (ANTIOXIDANT). I'm really beefing up my intake of them in an effort to decrease my cholesterol without statins. Definitely lots of blueberries and green tea. Another gimme.

60A: Literary genre popular with women (ROMANTIC FANTASY). That should have been clued "with SOME women." I have never in my life read one. I expect to leave this world without ever having read one. All I could think of was Harlequin romance, and it wouldn't I needed some downs to get it.

Absolutely loved some of the clues/answers:

11D: Kind of suit (class action). Earlier this year I got a few (48A: Small number) hundred dollars in a class action settlement. Apparently a drug manufacturer had done something to delay the release of the generic equivalent, so I got a refund of a portion of what I paid for the name-brand drug. Woo-hoo!

12D: Street opening for a utility worker (manhole).

25D: "I, Robot" author (Isaac Asimov). I love having his full name in there.

27D: Four (two x two). I'm sure I'm not the only one who was questioning antioxidant at this point.

29D: Key of Saint-Saëns's "Danse macabre" (G minor). I haven't played the piano in months now...thankfully, I still remember the names of chords.

36D: __ gras (foie). I wish it meant "fake grass" instead of "fat liver." That just sounds nasty.

39D: Puffed up (inflated).

41D: Without metaphor (literal).

42D: Mother-of-pearl source (abalone).

The very last square I filled in was the E at the cross of 35A: Swains and 24D: Shade. I even went through the alphabet and couldn't see that they wanted beaus and hue. This was the first puzzle I did online, and I sat for a full five minutes with that empty square staring back at me. I went completely blank on swains, and I was thinking shade...the kind produced by a leafy tree. I ended up printing out the blank puzzle and doing it by hand...then it came to me.

5A: Propel a bicycle (pedal). Don did a 50-mile bike ride this morning, and he did plenty of it. Fifty miles on a road bike isn't bad...fifty miles on a mountain bike is almost unbearable. The man's tough.

Also liked 14A: Hawaii's "Valley Isle" (Maui)...a beautiful place; 20A: Home (in on) (zero); 16A: Linen fiber (flax); 28A: Encourages (eggs on); 8D: "__ it the truth!" (ain't) and 49D: "Streets" of Venice (canals).

Never even saw 45D: 151, in old Rome (CLI), but my Roman numeral knowledge has improved since I started doing puzzles.

Maybe I'm slow, but I don't see how 34A: Beer component is male. I entered hops when I did it online, but that disappeared when I started getting the downs. [UPDATE: Thanks, profphil, for pointing out that it's actually malt. I don't know where my brain was last night.]

That's it for today. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sunday, August 26 - Andrew M. Greene and Craig Kasper

Circles in my Sunday puzzle! Color me a happy solver.

The theme of this joint effort is GETTING AHEAD...literally. The circled letters are all parts of a head, with each part in its appropriate place. I tried to draw the head, but I'm not sure it will be all that visible when I post it.

[UPDATE: I just read that there were actually four constructors on this puzzle, but the NYT can only list two in the byline. Andrew M. Greene and Craig Kasper were the two named, but Todd McClary and Jeffrey Harris were also responsible for this well-executed puzzle.]

Taking it from the top:

21A: Toddler's mealtime accessory (BOOSTER CHAIR)

29A: Quarters for a business, e.g. (FISCAL PERIODS)

54A: Safari, e.g. (WEB BROWSER)

64A: Persuaded with flattery (BLARNEYED)

66A: Noted explorer of Polynesia (HEYERDAHL)

76A: Time in which light travels one foot, approximately (NANOSECOND)

100A: Astronomical events that occur twice or more a year (LUNAR ECLIPSES)

113A: Nested set of containers (CHINESE BOXES)

And on either side of the head:

53D: Be weighed down (BEAR THE BURDEN)

15D: Empathetic one, derisively (BLEEDING HEART)

This was nothing short of brilliant. I don't remember the exact point (or part) where it became obvious, but I then went back and filled in circles. I didn't notice the placement of the parts until I was almost finished. Brilliant...I can't say it enough. I'm in awe.

I go nuts with clues that refer to one another in some circular fashion, forcing me to read and reread them. Like...1A: See 7-Across; 7A: Product whose 1-Across is a 61-Across; 61A: Snack item. When all is said and done, it's fairly obvious. An I-Mac (7A) has an apple (61A) as its emblem (1A).

If I ever knew 81A: Creatio ex __ (Christian tenet) was nihilo, I've forgotten it. I got it from crosses, but looked it up to see its meaning...creation out of nothing.

I didn't know 70A: 1940s-'50s Dodger who was a 10-time All-Star (Reese), but guessed it when I had the R*E*E in place. Turns out it's PeeWee Reese, and I have heard the name somewhere.

Loved 58A: Idiot (cretin). Just something funny about the word. I can think of a few off the top of my one who reads this blog is included in that list.

18A: Heavy-duty hand soap (Boraxo). All I could think of was Lava, but I had the last letter and guessed correctly. That meant that 4D: Steve Martin romantic comedy wasn't All of Me, which was my first answer. The correct answer is L.A. Story, which I didn't see...maybe never heard of. According to this article, he also wrote it.

26D: In short supply (sparse). I had scarce. Once I got the theme, I knew there wasn't a head part that ended in C.

Didn't know 71A: Particle created by a cosmic ray (muon), but it fit. Also didn't know 98A: Teahouse floor covering (tatami)...apparently some kind of fiber mat.

My favorite answers include 24A: Battle report? (rat-a-tat); 35A: Lorre's "Casablanca" role (Ugarte); 13D: Political asset (charisma); 62D: Sports bar wall decoration (pennant); 75D: Polite (civil)...took me forever to see it; 82D: Save for later (lay aside); and 93D: Cry of triumph after "Whew!" (I made it).
Here's the grid...I can't see the circle, but you can probably picture it there.

Don's home from his week-long trip. It's nice to be back to normal.

See you tomorrow.

Saturday, August 25 - Myles Callum

This was a pretty meaty puzzle--only 29 black squares--with plenty of two- and three-word phrases.

The thing is (1A: "That may be true, but...") I had to Google a number of things. That's two days in a row. I mean it (40A: No-nonsense cry)...I found some parts so tough that I couldn't crack them without help.

The end result was so worth it. Check out some of the multi-word answers:

In the northwest (along with the thing is) we have:

15A: Visit (social call). With the C**L in place at the end, I originally had social as the last word.

17A: When a procrastinator tends to something (another day). That was the first answer I filled in. Unfortunately, I wrote eventually.

In the southeast:

60A: Magazine that hands out annual Independent Press Awards (Utne Reader). Wasn't that in a recent puzzle? I'd never heard of it until then and must remember it.

65A: Little redhead (Raggedy Ann). I drew a blank on this until I had a G in place...then it became obvious.

67A: Puppet glue-ons (googly eyes). I could picture them but struggled to think what to call them.

The ten-letter stacks in the northeast were all good:

12D: Response to "I had no idea!" (now you know). I'd bet the farm that this was in a puzzle, clued identically. Otherwise, there'd be no way I'd have guessed this one. Got it from only the K...which came from one of only a few gimmes. 36A: Russian peasant wear (babushkas). One of our neighbors when I was growing up was from one of the Benelux countries, and she always referred to scarves as babushkas...the word stuck with me all these years.

13D: Northeastern city named for a Penobscot chief (Orono, Maine). They always confuse me when the state is included, but I love the way it looks in the grid.

14D: One concerned with the nose (wine taster). Got it off the A in 33A: Player of June in "Henry & June" (Uma) and the S. I'm not familiar with the movie, but I had the U...who else could it have been?

I had a hard time getting a toehold in the southwest. The vertical stacks there include:

27A: Engagement breakers? (ceasefires). I'm still not getting that one.

28D: Outlaw band member (Allan-a-Dale). I had to Google to figure out how to parse this one. Allana Dale? Al Lanadale? I had no idea what this clue meant...thought perhaps the Outlaws were a country group. According to Wikipedia, he was wandering minstrel who became part of Robin Hood's outlaw band, and there are several ways to spell his name.

29D: Insignificant sort (small timer).

We recently had sewer, clued in relation to sewing. Today the word appears again, with a reference to something that's not so nice. 22A: Place of refuse (sewer). There went my stomach.

Loved the clue for 31A: Shot putters' supplies? (serums). Others that had me heading the wrong way were 34A: Title locale of five 1980s films: Abbr. (Elm St.)...was looking for a city; 38A: Chic (ala mode)...I haven't thought of it in that way for years; 50A: Address south of the border (señor)...tried to think of the Spanish word for address; 52A: They're thick (idiots)...I could only think of thieves, and it wouldn't fit; 64A: Part of a rebel name (E. Lee); 56D: What you may call it when you're wiped out (a day)...the reason I didn't blog last night.

Today's Bible clues: 11D: Son of Elam whose name means "God the Lord" (Eliah). I tried Elija, but that wouldn't work with 20A: Comic Boosler (Elayne) of my Googled answers, since I'm not familiar with her. 49D: God commanded him to marry a harlot (Hosea). I'm sure relieved that God doesn't do that Old Testament stuff nowadays.

35D: Felix, e.g. (tomcat). I had the Cat...his proper name.

45A: She had brief roles as Phyllis on "Rhoda" and Rhoda on "Dr. Kildare" (Cloris). That was a gimme, only because they said she played Phyllis. Otherwise, I'd have been dead on that one. I watched Dr. Kildare but I don't remember her.

Those of you who found this puzzle easy enough can rub it in (25D: Cry "nyah, nyah!"). I can't explain why these last two have been so tough for me.

Would someone please explain 41A: King's second (Salem's lot)? I'm at a loss to figure that one out.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out one of the most original words I've ever heard. 23D: Arrow of Light earner's program (Webelos)...a branch of Boy Scouts for the little guys. I remember my nephew in his uniform...he's now 35 and no longer wears it.

Don will be home today after a week in Las Vegas at a seminar. It will be nice to have him home.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Friday, August 24 - Patrick Berry

All week long I looked forward to Patrick Blindauer's New York Sun puzzle for today. After spending more time than I had available, there are still an awful lot of blank squares in the grid.

I'd like to say that I did better with Patrick Berry's New York Times...but I'd be lying.

I had a couple of gimmes, but they weren't enough to break open any major areas in the grid.

19A: Maker of Kiwi Teawi (Snapple).

30A: Bad time for a tropical vacation (rainy season).

35A: Wine used to make zabaglione (Marsala).

50A: What stare decisis upholds the validity of (case law).

3D: "Paradise Lost" character (Satan).

Like I said, not much of a toe-hold. So I guessed some things, Googled some others, then I erased some things, Googled some more, erased, get the picture.

The two long acrosses were good:

26A: They're staffed with doctors (universities). I was thinking along the academic line, but it took a couple of letters before I finally had it.

40A: Reluctantly accepting (reconciled to). That's an expression I've used far too often lately.

Really liked 11D: Is clueless (has no idea). Me...for much of this puzzle.

38A: Country that won the most medals at the 1980 Winter Olympics (East Germany). I thought it was (and entered) Soviet Union. It wasn't until I got 20D: Bridesmaid's accessory (corsage) that the G made it apparent...although a corsage is more appropriate for a prom than a wedding.

18A: Overprotect (cosset) always gets me. I had coddle.

22D: Very disagreeable (beastly). A good way to describe the last 24 hours of my life. Nothing that I won't survive, but it would have been easier to deal with some of it if Don had been here. He'll be back late Saturday afternoon.

46D: Stocking stuffer (Santa) made me laugh. I'll take all of the laughs I can get.

2D: Dog in Disney's "Cinderella" (Bruno). It's been forever since I've seen it, and I didn't even remember that she had a dog.

52A: Red line? (artery). One of the beastly events was the news that my cholesterol has gone up to a whopping 277. My HDL (the good stuff) is very good, but my LDL is way too high. The cardiologist did a Sestamibi stress test
two years ago and tested C-Reactive Protein, both with excellent results. We'll see what the next step is.

For me, the next step is bed. Here's the grid.

Tomorrow...same time, same place.

Linda G

Thursday, August 23 - Joe Krozel

It's a rare night that I don't blog...I'll spare you the details. I got home at 11:00 and did the puzzle before crashing.

I love homonyms. In grade school they were defined as "words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings."

The eight homonyms, and their crossings at the Down clue, are:

1A: Obstruction at the entrance to a cave, maybe (boulder/bolder). If you're a runner, or if you live in Colorado, you're familiar with the BolderBOULDER, annual 10K race held Memorial Day weekend in Boulder, Colorado. Next year's date is May 26, 2008. You can read more about it here. We've never run that one, although several of our friends have.

8A: Like jail cells (barred/Bard).

24A: Headquartered (based/baste). Other sewing terms in the puzzle include 34A: Tailors (sewers) and 25D: Lowers the cuffs on, maybe (alters).

27A: Point to (bode/bowed).

37A: Seat at a hootenanny (bale/bail).

38A: Place for a guard (border/boarder).

54A: Wiped out (beat/beet). I still am one, and I like to eat the other.

56A: Campsite visitor (bear/bare). I'm sure the bear problems aren't exclusive to Colorado. Not enough food for the big guys, so they're coming awfully close to town. That happened when we were in Yellowstone three years ago...our hikes were very limited.

While only marginally sports-related, I was very proud of the gimme at 14A: Having hit a double (on second).

Hesitated for a bit on 17A: Party of the first part and party of the second part, e.g. (legalese).

I always like seeing X in the grid. 29A: __ Nikolaevich, last czarevitch of Russia (Alexei), crossing at the X with 15D: Neuter (desex).

32A: Big blasts, informally (N-tests). Didn't get it on the across, but I was sure I had something wrong with it started with NT.

I don't know much about golf, but I correctly guessed 2D (Rarely used golf club) as one iron.

Another good guess was 12D: Country named for its location on the globe (Ecuador). That was the first clue I saw and the first word I entered.

Huge gimme at 3D: Picture on a $50 bill (U. S. Grant). I know my currency, so it didn't confuse me that Grant wouldn't fit. I knew he was the man.

Didn't know that Frank Sinatra founded Reprise Records (43D), but it was easy enough to guess when I had S**A*R* in place.

Joining Sinatra in the southeast we have 59A: Individually (ala carte) and 66A: Pretended to be (posed as). I keep seeing it as posedas....some kind of Mexican food?

Also like 39D: Recondite (obscure) in the southwest.

Another gimme at 40D: Shoulder muscle (rotator). After more than six months of physical therapy for my left arm, I should know that one. I'm pleased to say that the pain is almost completely gone and I have made a lot of progress with range of motion...not 100% yet, but I'm getting there.

Here's the grid. I like the way the homonym pairs do a little stair-step kind of thing. It's easier to see that when it's colored.

I'll be back tonight.

Linda G

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wednesday, August 22 - Patrick Blindauer

It's almost 11:00 and I should be in bed already...this will be a short post.

Today's puzzle is by Patrick Blindauer--the constructor of several incredibly clever recent New York Sun puzzles. Apparently Patrick saves his tricks (which included an acrostic, a chess game, and a word search) for the Sun.

The theme is straightforward...revealed at 61A: Singles bar repertoire (and a hint to 17-, 24-, 36- and 52-Across) (PICKUP LINES). Each of the four theme answers refers to some kind of pickup.

17A: McGarrett's TV catchphrase (Book 'em, Danno!). I honestly don't think I ever saw Hawaii Five-O, but I knew the phrase.

24A: Question for a hitchhiker (Need a lift?). Never, never, never pick up a hitchhiker. The mom in me had to say that.

36A: Shout from the phone (It's for you!). Since the girls moved out, it's always for me.

52A: Chevy truck slogan, once (Like a Rock). I thought that slogan was still being used.

I'm always impressed by vertical stacks--in this case, three seven-letter words in each corner.

In the northwest: 1D: Side story (subplot), 2D: Apportion, as costs (prorate), and 3D: Rubs oil on (anoints).

In the northeast, we have 11D: Tall wardrobe (armoire), 12D: Succeeds in a big way (goes far), and 13D: Yachting event (regatta). Both armoire and regatta are tasty morsels that don't appear in puzzles on a regular basis.

The southwest offerings are 39D: Me-first (selfish), 40D: Property recipient, in law (alienee), and 41D: Hardly a celebrity (unknown). In more than twenty years in law, I never heard the word alienee...I wanted grantee there. Unknown...good to see in a puzzle, with the K and W.

Wrapping up with the southeast stacks: 44D: Chanter (intoner), 45D: Least ruffled (coolest), and 46D: General pardon (amnesty). All good ones.

I can't believe I tripped up on 55A: John of London (Elton). I'm a big Elton John fan, and I didn't see that's where he was going. My first thought was along the lines of a loo. When I had A*TO* (because I though 50D: Secluded valley was dale, rather than dell), I tried ASTOR. Good Brit name.

One of these days I will remember that Nanki-Poo's father (5A) is Mikado, and I won't have to rely on crosses to get it.

Some of my favorites:

29A: Biblical landing spot (Ararat). I just like the word and am glad I remember it from my Bible reading.

47A: Cause of odd weather (El Niño). Another Spanish phrase appears at 9D: "Gracias" response (de nada).

That's it for tonight. Here's the grid.

See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tuesday, August 21 - Tom Heilman

I don't recall seeing Tom Heilman as a NYT constructor. I wonder if we have another debut on our hands.

The theme of the puzzle is revealed at 60D, clued simply as Theme of this puzzle (bees). The four theme answers are:

17A: Police ploys (sting operations).

30A: End-of-day spousal salutation (Honey, I'm home).

46A: "Call when you get the chance" (Give me a buzz).

62A: Bogart/Hepburn film (The African Queen). I've definitely heard of it, but I don't think I've ever seen it. It may be one to add to the Netflix queue.

I didn't even notice there was a theme until I got to 60D...I was just workin' the puzzle.

I like the four long down answers--each a two-word phrase that adds some pizzazz to the grid.

8D: What a welcome sight relieves (sore eyes).

10D: Lofted approaches to the green (chip shots).

36D: Social workers' work (case loads). I'll be full time the first of September, so mine will be picking up soon. Wednesday we break ground on our new permanent supportive housing project, which will provide 23 studio apartments for chronically homeless adults with mental and/or physical disabilities. While we're in the building process, I'll be developing protocols, designing forms, and taking referrals. We're very close to our fundraising goal, which will allow us to build without having to mortgage the property.

41D: Pastries in "Sweeney Todd" (meat pies). Didn't see Sweeney Todd, so I wonder about the significance of the meat pies. Were they that big a part of the movie?

There were a few things I didn't know, but all were easy to get from crosses.

22A: Omar of TV's "House" (Epps).

29D: Russian ballet company (Kirov). I don't know much about ballet, and I know absolutely nothing about Russian ballet.

31D: Outlying community (exurb). I've never heard that word before. Maybe it only applies to large cities.

I really liked 27D: Holder of a dog's name and owner info (ID tag), mostly because I got it. I generally get tripped up by clues like this, but I had most of it from the acrosses.

Nice to see a reference to reader profphil...54A: Univ. lecturer (prof). I'm sure there are many others out there, but he's one I know for sure.

There are several crossword favorites in this puzzle:

15A: Double-reed woodwind (0boe).

20A: Old Russian ruler (Tsar).

21A: Lid trouble (stye)...although it was freshly clued

39A: When said three times, a W.W. II movie (Tora).

69A: "Got it" (I see).

59D: Island garlands (leis). Less than five weeks to Hawaii. If anyone is interested in guest blogging during that time, let me know via the comments section. I'm willing to pay as much as I've been paid for my guest blogging at several sites.

I enjoyed seeing 70D: Full of lip (sassy) in the puzzle. Actually, I don't like the clue near as much as I like the answer. I think sassy is a cool word. When I bought my Solara, a friend described it as a Sassy Old Lady car. He didn't mean that it was an old lady was a car that a Sassy Old Lady would drive.

I'm off to bed. Here's the grid.

See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Monday, August 20 - Lynn Lempel

Clever theme for a Monday...THREE OF A KIND. The five theme answers are all famous trios:

17A: Fortune-seeking trio (Little Pigs).

36A: Grass-eating trio (Billy Goats Gruff). That was one of my favorite stories as a kid, so this was a gimme.

57A: Gift-giver's trio (French Hens). I'm probably not the only solver who wanted the Wise Men in there...wondering what other adjective might make it fit. In retrospect, that would have been clued Gift-giving trio.

11D: Trio at sea (Men in a Tub). Had most of the acrosses, so this was easy.

33D: Trio on the run (Blind Mice). Same thing here.

5D: "Nonsense!" (malarkey). By far, my favorite word in the puzzle. My father didn't swear (my mother once remarked that he wouldn't say shit if he had a mouthful), and this was a word he often used instead of BS.

Symmetrically opposite that, we have 38D: Minor hang-ups (glitches), another good word.

Don't believe I've ever seen 28A: Peru-Bolivia border lake (Titicaca) in a puzzle before. It was on the tip of my tongue, but I needed a couple of crosses to get it.

The only place I bungled was 52A: Respectful tribute. I had eulogy...when the first three letters were revealed to be HOM, I changed it to homily. Finally got to the real answer...homage.

Other good ones:

1A: Town known for witch trials (Salem). It's always nice to get 1-Across.

14A: Politician who wrote "The Audacity of Hope" (Obama). Haven't read it but might. Don read something of his and gave it a good review, but I don't remember if this was the one.

43A: Pedestrian's intersection warning (Don't Walk). We used to think that didn't much matter in this fairly small city, but there have been a lot of pedestrian fatalities in the last year. Maybe folks had better start paying big-city attention.

9D: Peaceful interludes (respites). It's nice to finally have some of those in this house...the joys of an empty nest.

10D: Titillating (erotic). We had erotica the other of two answers clued identically as Thighs may be displayed in it. The other answer was meat case.

46D: Painter Chagall (Marc) is back in the puzzle. He's a favorite, and I expect we'll see him more often. Maybe he'll make it to the next Pantheon.

49D: Alpha's opposite (Omega). Those are two Greek letters I never forget.

The award for most clever clue/answer goes to 1D: They're always underfoot (soles).

45D: Jokester (wag). That doesn't sound even vaguely familiar.

A quick diversion before I get to the grid. In yesterday's comments, I mentioned that Elaine and Mike were officially engaged. Here's a picture of the happy couple, who are planning to wed on July 26, 2008. Mike has a 2-year-old son who's currently living with his Grandma. Once he and Elaine get settled, Franklin will move to his new home. And Don and I will become instant grandparents. They're pretty darn happy, and Don and I are happy for them.'s the grid you've been waiting for.

I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sunday, August 19 - Elizabeth C. Gorski

The theme of Elizabeth Gorski's Sunday puzzle is BURIED TREASURE, with gold (AU) hidden in the puzzle.

The theme is revealed at 26A: With 113-Across, 1972 song lyric hinting at this puzzle's theme: I'VE BEEN A MINER FOR A/ HEART OF GOLD, with theme tie-ins at 64D: Like 113-Across (BY NEIL YOUNG) and 68D: Atomic number of the special parts of this puzzle which, when connected, form a 113-Across (SEVENTY-NINE).

The buried treasure is found in ten squares:

33A: Scene (TABLEAU), crossing with 27D: Lover boy (BEAU).

36A: Victorians, e.g. (AUSSIES)...with 28D: Overseas Mrs. (FRAU).

39A: Outdoor shindigs (LUAUS)...with 34D: Letters from Greece (TAUS).

41A: "Your mother wears army boots!," e.g. (TAUNT)...with 35D: Mideast's House of __ (SAUD).

58A: "Homage to Clio" poet (AUDEN)...with 58D: Author who wrote "One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other" (AUSTEN). An exceptional literary cross.

59A: Some shavers (BRAUNS)...with 54D: Extol (LAUD).

61A: Pianist Claudio (ARRAU)...with 62D: Independent examinations (AUDITS).

77A: Child-care provider (AU PAIR)...with 77D: Sound (AUDIO).

79A: Capital city about an hour by plane from Miami (NASSAU)...with 80D: Carpentry tool (AUGER).

97A: European air hub (DeGAULLE)...with 100D: Park Avenue, for one (AUTO).

This was just plain fun. Once you got the gist of this theme, you pretty much knew that buried treasure would be in the symmetrically opposite square...well, except for one. Those nine squares in the center were the absolute last to fall for me...for that very reason.

A puzzle like this has to have left/right symmetry, similar to Tyler Hinman's a couple of weeks ago. It made it a little harder for me to figure out which square was the opposite, symmetrically speaking, but that didn't diminish from the overall pleasantness of the puzzle.

Clever cluing all over the place...

6A: Strands in a diner (spaghetti). A gimme.

21A: One who keeps a beat? (patrolman).

25A: Just above average (C plus). These typically trip me up, but not today.

83A: Music unlikely to be played at a party (dirge).

106A: It's often "proud" (sponsor).

119A: Jalapeño feature (tilde).

3D: Tropical cave dwellers (fruit bats).

16D: Locked up (in prison).

70D: Kind of platter (pupu).

Several things were unknown to me. I got most of them from the crosses, but had to Google to confirm a letter when the crosses were equally unknown.

45A: Classic Atari game (Asteroids). Not something I ever played.

52A: "Typee" sequel (Omoo). Knew of Omoo, knew that Melville wrote it...just didn't know it was a sequel.

10D: Bill who created the comic strip "Smokey Stover" (Holman). Sorry, I've never heard of Bill Holman or his comic strip.

11D: Missy __ with the 2002 hit "Work It" (Elliott). Easy enough to guess that one, but I had no clue.

17D: Deep black garnets (melanites). Have never heard of them.

66D: 1954 Jean Simmons movie (Desiree).

There's so much more good stuff in this puzzle. How about commenting on one or two of your favorites.

Here's the grid. I'm happy that the heart of gold shows.

And I'm off to bed. See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, August 18 - Jim Page

I went to a benefit concert last night and didn't get home until 11:00. I dozed off between words, filling in what I knew, Googling a few obscurities, then crashed on the couch. It had been a long day.

Today is our 26th anniversary. I came home last night to a gorgeous arrangement of red roses (always with one yellow rose) from my sweetie. Our favorite coffee shop is doing something special for us this morning. Life is good. Very good.

The puzzle...not so good. Don't get me wrong...the puzzle itself was better than very good, but I was too tired to do well. Maybe too tired to care. As I look it over now...damn! There are some great words in here. I didn't check the grid, so there may very well be some wrong letters here and there.

Of the three long answers, one of them was a gimme/good-guess-that-panned-out. 31A: Face attack (come under fire). The other two needed the help of the downs before they'd come together:

15A: Construction material (corrugated steel).

51A: Early (ahead of schedule). Dooley barked way ahead of schedule this 3:40 a.m. to be precise. I was in that druggy state of sleep and managed to ignore him. At 4:00, I scolded him to be quiet. Didn't hear another peep out of him until 6:40, a much more appropriate time to awaken.

If I listed all the things I didn't know, it would take forever, so here are just a few:

24A: Feature of some classical architecture (stoa). The only four-letter word I could think of was ogee, and that may not be classical.

50A: "__ Work" (George F. Will best seller) (Men at). Didn't read it and am not familiar with it. If anyone out there suggests that I should read it, I'll take it under advisement.

13D: Banjolike Japanese instrument (samisen).

31D: Eastwood played him in five films (Callahan). I never saw any of the Dirty Harry movies and didn't know his last name...or that he had one.

42D: It rises in the Black Forest (Danube). Of course I know the Danube, just didn't catch it from the clue. Good one.

Some of my favorite wrong answers, although they didn't stay in place for long:

17A: Applies polish to? (edits). I didn't catch the question mark...had daubs. Is that even a word? Anyway, very good/tricky cluing...most appropriate for a Saturday puzzle.

54A: Some bygone roadsters (Datsuns). I don't think of a Datsun as a roadster. I had Model Ts.

56A: Fluish, perhaps (sneezy). I had sickly, so at least the cross at 49D: Sharp rival (Sony) worked with it.

A few of my favorites:

35A: Writ introduction? (habeas).

8D: 1932 Garbo title role (Mata Hari). No doubt Green Genius will be happy to see Mata Hari clued this way. Green Genius is to Mata Hari as Linda G is to Ava Gardner...but for totally different reasons.

10D: Who's a critic? (everyone). One of the few gimmes in this puzzle, and it made me laugh.

Normally seeing the same clue for two answers confuses me, but not when they're one right after another. And these two were funny. At 33D: Thighs may be displayed in it (meat case) 34D the answer was (erotica). The answers aren't really all that different...

Here's the grid...

...and I'm out of here. See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Friday, August 17 - Roger Barkan

This was one excellent favorite in a long time.

I don't know if I was just on Roger Barkan's wavelength tonight, but four of the six long answers were gimmes:

1A: You can sink your feet into them (shag carpets)...although I initially thought they were referring to some kind of slippers.

53A: Start of a series (television pilot).

55A: __ diet, food plan emphasizing olive oil, fish, fruit, vegetables and red wine (Mediterranean). This sounds like my kind of eating fact, that was tonight's dinner.

56A: Gulf war offensive (Desert Storm).

After I had some of the downs in place, I was able to get 12A: Bus line? (step to the rear) and part of 14A: Caribbean cruise port of call (Charlotte Amalie). It's not one I'm familiar with, but I knew Charlotte was the first word...the rest came from crosses.

Other multiple-word clues/answers that I really liked:

17A: Sprinted, perhaps (ran a race).

28A: Comparable to a wet hen (as mad). I had mad as at first but had to think the way they were thinking when they wrote the clue.

32A: Pointed warning? (En Garde). Probably my favorite. There's actually a game by that name!

50A: Major component of kidney stones (uric acid).

14D: Coffee alternative (chai tea). I have to seriously cut back on coffee consumption...heart palpitations that may be aggravated by caffeine. I'm going to try to limit it to just my morning cup. No more iced Americanos in the afternoon. My favorite coffee shop may go out of business. How does chai tea compare caffeine-wise?

12D: It's guarded in a soccer game (shin bone).

31D: Accessories for a secretary (desk set). This was my first guess, but I erased it in favor of something ending in an S. Once I revised 28A to as mad, I went back to desk set. Generally, when I go with my gut it pays off.

Was stumped by 29D: Language of India with a palindromic name (Malayalam). Didn't have a clue...but was able to fill in any letters I got at the opposite end of the word. Here's an article on it.

The first clue I saw was 19A: Early film actress Pitts (Zasu), so that was the first answer I filled in. I then started working in a circle around it. I don't think I've ever done a puzzle in such a random fashion. Good cross at the Z with 19D: Daydreamed, with "out" (zoned).

Liked seeing 26A: Utah's __ Mountains (Uinta), 13D: "Copacabana" antagonist (Rico), and 26D: Major in astronomy? (Ursa). All good words ending in vowels. The one that seemed strange was 1D: Star performer's reward (standing O). I don't think I've ever heard it referred to that way, and I was sure I had something wrong.

I need to be up early for some lab work. I detest 12-hour fasts. I don't normally eat at this hour...but because I can't, I want to. I'll wake up tomorrow and be totally famished. Mind over matter, I know...

Anyway, here's the grid...

...and I hope to see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thursday, August 16 - Alan Arbesfeld

I was late getting to the puzzle impromptu get-together with a friend and the new man in her life, followed by dinner out with Don. We don't do parties and such very often, but this was enjoyable. We're both very happy for K...her ex was/is a schmuck, IMOO. If you're having an affair, don't lie to your wife when she's on to it and confronts you. We're not stupid. It goes the other way as well.

Okay...on to the puzzle. And a very entertaining puzzle it was.

Loved the theme, revealed at 10A and 37A: FROM/START TO FINISH.

The four theme answers are all common phrases, but the first letter is moved to the last space...then appropriately clued.

18A: Reason to renovate an opera house? (RUST IN MET). Trust in me...that's the only one I'll translate.

20A: One cauterizing a skin blemish? (HEATER OF WART).

54A: Narc operation on Amtrak? (RAILWAYS BUST). This was the one that made the theme make sense.

57A: Dropped "The Simpsons" from the TV schedule? (ENDED BART).

The only clue/answer I didn't like was 5D: Caught congers (eeled). I don't think of eel as a verb...this seemed like a stretch. But I liked the theme so well, I'd be willing to let most anything slide.

Did not know and still do not get:

24D: Sponsorship: Var. (Egis). Should that be all caps?

30D: From the beginning (abovo).

Thought there was a third but I'm not seeing another. Things I didn't know, but they seem to make sense:

36A: Poem about Paris, in part (Iliad). I assume they're talking about Paris, the character, as opposed to the city. Clever.

44A: Hieroglyphic symbol for the ancient Egyptian "M" (owl).

60A: Florence's __ Vecchio (Ponte). Got it from the crosses.

61A: Toni Morrison novel (Sula). I'm not familiar with Morrison's work. Again, the crosses made it happen.

6D: Battle of the __, in the Spanish Civil War (Ebro).

I really liked the vertical stacks in the northwest and the southeast: 1D: Hurry in the direction of (rush to), 2D: Make a stud payment (ante up), and 3D: Climber's chopper (ice axe)...45D: Waiting area (lounge), 46D: Given the boot (ousted), and 47D: Comes out with (utters).

Favorite clues/answers:

45A: Bud's bud (Lou). Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Got it but didn't get it right away.

63A: Tee off (anger). A gimme...I didn't think it was about golf.

64A: Wax remover (Q-tip). Eeee-yewwww. Or however that's spelled.

13D: Boulder hrs. (MST). Mountain Standard Time made it to an earlier puzzle, with a clue that made you think it was about sports.

34D: Big bag of groceries, e.g. (armload)
37D: Hot (sexy). A much better clue than we had the other a Playmate of the Month. I had a real issue with that one. I had nude for that one...which all Playmates are. But are they all sexy? I'll concede that some are.

43D: Slopes devotee (ski bum).

I'm ready to call it a night. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wednesday, August 15 - Ray Fontenot

It's nice to see another of Ray Fontenot's themed puzzles. His last NYT puzzle was the all-day film festival back in June.

I normally don't get too excited about a four-part long theme answer, but this one was fun. The four theme answers spell out a newspaper headline about a workplace mishap:





A clever theme, well executed...and plenty of good fill. There's something for everyone in this puzzle, including some learning opportunities for me.

I didn't know 17A: Queen of Carthage who loved Aeneas (Dido), or its cross at the second D...3D: "Celeste __" (aria) (Aida).

41A: Feudal serf (esne).

6D: 1952 Winter Olympics site (Oslo). It was easy enough to figure out, but this is one I should know. After all, I was in utero at the time.

7D: Minnesota's St. __ College (Olaf). This was just a lucky guess. When you're talking Minnesota and a four-letter name, it's either Olav or Olaf.

I had a little trouble in that general area because of an error at 8D: Hand (out). I had dole instead of the correct answer, mete. Once I fixed that, it was easier to get 5A: Mike holder on a film set (boom), 15A: Castaway's spot (isle) and 18A: Part of a blind (slat). None of those were working with dole.

30D: Astronomer Tycho __ (Brahe). Never heard of him.

33D: Close-fitting tartan pants (trews). I need to find a picture of these. Here they Black Watch.

A learning process of another kind was involved with 37A: Mideast ruler: Var. (Amir). I just read this page in Amy Reynaldo's book, How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. I thought it might be Agha at first, but I persevered. If you don't have this book, you're making your least your puzzling life...more difficult. The book is full of tips and includes more than 60 practice puzzles.

Favorite clues/answers in the puzzle include:

38A: Ingenuous (naive). I've always liked the word. People who are naive...not so much. Unless it's genuine. Can you be genuinely ingenuous?

5D: Knights' neighbors (Bishops). I got the answer but didn't GET it until I was finished with the puzzle.

9D: Designer McCartney, daughter of Paul and Linda (Stella). A wild guess. I must have seen it somewhere.

11D: Bingo call (B Ten). Best answer of the puzzle.

26D: Twitch (spasm). Another word I just like.

35D: Ignore the alarm? (oversleep). I can't do that very often. Dooley's internal alarm never fails, and he makes sure that we get up.

43D: "Go ahead, tell me" (I give up). I had speak up. A good wrong answer.

Today was a multiple puzzle day. This morning I did the New York Sun...another puzzle extraordinaire by Patrick Blindauer. See Green Genius for the completed grid and commentary.

I recently subscribed to Ben Tausig's Weekly xword group. Today was a Tyler Hinman puzzle that I finished without much difficulty. I'm beginning to think that I'm better suited to morning solving...i.e., with coffee. Amy includes this one in her Tuesday blog, so click on the link above or in the sidebar for commentary on the Hinman puzzle, as well as four or five others.

Here's the Wednesday grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tuesday, August 14 - C. W. Stewart

This puzzle made me laugh...except for the crossing that had me tearing my hair out. More about that later.

Six of the theme answers are clued Doofus, and they're all reminiscent of Three Stooges-type humor. The theme answers are: 18A: Nincompoop; 27A: Birdbrain; 48A: Dingaling; 55A: Noodlehead; 4D: Numskull; and 39D: Dumbbell. I wouldn't use any of those words, but at least one website used Doofus to describe Dubya.

The best part of this theme was the final answer. 61D: A person who is not a doofus (you). Major sucking up? Nah...I think it's pretty genuine, and it echoes the sentiments of those of us who think that if you attempt to do this puzzle, you're way ahead of someone who won't even try.

I was going great guns with one gimme after another. Most of the theme answers came to me right away... only Noodlehead eluded me, and only for a short time. I thought knucklehead would be in here. That was my father's pet name for one of my brothers. Seriously, it was said in jest and with a lot of love. Michael would probably still answer to it today.

Before I forget...I got hung up at 33A: CD players. It didn't help that I drew a complete blank on 34D: Traitor. Jeez Louise...when I finally figured it out, I kicked myself in the butt. I absolutely was not seeing that a J belonged there, giving me DJs and Judas. I had even gone through the alphabet...Budas, Cudas, Dudas. I feel like a doofus! It almost rhymes.

One more tripping spot, and it's one I've fallen into before. 53A: Airport stat. (ETD). As often as not, it'll be ETA, and that's what I had this time. But I wasn't coming up with an answer for 43D: Chicken __ (Tenders) with that A in place instead of a D. And I wasn't sure about 41A: Craggy mountain ridges (aretes), so that slowed me down a little.

Words I liked seeing in this one:

24A: English philosopher who wrote "Wherever Law ends, Tyranny begins" (Locke). I got it from the crosses, though. Don't know the name, but I like the quote.

29A: Cheri (amour). One of the few French words I know. Thank you, Stevie Wonder.

67A: Pig and poi feast (luau). Less than six weeks until Hawaii. I don't think we'll go to another luau, though...we just don't eat that much food at one time.

8D: Sound bite, e.g. (excerpt).

10D: Media executive Murdoch (Rupert).

19D: Difficult experiences (ordeals). In retrospect, this puzzle was more of an ordeal than I originally thought. Maybe a hair more difficult than a typical Tuesday?

24D: Expire (lapse). Actually, expire sounds pretty more ways than one.

32D: Many an ex-con (parolee).

42D: Nickname (epithet). That's a word I don't think I've seen in a puzzle before.

And it's been a long day, so I'll keep this one short. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Monday, August 13 - Andrew Ries

Get yer daily paper! That's the theme of today's puzzle...revealed at 5A: With 72-Across, the end of 20-, 37-, 44- or 59-Across (DAILY/PAPER). The four theme answers...the last word is commonly used as part of a newspaper name...are:

20A: 1951 Montgomery Clift/Elizabeth Taylor film, with "A" (Place in the SUN).

37A: Venus (Morning STAR).

44A: Place to do business in the Old West (Trading POST).

59A: 1987 Prince song and album (Sign o' the TIMES).

They didn't include our local paper (The Sentinel), but growing up we had the Palm Beach Post in the morning and the Palm Beach Times in the afternoon. They merged in the late eighties, long after I'd left south Florida. Both papers are now called the Palm Beach Post. I can't imagine having the time to read a morning and an afternoon paper. Maybe they don't do puzzles.

This certainly wasn't rocket science, but it was an entertaining puzzle with a bit of interesting fill.

14A: Hiker's snack (Gorp). Mmmmm. Anything with chocolate in it has to be good.

28A: Kindergarten learning (ABCs).

40A: Puppyish (cute) is paired with 67A: Dog that's a little of this, a little of that (mutt). And speaking of cute mutts, here's a link to a previous post featuring pictures of Dooley and Barnabas.

66A: Scott who wrote "Presumed Innocent" (Turow). An excellent book. The movie wasn't bad, but I can't think of a time when I preferred the movie over the book.

8D: Many an art print, for short (litho).

10D: Bach's "__, Joy of Man's Desiring" (Jesu).

11D: Hand protectors for bakers (oven mitts). How appropriate. I just used mine to take a peach cobbler out of the oven. Talk about mmmmm. It's peach time in western Colorado.

36D: Earned run average, e.g. (statistic). That's the best word in the grid, especially if you were solving from the bottom up.

38D: Actor/composer Novello (Ivor). Don't know this guy, but it's a great crossword name.

53D: Man of many marches (Sousa). I always forget and put a Z instead of the second S...and I did it again today. Made it a bit difficult to come up with a word for 69A: In unison (as one)...which was much easier to get when I spelled the man's name correctly.

63D: Still-life object (ewer). This doesn't seem like a Monday clue for ewer. I thought it should be some kind of fruit.

It's always nice to see a reference to my home state in the puzzle. 58D: __ Park, Colo. (Estes). If you ever get a chance to visit that area, don't miss it. The scenery is breaktaking. You can see some of it by clicking on this link to Trail Ridge Road, part of Rocky Mountain National Park. There's also a nice tie-in at 30D: Rugged rock formation (crag). You'll see them all over Colorado. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful state.

Here's the daily grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sunday August 12 - Cathy Millhauser

This was definitely a fun Sunday puzzle. The first clue I saw was the theme giveaway...52D: Ralph Kramden catchphrase on TV...and a hint to this puzzle's theme (to the MOON).

I had four or five theme answers in place before I completely figured out what was going on. The first word of each theme answer is either a moon phase...or it completes a phrase about the moon.

22A: Tarot reading, crystals, spiritualism, etc. (NEW Age movements).

33A: Traditional English festival (HARVEST Home).

44A: Little John's weapon in Robin Hood legend (QUARTER staff).

64A: Brooke Shields movie, with "The" (BLUE Lagoon). A blue moon is the second full moon to occur within a calendar month. The Blue Moon, a local restaurant/bar, always has a big party to celebrate.

75A: Its roar is worse than its bite (PAPER Tiger). That's from a sixties song by Sue Thompson. You can hear (and see her perform) it here. Paper Moon was a 1973 movie starring Ryan O'Neal and his daughter, Tatum, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress...the youngest actress ever to win an Oscar. (Shirley Temple won an honorary Oscar some years before.)

94A: Dinner bun (CRESCENT roll).

103A: Hair removal site (WAXING salon).

119A: 1987 Kubrick film (FULL Metal Jacket). The name of this one eluded me for far too long. I'm not a huge Kubrick fan. All I could remember was A Clockwork Orange (which fit in the grid, but was much earlier than 1987) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (which wouldn't fit and was much later.) The crosses gave me this one.

And the lone down theme answer (other than the theme hint) was at 38D: Proverbial portion (HALF a loaf). It's better than they say.

Not just a fun puzzle. Not just a clever theme. It's also chock-full of good fill, not just your typical crosswordese.

19A: Dow product (chemical). I was trying to make a brand name fit in there until I had enough letters to show me the error of my ways.

30A: Wheel on a spur (rowel). Didn't know this word and looked it up after the Applet accepted my puzzle.

48A: Does some file transfers (uploads). What exactly is the difference between uploads and downloads?

55A: Comparable to a fiddle (as fit). One of my favorites.

62A: __-deucy (game with dice) (Acey). I didn't have a clue, but I guessed that right off the bat.

91A: Elongated marine fish (eelpout). I had never heard of this, but there's actually an Annual International Eelpout Festival. You can find the dates through the year 2020 right here. Be sure to mark your calendars for next year's...February 15-17.

128A: Like a paradise (Elysian). I had idyllic at first, but the downs wouldn't work. Elysian Fields are in Greek mythology, but this article tells about Elysian Fields in geography and in the arts.

3D: Apple on a teacher's desk? (IMac). That's the best clue I've seen for that answer.

57D: They're blown in the winds (oboes). Again, a good clue for an often-seen word.

65D: Tied surgically (ligated). I worked with a woman who talked about having a tubalization. I wonder if she ever figured out what it really was.

96D: Burn at the end? (cremate). Morbid? Kind of...but good.

97D: Dogie catcher (lariat). Didn't see this until I had a few letters in place.

98D: Underarm (axilla). I remembered this from the last time we had it gave me waxing salon.

99D: Garden fertilizer (manure). I liked its cross at 99A: Abbr. on Rockies skeds (MST). Couldn't believe I actually got that.

This is the first time I can remember not stumbling over St-Lo. I just filled it in for 86D: French town on the Vire. This is real progress.

104D: Centaur's head? (soft C). They get me every time with clues like this. I wanted human...probably others did.

The only clue I didn't like at all was 71D: Opinion pieces (op eds). I was so sure it had to be something else. I'd have clued it in relation to Molly Ivins...anything so as not to use the word opinion in the clue. I wonder if that was an editorial oversight.

There was plenty more to like about this one, but I'm calling it good for tonight. Here's the grid.

I'll see you tomorrow. Toodle-oo! (125A, clued as "Ta-ta"). I would never say either of those, but it sure looks funny in the grid.

Linda G

Friday, August 10, 2007

Saturday, August 11 - Karen M. Tracey

I'd never say that Karen Tracey's puzzles are easy, but I don't recall having this much difficulty with one.

And I don't recall having seen so many Zs in a puzzle. That's pretty impressive. But where did Karen come up with some of these answers? I was clueless...and answerless...and had to resort to Dogpile to get some of them.

19A: Where the African Union is headquartered (Addis Ababa). Maybe the rest of you knew this, and I'm just underinformed.

20D: Mideastern news source (Al Jazeera).

34D: Co-star of Broadway's "Fanny" (Ezio Pinza). Never heard of him. Well, no wonder. I was just a couple years old when he died. More about him here.

I knew the crossing Zs at 36A: Biographical subject of the Best Picture of 1936 (Florenz Ziegfeld), but that didn't help me get 20D or 34D.

Other Z crossings include:

27A: Fictional salesman of '80s ads (Joe Isuzu). Have no recollection of that at all. According to this site/video clip, he's everybody's favorite pathological liar and car spokesman. I did, however, know that Z cross...29D: __ Corporation (jewelry retail giant) (Zale).

59A: Relief pitcher Armando (Benitez).

Very few gimmes. 18A: Tablets site (Mt. Sinai), 23A: Slicer locale (deli), 48A: Per __ (diem), 52A: 1988 chart-topping country album (Reba), 1D: Misses at fiestas: Abbr. (Srtas), 12D: Like a well-kept lawn (manicured),14D: Number of wives of Enrique VIII (seis), and 53D: First name in motorcycling (Evel).

Some excellent fill...many that I was able to flesh out with a few letters in place.

1A: Whole __ (shebang). Wanted nine yards.

8A: Place on a Monopoly board (St. James). Best clue of the puzzle.

17A: Line from a scam artist (trust me). Whenever someones says that to me, I don't.

34A: It's hard to fail (easy A). No such thing, IMOO. There were always students who'd get a D or F, even if they showed up on occasion and took the tests. But it's another great clue/answer.

42A: Tap type (soft shoe). Silly me...I was thinking beer tap.

61A: Substitute for some snack foods (Olestra). We were part of the test market for the Lay's potato chips with Olestra. They tasted great. Fortunately for me, they didn't cause the gastrointestinal distress experienced by some.

62A: McDonald's mascot before Ronald (Speedee). I vaguely remember this guy. I tried to find a picture of him, but the only one I can find is on this blog. One of my claims to fame (and it isn't much) is that my junior high best friend is married to Ronald McDonald...well, one of them. He quit his full-time job as an electrician to make more money as a part-time Ronald McDonald. Now he's full time and making really big bucks. He's a better Ronald than the national one, IMOO.

Interesting to see a horde of nomads, clued at 2D and 6D, respectively. Other really good words include:

3D: Exercise of a sort (etude).

8D: Mutualism (symbiosis).

30D: Hair salon option (updo). Here are some interesting ones.

We have two answers clued the same...those always throw me for a minute or so. Jambalaya appears at both 32D (olio)...recently demoted in Rex Parker's Pantheon...and 58A (grab bag).

T-strap makes another appearance at 44D (Pump alternative). Clever clue. Probably intended to make us think gasoline pump?

And is this the debut of Viagra, appearing at 24D (Sex therapist's suggestion)? Does this really pass the New York Times breakfast table test? Just asking...

Here's the completed grid.

And I'll see you tomorrow. Ta-ta! (9D: Cry before disappearing).

Linda G