Sunday, September 30, 2007

Monday, October 1 - Allan E. Parrish

Hello again, Wendy sitting in for my second gig as guest blogger for Linda.

Another Monday that I didn't breeze right through, although the theme became apparent right away in answers that ended with things you'd find in the (30 D) JUNK DRAWER. The theme entries were:





I don't keep any of these things in a junk drawer, preferring to strew them all over the house in various locations, but it was a nice theme nonetheless. I hadn't seen it before, anyway.

Notable today was some bizarreness that didn't seem too Monday-esque. My top vote in this category goes to (42 A) TOPER. I've been in the company of way too many serious drinkers in my day, and I've never heard this word under any circumstances. Per my dictionary, it's derived from the French infinitive 'toper' meaning to accept the stakes in gambling, and it goes on to speculate that the drinking element "probably" refers to the custom of drinking to the conclusion of the wager. Uh ... what? Everyone, please use this in a sentence today. Personally, I'd rather never see it again.

Another was actually a clue, which may be totally obvious to some, and that was (1 D) Part of a suicide squeeze, or BUNT. see
That's a rather unfortunate term, though, or would be for some.

Never heard of doctors being referred to as (22 A) MEDICOs, either.

Decorate with leaves? (5D) FOLIATE? Who says that? For that matter, who does that?

However, there are old friends here today, among whom are:

We have crossword blogger extraordinaire (69 A) REX (see sidebar if you by some chance don't know who he is);

the Pantheonic krossword kanine (33 A) ASTA, who I might note lived with two humans, Nick and Nora Charles, who were TOPERs to the max;

(57D) Archie and Veronica precursor ETTA Kett, who was supposed to be a high school student, but I'm not buying it; she looks at least 30. Don't you think? FYI, her boyfriend's name is Wingey. Don't kill the messenger.

There are several others, but I'm bored by them already.

(12 D) YOYO and (35 D) DODO make a cute pair in the puzzle, though!

Getting ready for the season premiere of the killer show 30 Rock this Thursday at 8:30 Eastern is (11D) ALEC Baldwin. One of my few appointment television shows from the past year. I am so glad he didn't get derailed by his family problems and leave the show like he originally threatened. Nothing would have been gained by that, Alec! (Call me selfish.)

By far my thrilling word of the day here was (36A) PLUNK. That was worth the price of admission.

Hope you're getting ready for the week ahead by having a hearty breakfast, and I don't mean (60D) TRIX, which will rot your teeth or worse. I suppose you could go to (55D) IHOP, though to me, I know it's sacrilegious, but here again, we're talking empty calories or cholesterol out the wazoo. Just IMOO. ;)

Here's the grid; click to enlarge.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sunday, September 30th Kelsey Blakeley

Hello again, and welcome to another exciting episode of "Madness. . . Crossword and Otherwise". Filling in for the lovely and talented Linda G. is your guest host Robert Loy AKA Norrin2 AKA Green Genius. And if you're thinking Mr. Loy took more than his share of AKA's you're probably right.

Anyway, on with the puzzle. The theme of this puzzle is hinted at in 17D: Fivesome seen in order in the answer to each starred clue (AEIOU). And what that means is that each of the five fulltime vowels is in every themed entry. That's A-E-I-O-U. Y and W are part-timers, and are not included. The problem is my current M.O. for solving puzzles is to start at the lower right-hand corner -- or around Miami for those of you who like to compare crossword grids to US maps. So the first starred entry I filled in was WATERING TROUGH at 119A: Barnyard fixture and the second one I got was WANDERING SOUL at 94A: Drifter. Then I got GATHERING CLOUDS at 68A: Sign of coming danger and at that point I started looking for the "fivesome" alluded to at 17D. For some reason I was looking for five consecutive letters, you know, like a hidden word or something. The only series of five letters in each of the entries I had was E-R-I-N-G, and I wondered if that was what we were supposed to be looking for. It didn't make much sense, but after yesterday's E-Boat U-Boat thing, I thought at least there was a possibility that an E-Ring was some cousin of an O-Ring I'd never heard of before.

But then I got LATE NIGHT HOUR at 58D: Time during a graveyard shift and I knew my I had erred with my e-ring assumption. For the record the other occurrences of the famous fivesome are at:

23A: Ice hockey penalty (GAME MISCONDUCT)

34A: Tongue-in-cheek (FACETIOUS) The only entry to have all five vowels in order in just one unhyphenated word.

40A: Somewhat in jest (HALF-SERIOUSLY) My favorite --- only because Y is included. What can I say? I think all vowels are beautiful and they should all be allowed to participate.
102A: What "dele" means (TAKE IT OUT) 13D: Professional courtesy in pricing (TRADE DISCOUNT)

Here's some things I liked:
13A: Frog's place (THROAT) The absence of a question mark after this clue threw me off briefly.

78D: Beach bash (LUAU) Probably where Linda is right now, while I'm slaving over a hot keyboard. I hope she's behaving responsibly and not paying attention to all those frat boys exhorting her to CHUG (74D: Repeated cry at a beer bash) and that she brought her drivers license just in case she gets IDED (72D: Carded, say)

31A: Companion of a spade (HOE) Amazing how many potentially offensive words lurk in the toolshed.

50A: Dinner spread (OLEO) I wonder if crossword constructors put oleo on their Oreos. I wouldn't know. I'm a butter and Hydrox man.

115D: Unaccompanied (STAG) Simple enough, right? But first I had LONE, then I had SOLO. I had a similar problem at 54D: Chiantis, e.g. where I had WINES before I had VINOS.

And some stuff I didn't like so much:

I had never heard of 7D: Religious recluse (ANCHORITE) or 8D: Derisive gesture (SNOOK). I don't mind learning new things -- I like it in fact, I'd never heard of 117A: Tin: prefix (STANNO) either -- but having two of them side-by-side like that made things a little rough in that part of the puzzle.

That's all for today. Thank you for your attention. I hope to see you next weekend when I do my final two fill-ins here.

Saturday, September 29th, 2007 Robert H. Wolfe

Hello again. Happy Saturday to everyone. This is Norrin2, the Green Genius trying once again to fill Linda G's blogging shoes. I gotta tell you, I'm used to having weekends off. I feel like I had just gotten out the ring with Byron Walden in yesterday's New York Sun puzzle and I had to put the figurative fighting gear on to take on Robert H. Wolfe. It worked out all right though. Wolfe may have edged me out on points but like Rocky BALBOA I accomplished my goal of going the distance.

(That sound you just heard was my boxing metaphor going as far as possible and snapping.)

I almost got through this puzzle without having to look anything up -- but I got in vowel trouble. In all the places I was stuck it was because I had the wrong vowel or vowels in place. I couldn't get 1A: When (AS SOON AS) because I had AHS at 5D: Understanding responses instead of OHS. I had a hell of a time with with 9A: Slip covers (BLEEPS) because I had UBOAT at 12D: W.W. II vessel instead of EBOAT (Eboat? WW II? I thought it was only in the last few years we started grafting the letter E on the front of every word that would hold still long enough.) I had a hard time with 27A: African evergreen shrub (ERICA) because I'm not a botanist and because I had ALSO at 27D:More instead of ELSE.

I actually sailed through the puzzle pretty smoothly until I got lost in the vowels. I really enjoyed seeing MATA HARI make an appearance in this puzzle (at 15: She was executed in 1917) I've seen her name in puzzles so much I decided to research her; she was a fascinating woman and, by the way, not a spy.

Here's how you can tell that this is a Saturday puzzle -- BALBOA is a unit of Portugese currency and not a boxer named Rocky; ALI is a figure in the Sunni/Shia split not a boxer named Muhammed. Jessica ALBA is in the movie "Sin City" not "Fantastic Four" and SAL MINEO is in the toy-truck drama "Tonka" rather that "Rebel Without a Cause." ERICA is an aforementioned African shrub rather than an actress on Smallville. The song "Piece of My Heart" is by ERMA Franklin and not Janis Joplin. OCHS is an obscure news-nerd, rather than semi-obscure folkie Phil. (Mr. Ochs, by the way, (Adolph not Phil) is better known as the savior of The New York Times. He took it over when it was in financial trouble, took great pains to keep it separate from the yellow journalism so popular at the time, and even came up with the "All The News That's Fit to Print" front page tagline.)

The three long entries in the puzzle were easier to come up with than a lot of the shorter ones.
The only one that slowed me up much was 36A: Delicacy (SENSITIVE NATURE) where I spent several minutes foraging for a foodstuff. It's always good to get a twofer and that's what we got with 17A: "Nonsense" (THAT'S RIDICULOUS) and its cousin 44D: 17-Across, quaintly (PSHAW) I thought of DON'T LOOK AT ME as soon as I saw the clue for 55A: "I'm not volunteering" and after a couple of crosses I was able to add the requisite HEY.

Although the clue doesn't make it sound appetizing POLENTA (44A: Cornmeal concoction) is delicious.

I don't really get 6D: Pusher (NARCO). Narcs may pretend to push, but they don't, do they?

That's all for me for today. I'll be here again tomorrow for the big Sunday extravaganza, and I hope to see you then.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Friday, Spetember 28 - Harvey Estes

Hello again, Howard B here, stepping in for the newly-relaxed Linda B in order to bring you a second helping of crunchy Friday goodness.

We have another fine example of a challenging puzzle featuring two triple-stacks of 15-letter words, with a whole slew of challenging vocabulary to ramp up the difficulty. Often, having several stacks of long words can actually make a puzzle slightly easier, since you can solve large chunks of the puzzle at a time once you figure out those big words. This puzzle resists quick solving, though, due to rather difficult middle and side sections which aren't very open, and require a bit of tough solving.

If this puzzle 1A (LEAVES A BAD TASTE), it may be due to some of those more obscure little words hiding here and there, including:
37D: Relating to heraldry (ARMORIAL),
30A: French study, e.g. (SALLE), and
21A Expert in ancient law (LEGIST).

If you keep at it, though, 17A (BY TRIAL AND ERROR) you may solve it, or at least eventually get a good portion of it done.

I especially liked the near-miss rhyme in the center of 36A(FONDLED) just above 40A(GONDOLA). Insert your own comment here. "30 Rock" creator TINA FEY (33A) sits just above these, either shaking her head in disbelief, or using it as a basis for a new skit. Also can't forget the rustic crossing of VARMINT and AGIN in the top-left. Fun words? Yer darn tootin'!

It's not an easy Friday, and many of the clues are very short and to the point, perhaps offering the solver a few less "gimme"s. Even these short clues were hiding plenty of trickery, such as 47A: Least spotted (RAREST) and 58D:Hearing aids, for short (PAs) as in "Public Address systems". Clever way to clue this inocuous 3-letter combo. Also the interesting phrase lurking at 41D: I MEAN NO, which is clued simply amd directly as "Emphatic turndown".

Oh, if you haven't seen this clue before, it's a good one:
52A: Something needed for your sake? (RICE) - If you didn't get this on the first go-round, don't feel bad; 'sake' = rice wine... it's all in the pronunciation. Sneaky little devil of a clue :).

Here's the puzzle (click for a larger photo. This will not, unfortunately, improve the handwriting.). Good luck with Saturday's puzzle, and have a great weekend!

- Howard B :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thursday, September 27 - Peter Wentz

Good Thursday morning! Evad back for another stint as your guide among the acrosses and downs of today's New York Times crossword puzzle. This may be a debut for constructor Peter Wentz; if so, would love to see more from him!

Today's theme was right in my sweet spot--THE SHIFT KEY (61A).
It had on its surface a mathematical theme with numerical clues (I see Howard B. smiling now), and then a typewriteresque finish, where the theme entries spelled out the symbols above these keys ("shifted") on a computer's keyboard. And, as a final shout out to the computer geeks among us, we find ONE GIG (12D), clued as "Capacity of many a flash drive, informally." (Who among you remember the day we were walking around with "double density" 5-1/4" floppy disks that held around 360 kilobytes, or about 3000 times less capacity than these "memory sticks"?)

And now, drumroll please, your other theme entries:

- "90" PARENTHESES (17A) - nice that the constructor threw in a two-digit number to spice things up a bit.

- "3" POUND SIGN (32A) - this has some other interesting names, among them the "hash sign" or, even stranger, the octothorpe (try dropping that in casual conversation today!)

- "1" EXCLAMATION MARK (38A) - I call this an "exclamation point," and Google agrees with me as the point beats mark about 2:1. But, alas, the point version is 16 letters and wouldn't fit.

- "7" AMPERSAND (45A)

The only area I went a bit astray was ACHY for ROPY "Like some muscles" (41D). (Maybe I was thinking of Billy Ray Cyrus's "Achy Breaky Heart"?)
I've been to ASSISI, so "Franciscan locale" (45D) was a gimme for me. Haven't been to DENALI (11D), which I see which means "the high one" in the Athabaskan language. MOCKED for "Unpopular, in a way" (46D) seemed a little odd at first, but grew on me as I thought about it. And how many knew that MOLIERE was the nom-de-plume of Jean Baptiste Poquelin (30D)?

DOTEDU (1A) was an interesting way to start off the puzzle ("End of many college addresses," such as my alma mater, Bit of a throwback to the STARR Report of the Clinton years--I remember Ken Starr and how the nation was so captivated by that scandal... Another possible political reference to with 13D clued much less sensationally as "Not dawdle." Finally, the "show me" state of MISSOURI (8D) and ANATHEMA (39D) make for nice down entries to complete the fill.

And I'm done. See you folks next Thursday for my last guest spot.

on broadway . . .

by Lee Glickstein and Craig Kasper

rick b here. aka cornbread. comments are welcome. even the snarky ones, JD. (see: 27A clue)

thirteen broadway musicals are crammed into this wicked fine wednesday puzzle! (unfortunately, WICKED is not among them)

1A: Stone in Hollywood (OLIVER)
7A: Home for Will Rogers and Garth Brooks (OKLAHOMA)
16A: What some unscrupulous e-businesses do? (SPAMALOT)
19A: Torn (RENT) in the photo to the right, that's a different AVA in the musical, Rent.
31A: Extremely narrow winning margin (HAIR) i believe the 40th anniversary is coming soon. can that be true? 40? seems just like yesterday...
35A: Kind of club (CABARET)
41A: A Peron (EVITA)
44A: Student of Dr. Pangloss (CANDIDE) i didn't realize it was a musical, too.
46A: Lover of Radames (AIDA)
62A: Renown (FAME)
67A: Site of much horsing around? (CAROUSEL) nice clue, that.
69A: Perform ostentatiously (SHOWBOAT) hamitup didn't fit AND isn't a musical...d'oh!
70A: Destiny (KISMET)

phew! that's an awful lot o' singin' and dancin', ya think? raise your hand if you've never of heard of KISMET the musical. but i looked it up. it was adapted from a play by someone named edward knobloch.
never heard of him either, but the Yankees were (still are) our favorite team to hate and Chuck Knoblauch was our favorite player to jeer. my kids and i just reeled with laughter at his name. (hey, our last name is almost as silly, so back off.) whenever the yankee 2nd baseman would come up to bat we'd chant, "KNOB-LOCK, KNOB-LOCK.
ah...but i digress...

things i didn't know, but do now:
1D: Astrologer Sydney (OMARR) besides not knowing, i don't care...
8D: 2001 film set in a mental institution (K-PAX)
18A: Bejeweled pendant (LAVALIER) a very pretty word. (almost as pretty as LEVALIER. hahaha)
24D: Renaissance instrument (REBEC) thank god for the gimme crosses, EVITA and CANDIDE.
48D: Ancient garland (ANADEM) another lovely word. which i will not sully with some ridiculous political play-on-words comment. but i'm tempted...

one bit of phil that does NOT pass the breakfast table test:
43A: TV Dr. of note (PHIL) but i guess i'll let it pass considering the wording of the clue and the musical theme of the puzzle.

and my favorite fill?
15A: 1950s All-Star outfielder Minnie (MINOSO) i have 2 of his baseball cards, worth a whopping dollar-three-eighty, i think.

54A: Washington ballplayer, briefly (NAT) because the Nationals are even worse than my hapless Rangers. and also because i originally wrote in SENators who were the original Rangers... are you confused, yet?

68A: Architectural decoration (FRIEZE) because i carve stone and friezes are expansively fun.

linda, did you know...
Ava Gardner was only 25 years old when she starred in one of her first signature roles as the goddess of love in "One Touch Of Venus." Mary Martin starred in the 1943 Broadway musical.

the grid. including human error.

psst. my paparazzi caught you on the beach yesterday...

Monday, September 24, 2007

catering. by Randall J. Hartman

36A: "sometimes you feel like__" (A NUT.)

food / don't upset the vehicle...seems to be the theme and i do feel like a nut for offering to guest blog for ava gardner while she's lounging on the beach.

the theme answers are . . .
-banana boat
-meat wagon
-turnip truck
-apple cart
-gravy train

meh. cute. better than typical tuesday cleverness, for sure. (if this were my blog...i'd likely go off on a tangent with the theme answers at this point. if you say those answers fast enough, it almost sounds poetic.)

but lucky for you, gentle readers, i promised Ms. G that i'd behave.

my favorite fill?
54A: Sen. Feinstein (DIANNE) don't worry linda, i won't go there.

56A: Pork chop? (VETO) hahahahahaha. i love it.

7D: Bullwinkle, e.g. (MOOSE) next to pinky and the brain, i guess rocky and bullwinkle are my all time favorite cartoon characters.

24D: Home run hero of 1961 (MARIS) i have seven of of his classic baseball cards.

45D: Party animal (PINATA) this one is just flat-out clever cluing.

and last, but Never least...

49D: Prop for Groucho Marx (CIGAR) normally i would give you a rousing groucho treatment here, but . . . i'd rather leave you with a bad photoshop of Ava's bare foot.

besides, i'm tryin' Really hard to be nice. ok? i'd hate to get censured on my 1st outing.
i hope to see you all tomorrow, rick.

i hope you're barefoot on the beach, linda g. and havin' the Time of Your Life.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Monday September 24 - Fred Piscop

Hello all, Wendy here in my maiden voyage as a guest blogger while Linda G communes with the OCEAN (60A). Bear with me because I'm just learning as I go along. Howard B told me the functionality of this is very word processor-oriented, and thank God he's right about that.

Today's Monday wasn't one of those "I can do this on autopilot" Mondays. Many of the clues required some thought. Was this a pangram? I think so. For a minute there I thought I might have to google, and I haven't done that for several months! But somehow I was able to avoid it.

The theme, such as it is, is "here's ... there's ... and where's" - I guess. Of course maybe it's something else and I'm just not seeing it. The answers in this category are:

(20A) HERE'S JOHNNY. Eminently preferable, imoo, to Here's Jay Leno. I stopped watching a long time ago. Something's just not right there. Too much (8D) FAWNing, for one thing.

(39A) THERE'S NO I IN TEAM. That's pretty clever, especially with those wily i's right next to each other.

(53A) WHERE'S WALDO. The first of the three that I got.

So the things I found noteworthy today for one reason or another were as follows:

(1A) DOUSE. Just like that word; doesn't feel overexposed as puzzles go. But ...

(6A) Hello again, ALF, you mangy alien. Seems like I just saw you yesterday (actually it was today for me). So I'm officially pronouncing him overexposed.

(17A) SIEVE. Like that word, but I don't relate it to flour. I strain things that were in water in one. Isn't a sifter a more appropriate utensil?

(5D) EYESHADE. I think my grandfather, who was an accountant, wore one of these. I'm not familiar with its use by poker players. Haven't fallen for that craze.

(22D) Nita NALDI. I hope this is right, because I've never heard of the woman.

(29D) CREME. There's something about this spelling that fascinates me for no good reason. Why was it necessary to come up with this variation on cream, I always wonder. I once knew a woman whose last name was Bibby-Creme. Very unfortunate.

(41D) NOT A WHIT. I usually say Not One Whit, but regardless, many people look at me strangely because it's apparently not that common a phrase. Love it. I wrote it in an email to a friend just the other day.

(46D) TOWNIE. Thought this and its clue were very original. For two of my four college years, I attended a small Ohio college with a student body of 1,000 amidst a townie population of another thousand. Waaaaaaay too small for my liking, so I escaped to The Ohio State University, where the concept of townie had absolutely no meaning.

(49D) VENAL. I realize I didn't actually know the meaning of this word before now. Had heard the term venal sin but never determined what kind of sin that was or if I'd ever committed it. Updated Monday 7:17 EST - as Dave Barry used to say, "alert reader" jd informs me that venal is not the same thing as venial, the latter of which is the sin qualifier. Obviously my woefully inadequate schooling in sins, coming from a heathen home, is on full display ;)

(55D) REEL. Another vivid word. I like to think of people reeling, not necessarily drunkenly.

My scan of the puzzle is below. Maybe by next week I'll have learned a few other bells and whistles. Have a good Monday, everyone!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sunday, September 23 - David Levinson Wilk

Good Sunday morning, everyone! Evad behind the blogger desk for a vacationing Linda G. today. And welcome to fall...summer officially ended early this morning with the Autumnal Equinox *sighs* How many of you did all the things during summer that you had hoped to?

Today's theme is a shout out to one of the icons of departing summer, Flip-flops.
The theme entries take phrases that have the word FOR in the middle and switch what precedes the FOR with what follows it; in essence, doing a flip-flop around the word FOR.

The theme entries were a bit awkward, but a few gems were to be found:

- BROKE FOR GO - "Rolled sixes while on Water Works, in Monopoly" which is a pretty long clue for a short phrase...the mathematician in me wonders why Water Works was chosen--it's 12 spaces away from "Go", so one could possibly get there in one roll.
- KEEPS FOR PLAY - "Doesn't throw away, as a stage prop?" I'd prefer a "the" before play to have this make more sense
- COMPLIMENTS FOR FISH - "What a sushi chef loves to hear?" Getting better with this one

- THE BEST FOR WORKOUT - "'8 Minute Abs,' according to some?" Well, not me--I can hardly expect anything taking 8 minutes to be a good workout!
- A DAY FOR KING - "January 15" another good entry
- LOST TIME FOR MAKEUP - "Was late to an appointment at the cosmetician?"
- KNOWLEDGE FOR THIRST - "What scientists working for Gatorade have?" Here, the "for" is trying to work as "about" and isn't as effective
- APPLES FOR BOB - "Dylan not liking Dell computers?" What would Bob Dylan be using a computer for, one wonders?
- ALL FOR FREE - "Like pro bono work?" Hurrah for those who work for the underprivileged!

That's a lot of theme to stuff into a 21x21 grid--125 squares by my count. Despite that, some nice fill ties it all together. JUMBO SIZE and APARTHEID straddle the central theme entry, with the trio of GOOD OMEN (anyone know why the Greeks think birds flying by on the right is one?), UNKEMPT, and NO EVIL; and then the corresponding PARTERRE (which, along with a rear seating section in a theater, can refer to flower beds of different sizes), WISTFUL and HENRY I standing guard at the far corners. I've heard of a papal NUNCIO, but didn't know the term was derived from the Latin for "envoy." Speaking of foreign words, the foreign dictionaries did get a bit of a workout (and more than 8 minutes for me!) this morning: BUONO, JOIE, EIN, BAJA, BASTA, FLOR, FINI, and OUI OUI all find their ways from foreign shores to our puzzle today.

Some good clues--I always enjoy the "40% of fifty?" clue (EFS, or the letter "F"), TOTAL for "Unadulterated" (I think of pure first, but I see that absolute or out-and-out are related meanings), and GOSSIP for "Dish."
COCKLE shells remind me of my father, who loved the Irish ballad of sweet Molly Malone with the line, "Crying cockles and mussels, Alive, Alive-O." We learn that TET is a "Three-day holiday" (American puzzle solvers probably know more about TET than the Vietnamese do!) I also learned about the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Shirley Ann GRAU, who hails from New Orleans. A clunker for me was TENONER, which seems like a made-up word for something a carpenter does at times.

So, here's the filled-in grid. See you folks on Thursday, when I fill in for Linda again. And let's give it up for the other guest bloggers who will guide you through the other puzzles while she is away.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Saturday, September 22nd -- Mark Diehl

Hello, happy Saturday to everybody. This is Robert Loy AKA Norrin2 filling in for the vacationing Linda G. My usual spot in the blogosphere is at Green Genius, where I do something very similar to what Linda does here -- only my focus is on the New York Sun crossword puzzles and I don't look a thing like Ava Gardner. If you haven't already, check out the New York Sun's crosswords when you get a chance, I think you'll like 'em a lot. But don't do it right now cuz the Sun and its puzzles are only published Monday-Friday, and we're concentrating today on the Times and Mark Diehl's puzzle.

I always like to get One Across. Failing that, I like to get One Down. If I can do neither I usually go straight to the bottom of the puzzle and work my way up -- Hey, we all have our idiosyncrasies. There is nothing more frustrating that having something at 1A that you know is right in your wheelhouse but you can't seem to get it. That's what happened to me today with 1A: Mad magazine feature. I've read hundreds of issues of Mad magazines. My first was issue #122 (October 1968) and my most recent was -- well, the most recent issue, which I read last night. But I couldn't get this and it drove me crazy.

The reason I couldn't get it was because I hated Jack Kerouac's book "On the Road." I agree with Truman Capote -- "That's not writing, that's just typing." And so I didn't remember the protagonist's name in that most overrated of novels -- 26A: ____ Paradise of Kerouac's "On the Road" (SAL). I had SID, which prevented me from getting 8D: Daredevil's creed (YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE). Once I got both of them and got my mind out of the gutter long enough to get 7D: Dicks (P.I.'S) I was able to stop tearing my hair out and write in SPY VS SPY at One Across.

A knowledge of old TV shows was enough to get you a foothold today. 26D: "Happy Days" catchphrase (SIT ON IT) and 28A: the General ___ (LEE) and 51A: "The Partridge Family" actress (DEY) . If you happened to remember that Mel Blanc voiced the goldfish in "Pinocchio" (41 Across) you were really off to the races.

I have to point out that if NEWT Gingrich actually led a Second American Revolution as 15D tellls us, it was not nearly as long-lasting or far-reaching as the first one.

21D: When the kids are out (NAPTIME) My kids are all teens now, so I was thinking ALL WEEKEND LONG.

46A: One use for anise (BISCOTTO)
Most commonly seen in its plural form Biscotti. I love all kinds of bread -- well, almost all kinds. I don't like bread that tastes like it's been used as a shingle for a month or two. Which means I don't like biscotto.

Hey, it looks like Will Shortz and the New York Times are thinking about the vacationing Linda G. Or am I reading too much into 10D: Bishop Museum setting (OAHU)?

Speaking of old television Nancy Drew shows up at 17A: Martin of Hollywood (PAMELA SUE)

5D: Smelling things? Noses? nope. SALTS?

45A: Rialto Bridge sight (CANAL)
The Rialto is the largest bridge in Venice, Italy.

14A: Weekly since 1865 (THE NATION) "The Flagship of the Left" it was originally founded as an abolitionist publication.

Well, it's been fun, but I've got to pack for my own little beach vacation -- nothing as exciting as Hawaii. But my wife and I are going to Myrtle Beach -- the Tackiest City on the East Coast -- tomorrow. We're actually returning to the spot where we spent our honeymoon 14 years ago.
Enjoy your weekend. I'll see you next Saturday right here and on Monday at the Green Genius.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Friday, September 21 - Paula Gamache

Hello, friendly readers. Howard B here. I'm doing my best to stand in for Linda, who is happily vacationing even as you read these words. Speaking of words (not to mention bad segues), we're here today to enjoy the Friday offering by Paula Gamache - a crazy little themeless construction which includes nine 15-letter Across entries.

Ready? Off we go.

Some of those fun Across answers:

1A: Just the pits (AS BAD AS BAD CAN BE) - Special today, you get six words for the price of one! Great, commonly heard clue and answer pair.

Political mini-theme, including:

37A: The "Randi Rhodes Show" network (AIR AMERICA RADIO) - I believe this is the first reference to this station that I've seen in a puzzle. Pretty cool. Also,

53A: Left-of-center party member (LIBERAL DEMOCRAT) - Just as I was noticing these two answers representing one side of the aisle, crossing this answer was 47D: Rove in politics (KARL). That's some democracy in action right there.

(Edited): I completely missed the political reference in 16-Across, so I've moved it to the mini-theme section. Thanks!
16A: Classic line of debate? (THERE YOU GO AGAIN) - This one stumped me for a while. Thanks to fellow blog denizens Crossword Fiend and Rex Parker, I now know this is a Reagan reference. Also check their sites for more info.

And a smaller answer, but just as much fun,
23A: Food whose name means "little sash" (FAJITA). To think they never taught this in Spanish class. On top of that, now I'm hungry.

Other acrosses included LITTLE OR NOTHING, OVER AND DONE WITH, MAKE A RESOLUTION, ANY PORT IN A STORM, and the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS. Fun stuff, for the most part. Congratulations to Ms. Gamache for fitting all this in there.

Not to ignore the Down answers, but many of them were clued very straightforwardly. Here's a couple that stood out:

11D: String player? (CAT): Awww, cute :).

21D: They may give you a seat (CANERS) - OK, I groaned at that one, but I'm a sucker for that type of clue.

Also the DARK ARTS, split between 52D and 4D.

Here's the puzzle in AcrossLite, as I was a bit short on time and couldn't do the handwritten/scanner thing today.
If anything is wrong, feel free to comment - got in late last night, and my thoughts were likely a bit fuzzy (as if you can't tell from my writing).
Have a great day, post away, and make Robert feel welcome when he guest-blogs tomorrow.

Howard B

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thursday, September 20 - Alex Boisvert

This is the last puzzle I will blog until after vacation...and wouldn't you know it would be one that was too tough for me to crack.

I have so much to do before we leave, including a couple of loads of laundry before I can pack, and I have to work all day tomorrow. I am so tired...and I wasn't mentally prepared for a rebus. But there it was.

I was falling asleep at my desk trying to solve the puzzle. I knew it was a rebus...I even had two of the answers. But I couldn't get it to make any sense at all.

So I turned to Harris...he always solves early and posts the grid. I said in an earlier post that I'd fess up if I ever had to resort to this, and this is a first.

The theme was THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. The first one I got was MAN, because I had enough letters in place to know that 16A: One of the Munsters was HERMAN, [crossing with 13D: Flow out (EMANATE)] and there wasn't enough room for it. I was also pretty certain that 15A: Burn slowly was SMOLDER [with 7D: Gave up one's hand (FOLDED)]...again, it wouldn't fit. What really threw me was 14A: Longtime Vicki Lawrence character (THELMA). I had mama, the only character I could remember.

I don't feel right blogging about a puzzle I didn't solve. I'll post the grid, though, because I think it's easier to see the theme answers when they're written out...the applet only shows the first letter of the word, and that always used to confuse me.

I hope you'll discuss this one among yourselves. Did you breeze through it? Or did you tear your hair out? Were you somewhere in between?

I do hope you'll all enjoy spending the next two weeks with guest bloggers Howard B, Robert, Dave, Wendy, and Rick...listed in order of appearance. Thanks to all of you for agreeing to do this. I hope it's a fun experience for each of you.

And thanks to all of you who have been reading this blog. If you weren't out there, there would be no need for guest bloggers.


Linda G

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

September 19 - Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke

Before I go any further, I want to wish my younger brother, Tom, a very happy birthday. You might think that I just did that two weeks ago...but that was Michael, the older of the two. Growing up, I thought it was funny that they were one year and two weeks apart. Now I just feel sorry for my poor mother. Tom is spending his birthday in Las Vegas. He's one of the few successful gamblers I know. Happy birthday, Tom.

And now...on to the puzzle.

This isn't the first time that Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke have paired up to construct a puzzle, although it's been a few months since we've seen one. Until just this minute, I thought this was a themeless puzzle...but the theme just jumped out at me.

Baby animals.

18A: "Pretty Woman" and "Waiting to Exhale" (chick flicks).

28A: Actor who got his start on TV's "Gimme a Break!" (Joey Lawrence). This was the one that confused me. I totally spaced that a joey is a baby kangaroo.

48A: Shooter of westerns (Colt revolver).

62A: They're exercised when cycling (calf muscles).

The theme answers were relatively easy, but some of the non-theme answers had me stumped. I absolutely did not know 12D: Clinton adviser Harold (Ickes). I don't know why I thought Frisky was a dog...maybe because ours have been frisky with the recent cooler weather. Anyway, I had catnap for 8A: It makes Frisky frisky, rather than the correct catnip. They guy could have easily been Harold Ackes. In fact, that sounds like a much better name to me.

Other stumbling areas were remedied by crosses. I wasn't familiar with 45A: Hit Sega title character (Sonic), 55A: Gladly (leif), 67A: Opera's __ Te Kanawa (Kiri), 68A: Useful insect secretion (lac)...that's icky (57D: Totally gross)..., 21D: Old Turkish title (Bey), 25D: Fashion designer Elie (Saab), or 29D: Land on the end of a peninsula (oman).

Tripped over 47A: Gene material (RNA). Had DNA originally, which was making it near impossible to get an answer for 35D: With shaking hands, perhaps (nervously).

There were some excellent clues and answers in this one. My favorites include 26A: Like harp seals (earless), 40A: Archie Bunker, famously (bigot), 59A: Part of a metropolitan area (exurb)...I only got this because we just had it..., 70A: It's hard to believe (yarn), 3D: It's embarrassing to eat (humble pie), 10D: Those who don't behave seriously (triflers), 11D: Mother-of-pearl (nacre), and 39D: Automatic-drip machine maker (Mr. Coffee).

I just realized I'm doing the head-bob as I sit here, so I guess that means it's time to wrap it up and head for bed.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tuesday, September 18 - Chuck Deodene

Chuck Deodene...the name is totally unfamiliar to me, but a quick check on Google shows that he's not a new constructor. But I don't know that I've seen his name on a NYT byline in the last year.

What I do know is that I like to run into the kind of people he's talking about in this puzzle...the helpful, courteous sort.

The theme answers, clued as Helpful person's line, are:

17A: No need to thank me.

32A (with 42A): Glad to be of / assistance.

61A: It was my pleasure.

I've always thought that people who work in a service industry should be providing a service to the customers they serve. And I'm always glad when I find them working in the stores that I frequent. Good service is part of the reason I frequent a store. Well, that and good coffee...or chocolate...or shoes...or whatever.

We've had an abundance of pangrams in the last week, and we have another one today.

I liked all the Zs in the northeast. Actually, there are only two, but the crossings give it the appearance of more than that. 9D: One of the Gabors (Zsa Zsa) shares her Zs with 9A: Districted (zoned) and 21A: Most comfy (coziest).

My favorites in the northwest include 2D: Kriegsmarine vessel (U-boat), 4D: Substitute players (B team) that generally stumps me..., and 20A: Spiral in space (galaxy).

Other clues and/or answers I liked:

23A: Vice squad arrestees, perhaps (johns).

25A: Perturbation (alarm). I love the clue. I hadn't heard the word in some time and thought it might be anger. It fit for a while.

46A: Like good pianos and engines (tuned). Both of mine are, although I don't use one of them as often as I do the other.

60A: Coterie (clique). Both words are great. I haven't heard clique used since I was in high school, but I'm sure they still exist.

65A: Tied up (even). I was thinking the other kind of tied up.

69A: Virtual mart (eBay). I haven't been on eBay in several months, but you wouldn't know it by my Visa bill. It's always something.

8D: "Hello, Dolly!" jazzman (Satchmo). The best.

28D: Flushing stadium (Shea). A sports clue...and it was a gimme. Finally! I mean, how many times has it been in the puzzle in the last few months.

40D: __ Artois beer (Stella). I've seen it before but didn't get it right away. I thought it might be something that started with St...the in St. Pauli Girl.

43D: Agrees (says yes). Aside from the theme answers, there were only a couple of multiword answers in the puzzle, so it really stood out.

I was checking my solution online and got the nasty note that my solution was incorrect. It took me forever to find, since there were two areas involved. For 56A: Spode ensembles, I had teapots, rather than the correct tea sets. I didn't even notice that 47D: Stylish then became drossy, rather than dressy, or that 59D: Clipper's sheet was pail, rather than sail. Once I fixed that area, I was sure I had it...but no. I didn't know 26D: 1989's __ Prieta earthquake (Loma), so I didn't notice the error I made at 38A: Philosophy of bare existence? (nudism). I had nudist (along with Lota), until I realized that philosophy in the clue meant that the answer wouldn't end in a T.

48A: Levitated (arose) makes me think of "The Santa Clause"...a Rose Suchak ladder.

For a Tuesday puzzle, I struggled more than I should have. I noticed that the fastest solvers weren't fazed by it, but what about the rest of you?

Another 8:00 meeting tomorrow, so I'm off to bed. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Monday, September 17 - Sarah Keller

It's not a good sign when I stumble over the first clue on a Monday puzzle. Fortunately, I did better with the succeeding clues, and eventually got the first clue, along with its related last clue.

The theme of the puzzle was BELL RINGERS. The theme answers were:

1A: With 68-Across, bell ringer (Avon/Lady).

The remaining theme answers, all clued as [Bell ringer], were 20A (church warden), 37A (percussionist), and 54A (bicycle rider).

I thought we'd have Quasimodo--the penultimate bell ringer. I imagine that would have been much harder to fit into the grid.

My only struggle with the puzzle was in the northwest corner. I didn't know 14A: Fashion designer Rabanne (Paco) or its cross at the A...2D: Poet Lindsay (Vachel). It didn't help that I didn't know Els at 28A (the first of a two-part clue which appeared at 52A: With 28-Across, winner of golf's 1997 U.S. Open (Ernie). I could have filled in just about any letter in both of those spots.

I had to laugh at 24A: Spouse's meek agreement (Yes, dear)...just because it's such a joke in our house. Don would never say that, except in jest.

Clues and answers that I liked:

15A: Pugilist (boxer). Every time I see that word I think it has to do with stamp collecting. One of these days I'll nail it without a second thought.

19A: Material for Elvis's blue shoes (suede). At the risk of offending anyone, I'll bet those were u-g-l-y.

42A: Inside info for an investor, maybe (hot tip). I could use a few of those to beef up the retirement portfolio.

50A: Kids' game involving an unwanted card (Old Maid). I wonder when that will be given a politically correct name...if ever.

67A: Pop music's Bee __ (Gees). I can't believe I went blank on that. I was trying to think of someone a little more modern. I actually liked the Bee Gees a lot when they were so popular.

9D: Dwell (on) (obsess). I only do that on days of the week that end in Y.

10D: Point A to Point B and back (round trip). I like that we just had Point A as an answer yesterday.

12D: Slugger Williams (Ted). I don't know how I knew non-Yankees back then, but I did.

21D: Honda model (Civic). I bought a 1988 Civic as a new car and drove it until we needed a van. I sold it to a friend's daughter, then bought it back from her two years later when she bought a new car. Three years ago I sold it to another friend, and it's still going strong.

32D: Greek fabulist (Aesop). I loved Aesop's fables as a kid. I'd still enjoy reading them now.

34D: Heartthrob (dreamboat). That's a word we used to describe Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Tab Hunter...and many others. I don't think it would be used to describe anyone today. Orlando Bloom...a dreamboat?

44D: Chinese martial art (tai chi). I've always thought it would be interesting to construct a puzzle that uses tai chi and chai tea as related theme answers. My problem is that I couldn't think of any other word pairs, but I'm sure there are several. If a constructor sees this and wants to run with this suggestion, that would be fine...just include my name in the byline.

47D: "Bewitched" witch (Endora). That was one of my favorite shows. I didn't like it as much after the old Darren left the show, though.

49D: Religious dissent (heresy).

I just noticed the similarity of several down clues...45D: "__ 'em!" (sic), 59D: __ boom bah (sis) and 60D: Lab field: Abbr. (sci).

I need to be in early tomorrow to decorate a co-worker's office, so I'm going to try to get to bed before 10:00. I've been staying up way too late and sleeping through the alarm...that's so unlike me. What happened to the morning person that I used to be?

Anyway, here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sunday, September 16 - Mike Nothnagel

I've just been itching for another Mike Nothnagel puzzle. In recent months, we've had what I dubbed his best themed puzzle (the Timothy Leary quote), his best themeless puzzle, and then his most difficult...which I couldn't finish. Now he's back in his Sunday best, and I was so on his wavelength.

The title of the puzzle, LINGO, made me think we'd just be dealing with the language of a particular line of work, but it was better than that.

The letters LING were added to the end of a word that's part of a well-known phrase. The resulting answers were appropriately clued, each with a ? at the end.

And the theme answers are:

24A: Bit of news at the aviary? (A Starling is Born). I think I've said before that I loved the Kris Kristofferson/Barbra Streisand version of A Star is Born. His portrayal of John Howard Norman haunts me to this day.

34A: Notion of an underwater creature? (squid inkling).

47A: Fraternization on an army base? (military coupling) favorite of the bunch.

63A: How courteous swordsmen fight? (with all dueling respects)...or maybe this one. Did anyone else notice that he also gave us 1A, clued as Grand Ole Opry sight.

80A: Farm young 'un with a blanket? (duckling and cover). Although this one was pretty good, too. In 1962, we did drills requiring us to take cover under our a time when girls wore skirts or dresses...prepared in case of nuclear attack. According to the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization (I still have the 1962 calendar on my desk at home), "Beyond the 5-mile radius of total destruction, but still within range of the immediate killing power of the bomb, you would have split seconds to save your life. You would have to act with instinctive speed to take cover behind whatever was at hand." Comforting words for a fourth grader to read.

93A: Local cutie pie? (town dumpling).

108A: Capture of a Mafia runner, e.g.? (underling arrest).

For the third day in a row, we have a pangram. In this particular puzzle, we have Scrabbly letters appearing multiple words such as:

10A: Style of Japanese writing (Kanji), with two Scrabbly 10D: Singer who spells her name in all lowercase letters (k. d. lang) and 13D: Stir (jog).

40A: Least populous U.N. member (Tuvalu), crossing with 36D: Anatomical part whose name comes from the Latin for "grape" (uvea). I didn't have a clue on either of those, but with enough other letters in place, I could guess them correctly.

71A: Elegance (luxe), with 62D: Something bad that may be put on you (hex).

103A: Junked (deep sixed), crossing with 105D: Delete (X out).

111A: Ultraviolet filter (ozone), with 76D: What a specialist men's store may offer (tall sizes). I wanted XXX sizes. How cool would that have been.

118A: "Think big" company (IMAX)...short for Image Maximum..., crossing with 95D: Amount paid on some out-of-state purchases (use tax).

There were several obscure (to me) words, all of which I could get from crosses. 15A: N.H.L. great from the Czech Republic (Jagr), 58A: 1980 N.F.L. M.V.P. Brian (Sipe), 72A: Particular purpose (nonce), 100A: Je ne __ quoi (sais)...I had c'est, one of the only French words I know, 4D: Prolonged complaints (jeremiads)...I have never heard that word and was sure I had something wrong when I had the JERE..., and 65D: Coloring (tinct)...does the word tincture come from that?

I liked 27A: Nag (racehorse), 96A: Calf feature (silent L), even though it stumped me for a long while, 101A: Start of an itinerary (point A), 1D: It should have a head and a good body (beer), 18D: Instruction before "repeat" (rinse), 37D: Like many Scots (kilted), 45D: One may be double or free (agent), 90D: Part of a season (episode), and 102D: It might get your kitty going (ante).

I wracked my brain to remember 5D: Injured, in baseball lingo (on the DL)...that's disabled list. Some days it just doesn't pay to think.

I know I've missed several other good ones, but I should go pay some attention to Don and the dogs. They're all very good about the time I spend on this computer every night.

I'm trying to cut back on the time I spend blogging and reading other know, to practice for Hawaii. We're taking the laptop with us, so I'll still be able to read...and maybe occasionally comment. This could be rough, but I'm relieved I won't have to quit cold turkey. That would just be ugly.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Friday, September 14, 2007

Saturday, September 15 - Brad Wilber

I didn't recognize Brad Wilber's name, so I decided to Google him...and I found out plenty. Not only has he authored several NYT puzzles, he was one of the judges of this year's ACPT. Read more about him here.

Wilber's puzzle, by the way, also kicked butt. Just like yesterday's by John Farmer. It hasn't been a good puzzle week for me, but it hasn't been a good week all around.

We have triple stacks of 10-letter entries running horizontally in the northeast and the southwest--all excellent answers--as well as 9-letter vertical stacks in the northwest and the southeast.

Starting in the northwest:

1D: Shakespearean character who introduced the phrase "salad days" (Cleopatra). I didn't know that, but once I had the EO it was easy to guess.

2D: Tattoo remover (laser beam). I've only known one person who's had a tattoo removed. Most people are just getting more and more. I'm trying to picture a heavily-tattooed arm or leg on a 75-year-old.

3D: Coffeehouse menu subheading (espressos). I've recently switched from all caffeine Americanos to half-caff. My coffee shop refers to it as a Schizo. I'm not taking it personally.

Horizontally in the northeast:

5A: Blow-drying problem (heat damage). The easiest of the three to get.

16A: Slipping frequencies (error rates).

18A: Steering system components (front axles). I had the second word, thanks to knowing 11D: Sports champ depicted in "Cinderella Man," 2005 (Max Baer). Most clues about boxing refer to Baer. His son, Max Baer, Jr., played Jethro on The Beverly Hillbillies.

In the southwest:

51A: Factor in a home's market value (curb appeal). Are housing prices skyrocketing everywhere? Houses in our neighborhood are going for four times what we paid for ours twenty years ago...and I don't think I'm making four times what I earned back then.

56A: Carried by currents, in a way (oceanborne). Harder for me to get than it should have been.

58A: Serenity (heart's ease). I thought this would begin with peace. I had the A from 46D: Chick playing a piano (Corea) of only four gimmes in the well as an erroneous E from 52D: Symbol of industry. I had bee, rather than the correct ant.

Wrapping up the stacks were the vertical southeast offerings:

31D: "Elijah" and others (oratorios). I was able to guess that with a few letters in place, but I don't get the answer.

32D: Bridle parts (nose bands).

33D: Piercing glance (gimlet eye). I seem to remember that we had this in the not-too-distant past. Unfortunately, I didn't get it this time.

There were some really good words scattered throughout, including:

22D: Contortionist's inspiration? (pretzel). It helped to know 20D: Fitch who co-founded Abercrombie & Fitch (Ezra)...a regular in the NYT puzzle.

24A: Aquavit flavorer (caraway). I don't have a clue what Aquavit is, but I had the WAY, so it was a pretty sure thing.

30A: Off by a mile (dead wrong). My favorite answer in the puzzle. It so aptly describes my often feeble attempts at solving, although I got it with only the EA in place...from 28D: Material used in making saunas (cedar) and 24D: Novelist Potok (Chiam).

37A: Setting of Camus's "The Fall" (Amsterdam)...a good guess with only the AM in place.

43A: Marina accommodations (boatel)...a word that caused a lot of comments when it last appeared. Boatels were common in south Florida, but many solvers had never heard the word.

Interesting to see 14D: Theme (essay). Yesterday we had assay, clued as [This is a test]. I had essay for that answer, as did several others...a foretelling of a Saturday answer.

I didn't know that risible (clued at 27A) meant absurd. That's worth remembering.

My favorite clue in the puzzle is 38D: It's raised after a payment is collected (toll bar). I scratched my head a few times on that one, but once I finally got it...d'oh!

And I just now saw the answer to 15A: Liner's locale (lash). I was thinking liner as in a ship.

That's it for tonight. Here's the grid...I didn't check it, so please let me know if you spot any errors.

See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Friday, September 14 - John Farmer

I haven't seen a John Farmer puzzle in the New York Times in several months, but he sure kicked my butt with this one.

If I only write about what I knew, it would be a very short post. Conversely, if I wrote about my struggles, I'd still be writing tomorrow morning.

So maybe something in between?

I knew part of 1A: What you might do at the beach (go for a dip). I knew you'd go for something...wanted to make swim fit in there somehow, and it just wouldn't. When I'm on the beach next week, I'll make sure I do that, as well as sip Hawaiian margaritas, catch up on my reading, do a few New York Times puzzles...and just R-E-L-A-X.

Just noticed that we have a pangram again today. Tyler Hinman's puzzle back in August missed it by one letter, so I always check very carefully before I label a puzzle a pangram.

25A: Brian known for 33-Across music (Eno). Didn't know that B.C. (before crosswords). Because I had that, I was able to get 3D: Like a romantic dinner (for two), with just the O in place, which then gave me 22A: Subject of interest in the question "Who are you wearing?" (gown).

41A: Miss __ (USA). I'm not a fan of beauty all. There's so much more to life than one's looks.

54A: Spanish kitties (gatos).

4D: Big name in pest control (Orkin). That had to be a gimme for just about everyone.

I had several wrong answers that set me back, but some of them were pretty good:

18A: This is a test (assay). I had's also a test.

24A: Register (enrol). I had enter.

29A: Comment after getting something (aha). I was on the right track, but I had duh.

10D: 100 to 1, e.g. (scale). I wanted ratio, but it wouldn't work with the E in essay.

I Googled to get a few more squares filled in and was able to get several answers with just a couple of letters in place:

Once I had 2D: Moon of Uranus named for a Shakespearean character (Oberon), I was able to get 15A: Early inhabitant (Aborigine).

21A: Old-time actress Crabtree (Lotta). Did anyone know that? How about 11D: Actress Nancy of "Sunset Boulevard" (Olson). Never heard of her or the show.

26A: John who succeeded Pierre Trudeau as Canadian P.M. (Turner). The only prime minister I ever remember is Tony Blair. Once I had the T, I was able to guess 26D: "Vincent & __" (1990 Robert Altman film) (Theo). Where was I in 1990? Never heard of it.

37A: "Ash Wednesday" writer (T.S. Eliot). How many different versions are out there? Google came up with three answers before the correct one.

I liked the nine-letter stacks in the southeast. 56A: Doesn't support a conspiracy theory? (acts alone), 59A: Oslo Accords concern (Gaza Strip), and 61A: Frank Zappa or Dizzy Gillespie feature (soul patch)...I don't get it, but I like how it looks. That reminds me, I initially had double zee for that one.

17A: Choked up (verklempt). How have I lived this many years and have never heard this expression...not even once! If I knew about Linda Richman, I'd have known this one.

Great answers include 30A: Waves with long wavelengths? (tsunamis), 38A: Starry-eyed (quixotic), 42A: Spell checker? (amulet), 1D: Forced feeding, as with a tube (gavage)...never heard of it, but it's great, 35D: Whitewall, maybe (bias tire), 36D: Delays (time lags), 39D: Largest of the ABC Islands (Curaçao) and 43D: "The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao" philosopher (Lao Tzu) it odd that it crosses with 53A: Kip spender (Lao)? Or am I just being 9D: Small in the biggest way? (pettiest)?

Time to call it a night. Here's the grid...

See you tomorrow.

Linda G

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thursday, September 13 - Joe Krozel & Victor Fleming

If I'm not mistaken, Victor Fleming is a judge. He teams up with Joe Krozel to give us a puzzle that's laden with legalese.

I had no idea that twenty years as a paralegal would make me a better crossword solver. It did at least one time.

The seven theme answers--each fifteen letters long--all refer to some aspect of the legal process...and they are:

14A: Serious crimes (capital offenses).

17A: Perry Mason line (the defense rests). That's actually a real life line as well.

32A: Order sought by an accused before trial (admission to bail).

39A: Hearing, e.g. (court appearance).

40A: Lawyers' requests at trials (motions to strike).

57A: Equals at a trial (jury of one's peers).

63A: Specialist's offering (expert testimony).

The last two were gimmes, but I didn't really struggle with any of them. Once I had a few letters in place from the downs, they all just fell nicely into the grid. I can't help but wonder how difficult this must have been for anyone without a legal background.

A few things I didn't know:

2D: Family name in Olympic skiing (Mahre). Never heard of them.

26A: "__ Robin Gray" (classic Scottish ballad) (Auld). Definitely not the Monday clue for that word.

28A: Dr. __ Schneider, historian who was a love interest of Indiana Jones (Elsa). Again, it wouldn't have been such an out-there clue early in the week.

42A: De bene __ (of conditional validity) (esse). Similar words I didn't know were 11D: Mythical mount (Ossa), 13D: What she is in Italy (essa) and 41A: You are, in Aragón (eres). Actually, I do know that one...from this song.

It made me smile to see 4A: Johnny Carson persona (Swami). I don't remember much about him, but I do remember that role.

Favorite clues include 35D: Lucky sorts? (Irish) and 44D: Key component (ivory).

Foreign words that were easy to guess were 22D: Meal, in Milan (pasto) and 37D: French cup (tasse). You know, like antipasto (food served before the meal) and demitasse (little cup).

I liked the crossing of homonyms at 60D: Abbr. on a firm's letterhead (Esq.)...very appropriate for this puzzle...and 65A: Relative of -ish (esque). We have frequently discussed hononyms vs. homophones, but my understanding is that the word homophones more appropriately describes identical letter sounds, such as the C in civil and the S in servant. Either way, I liked it.

I just realized we have a pangram. Damn, these guys are good!

I've never heard the expression if say (8D: Suppose), and I don't quite get 51D: From Nineveh: Abbr. (Assyr). Maybe someone can shed some light on those two.

Time to call it a night. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wednesday, September 12 - Alan Arbesfeld

If you take a look at the sidebar...over there, to the'll see the names of some of the wonderful readers who have agreed to guest blog while Don and I are relaxing on the beaches of Kauai. There are still two others who have yet to sign on, but I'd like to thank each of them. Howard (who comments as Howard B) will be covering the three Friday puzzles, Robert (Green Genius) will do the Saturdays and Sundays, except for Sunday 9/23. Dave (who comments as evad) will do that one, in addition to the two Thursday puzzles. Rick (Cornbread Hell) will cover the Tuesday and Wednesday puzzles. Wendy, who I think may be making her blogging debut, will cover the Monday puzzles, and I'm extremely grateful for a feminine presence. Keep the guys in line, Wendy, especially...well, he knows who he is. (Just kidding. I love you all.)

Today has been only slightly better than yesterday. Again, that will be my excuse for not understanding the theme. I know I'll be embarrassed when I read it elsewhere...or when a reader points it out to me.

The theme is revealed (to some, anyway) at 52A: Sprint to the tape...and a hint to this puzzle's theme (finish strong). Okay, would someone please tell me how the theme answers all relate?

20A: Smash (box office hit). I get the reference to hit, but does that make one strong?

29A: Athlete seated at a table, maybe (arm wrestler). A wrestler is strong, but there's probably more to it than that. By the way, before I tore my bicep, I was quite the arm wrestler, considering my small stature. I used to beat some of the (younger, rather wimpy) guys at the shelter.

35A: Advice to a Harley passenger (hold on tight). This was actually a gimme, although I don't see the connection.

42A: Fits perfectly (suits to a tee). Maybe this isn't even a theme answer, but it's in the right place for one.

I feel stupid enough already. When someone explains it, I think I'll just crawl into a hole somewhere.

On to what I really liked. The clever clues at 28A: Head of state? (ess), 2D: They spread fast (rumors) and 55D: Poll closing? (ster).

Also the vertical stacks in the northwest which join rumors. 1D: Tarzan portrayer (Crabbe)...he was even before my time, 3D: Joan's "Dynasty" role (Alexis)...I'm mildly embarrassed to say that I loved the show, and 4D: Salami variety (Genoa). I used to love Genoa salami sandwiches on buttered white bread. I can't even imagine eating it now...all those blobs of fat.

8D: Going from A to B, say (linear), 10D: Suffered from an allergy, maybe (felt itchy) that hasn't ever been in a puzzle, 33D: Enriches with vitamins (fortifies), 47D: Cause of weird weather (El Niño), and 48D: Young swan (cygnet)...I learned that at a baby shower years ago. We had to name the young of about 50 different birds and animals.

Check out the number of sports-related clues, all of which I got: 49A: Soccer forward (striker), 59A: Like any of seven Nolan Ryan games (no hit), 44D: Court action (tennis), and 45D: A.L. East player (Oriole). Not too shabby.

I didn't know 41A: County near Tyrone (Derry) but guessed it once I had the D and the last R in place. Also didn't know 53D: Weapon in a rumble (shiv). And would someone tell me why 27D: Good sign for an angel is SRO?

I Like Ike is back, clued as a two-part 57-Down and 62-Across.

I just noticed the number of Scrabbly letters in this. Z, X, K, J, F, V. Nicely done.

There were entertainment clues for everyone. In addition to Crabbe and Alexis, we have 33A: "Shrek" princess (Fiona), 34A: "It's Impossible" crooner (Como), 32D: Fish in a John Cleese film (Wanda), and 35D: "Aquarius" musical (Hair). I saw it in West Palm Beach a hundred years ago. I think it was the first time I ever saw a naked man...well, several of them. I still can't believe my mother let me go. Or maybe I didn't tell her.

Time to say good night. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tuesday, September 11 - Christina Houlihan Kelly

This may very well be another constructor debut. It's a fairly straightforward puzzle, but the first clue stumped the bitter end. Literally. More about that later.

It's been an awful day and my head is fuzzy. I was able to finish the puzzle, but I'm not sure I understand the theme...but the theme answers are:

16A: Golf club used in a bunker (sand wedge). Okay, is this supposed to be a take-off on sandwich? Because the next three answers all end with a kind of sandwich you'd get in a deli. Or is a wedge a kind of sandwich?

22A: Butcher's device (meat grinder).

44A: U.S.S. Nautilus, for one (American sub).

55A: Spider-Man or the Green Lantern (super hero).

I was just bragging on Sunday that I had nailed Q and A in the 1-Across spot, since that type of clue had been known to trip me up in the past. Well, you know what they say about's the fall. 1A: The whole ball of wax (A to Z). And I didn't get it. I couldn't even understand the clue for 4D: 1-Across's end, in England. I went online and entered in all of the answers, then started going through the alphabet to fill in that square. Of course, when I got to Z it accepted the puzzle. But I still didn't get it for a few minutes. Atoz? WTF? Yeah, I'm blaming it on my crappy day.

I didn't know 36A: Architect Ludwig Mies van der __ (Rohe) but was able to get it from crosses. Same with 25D: Swedish version of Lawrence (Lars), but it was easy enough to guess the R.

5A: Court cry (oyez). I think we just had it, but it's a great puzzle word. And I liked its cross at 8D: New York's Tappan __ Bridge (Zee). I must have seen it when we were there a few years ago.

Didn't get confused by the identical clues at 37D: Séance sound (knock) and 53D (moan), although I often do. We had a séance at Patty Knoll's house when we were in the ninth grade. We tried to bring back John F. Kennedy...don't ask me why. Anyway, we looked up to see someone standing in the doorway with crossed arms, and we all screamed. It was only her mother, but we all thought she looked just like JFK. That was the end of our séance, and we all had to go to bed.

Some good words that don't often appear include 15A: Mediterranean island country (Malta), 31A: Xerox machine output (photocopy), 37A: Krispy __ Doughnuts (Kreme)...the one here closed a few weeks ago (I feel responsible, since I'd only been there a couple of times), 39A: Tourist shop purchases (souvenirs), 43A: Taste bud locale (tongue)...kind of ties in to the deli thing (yick), 9D: Expert (maven), 23D: Iran's capital (Teheran), 43D: Some supper club attire (tuxedo), and 48D: Brownish photo tint (sepia).

I'm feeling dizzier by the minute, so it's time to say Ciao! (62A: "Toodles," in Milan). Here's the grid.

Please take a moment of silence on Tuesday for all of those who lost their lives...or a loved one...on 9/11.

And I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G