Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thursday, November 1 - Larry Shearer

I've always enjoyed puzzles like this...where two answers share a number and a single clue.

The trick is figuring out which of the two words that come to mind goes in the across spot, and which will go in the down.

The first pair of answers was discussed in this blog just a couple of days ago. 1A and 1D: Maintain (avow) crosses with aver. Sometimes you just have to play with it to see which word will fit in which position.

5A and 5D: Fiddle with (amend), crossing with alter.

10A and 10D: Rubberneck (gawk) crosses with gape. One of my pet peeves is gapers' block...when traffic is stalled because of the number of people slowing down and/or stopping to gawk at an accidence scene.

25A and 25D: Pair (duo) and dyad. This was easier, since they didn't contain the same number of letters.

26A and 26D: Dodge (evade) and elude.

31A and 31D: Gusto (vim) and verve. Wanted vigor in the down position.

53A and 53D: It's all downhill from here (apogee) and acme. Apogee is definitely a cool word...acme reminds me of Roadrunner. Meep-meep.

57A and 57D: Tore (ruptured), crossing with rent...that sounds so biblical.

There were two very good long phrase answers...4D: They're unlikely to work (wild ideas) and 37D: Death jokes and such (dark humor). The second was a gimme, but I don't know why.

It's an amazing feat of construction when the non-theme fill isn't compromised in order to pull off the theme. That's the case here.

14A: Part of Caesar's boast (vidi). Good one.

20A: Motor Trend job (road test).

29A: Start of a phrase meaning "always" (day in). I can't believe that one took so long to get.

36A: Annual parade site (Pasadena).

42A: N.F.L. coach who was undefeated in 1972 (Don Shula). My dad was a big Miami Dolphins fan. He lived in Colorado for a few years and proudly wore his Dolphins jacket. I always thought someone would jump him.

44A: Like tennis balls and dinners (served). This kind of clue usually makes me stop and think...they're rarely gimmes.

2D: In __ (form of research) (vivo). Is that Latin for in life?

9D: Spy supply (disguises). I'm sure I'm not the only one who pictured these guys. Click here to see one of their first cartoons in Mad Magazine.

35D: Cartoon character with feminine wiles (Smurfette). This one just wouldn't come to mind...even when the M was all I was missing. It didn't help that I couldn't get 39A: __ mer (mal de)...a very pretty word for seasick.

I liked the tie-in 33D: Changers of 34A...giving us maids and linens. I was a hotel maid the summer before my senior year, at a nice hotel on Palm Beach. I made some pretty nice tips...just for changing linens.

The trick-or-treaters stopped at around 8:30 tonight. Looks as though I might get to bed before 10:00. Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wednesday, October 31 - Ken Stern

Well, this isn't exactly what you'd call spooktacular, but the Halloween theme is among the most clever I've seen.

I'll deviate today by posting the grid at the top, so you can see what's going on. The theme answers contain the letter T--circled in the posted grid. In some of the clues, it stands for TRICK...in the crosses for that clue, it stands for TREAT. It's just too brilliant.

I had the theme cracked at 20A: Professional secrets (TRICKs of the trade). When I tried to read the cross (4D: Stain looseners on washday), I knew where it was going...preTREATments.

27A: Off-site meetings, maybe (reTREATs). I didn't even see this clue. I had 11D: Mid-March honoree as the often-seen ST PAT...it actually is ST PATRICK.

33A: Formal discourse (TREATise), with the best cross of all...33D: Something said while holding a bag (TRICK or TREAT)...which then crosses at 44A: Hockey feat (hat TRICK).

53A: U.N. ambassador under Reagan (Jeane KirkpaTRICK). Couldn't remember her first name, though, and had to rely on crosses. That crosses with 39D: War enders (peace TREATies). Before I realized it was a theme answer, I wanted something that began with CEASE.

65A: Plea (enTREATy)...the toughest one for me...crossed at 49D: Entertainment from a magician (card TRICK).

I need to make this a short post...I got a late start tonight and I have a 7:30 appointment tomorrow. I'll briefly cover the best of the non-theme fill...maybe some of you will chime in with your favorites.

6A: Johnny Fever's workplace, in 1970s-'80s TV (WKRP)...one of my all-time favorite shows.

10A: Amt. at a car dealership (MSRP). A good abbreviation, and not often seen in puzzles. By the way, it's a completely useless number...don't ever pay anywhere near that.

17A: Some horizontal lines (X-axes). Loved it. I think we had axes a couple of weeks ago...as the plural of axis, rather than Lizzy Borden's weapon of choice. If I'm not mistaken, it caused a small stink.

42A: Large, at Starbucks (Venti). I still stumble when I order a drink there. I so prefer our local coffee shop, for many reasons...not the least of which is that their drinks are small, medium and large. This is one of those answers that couldn't have appeared just a few years ago.

47A: Like some old stores (ten cent). Those who didn't remember Bell and Howell yesterday likely won't remember the old ten cent stores...also called the five and dime...or five and ten. When I was a kid, things weren't really ten cents. According to my parents, there was a time when that was the case. We had some great five and tens in downtown West Palm Beach. We used to take the bus (for maybe ten cents) and spend all day shopping and having lunch for just a couple of dollars.

Loved two long answers in the puzzle. 8D: Starboard (right side) and 38D: Like The Onion (satirical).

63A: Honolulu's home (Oahu) makes an appearance two days in a row. I won't bore you with another Oahu picture. Actually, climbing Diamond Head is the only thing we did on Oahu, other than sleep. There's another Hawaii clue in the puzzle...24D: Hawaiian dress (muu-muu). I swore I was going to buy one this last trip, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

46A: Aussie's neighbor (Kiwi) reminds me of fellow blogger Rex Parker, who often refers to his lovely wife, Sandy, as a Kiwi.

As the wife of a CPA, I had to love 67A: Balance sheet listing (asset)...it's the right thing to do.

Also loved the Scrabbliness of 34D: Having bad luck, say (jinxed), which crosses with both 34A: "Choosy moms choose __" (Jif) and 45A: Some urban legends (hoaxes).

Both the clue and answer at 36D: Spunky (feisty) are favorite words. I've been described as both in the past but haven't felt like either recently.

Which reminds me...I had an extremely high blood pressure reading today. We'll be monitoring it for the next week or so. If it continues, we may need to address it with medication...diet alone hasn't cut it. This getting old is...well, I guess it's better than the alternative. Don often says that we're both too old now to die young.

On that note, I'll wrap it up. See you tomorrow. If you come to my house trick-or-treating, you're guaranteed dark chocolate. If you don't show up...more for me!

Linda G

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tuesday, October 30 - Gary Steinmehl

An early Halloween treat for all NYT solvers...a ghoulish little theme, revealed at 57A: Misspells, say, as a ghost might at 20-, 28-, 37- and 50-Across? (makes a boo-boo).

The four theme answers are spooky alternate spellings of familiar phrases.

20A: Scary sound from the ocean? (humpback wail).

28A: Scary sound from a war zone? (battle creak).

37A: Scary sound from a cornfield? (farm groan).

50A: Scary sound from a steeple? (bell and howl).

I thought this was a clever little theme...and the puzzle a little tougher than normal for a Tuesday.

Went completely blank on 10A: TV horse introduced in 1955...or a Plymouth model introduced in 1956. I thought Mr. Ed was later than 1955, and I didn't remember that Plymouth made a Mr. Ed. Maybe it's just that I'm tired, but it took too long to remember Fury...who I always confuse with Flicka.

Other spots that tripped me up:

53A: Tedious (prosy). Don't think I've ever used the word. It kind of reminds me of leprosy...probably because I read about Father Damien and the lepers on Molokai.

63A: African antelope (eland). Here's a picture for those of you who didn't know about them.

70A: Card game for three (Skat). Haven't ever played it. Actually, I don't think I've even heard of it...but I liked its cross with 54D: Sport utilizing a clay disk (skeet).

21A: Country just south of Sicily (Malta). Because I'm geographically impaired, I had to rely on crosses for this one, although I managed to guess pretty early on. For the same reason, I struggled briefly with 43D: Neighbor of Slovenia (Croatia). Again, a couple of letters made it happen.

40D: Egyptian dry measure equal to about five-and-a-half bushels (ardeb). I don't feel too bad about not knowing this one...Don didn't either. Here's everything you ever wanted to know about an ardeb but were afraid to ask.

52D: Musically improvise (noodle). I still can't remember the word I thought was the answer, but I haven't heard or used this expression.

34A: Kodiak native (Aleut) was in the puzzle fairly recently. Another gimme because of a recent appearance...33A: Juillet's season (ete). Unfortunately, I don't get the clue, but I knew it was what they wanted.

Favorite clues include 11D: Helpless? (unaided) and 22D: Moo goo gai pan pan (wok).

Best answers in the puzzle include 3D: Cane cutter (machete), 12D: Filled to the gills (replete), 42D: Tag for a particular purpose (earmark), and 46D: Co. addresses, often (PO boxes).

Least favorite answer...45A: Sales slips: Abbr. (rcpts). I understand that sometimes things like this have to happen in construction. I'm just sayin'.

Yesterday I mentioned the difficulty with AVER/AVOW. Today we have the same kind of problem with 30D: Fit for a king (regal)...could have just as easily been royal.

And I would be remiss in my aloha duties if I didn't point out 61D: Island with Waimea Bay (Oahu). It wasn't my favorite island...much too crowded...but it's still Hawaii. And here we are at the top of Diamond Head, taken on our first trip two years ago.

After doing puzzles for a while, I've finally learned not to automatically put an S at the end of a plural answer. 58D: Hospital shipments (sera) was a gimme.

Time to call it a night. I'm still beat from consecutive late nights.

Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Monday, October 29 - Fred Piscop

Now that the World Series is over, life (and blogging) will return to normal. As much as I wasn't a Rockies fan...that's how much I became one in the last couple of weeks. They played well, and there's no shame in being the best in your league and the second best baseball team. That said, the Red Sox are an incredible team. Sometimes I found myself cheering for them because they were just so damn good!

Truthfully, I'm relieved that the World Series is over...on several counts. In no particular order:

  • The knots in my stomach will go away.

  • I'll be able to solve and blog at my regular time, instead of waiting until the game is over.

  • We can eat dinner at the table again, instead of in front of the TV (which most of you know we never watch).

  • We don't have to watch those asinine commercials even one more time (some were pretty good, but the lame ones were so very lame).

  • I won't have to watch baseball players spit...sometimes it just turned my stomach. Don says it's a baseball thing, but I don't get it and I find it disgusting.


Okay...the puzzle. I may have said this before, but a Fred Piscop puzzle was the first published by Will Shortz when he took over as the NYT puzzle editor. Today we get a very doable (even while watching the game) but not incredibly easy puzzle. I had trouble understanding a couple of the theme entries, but they became clearer once I started writing.

Puns are featured (again) in the four theme answers...in-the-language tion words that are clued in clever new ways. [Monday morning update: That's not explained well, but I still can't come up with anything better.]

17A: Allotment of heredity units? (generation). That took me forever to understand...gene + ration.

56A: Preacher's sky-high feeling? (revelation). Just now got this one...rev (as in reverend) + elation.

10D: TV channel for golfers? (forestation)...by now I'm sure you're following.

25D: Pasta-and-potato-loving country? (carbonation). My favorite.

We also get a decent helping of multiword answers:

1A: Started a cigarette (lit up).

36A: Is false to the world (lives a lie).

37A: Get from __ (progress slightly) (A to B).

40A: Studied primarily, at college (majored in).

43A: Caveman's era (Stone Age).

9D: Bikini wearers' markings (tan lines). I remember that from a puzzle long, long ago.

And a few words that I don't think have appeared in a grid...at least not in the past several months.

24A: Nuclear power apparatus (reactor).

29A: Slender cigar (Panatela).

50A: Stewed to the gills (blotto). Love the word but not the feeling.

2D: Jim Carrey comedy "Me, Myself & __" (Irene). Never saw it. I can only take him in small doses.

3D: Kingdom east of Fiji (Tonga).

38D: Equine-looking fish (seahorse).

49D: Sunken ship finder (sonar).

Some standard crosswordese, some of which sported fresh new clues.

10A: Rooters (fans).

15A: Gumbo vegetable (okra). Batter-dipped and fried...the only way to eat it.

38A: Battle of the __ (men vs. women) (sexes). I don't think the parenthetical clue was necessary, even for a Monday. Sure, bands would have fit, but not for long.

42A: Holder of 88 keys (piano).

46A: Mediums' meetings (seances).

60A: Twistable cookie (Oreo).

62A: Decaf brand (Sanka).

11D: State frankly (avow). It never fails that I will enter aver when they want avow...and vice versa.

Some of my favorite answers, not already mentioned, include: 22A: Room to maneuver (leeway); 1D: Hearty brew (lager); 27D: Safe place (haven); 29D: Mischievous sprite (pixie); 30D: Director Kazan (Elia); 33D: Scots' caps (tams); and 47D: Nickels and dimes (coins)...thought they might have been looking for a verb there.

I have to mention 51D: Dr. Zhivago's love (Lara). Before Dooley and Barnabas came along, we had two female dogs...Tasha and Lara. Lara lived to be 18...the vet said that no one had ever told her she shouldn't live that long. They were the sweetest little girls, and I never thought I could love another dog (or dogs) that much...but I do.

It's time to wrap this up. Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

sunday,oct 28, 2007, ben tausig

12D: ASK NOT what your country can do for you... just tell 'em!!

the theme was a bunch of pundits (84D: PUNNED IT)

al FRANKENSENSE
bill WHYPAYMAHER (i love that guy)
bill LIFEOFO'REILLY
ann YOU'RE GETTINGCOULTER
rush DOTHELIMBAUGH
phil DONAHUEDARE (cleverest of all, i think)
don IMUSBEOFFNOW

get it? i figured it out at bill oh really? (that's what i call him)

oh, i almost forgot. this is rick b. aka cornbread. LINDA asked me to say hello to everyone. ("hello") while she plays hooky. she's such a slacker, don't you think?

this puzzle started off *great* for me. at 1A: pirate spirits, i immediately put in the S. then before i could answer 2A, i thought, "how clever! it's GROG!"... so i wrote in grog. why do i use a pen? so i can see what i write when i correct my errors. and i haven't even had any RUMS.

that reminds me. they snuck in a pretty decent ERR today at 83D. perfect = UNERRING.

and i'm gonna sneak in a nekkid reference now by mentioning 29A: unaided perception = NAKED EYE. (maybe that's an inside joke, i dunno.)

some other stuff i liked:

32A: a la recherche... = PROUST (i like proust)
37A: natural riser = HEAT
40A: it might make you sick = GERM (because i was thinking along "theme" lines and wrote in GORE, who does not make me sick, but...ann coulter does.) i only corrected myself by remembering UTA HAGEN from an earlier puzzle last week.
93A: hawaiian staple vegetables = TAROS (all readers of this blog are required to love any and all hawaiian related fodder.)
37D: magazine exec in a robe, familiarly = HEF (because it's just so camp.)
45D: ex-yankee hideki = IRABU (not to be confused with matsui or tojo.)
94D: illustrator silverstein = SHEL , because he's an old-time favorite. (i bet my kids can still quote him.)

stuff i didn't know: (but only some of what i didn't know.)

CYCLO, AGARIC, SCOP, FASCES, RAGAS...
the fasces/ragas crossing almost did me in.

a pretty darn good puzzle if you ask me. sorry for all the wikipedia articles and no pictures. and i think i lost track of what color i was using for the links. meh. if i'm ever given another chance i'll try to do better next time.


as linda g. would ask about now, "how'd you like the puzzle?"


no guarantee is possible as to the accuracy. it's all my doin'.
i mus be off now....later, rick (typo alert! 90D/96A crossing should be an *O*-be sure to tell me where the others are.) (typo alert #2...i just found it. 42A is TAD, not AD. hahahaha)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Saturday, October 27 - Brendan Emmett Quigley

Brendan Emmett Quigley is one of only a few constructors admired by most NYT solvers. His puzzles always contain stacks of long answers...all good ones...with clues that will occasionally have you tearing your hair out.

Today's puzzle was no exception.

After my initial run-through, I had a handful of answers...23A: Orchestra section (winds), 27A: Consumer protection grp. (FTC), 47A: Parliament rival (Salem)...a wild guess; 26D: Old settings for many out-of-tune pianos (saloons) and 49D: Kind of cycle (lunar). I was on the right track for 10A: Like some seasonal helpers (elfin), but I had elves instead.

Definitely not much of a toehold. I Googled a couple of proper name answers to get a few more blanks filled in, then things starting to fall into place.

I loved the three fifteen-letter stacks that span the center of the puzzle:

32A: It served the Mid-Atlantic until 1976 (Reading Railroad). I wanted this to have to do with some airline, but once I had a couple of letters in place, it was clear that we were on the ground for this one.

39A: Classic laugh-inducing parlor game with writing or illustrations (Exquisite Corpse). I wonder if I'm the only one who's never heard of it. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it.

40A: Move on after a humiliating defeat (count one's losses). The expression I've heard more often is cut one's losses, but this works. I hope we're not doing that after the weekend games.

Horizontal stacks in the northwest include 1A: Billionaire sports entrepreneur wo heads HDNet (Mark Cuban), 15A: Within the next few minutes, potentially (at any time), and 17A: Case made for a shooter (camera bag)...I expected that to have something to do with archery.

In the southeast we have 58A: "You said it!" (don't I know), 63A: Help get settled (orientate), and 65A: What green might ripen into (tomato red)...that's one of those clues that had me tearing my hair out. For that matter, so does the word orientate...it just sounds so wrong.

Two nine-letter vertical stacks in the northeast:

12D: About-faces (flip-flops). I wanted something that sounded very military.

13D: Nervous (ill at ease).

And opposite them in the southwest:

33D: Foreignness (exoticism). I just like the sound of it...maybe because it rhymes with eroticism.

34D: Old Spice alternative (Aqua Velva). There's something about an Aqua Velva man. Now those were great commercials...not like some of the lame ones I saw the last two nights. That's the great thing about not watching television...I don't know anything about current commercials. And I don't think I'm missing anything.

There were so many things I didn't know, but I'll just touch on a few.

25A: Dr. Seuss's "Too Many __" (Daves). That's either very old Dr. Seuss, or one of his later books. Totally unfamiliar to me.

30A: Marathon runner Gebrselassie (Haile). I'm fairly certain I won't remember that the next time it comes around.

14D: Band with the highest first-week album sales in music history ('N Sync). Hard to believe.

29D: Connecticut city on the Naugatuck (Ansonia). I have cousins who live very near there, but I've never heard of it.

46D: Ecuador's southernmost coastal province (El Oro).

These are the kind of clues that drive me nuts. I don't get them at first, but then I figure out where they were going...and then I feel stupid.

55A: Heavyweights compete in it (sumo)...I had rings.

62A: Sent regrets, say (RSVP'd).

2D: Breakout maker (Atari). Oh...nothing to do with zits.

8D: Range option (Amana). Jeez...

45D: One who's waited upon (Godot). Very clever.

I know I'm leaving out some other good ones, but it's time to call it a night. Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Friday, October 26 - David Quarfoot

This is the first David Quarfoot puzzle I've finished since I started doing the NYT puzzle (again) a year ago. DQ puzzles are always a struggle for me...more so tonight because I was trying to solve it while watching game two.

Yeah...we lost again. But it was a much better game than last night's and held my attention throughout. It'll be interesting to see how the Red Sox do on Rockies turf...they just might have trouble breathing at that altitude.

This was my favorite DQ puzzle, and I'm not just saying that because I finished it. The clues were fresh and the fill some of the best I've seen.

1A: News Corporation-owned Web site that's one of the 10 most visited sites in the world (MySpace). I don't have a MySpace...it's all I can do to keep up with this blog and the others I read.

15A: "Cab," e.g. (red wine)...as in Cabernet. Had the answer but didn't get it straight away.

17A: What the key of D minor has (one flat). I have trouble remembering the number of flats or sharps in particular keys, but this one was easy to figure out. Sharp wouldn't fit with a number, so I knew it was flat...and it had to be one.

19A: Driving distance is a concern in it (PGA tour). It just doesn't get any better than that.

22A: Miss Gulch biter (Toto). I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

32A: Buries (trounces)...rhyming with yesterday's jounces.

46A: Taper (VCR). Boy, that one threw me. I was thinking about candles and was sure that VC was wrong. Even when I got 47D: "Way to go, dude!" (rock on), I couldn't figure out how that was a taper...then it hit me.

54A: Flips (has a cow). I don't know how in the world I got that one right off, but I did.

The final six across answers were all superb: 57A: Not-so-good feeling (malaise), 59A: Former field food (K-ration), 61A: Terminal timesaver (E-ticket), 62A: Its value is in creasing (origami), 63A: Sprint acquisition of 2005 (Nextel), and 64A: Crossword source since 1942: Abbr. (NY Times). Forty lashes for anyone who didn't get that last one.

And that's just the acrosses. Favorite downs include:

2D: Poem reader at the 2006 Olympics opening ceremony (Yoko Ono). Love the double O...making it look like yo-KOO-no, with the accent on the second syllable.

3D: Gaga (smitten). That's been a favorite word since it was used in the first love note I received.

4D: With 20-Down, waffle alternative (Pop / Tart). Not that I'd consider that an alternative to a waffle.

11D: Center of Connecticut (silent C). I immediately guessed that it referred to the letter C, so I was surprised that there were so many letters. Got it PDQ. I was born in Hartford...so enjoyed seeing this one.

12D: All thrown together (in a pile). Another good guess.

13D: Little women (petites). I'm not crazy about the clue. I'm definitely short and wear petite clothing , but I don't think of myself as a little woman. That sounds like a sexist comment about one's wife. Stepping off my soapbox...

27D: He wrote "It's certain that fine women eat / A crazy salad with their meat" (Yeats). I guessed that because I had the Y in place, but that doesn't sound to me like something Yeats would have written.

38D: Cartoon boss working at a quarry (Mr. Slate). That's one of those answers that you know but you just can't bring it to the forefront of your mind...especially when you're watching the World Series.

43D: Beau ideal (epitome). Love the word.

I still don't get 56A: Hiver's opposite (ete). Would someone please explain that one?

And while you're at it...how about 55D: Not yet 58-Down (wait / act). Huh?

Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Thursday, October 25 - Susan Harrington Smith

I'm generally not a big fan of multi-part quotes, but I liked this quote enough to change my mind.

The theme is revealed (well, not really) at 16A: With 55-Across, description of 23-, 36- and 44-Across (Italian/proverb).

And the proverb is...To trust is good / not to / trust is better.

I was definitely impressed by some of the fill, starting with the very first clue.

1A: "Thou art not lovelier than __,—no" (Millay sonnet start) (lilacs). For those who are interested, here's the rest of the sonnet.

13A: Cadillac model (DeVille)...not to be confused with Cruella de Vil.

17A: Wither (atrophy).

30A: Hugh __, successor to Louis V as king of France (Capet). Didn't know that but got it from the crosses.

33A: Kind of cup (Dixie). I won't admit how long it took me to get that, but I just love the way it looks sitting there in the grid...you know, with an X right smack in the middle of it.

38A: Nabokov novel (Ada). I particularly like that it crosses with 31D: She dies with Radames (Aida).

41A: Sane (rational). That one eluded me, although I'll admit to trying to solve while watching game one. I am definitely a multitasker, but not when solving a Thursday puzzle is one of the tasks. For the record, I'm perfectly okay with the Rockies losing tonight.

59A: Corrida combatants (toreros). Ole!

4D: Exact proper divisor, in math (aliquot). That is such a cool word, but I had no idea such a word existed. If you'd like to know more about it (and it's okay to admit that you don't...I'm right there with you), you can read about it here.

8D: Incised printing method (intaglio). This is another word that wouldn't come to mind while watching the game. I could see it in my head, but all that would come out was intarsia...a good lead-in to the Word of the Day (WOTD). Has anyone noticed how sporadic I've been with that? Anyway, the definition of intarsia: a style of decorative or pictorial inlay, esp. of the Italian Renaissance, involving a mosaic of wood pieces or, sometimes, ivory, metal, etc. That's intarsia to the left...it's a nicer picture than I found for intaglio.

10D: Bit of wishful thinking (pipe dream). Love it...and love that I got it with very little in place.

21D: Medicinal cardiac stimulant (digitalis). This is the third word that wouldn't come to mind. At the time, I had only the A in place. If I'm not mistaken, that comes from the foxglove plant. Yep...but the plant is poisonous to humans and animals and can be fatal. Read more here...before you eat any. Anyway, best answer in the puzzle.

43D: Titania's husband (Oberon). One of these days I'll remember that.

54D: Powell's co-star in "The Thin Man" (Loy). I hope my good friend, Robert, sees this...especially since it crosses with 58A: Green: Prefix (eco). Robert used to blog the New York Sun and has recently taken leave to work on his novel. Apparently one can make more money by publishing a novel than by authoring a blog day after day. If you're reading this, Robert, I miss you.

There's much more to chew on in the puzzle, but I'll leave that up to you. What did you think of it?

Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wednesday, October 24 - Patrick Blindauer

You can add Patrick Blindauer's name to my list of favorite constructors, but this one was a bear...particularly if Latin is not your strong suit.

I haven't figured out why an asterisk appeared at each of the theme clues...it certainly wasn't much help. Maybe something was supposed to be in WordPad, but I didn't see it.

On to the theme answers...seven Latin phrases, some more tricky than others.

18A: * Solid ground (terra firma). A gimme, even before I figured out the theme.

20A: * You should have the body (habeas corpus). Another gimme, thanks to my legal background.

40A: * From the beginning (ab ovo). Since ovo = egg, that was easy enough to guess.

59A: * The die is cast (alea iacta est). I had to Google this one to see how to parse it. Definitely the mother of the Latin phrases...and I don't necessarily mean that in a good way.

62A: * Always the same (semper idem). I know semper from the Marines motto, so that was fairly easy.

4D: * Behold the proof (ecce signum). It almost looks like it says, Here is a sign.

31D: * Without which not (sine qua non). Another one I remember from law, although its definition makes no sense.

Maybe the theme is deeper than I realize...I just think there must be something more. In the recent past, Patrick Blindauer had us playing chess, doing an acrostic and doing a word search...all within the puzzle. Surely he wouldn't let us off this easily. Okay, I'll stop second guessing for now.

Favorite clues/answers in the puzzle include:

14A: "Just __!" (a sec).

24A: Pro at balancing (CPA). For reasons you can probably understand, I never tell Don that I frequently don't balance my checkbook more often than once a year. Don't any of you tell him.

32A: Erica who wrote "Any Woman's Blues" (Jong).

39A: Schoenberg's "Moses und __" (Aron). Didn't have a clue, but I got it from the crosses.

42A: Gray-brown goose (nene). I have been waiting for this answer to appear since our trip. Here's a picture of a nene--the state bird of Hawaii--that I took at the Kilauea Lighthouse. It was pretty exciting to finally see one. If you click on it, you can see his sweet face.

43A: "The Taming of the Shrew" setting (Padua). Didn't know that one, either.

2D: Stern that bows (Isaac). Very clever.

8D: He said "Slump? I ain't in no slump. I just ain't hitting" (Berra). Even if you didn't know that he said it, you knew that he'd say it.

24D: All alternative (Cheer). Another clever clue.

34D: Alertness aid (No-Doz). Do they still make this? I remember kids talking about it in high school.

37D: Briefs, briefly (BVDs). It's about time...I'll bet we have bras (or C cup) in the puzzle ten times to every mention of men's briefs.

44D: Lacking purpose (aimless). Had useless for a while.

54D: One who's not "it" (hider). I normally don't like the -er answers, but this one was just too clever.

57D: Some Peters (tsars). Again, a clever clue...for an often-appearing answer. Ditto for 66A: They're rather pointless (epees).

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



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tuesday, October 23 - Alan Arbesfeld

I've put off blogging for more than an hour because I was so tired. Now I can't stop yawning. I'm guessing this will be a quick one.

Not that Alan Arbesfeld doesn't deserve more...in addition to a theme with five long answers, he's given us some good fill to chew on.

The theme is revealed at 59A: What the starts of 17-, 26-, 37- and 52-Across are (things drawn)...and the theme answers are:

17A: Play follower, usually (curtain call).

26A: Loofah, e.g. (bath sponge).

37A: Circulatory system flow (bloodstream).

52A: Shoot-'em-up figure (gunslinger).

The two long down answers are mighty nice.

11D: Saroyan novel, with "The" (Human Comedy). Struggled to come up with a name for 32A: Pest control brand (d-CON), so this looked pretty strange for a time.

25D: Hoops coach with the most N.C.A.A. Division I wins (Bobby Knight). A few months ago I didn't know about the man...tonight, it was a gimme.

Some of my favorite clues/answers:

14A: Sign of spring (Aries). Got the answer but didn't get it at first...clever.

20A: Amateurish (bush). This was priceless. I hadn't thought of that definition of the word before.

31A: Start the pot (ante up). Ante shows up fairly often, but there's something about this one that I like.

41A: Singer __ P. Morgan (Jaye). I remember her from game shows a hundred years ago...didn't know she was a singer. Here she is with Kermit.

48A: For dieters (nonfat). That was my third answer for that clue. I immediately put lowcal, then changed it to lowfat. I finally got it because of 38D: Old Dodge (Omni).

55A: Clobber, biblically (smite)...absolutely the funniest clue ever.

68A: Site of Ali's Rumble in the Jungle (Zaire). A great word, as is its cross at the Z...57D: Wood-shaping tool (adze). That's one I learned from Scrabble games with my mother in the late sixties.

10D: Primrose family member (oxlip). Such an ugly name for such a pretty flower. I'm too tired to include pictures tonight, but here's one.

12D: "It slipped my mind!" (I forgot). That's almost not funny...it happens far too often.

13D: Letterman lists (top tens).

24D: "Wheel of Fortune" buy (an O). Far better clue than referring to a year in Spain.

34D: Red Sox div. (AL East). If it weren't for the Rockies and their bid for the World Series, I wouldn't have known this. For the record, I'm not a huge sports fan, so the Bosox fans out there needn't razz (phooey...that was yesterday's word) me about the upcoming games. I'm just excited that the Rockies made it this far.

39D: Singer of the 1962 hit "The Wanderer" (Dion). Talk about a double standard...if a woman had done a song like that, you know what they'd say about her.

41D: Tools for making twisty cuts (jigsaws)...good Scrabbly word.

42D: Barnard grads (alumnae). It sure didn't help that I'd originally read the clue as Barnyard grads.

49D: Fakes, as an injury (feigns).

Things I didn't know but got from crosses:

21A: "__ economy is always beauty": Henry James (In art).

47A: Actress Chase of "Now, Voyager" (Ilka). Here's a picture of her from the trailer for that movie.

46D: "Deal or No Deal" network (NBC). Never heard of it...the show, I mean. Of course I've heard of NBC.

61D: Here, in Paris (ici).

Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Monday, October 22 - Lynn Lempel

I've often said that I love circles in a grid. This time, though, they didn't do much.

The theme is revealed at 57A: One who lost what's hidden in 19-, 34- and 42-Across (Little Bo Peep), and what she's lost are found at:

19A: Bandleader in the Polka Music Hall of Fame (LAWRENCE WELK)

34A: Creamy soup (CLAM BISQUE)

42A: Substantial portion (FAIR AMOUNT)

The theme answers...and the whole puzzle, in fact...seemed awfully easy, even for a Monday. Maybe I was just on Lynn Lempel's wavelength. I'm curious to see what you thought.

A couple of really good long answers.

3D: Made a stand and would go no further (drew the line). Good phrase and well clued.

25D: "Fantastic Voyage" actress (Raquel Welch).

And some out-of-the-ordinary answers as well.

14A: Like a manly man (macho). Much better answer than the often-seen hairy. I know plenty of manly men who aren't.

38A: City where Van Gogh painted sunflowers (Arles)...if it's been in the puzzle lately, I don't remember it.

41A: Pacific republic (Nauru). Didn't know it but got it from crosses.

68A: Branch of Islam (Shia).

70D: Jean who wrote "Wide Sargasso Sea" (Rhys).

6D: Color of fall leaves (ocher). Ours are orange and red, although the wind yesterday and today blew most of them off. It was lovely while it lasted.

8D: Rhinoplasty (nose job).

43D: Latin American with mixed ancestry (Mestizo).

I struggled briefly in the southeast. Didn't know 55D: Explorer who proved that Greenland is an island (Peary). Didn't help that I couldn't remember the middle initial for 54A: New Deal program inits. (WPA). Don to the rescue...he knew WPA.

Of course I loved seeing 28A: Dance with a wiggle (hula) and 60A: Hawaiian isle (Maui) in the puzzle. Here we are on the beach in Maui...I think this is behind Mama's Fish House, the best place to eat on the island.

Time to wrap this up. Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sunday, October 21 - Brendan Emmett Quigley

Since my earlier comments about loving puzzles by Mike Nothnagel and Elizabeth Gorski, I've been thinking about other constructors who create puzzles that I particularly enjoy. Patrick Berry didn't get mentioned yesterday, but I'd add him to the list. And today's constructor, Brendan Emmett Quigley, is definitely a favorite among many.

Sunday puzzles are my favorites...partly because I'm able to do them leisurely, partly because I enjoy the often quirky themes.

I had two of the theme answers without even understanding what was going on. The title of the puzzle, Set Your Mind at Ease, doesn't give it away. Ease refers to the letter sounds...the short E sound in common phrases has been replaced with a long E sound, and the new phrases are then clued.

The theme answers are:

23A: Organization of easily frightened people? (Chicken League).

40A: Result of not wearing rouge? (blank cheek).

97A: Strict Jesuit? (hard priest).

117A: Smart fowl? (educated geese). This one made me laugh the most and was my favorite until...well, you'll see.

13D: Bundle of pies? (pastry sheaf).

16D: "Mr. Cowell, grab that 'American Idol' contestant!"? (Simon seize). This was the first clue that caught my eye, and I knew the answer immediately. Must be because of the old joke about the original title of Julius Caesar...Julius, grab the girl quickly before she gets away.

65D: Bully turned Samaritan? (a good meanie). My favorite, just because the original phrase is a good one.

72D: House Un-American Activities Committee event? (Red hearing).

The fill was well above-average, even for a Sunday. Before I get into that, though, I should add that it was extremely difficult for me, and I would never have finished without Google. Even with the handful of answers I was able to get that way, I still struggled mightily to get several answers to fall.

Some of the best clues/answers:

31A: Place to buy a hookah (bazaar)...love both the clue and the answer.

34A: "The Treachery of Images" artist (Magritte). We've had it several times, and it's getting easier to spot.

52A: Cartoon character who amorously chases Penelope (LePew). Aah, good ol' Pepé Le Pew. I had the wrong cartoon character in mind, confusing Penelope with Petunia...so had Porky at first.

70A: Nasty biter (cur). I'm including this one because I had asp for the longest time. I don't know how I finally figured out that it was wrong.

87A: "__ say..." (sad to). Sad to say, that took me forever to get.

7D: Lie detector alternative (pentothal). I'd just be spilling my guts all over the place. Years ago my dentist gave me a shot of something before oral surgery...he may have been pulling my leg when he told me how funny I'd been, but he sure knew some things he wouldn't have known otherwise. I considered switching dentists, but he never held it over my head.

30D: Place for couples? (ark).

35D: "Biography" channel (A and E). Damn! I hate when I fall for those.

36: Banded rock (gneiss). I wish I had remembered that from geology, but I needed crosses to get it.

58D: Cornwall carriage (pram).

78D: Something bid (adieu). Clever.

82D: Not take out of the company, say (reinvest). I was thinking company...like military...so had reenlist at first. It really didn't make sense, even at the time.

89D: A defendant may be tried in it (absentia). Knew the word but couldn't bring it to mind until I had some letters in place.

93D: Like most sitcoms (episodic).

104D: Roofed patio (lanai). Love it because it reminds me of Hawaii...or Maui...or Kauai.

Good multiword answers, including:

1A: Drink with a straw (soda pop).

102A: Psychiatrist's urging (let it out).

6D: Common pizzeria order (one slice).

12D: Start to weep (shed a tear). We had that just the other day.

22D: Relatively recent time (late date).

60D: "Take your time" (no rush).

76D: Eyed angrily (glared at). One of only a few gimmes.

84D: Onetime Movietone productions (news reels). I guess that could be one word.

86D: Veterans (old timers). So could that.

The award for best clue for a common crossword answer goes to 90D: It may not need clarification (oleo).

There were a lot of unfamiliar names...the reason for much of my Googling.

19A: Open-mesh fabric (etamine). I have never heard the word in my life.

21A: Oil used in making polyurethane (aniline). Same for this one.

43A: Psalm, e.g. (paean)...got it from crosses.

47A: Football Hall-of-Famer (Greasy) Neale (Earle). Another odd spelling, but not as strange as Erle. That's Greasy to the left.

56A: Former Israeli president Weizman (Ezer).

92A: Bobby of the Chicago Eight (Seale).

100A: Peru's El __ volcano (Misti).

120A: "The Great __" (Pat Conroy novel) (Santini). Not on my list of books I've read. Should it be on the list of books to read?

69D: Market value of a company's assets divided by their replacement cost (Q ratio). Never heard of it, but here's information about it for those who want to know more.

If I missed your favorites, I hope you'll share them.

Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Friday, October 19, 2007

Saturday, October 20 - Patrick Berry

Patrick Berry kicked my butt today. It probably wasn't the first time, and I know it won't be the last. His puzzles are fairly difficult...but exquisite.

After my first run-through, I had five answers:

16A: Available if needed (on call).

20A: "Mr. __," 1983 comedy (Mom).

26A: Object of Oliver Twist's request for "more" (gruel). I remember this from an earlier puzzle.

43A: Economist who wrote "The Theory of the Leisure Class" (Veblen). I remember Thorstein Veblen from Sociological Theory.

52A: Book before Job (Esther). I don't remember too many of them in order, but for some reason I knew this.

With that for a start, I knew I was in for a long solve...and time with Dr. Google. I checked my grid on the NYT site a few minutes ago and was just amazed to see that some people (real solvers, with real times) finished this in under seven minutes. I probably spent a good 45 minutes, then had to take a nap because I was dozing off. When I came back to it, I tackled the last remaining area...the southwest...and finished it off.

Since it's after 11:00 now, I'll need to keep this short. I'll divide the grid into a couple of general areas, with brief comments.

Clues/answers I loved:

1A: Small suit (Speedo). Too small, if you're talking about a man's suit. I'll be kind and refrain from posting a picture.

32A: It's "heavier freight for the shipper than it is for the consignee": Augustus Thomas (hatred). I couldn't even find this answer with Google, but when I had the H, it seemed the likely candidate.

45A: Goshen raceway's length (half mile). This was the first answer that came to me after my nap. I had the L from 40D: Guys (fellas) and figured it had to end with MILE. Since there wasn't an S at the end, it had to be less than a mile.

47A: It's cleared for a debriefing (throat). Clever...and far too long coming to me.

51A: Details (minutiae). One of those words that looks wrong no matter how you spell it.

3D: Laudations (encomia). Like many of you, I put an S at the end of the word, which made it very difficult to get 27A: Semimonthly ocean occurrence (neap tide)...not that I would ever have known that one. According to this article, it's an especially small ocean tide on the Earth which occurs at first or third quarter when the moon is at a right angle to the Sun-Earth line. Good luck remembering that one, Linda.

6D: Eloise of Kay Thompson books, e.g. (only child). I don't remember the girls being into the Eloise books, but I remember one about her at The Plaza.

10D: Figure seen in a store window (sale price). I really wanted mannequin, but I knew that gruel was right. Okay, I did second-guess myself on it.

26D: Typically green tube (garden hose). I was trying to think of something in a science lab.

And some things (other than those mentioned above) that I've never heard of:

7A: Cheese with a greenish tint (sap sago). Well, I'll be. It's flavored with ingredients from clover. Homestead Market says this cheese is for the more adventuresome...if you are, you can order some at their site. Let me know how you like it.

14A: "The Outsiders" author (Hinton).

19A: "The Blessed Damozel" poet (Rossetti).

30A: "__ and Janis" (comic strip) (Arlo). Never heard of it, but I was surprised to get this much of a clue on a Saturday.

31A: Linguist Okrand who created the Klingon language (Marc).

35A: Poem whose first, third and seventh lines are identical (rondelet). I ended up with everything except the first letter...ran through the alphabet two or three times before I figured it out.

5D: National chain of everything-costs-the-same stores (Dollar Tree). We have The Dollar Store, as well as Dollaroos...but I couldn't make either of them fit.

28D: Gaffe at a social gathering, in modern lingo (party foul). Either I've never made one, or I'm not modern.

33D: Pan's realm (Arcadia). I'm sure I knew that at one time...but this was not the time.

36D: Country of two million surrounded by a single other country (Lesotho). I just admitted yesterday that I was geographically impaired. I had to Google this one...but I forgot to find out the name of the single other country.

The clue/answer that gave me the most trouble was 43D: See (visit). It just sounds so simple now, but I was going in a completely different direction. See = Pope = Vicar...and I had the VI so I was sure I was right. That one clue is responsible for the miserable time I had in the southwest.

Barnabas just came into my office to tell me it was time to curl up with him. He looks so cute that I can't resist.

Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Friday, October 19 - Frederick J. Healy

This is the kind of themeless puzzle I like to see...stacks in the four corners, and a few more eight-letter words scattered around the grid.

In the northwest corner:

1A: Windshield wipers (squeegees). We've had this before, but I didn't get it as quickly as I'd have liked...not until I had the final EES in place.

15A: Darwin's home (Australia). I didn't have a clue where he was from. This time I recognized 7D: Comic Boosler (Elayne), so I had the L in place. A good guess that IA should follow, then the answer came to me. I should have left my original answer at 1D: Not as touched (saner), but I thought it sounded almost cruel...therefore, not the right answer.

17A: Zip (none at all). I loved this one.

The southeast stacks consisted of:

61A: Freshening naturally (airing out). Amazingly (to me), that was my first guess.

64A: Park gathering place (concourse). I think of concourse in relation to an airport, not a park.

66A: Garb symbolizing youth (knee pants). That must have been in a puzzle in the last year...otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten it so easily. I wear them, although I call them capris. If they symbolize youth, though, I'll wear them all the time...including fall and winter.

In the northeast:

12D: "Hang on!" (wait a sec). I was thinking along the lines of "Hang on for dear life." And what word was going to end in C...which I had from 40A: Hardly humble homes (palaces), although I wanted mansions there at first.

13D: Eager (on tiptoe).

14D: Things that may be shot in stages? (westerns). I had the answer, but it took some time before I got it.

The southwest corner was my favorite:

36D: South Pacific island (Bora Bora). I'd happily go there tomorrow if I thought I could get away with it.

37D: Cry before storming out (I've had it). Well, I didn't storm out, and maybe I didn't say it aloud, but I sure thought it once today. Not about work or Don...the two things that hold me together.

38D: "Lighten up, will ya?!" (get a life). I thought that in the same conversation. That's why Bora Bora sounded so inviting.

Other eight-letter entries appear at:

9D: Toasted triangle topper (salsa dip). I have a slight problem with this one, and I think it's been mentioned here or at another blog. No one calls it salsa dip...it's just salsa...and my tortilla chips are strips, not triangles. Neither of those is a big deal.

39D: Hiking aid (knapsack). For me, a knapsack is more of a hindrance. My idea of a hiking aid is a walking stick.

34A: Clam (simoleon). I have never heard this word in my life. Just looked it up...it's slang for a dollar. I thought it was referring to a clam that you'd eat. I'll take mine deep fried.

41A: A bit much (overdone).

There were some clues that I thought were especially clever.

18A: They stand for something: Abbr. (inits)

26A: Lock changer? (dyer). Normally I don't like the -ER answers, but this one was better than most.

45A: Bombards with junk (spams). You would not believe the subject line on a piece of junk mail I got today. Seriously...it was that bad.

65A: Starters (A team). Not that it fits here or anything, but I haven't yet said that I'm pretty excited that the Rockies made it to the World Series. If I lived closer to Denver, I might even try to get tickets for one of the games.

42D: Hate, say (emotion).

59D: Mar makeup (agua). I just this second got that one. I was trying to think of something that would mar (i.e., destroy) one's makeup.

Some names that I wasn't totally familiar with...got them from the crosses.

16A: Superrealist sculptor Hanson (Duane). Never heard of him.

3D: James Forrestal was its last cabinet secy. (U.S. Navy).

8D: Astronaut Collins and others (Eileens). If they're asking about an astronaut from the sixties or seventies, I'm good. Any later...not so good.

24D: "La Reine Margot" novelist (Dumas). If I ever knew that, I've forgotten.

That's it for this one. Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thursday, October 18 - Lucy Gardner Anderson

It's a good thing I'd eaten dinner before solving this puzzle.

The theme is revealed at 38A: Hilarious...or a hint to this puzzle's theme (side splitting). The theme answers all describe a particular side (as in side dish), split into two entries.

5A: With 50-Down, steak go-with (baked / potato)

10A: With 68-Across, fish filet go-with (cole / slaw)

33A: With 44-Across, hot sandwich go-with (onion / rings)

1D: With 69-Across, burger go-with (french / fries)

I'm always happy to see multiword clues, and this puzzle had some good ones. 21A: Behind closed doors (in secret)...a gimme/good guess; 47A: Closed tight (sealed up); 54A: Make a ship stop by facing the wind (lay to); 55A: Newscast lead (top story); and 45D: 2003 #2 hit for Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz (Get Low).

Liked the clue for 6D: x, y and z (axes)...much better than referring to the tool for chopping.

Words not often seen in a puzzle (that I remember, anyway) included 25A: Well-founded (tenable), 34A: Like waves on a shoreline (erosive), 51A: White-knuckle (intense), 2D: Treat splendidly (regale), 3D: One saying "I do" (avower), and 48D: Go-getter (dynamo).

40D: The Beeb is seen on it (telly). I have no clue who or what The Beeb is, but I had the T, so telly seemed like a good guess.

Funniest clue/answer...but not really...appears at 60A: Airline rarity, nowadays (meal). That was actually my first thought, before even looking at the grid, but I was sure that wouldn't be the answer. Sadly, though, it's true. We flew all the way to Hawaii...a seven-hour flight...and got a package containing nine mini pretzels. On the way home, we had upgraded to first class, so we got cashews...probably no more than nine of them. I'm not suggesting that airline food was ever that good, but on a flight that long, a little sustenance would have been nice. From now on, I'll pack some nutritious...and filling...snacks.

That's it for tonight's puzzle. Feel free to comment on anything I may have overlooked, or just let us know your favorites.

Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wednesday, October 17 - Paula Gamache

Well, ILE be darned. I don't usually do well with Paula Gamache's puzzles...they're more than fair, but they're often more than I can handle.

Today's puzzle has the letters ILE inserted somewhere within four in-the-language phrases. The new phrases are then clued.
And the theme answers are:

17A: All the rockets in existence? (MISSILE UNIVERSE).

26A: "Dry-clean only," e.g.? (TEXTILE MESSAGE).

44A: Cooking utensil from central Spain? (CASTILE IRON PAN).

58A: HAL 9000, in "2001: A Space Odyssey"? (HOSTILE COMPUTER).

When the puzzle has long theme answers, I generally start with the down clues...so I ended up with the ILE in the first theme answer. When they appeared in the second one, I knew where Paula was going with this one, and it wasn't too difficult to flesh out the other theme answers once I had the first two. All in all, I liked the theme...clever new phrases, clever cluing of the new phrases.

I managed to pull 1A: The Velvet Fog (Torme) out of somewhere in my brain. It helped that I had TO from the downs...1D: Tabbies' mates (toms) and 2D: Mayberry boy (Opie).

There were a few names I wasn't familiar with...got them from crosses:

28D: Stahl of "60 Minutes" (Lesley). I keep thinking I should start watching television, but when would I have time to solve puzzles, blog AND watch TV?

31D: Astronaut __ Bluford, the first African-American in space (Guion).

37D: First N.F.L. QB with consecutive 30-touchdown passing seasons (Y. A. Tittle). I know we've had the name before, but I just couldn't grab it from the recesses tonight. Well, I just Googled him...after a successful football career, he started selling insurance. Read about him here.

46D: Subject of the 1999 film "Le Temps Retrouvé" (Proust).

In order to pull this off, the puzzle is full of three and four-letter words. Some of them are just plain good.

23A: Noughts-and-crosses win (OOO). I've never heard it called that before.

43A: Piggy (toe)...that took longer to come to mind than I'd like to admit.

48A: Alt. spelling (var.). Good one.

52A: Debtor's letters (IOU).

62A: Restaurant chain acronym (IHOP). The local IHOP is one of 35 restaurants that contributed 35A: First course option (soup) to our Empty Bowls fundraiser last Saturday. We raised more than $25,000 to operate the Soup Kitchen...which feeds more than 200 men, women and children every day.

33D: Mil. option (ROTC).

Several non-crosswordese words I haven't seen appear often.

14A: Smuggler's stock (opium).

41A: Marzipan ingredient (almond).

4D: Animal with a shaggy coat (musk ox). Are they not the cutest looking things? Such sweet little faces.

9D: Mutual fund redemption charge (exit fee).

10D: Deep fissure (crevasse).

25D: Relative key of C major (A minor). I know just enough about music that this was a gimme.

41D: Acid neutralizers (alkalis). My favorite word in the puzzle. Just because.

The only answer I don't understand is 61A: First-year J.D. candidate. I don't even know how to parse it to list it here...ONEL. Is that One L? If so, what does it mean? I worked in law for many years, and I can't make sense of it.

And I'll close on that note. Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tuesday, October 16 - Michael Kaplan

I thought this was fairly easy as far as Tuesdays go. The theme is revealed at 41A: Calendar units hidden in 20- and 61-Across and 11- and 35-Down (dates).
And the hidden dates are:

20A: Relax during a drill (stand at ease). Okay, so this isn't your run-of-the-mill soldier at ease...but it came up here when I Googled the phrase. You can have your very own, if you don't mind having a couch that's butt ugly.

61A: Sunshine State school (Florida Tech). I don't know if this was a gimme for everyone. If you grew up in Florida, as I did, you know it's called the Sunshine State. Add the TE, and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out the rest. Florida Tech is in Melbourne, near the Kennedy Space Center. You can read more about it here.

11D: Show sadness (shed a tear). When we cried (as kids, of course), our dad referred to them as crocodile tears. According to this article, crocodiles really do shed tears. Isn't that one of the saddest things you've ever seen?

35D: "Time to rise, sleepyhead!" (up and at 'em). This never worked in our house. We needed something like banging a metal spoon on a pan. The expression always reminds me of the cartoon superhero, Atom Ant. Here's a video of the show's introduction...it's priceless.

Only one tough spot in the puzzle. 40D: Zwei follower (drei), crossing with 49A: Trojan War hereo (Aeneas). I wasn't sure how to spell either of them. Drii and Aenias worked as well for me, but Across Lite wouldn't accept it. For those of you who don't know German (including me...thankfully, Don does), zwei is two, drei (duh) is three.

Multiword phrases make Ava a happy solver. This puzzle had several, including 24A: Polite affirmation (yes, sir), 71A: TV shout-out from the team bench (hi, mom), 4D: "Nevertheless..." (even so), 42D: Lose the spare tire (slim down), 45D: Schedule B or C, e.g. (tax form), 52D: Chooses to participate (opts in), and 54D: "Impossible!" (no way).

Liked 2D: Bring together (unite) because it reminds me of a funny t-shirt. You can order your very own here...if you're so inclined.

Didn't really know 47D: Ancient Greek colonnade (stoa), but I got it from crosses. It does, however, lead me to the Word of the Day (WOTD). Stoma: a microscopic opening in the epidermis of plants, surrounded by guard cells and serving for gaseous exchange; a mouth or mouthlike opening; esp., an ingestive opening in lower invertebrates. For those of you with weak stomachs, I'll spare you a photograph.

I'm out of time and out of words. Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Monday, October 15 - Andrea Carla Michaels

Super-easy puzzle, even for a Monday. The theme was clever, though...all in-the-language expressions that begin with a common activity and end with the name of a bird or an animal.

17A: Taking back one's words in humiliation (eating crow). I'd bet that most of us have done that at least once.

27A: Negotiating in a no-nonsense way (talking turkey). So much better than beating around the bush. Just say what you mean.

43A: Pretending to be dead (playing possum). If you've ever seen a possum play dead, you know that the expression is dead-on...so to speak. While this one looks gross, as well as very dead, it is truly playing dead. According to this site, "The opossum has an involuntary comatose-like state induced by extreme fear...an inert opossum does nothing to excite [a predator's] appetite, and they will leave it alone. Somehow the opossum’s body knows when the danger has passed, and the opossum 'comes to' again."

58A: Raising a false alarm (crying wolf). I don't remember how many times the boy got away with it in the story, but I typically don't fall for it a second time.

Most of the non-theme answers are three and four letter words. Most are standard crossword fill, but there are a few notable exceptions.

1A: Indifferent to pleasure or pain (stoic)...like the guards at Buckingham Palace.

34A: Joel who directed "Raising Arizona" (Coen). After a long absence, Raising Arizona is back...fresh from yesterday's puzzle.

36A: One-named Art Deco designer (Erte). Here's a sample of his work. Click on it to enlarge so you can fully appreciate it.

61A: Roman statesman __ the Elder (Cato).

6D: Cell centers (nuclei). The only reason I didn't automatically put an S at the end of this was that I'd already had the across answer in place.

25D: Put into cipher (encrypt). Both cipher and encrypt are very cool words.

27D: Four: Prefix (tetra). I haven't been able to come up with a Word of the Day (WOTD) for the last two puzzles. Today's no different, so I'll give you an alternate clue for tetra: any of a number of brightly colored, tropical American, characin fishes, often kept in aquariums. We had a zillion of them in our aquarium when I was growing up. They were about a dime then...now they cost $1.50.

29D: Casey with a radio coundown (Kasem). This guy, like Dick Clark, never seems to get any older. I'm beginning to think the two of them are robots.

44D: Peter of Peter, Paul & Mary (Yarrow) was new to me. I knew Paul's last name (Stookie) and Mary's (Travers). While in Kauai, we spent some time at Hanalei Bay...home of Puff the Magic Dragon.

I'm generally pretty random in my puzzle solving, jumping all over the grid. That usually works to my advantage, but this was one of those days when it hurt me. I spotted the clue for 46D (Actor Penn), then wrote the obviously correct Sean...but in the wrong place. With that answer appearing at 49D, clued as Marina fixture (dock), it made for some strange answers for 49-, 57-, 61- and 64-Across. Sometimes it made for no answer at all. I don't remember how I finally noticed the error, but it slowed me down for a couple of minutes.

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


...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sunday, October 14 - Elizabeth C. Gorski

The other day I said (although not for the first time) that Mike Nothnagel was my favorite constructor. I later started thinking about some other favorites, and today we have another. Elizabeth Gorski's last NYT puzzle was one of my favorites...buried treasure, another great Sunday puzzle.

I'm tempted to say that today's puzzle was fairly easy, but maybe I was just on Elizabeth's wavelength. There was only one theme answer that I struggled to get.

The theme is revealed at 65A: Robert Redford film...and a hint to what occurs at 23-, 28-, 54-, 77-, 111- and 116-Across (A River Runs Through It). I wracked my brain to picture him in it...I kept seeing Tom Skerritt...then realized that Redford had directed it, and that Tom Skerritt had in fact played Rev. Maclean. This site refers to keywords bare butt and male nudity. What am I forgetting?

Anyway, the theme answers are:

23A: Base for many French fries (Idaho potato).

28A: 1987 Nicolas Cage/Holly Hunter film (Raising Arizona). That's one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. I love Nicolas Cage...always have and always will. And Holly Hunter is nothing short of incredible. She was on the cover of the July issue of More magazine, looking absolutely ravishing in the BEST red dress I've ever seen.

54A: 1950 #1 hit for Patti Page (Tennessee Waltz).

77A: Lead-in to "Show me!" (I'm from Missouri). I worked in Kansas City for a couple of years, and I don't think I ever heard anyone use the expression.

111A: 1915 song that popularized the phrase "Hail! Hail! The gang's all here" (Alabama Jubilee). That was the one I didn't know. Of course, I wasn't around then.

116A: Ice cream treat (Baked Alaska). As a kid, I was always amazed that you could put ice cream in the oven and it wouldn't melt. As an adult, I realized it's only in long enough to brown the meringue. I've never made it, but on the last night of an Alaskan cruise, that's what they served for dinner. It was to die for.

The six rivers flow vertically through the puzzle, each intersecting its home state:

3D: Gem State stream (Snake), crossing Idaho.

26D: Grand Canyon State stream (Gila), flowing through Arizona.

36D: Volunteer State and Show Me State stream (Mississippi), crossing both Tennessee and Missouri.

97D: Heart of Dixie stream (Mobile), which flows through Alabama.

109D: The Last Frontier stream (Yukon), crossing Alaska. As much as I was on Elizabeth's wavelength on this, I didn't realize the extent of the theme until I got this one.

Other water-related answers include 80D: Body of water seen in Munch's "The Scream" (Oslo Fjord) and 91D: Supermodel on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 1982 swimsuit issue (Carol Alt).

Was anyone else tickled by the crossing of 106D: Orange __ (Pekoe) and 124A: Soaks in water (steeps)?

Clever cluing at 102A: She was wild about Harry (Leona), 115A: Party people? (politicos), 15D: Like some assets and smiles (frozen), 35D: Composed (serene), 63D: Treat as a villain (hiss at), and 112D: Opposite of blew (aced).

I absolutely love getting the first clue I read, and 1A was from one of my favorite movies: Film character who says "Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake" (Ilsa). My all-time favorite line from Casablanca..."If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."

Other favorite clues and/or answers:

5A: Clear furniture material (Lucite).

20A: Choirs may sing in it (unison).

25A: "Are we finished?" (May I go now?).

31A: One of two school colors (along with heliotrope) of New York's Purchase College (puce). Heliotrope appeared in Mike Nothnagel's puzzle last Friday.

4D: Follow (adhere to).

5D: 1966 hit "Little Latin __ Lu" (Lupe). As kids, we sang it as Latin Loop-de-loop.

12D: They get props for their work on Broadway (stage crew).

24D: Having no sequel (one shot)...the very best kind of movies.

Things I had seen before and remembered for this puzzle include 38A: "Nearer the Moon" author Nin (Anais), 96A: Toscanini's birthplace (Parma), 59D: Soprano __ Te Kanawa (Kiri), and 13D: 1998 French Open winner Carlos (Moya).

Things I didn't know:

119A: "Bee Season" star, 2005 (Gere). I've never even heard of it.

17D: Al Bundy player (Ed O'Neill). I never saw the show Married With Children so had to get this from the crosses.

64D: Political writer Shelby __ (Steele).

101D: Author of "The Third Man," 1949 (Greene).

I enjoyed seeing 37D: Dance accompanied by a gourd drum (hula). For those who may be wondering, we did see some hula dancing when we were in Hawaii, but we didn't do any.

It's after midnight and I'd better wrap this up. Here's the grid...



...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G