Friday, February 29, 2008

Saturday, March 1, 2008 - Brendan Emmett Quigley

Orange had warned that the Saturday puzzle might be extra-gnarly. She wasn't just whistlin' Dixie. Brendan Emmett Quigley doesn't know how to construct a puzzle that isn't difficult, but this time he outdid himself.

I stayed home sick head is still foggy and my body aches. At this point in time, I have fewer than twenty answers in the grid, and nothing is making sense. I've Googled all I can, so I guess it's time to set it aside until morning.

If you've managed to finish this one, congratulations. If you're tearing your hair out, please share...I'd love to know I'm in good company.

[Update: I just spent the last hour drinking coffee with much more enjoyable than struggling with this puzzle. I just checked Donald's site...New York Times Crossword in can see the finished grid there and read his blog. I'm finished for today.]

...but I'll see you tomorrow ; )

Linda G

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Friday, February 29 - Patrick Berry

We celebrated a friend's 50th birthday tonight, so I'm getting to this later than I usually do. I'm also coming down with the cold that's plagued my co-workers and several volunteers for the past few weeks.

But given that the ACPT weekend officially begins on Friday, it's highly possible that there won't be many crossword blogs to I'll force myself to get something done before I crawl into bed.

Patrick Berry is generally a tough exception with this one. It was filled with some amazing stacks of long answers.

The more gettable ones for me:

2D: Like most 1950s recordings (monophonic). I remember stereophonic, but it wouldn't that was a good guess.

3D: Final Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor comedy (Another You).

27D: Continuously (at all times)...I got that with only the first letter in place.

28D: Stop working (take a break).

The southeast corner was the first one to fall for me. 42A: It protects car buyers (lemon law) and 46A: #1 Beatles hit with the only known vocal contribution by Linda McCartney (Let It Be), along with 27D and 28D, really opened things up. 33D: "Don't spread this around, but..." (between us) was easy enough with a few letters in place, and 36D: Home for the Ojibwa and Cree (Manitoba) was a good guess.

Next to fall was the northwest. Getting 2D and 3D made the crosses come together nicely, but I was totally flummoxed by 1D: Agitated (in a pother) expression I've never heard before. I wasn't even sure I was parsing it correctly, but my dictionary confirmed it. 4D: Neapolitan noblewoman (Contessa) was a good guess, as was 24A: Region bordering Mount Olympus (Thessaly).

In the southwest, I had to Google for 55A: Bernard Malamud's debut novel (The Natural). After guessing 41D: Wisconsin city that's home to S.C. Johnson & Son (Racine), I was able to get an answer here and there...pretty soon the whole corner was finished, including 52A: 1990 #1 rap hit that starts "Yo, V.I.P., let's kick it" (Ice Ice Baby). I wouldn't have guessed that rap had been around that seems much more recent. Favorite clue/answer in that corner...38D: Split right before your eyes? (bifocal).

The northeast was the toughest area for me. Couldn't figure out where they were heading with 5A: Barely mention, as somethign one doesn't want to discuss (skate over) or 17A: In-house debugging (alpha tests). After much head scratching over 15A [One abandoned at the altar?], I finally figured it out...maiden name.

I didn't know 6D: Goes to bed, in Britspeak (kips)...but I'm going to do it now.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thursday, February 28 - Matt Ginsberg

With his most recent puzzle, Matt Ginsberg became one of my top three favorite constructors. With this one, he's moved up to the top two...right up there with Mike Nothnagel.

This was such an enjoyable solve...tough in several spots, but ultimately doable. It's the first Thursday I've finished in some time without resorting to Dogpile.

The theme was fun...contradicting meanings for the same word.

19A: Begin operating or stop operating (go off).

20A: Confirmation or uncertainty (reservation).

30A: Unchanged or novel (original).

38A: Words of praise or words of condemnation (nothing is better).

45A: Approve or penalize (sanction).

55A: Easy to see or impossible to see (transparent).

60A: Entangle or disentangle (ravel).

1D: Last under use or erode under use (wear) favorite.

13D: Remaining or gone (left).

52D: Add to or remove from (trim).

59D: Move gracefully or move clumsily (trip).

Fun...just plain fun. I particularly liked the longer nontheme answers:

5D: Grounds for legal action (gravamen). I can't believe that word came to me so easily after all these years.

8D: Revealing garment (minidress).

36D: "No nation is permitted to live in __ with impunity": Jefferson (ignorance). A president can, but not a nation.

40D: Gotham (Big Apple). I wonder if that took anyone else as long to see...I had most of the letters in place, but I was looking for a single word.

Other things I struggled with:

37A: Discussion spots (fora)...putting an S at the end really fouled up 33D: Shenanigans (larks).

42A: TV's Kojak (Theo). I didn't even know he had a first name.

48A: Willie Mays and teammates (Giants). I should have known that...but I needed several letters before I could coax it out of the recesses of my brain.

64A: Comedic title role for Renée Zellweger, 2000 (Irene). I don't think I saw that. While she's a favorite, I can only take Jim Carrey in small doses.

68A: Olaf's girlfriend in Lemony Snicket books (Esme). Neither of the girls were interested in the books...maybe they were too old for them. Anyway, I needed crosses to get her name...her beautiful name.

2D: "Hurlyburly" playwright David (Rabe). Not familiar with either the play or the man.

41D: Dr. __ Hahn of "Grey's Anatomy" (Erica). I haven't seen the show...and sexistly assumed I was looking for the name of a man.

46D: Twinings competitor (Tetley). All I have in my pantry is Celestial Seasonings...which was no help. 50A: Deborah nominated for six Academy Awards (Kerr) gave me the E as the second letter, but I had to go through the alphabet to come up with the answer.

Favorites include:

16A: Dodger All-Star pitcher Eric (Gagne)...don't know him, but I like the name.

35A: Repeated setting for Georges Seurat paintings (Seine)...good guess.

43A: Respectful refusal (no sir).

4D: "Great" czar (Peter I). I knew we were looking at a Roman numeral for the ending because of 27A: Belief in a life of harmony with nature (taoism).

6D: Gary Burghoff role of TV and film (Radar).

9D: It might be spiked (eggnog).

10D: Jiang's husband (Mao).

28D: Welcome to paradise? (aloha). It's probably time for another Hawaii picture. I'll see what I can find in the next couple of days.

31D: Away from the office (not in)...followed by the equally amusing 32D: Don't exist (aren't).

51D: "O, sing to the Lord a new song," for one (Psalm).

53D: Fabled slacker (hare).

I don't remember the last time I finished a post this early...I may even be in bed by 10:00 tonight. I could sure use some beauty sleep.

The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT) is just a couple of days away. I'm really pulling for two former contestants this year...Al Sanders (a Colorado neighbor whose time has come) and fellow blogger Orange...who placed fifth (or thereabouts) a couple of years ago. I'll be with them in spirit...but I'll be here at Madness holding down the blogging fort. JimH will also be there, so I won't be able to challenge him to find crossword stats for a few days.

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

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wednesday, February 27 - Lee Glickstein

It was after 9:30 before I even downloaded the puzzle. It seemed like a pretty easy Wednesday...maybe more like a Tuesday or a tougher-than-usual Monday.

The theme was revealed at 36A: Members of this can be found in the centers of 17-, 24-, 51- and 60-Across (nuclear family)...a gimme for me because I had the first of four theme answers:

17A: Make tracks (skedaddle).

24A: Sources of ready cash (pawnbrokers). I've never referred to either of my brothers as that a guy thing? I dated someone a hundred years ago who called his brother I thought that was kind of cool.

51A: Turkey insert (thermometer). Another gimme.

60A: Got by (on) (subsisted). As was this one.

The only difficult answer for me was 42A: __ lion, beast slain by Hercules in his first labor (Nemean). I may have known it at one time...but that time has long since passed.

Yesterday we had bless, clued as [Cross over?] we have 3D: "Gesundheit!" (bless you). Similarly, we had Mt. St. on Saturday, clued as [__ Helens] we have 46D: Mt. St. (Helens).

Favorite clue/answer today...59A: I, historically (one AD)...very good.

Other noteworthy clues/answers:

20A: Mead study locale (Samoa). Although it wasn't clued as such, this is a timely answer, since our Girl Scout cookies were delivered today. My favorites are Samoas...but I didn't order any of them.

21A: Chips that one might "muncha buncha" (Fritos). I love Fritos and could never have them in the house.

27A: Cassidy portrayer of TV and film (Boyd).

6D: Time to crow (at dawn). I love that it's almost light when I get up now...and it's still light when I drive home at five. Come on, spring!

10D: Its symbol is X (strike)...had something similar last Saturday.

11D: Harvey of "The Piano" (Keitel). That has to be one of the strangest movies I've ever seen. At least one person out there will think I'm dead on (33D: Absolutely accurate).

Five hours of sleep last night wasn't anywhere near enough, and I can't believe I'm still awake at 10:30. The engagement is off...bittersweet for Elaine, but a huge relief for her parents. Thank you to those who lent support through your comments and emails.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tuesday, February 26 - Sarah Keller

With apologies to Sarah Keller, this will be a short post. We're in the midst of a family crisis tonight...and likely the end of the engagement. That's not a bad thing, but helping Elaine find the courage to do what she knows she needs to do isn't easy.

The theme answers are all puns...cleverly clued in relation to college campuses.

20A: Polishing machines at an Ithaca campus? (CORNELL SANDERS)...the only real groaner of the bunch.

35A: Trustee group at an Atlanta campus? (EMORY BOARD).

43A: Thoroughfare at a New Orleans campus? (TULANE ROAD) favorite.

53A: Rental arrangement at a Milwaukee campus? (MARQUETTE SHARE). That was actually pretty good, too...but I needed the crosses to get it.

Favorite answer...60A: Letters that must be bought on "Wheel of Fortune" (AEIOU). I wonder how many of you put an S at the end of it...I did.

Favorite clue...9A: Sleep soundly? (snore). It would be funnier if I didn't.

How serendipitous to see 41A: Zellweger of "Chicago" (Renée) in today's puzzle, since I mentioned her in yesterday's blog. No one commented on the photo of her in that gorgeous dress at the Academy Awards, so I'll run it again.

There were two semi-gross answers in the puzzle. 16A: Prenatal sites (wombs) and 65A: Lice-to-be (nits). Actually, for some, there's a third...29D: Vegetarian's protein source (tofu)...although I happen to like the stuff.

I didn't know 50D: French military hats (kepis), but once I saw the picture, I realized that I did...I just didn't know what they were called.

I'm not familiar with the quote at 4D: John who wrote "Love built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies" (Donne). I'll have to look into it tomorrow.

One last thought...40A: Old Michael Jackson 'do ('fro)...I had to include this picture. I can't bring myself to post the after to this before.

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

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Monday, February 25 - Randall J. Hartman

I'm not sure if this was easier than most Mondays, but I fairly zipped through it...not even reading many of the down clues until after the fact. In some cases, I was guessing the down answer based on the letters I already had. Amazingly, it worked every time.

The theme of the puzzle...revealed at 55A: Object of the actions suggested by the starts of 17-, 30-, 47- and 66-Across (wood) was furniture refinishing. I was impressed that the four steps were in the proper order. The theme answers:

17A: X-rated dance (striptease). That will always remind me of "The Stripper," a #1 song in 1962...and used in a 1967 Noxzema commercial. "Take it off...take it all off."

30A: Beach find (sand dollar).

47A: Initial power source (prime mover). I had never heard the expression...don't know where I've been.

66A: Pinto (paint horse).

I enjoyed seeing both olio (16A: Mixed bag) and oleo (56D: Margarine) in the same puzzle. I hope JimH can tell us if that's ever been done before...I know I haven't seen it.

We don't have a pangram, but there are plenty of Scrabbly letters. Interesting clue at 40A: Rotcut (booze). I particularly love its cross at 34D: Sky-blue (azure). I'm sure I've said before that I have a great-nephew named Azure...and it's the perfect name for him. Check out those eyes. Are the girls gonna love him?

Two long entertainment-related answers...10D: 1990 Macaulay Culkin film (Home Alone) and 37D: Competitor of "The 5th Wheel," in reality TV (elimiDATE). Knew the former but not the latter. Elaine confirmed that I didn't have something wrong there.

I couldn't choose an absolute favorite answer. It's a tie between 31D: Israeli desert (Negev)...I like both the way it looks and the way it sounds...and 46A: __ jacket, 1960s fashion (Nehru). Here's Sir Paul McCartney himself wearing one.

Other favorites, because of clues, answers, or whatever:

1A: Boston orchestra (Pops).

27A: Some Caribbean music (ska).

39A: __ Speedwagon (1970s-'80s band) (REO) favorite treadmill CD is their greatest hits.

69A: Ryan of "The Beverly Hillbillies" (Irene). I am extremely embarrassed to say that I watched that show religiously...and I can't for the life of me explain why. But Irene Ryan was a class act.

4D: Slide, as a credit card through a reader (swipe). I still think of swipe as meaning steal, so it sounds strange when they tell me to swipe my card. It's already mine...why would I swipe it?

13D: Cappuccino head (foam). That's one I didn't see until just this moment. Good one.

24D: "Streets of __" (classic cowboy song) (Laredo).

27D: Little rascal (scamp).

32A: Sharp turn on a golf course (dogleg).

48D: Chatterbox (magpie). This was an exceptional weekend at the bird feeders. We had a hairy woodpecker at the feeder for the first time, a small flock of grosbeaks, and chickadees and goldfinches galore. I get so much enjoyment from watching them.

49D: Spoiled (rotten). Why, yes, I am.

This wasn't much of a movie year for me, and I didn't see any of the films that received major Academy Award nominations. I'm renewing my Netflix membership, though, and I'll start adding them as they're available. I've been checking for far, the hottest dress I've seen was on Renée Zellweger.

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

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sunday, February 24 - Nancy Nicholson Joline

I'll bet no one got 1-Across (Theme of this puzzle) today...unless they had started with the downs.

The envelope, please.

And the answer is...The Oscar.

Nancy Joline's Sunday puzzle was both timely and clever. Each theme answer contained two Academy Award winners...the first as the theme answer itself, and the second in the circled squares within that answer.

It took me longer to crack that than I'd like to admit. I totally skipped the six across theme answers...but managed to figure it out on the first down.

And the theme answers are:

23A: Film (1954), actress (2003) (ON THE WATERFRONT)...with my girl crush, Charlize Theron, in the circles for her chilling portrayal of murderer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster."

37A: Director (2003), actor (1962) (PETER JACKSON)...with Gregory Peck for his role in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

61A: Film (1992), actor (1958) (UNFORGIVEN). David Niven won for "Separate Tables"...unfamiliar to me.

71A: Actor (1934), actor (1995) (CLARK GABLE). As much as I love Nicolas Cage, "Leaving Las Vegas" is not a movie I'd watch again. We had a discussion about it on this blog in the last week or two.

94A: Actress (1986), director (1962) (MARLEE MATLIN)...she for "Children of a Lesser God" and Sir David Lean for "Lawrence of Arabia."

112A: Actress (1983), supporting actor (1999) (SHIRLEY MACLAINE). Talk about tearjerkers...she was excellent in "Terms of Endearment" and I loved Michael Caine as the doctor in "The Cider House Rules." Incidentally, that's when I fell in love with Charlize Theron.

17D: Film (1993), actress (1987) (SCHLINDLER 'S LIST)...a powerful film. Cher was at her best playing Loretta Castorini in "Moonstruck"...which is when I fell in love with Nicolas Cage. This is the theme answer that I was able to crack.

46D: Song (1942), supporting actress (1994) (WHITE CHRISTMAS)...with Dianne Wiest for "Bullets Over Broadway."

Favorites include 15A: Is afflicted with sigmatism (lisps), 25A: Nothing, to Nero (nihil), 42A: Low tie (one all), 49A: Places for runners (sleds), 53A: Granny, in Gelsenkirchen (Oma)...I haven't a clue how I knew that, 73A: Destination of the Bounty in "Mutiny on the Bounty" (Tahiti)...its third appearance in the last few weeks, 79A: Troll dolls, once (fad), 120A: Jerks (spasms)...oh, those jerks, 15D: Jay that chatters (Leno), 16D: At first (initially)...a gimme, 29D: One flying over Hawaii (nene), 33D: Villa in Mexico (Pancho), 74D: "Didn't we just have that?" (again), 77D: Make the beds, dust, etc. (keep house), 88D: Late news? (obit), and 93D: Mother of Paris (Hecuba)...just because I like her name.

I have never heard of 33A: Fish in fish and chips (plaice), but I confirmed it in my trusty dictionary.

Also didn't know Lum and Abner...or their radio show...appearing as connected clues at 109A and 113D.

I do love the way 47D: Capital known as the Venice of the East (Bangkok) looks in the grid...that GK combination.

I remembered 104A: Kwik-E-Mart owner on "The Simpsons" (Apu)...wouldn't have had a clue BNYT (before New York Times).

I thought of several answers for 20A [Emphatic refusal] before I could bring myself to write no no no no...but it sure made me laugh every time I looked at it later.

It was a busy day at home, and I'm it'll be early to bed for me.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, February 23 - Barry C. Silk

This isn't the first time that Barry Silk kicked my butt. The last occasion was a puzzle last December.

I did a lot of grumbling last night while solving (or attempting to solve), but I'm seeing the puzzle with new eyes this morning...and it's really one of the best. Meaty long answers, lots of Scrabbly letters...and nothing seemed forced to get all of that in. Well done, Barry...even though I couldn't finish it on my own. I got a few from Dogpile, but when I was at a total standstill, I peeked at JimH's finished grid for two answers that unlocked the grid. Thanks, Jim...what are blogging friends for?

Spanning the center of the grid is 36A: One who didn't say no? (consenting adult). Great answer, perfect clue...and crossing at its center is 20D: Profanity (sacrilege). There's some kind of opposing connection there, but I can't put it into words this morning.

With good long answers above and below, you'd think the down fill would have been compromised...not so.

30A: Frequent business traveler (road warrior). I'm so glad I'm not one of those. I love coming home on Friday, getting into my Big Dogs and just hanging out at home.

39A: They hang from the roof (stalactites). I don't know why that took me so long to get...maybe because I think of them as hanging from ceilings. That's part of the trick to differentiate them from stalagmites. The C because they hang from ceilings...the G in stalagmites reminds you that they grow from the ground up.

Some of the best downs crossing that:

4D: South Dakota's __ National Park (Badlands). I'm embarrassed that it took me so long to get that...we've driven through it and were just enthralled with its beauty.

6D: Wear for rough outdoor activities (cargo pants). Yeah, I've worn them to go shopping...that can be rough on a big sale day.

24D: Afghan province or its capital (Herat). I just finished "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini, so that should have been a gimme...but it wasn't.

29D: One who might pick up toys (dog catcher). I didn't see that one coming. If you like this illustration by Thom Glick, you can see more of his work here.

31D: River formed by the junction of the Fulda and Werra (Weser).

37D: Where you might get into a rut (dirt road).

Other noteworthy clues and/or answers:

1A: Lard source (fatback)...ick. That was part of a stack in the northwest that also included 15A: G.P.S. receiver display (area map), 17A: Uses a certain iron (solders)...not about golf, and 19A: What flamingos often stand on (one leg) of very few gimmes for me.

The northeast stack...8A: Service with a queue (Netflix), its cross at 14D: Botanical nutrient conductor (xylem), 16A: Explanatory tool (analogy), 18A: Ousting (removal), 21A: Vision de nuit (reve)...French for what?...and its cross at 13D: Donation declaration (I gave). I was a bit confused by 8D: Nostril (naris)...thought it was nares, but that would be plural.

The most Scrabbly corner was the southwest, which included 43A: Home to Al Jazeera (Qatar), its cross at 43D: Faultfinder's concern? (quake), 40D: Exotic estate (Xanadu)...another gimme since I had 40A: Indications of good bowling (Xes), 54A: An ace is a good one (aviator), crossing with 44D: Gridder Harper (Alvin) and 57A: County west of Dublin (Kildare).

In the southeast...50A: Trust (cartel)...I was looking for a verb, 56A: Chin-wag (shmooze), crossing with 52D: Israel's Weizman (Ezer)...what a good Scrabbly name, with a Z in both first and last names...and 60A: Things that wear well? (eroders).

The clue for 49D: Feelthy stuff (porn) made me laugh. It's not listed in my dictionary, though.

Can someone explain 23D: Atlanta commuting option (Marta)...maybe it's an acronym for something.

Time to begin my no-driving day. Elaine is still visiting, so we'll get to spend the day together. I've really enjoyed her time here. She volunteered at our office every day this week and was a tremendous help. Poor thing has caught a nasty cold, though, and she sounds terrible. Maybe Mom will make some chicken noodle soup for her.

Enjoy your Saturday. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Friday, February 22 - Mike Nothnagel and David Quarfoot

My all-time favorite constructor, Mike Nothnagel, has teamed up with David Quarfoot for this Friday's killer puzzle. I was so exhausted after solving it that I needed a power nap before I could tackle the blog.

I would never have finished this without a lot of help from Dogpile...for answers such as:

45A: Boulogne-sur-__, France (Mer). That looks like French for bologna of the sea...

4D: Poet who won a Pulitzer for "The Dust Which Is God" (Benét).

8D: Kinkajou's kin: Var. (racoons). Variation or not, that just looks wrong. But is that not the sweetest little face?

9D: 1883 Maupassant novel (Une Vie)..."A Woman's Life."

32D: "Underboss" author Peter (Maas).

33D: Smythe of hockey (Conn).

47D: Papa Bear of the N.F.L. (Halas).

With only a handful of gimmes, I was definitely not on the combined wavelength tonight.

41A: Some are manicured (lawns).

46A: Response of feigned innocence (who me).

55A: __-Mints (Rolands rival) (Alka).

56A: Singer of the 1967 hit "California Nights" (Lesley Gore). She was best known for "It's My Party," but "You Don't Own Me" was my favorite of her songs. My sister's senior portrait looked a lot like this shot of Lesley was probably the flip more than anything else. [Update: This is too eerie. Before she had even downloaded this puzzle, Wendy blogged about Lesley Gore AND "You Don't Own Me." Have you ever thought that Wendy and Mike Nothnagel might be same person? And that Linda G is another alter ego?]

3D: Where I-25 and I-70 meet (Denver). If I hadn't made that trip at least 100 times, I wouldn't have known it.

6D: Shortening in the kitchen? (tbsp)...although I thought about lard briefly.

37D: It's out for a pout (lower lip)...not exactly a gimme, but I got it with only the W in place from lawns.

There were some exceptionally good multiword answers...not Google-able but fairly easy to flesh out.

1A: Awfully accurate? (sad but true).

15A: Salade niçoise ingredients (green beans). I could only think of potatoes and tuna, so that one took a little longer to fall into place.

17A: Providers of exceptional service? (tennis aces).

34A: Where to find pop art? (soda can).

38A: Start of some how-to titles (The Art). All I could think of were all of the books for dummies...but those share the same ending.

40A: Childish comeback (are so). We haven't had a playground retort in a while, so I didn't mind seeing one tonight.

59A: Subject of the 2004 book "Dancing Revelations" (Alvin Ailey).

61A: Outdoor toy that attaches to a garden hose (Slip N Slide).

7D: Level (tear down).

12D: Bit of kitchen wear (oven mitt). My hand won't work in one of those...maybe it's just too small. It's two potholders for me.

13D: Execute exactly (do to a tee).

14D: Over, with "of" (in excess). It took me forever to understand the clue, then even longer to get the answer. The cross at 21A: Presidential middle name (Knox) made good use of the X. I'll bet someone out there can tell us which President.

34D: Cause of colonial unrest (Stamp Act).

35D: "You don't say!" (oh really).

As tough as this puzzle was, there were so many things I loved about it. In addition to the plethora of multiword answers, there was an abundance of some of my favorite letters...K, V and X.

And I just noticed that it's almost 11:30, so I'd better call it a night. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thursday, February 21 - Peter A. Collins

Peter Collins has worked his way into my heart with this one. After all, he's included both of my favorites...circles and one puzzle.

The theme is revealed at 55A: Party snack (and a hint to this puzzle's circled letters) (mixed nuts). And from there, I was on a roll with the theme answers. By the way, each of the hidden mixed nuts can be found in the picture.

16A: Farberware set (saucepans).

22A: Coffee maker component (filter basket).

36A: Bothers (chews at). That expression sounds strange, although I've been known to say that something is chewing at me.

44A: Longtime ABC newsman (Sam Donaldson). I had the D*ON at the end, and his name popped into my head. I love when that happens.

There were several names I didn't know in this puzzle, but I was able to get them from the crosses.

15A: "Hard Cash" author Charles (Reade).

18A: Film director Morris (Errol).

29A: Huffington of the Huffington Post (Arianna). With the letters I had in place, I was able to flat out guess that...the crosses confirmed it.

35A: HBO's "Da __ G Show" (Ali).

26D: Susan who wrote the best seller "Compromising Positions" (Isaacs). I've never even heard of it.

27D: Sighter of the Pacific, Sept. 25, 1513 (Balboa). Another that I guessed with a few letters in place.

31D: 1939 Academy Award nominee Brian (Aherne). According to Wikipedia, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (his only nomination) for his role as Emperor Maximillian von Habsburg in "Juarez."

32D: Political hostess Perle (Mesta).

Favorite clues include 30A: Talk that might get one in trouble (sass), 39A: Post-vacation, say (rested), 57A: Bullet followers (items), 11D: Words with a familiar ring? (I do), 21D: Overseas (abroad)...I initially read it as oversees, so wanted it to end in an S, 25D: Get in trouble, in a way, with "on" (tattle), 28D: Yen or yuan (Asian money) and 53D: Red letters? (CIN)...which took me forever to get.

I absolutely loved 10D: Providers of life lessons (hard knocks)...a multiword answer, and K appears twice. What's not to love?

Other favorites include 31A: Embryonic membrane (amnion), 34A: Hitter of 511 lifetime home runs (Ott)...didn't realize that, 40A: Home tool maker (Skil), 43A: Twisted thread (lisle), 48A: Heraldic border (orle), 49A: Sony subsidiary (Aiwa), 5D: Like a certain court (papal), 9D: Mother __ (Teresa), 36D: Some bayou residents (Creoles) and 47D: Singer of the anthem "Sang till Norden" (Swede)..."Song of the North."

Dixie appears for the second time this 46D, clued as [Classic song with the words "Look away! Look away! Look away!"]. It appeared as one of the [heart] clues on Valentine's Day.

I would be remiss in my boomer duties if I failed to point out 17D: "__ Coming" (1969 Three Dog Night hit) (Eli's). Maybe Wendy will serve up some Three Dog Night in her entertaining music blog. Check it out if you haven't already...and be sure to go back often.

My project is finished and on its way. While fundraising is a huge part of working in nonprofit administration, I'll be happy to get back to my old routine of hands-on help to those in need. There were two apartment fires in the last week, and we've been bombarded with requests for housing displaced families. Unfortunately, we only have two emergency units, and both were filled quickly. It's tough work sometimes...whatever we can do, it's never enough.

I'm off to bed...early morning blood draw to see how things are progressing. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wednesday, February 20 - Chuck Hamilton

Now that I've gotten over the feeling that it's creepy to Google a constructor, I must say that I enjoy finding out a little bit about someone I hadn't heard of. According to, Chuck Hamilton had his first puzzle published in the LA Times a year ago. I didn't spend enough time researching to find out if he's been published in the New York Times before today's puzzle, but JimH will likely let us know if this is Chuck's debut.

Assuming it is...what a first puzzle. While the theme itself didn't excite me, the theme answers were all multiword phrases...always a favorite of mine.

The theme is revealed at 65A: It can precede the first words of 17-, 28-, 35-, 47- and 61-Across (double).

17A: "Back to the Future" subject (time travel).

28A: Fans often have it (team spirit). Double team? Maybe someone can clue me in on this one.

35A: Earthquake site (fault line).

47A: Flaky sort (space cadet)...about how I felt by the end of the workday. It'll be a big relief to wrap up my huge project tomorrow. Ten-hour workdays aren't for me.

61A: C-E-G triad, e.g. (major chord). Piano lessons paid off yet again. This was an absolute gimme.

There were some answers that I don't recall ever having seen in a grid...among them:

1A: Cause of a skin rash (eczema). Disgusting, yes...but such a great word. The Z, preceded by a's just too good.

14A: Quenched (slaked).

2D: Some newsletter pictures (Clip Art).

3D: Machine on a skating rink (Zamboni). The name has always reminded me of something good to eat...maybe zabaglione.

6D: Far from klutzy (adroit).

41D: Defensive wall (parapet).

50D: Alternatives to 'Vettes (T-birds).

44D: Spanish capital under the Moors (Cordoba).

I've always liked the expression helter-skelter, aside from the connection to Charles Manson. At any rate, I liked that it was used to clue two of the answers...12D: Enters helter-skelter (piles in) and 45D: Not helter-skelter (orderly).

Favorite clues in the puzzle:

10A: Bugle tune (Taps).

31A: Moonshiner's setup (still).

51A: Horror film staple (gore). Nice change-of-pace clue.

60A: Defaulter's loss (repo).

67A: It may leave marks (pox). Another gross one, but I liked its cross at 58D: It's "stronger than dirt" (Ajax).

68A: Doesn't stick to the straight and narrow (strays). As I looked over the grid before blogging, I kept seeing that as St. Ray's...maybe some sports team?

29D: Made a scene? (acted).

48D: Parts of analogies (colons).

I don't know how many times I'll struggle to remember 49A: Automaker Ferrari (Enzo)...should be a gimme by now. 57A: Simon Wiesenthal's quarry (Nazis) shares the Z...Wiesenthal was an amazing man. You can read more about him here.

For some reason, I loved 40D: "Puh-lease!" (spare me)...don't know why it struck such a chord tonight.

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

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tuesday, February 19 - Victor Fleming

A snappy Tuesday puzzle from my favorite crossword judge. Victor Fleming left out all references to law in this one...that will make some solvers happy, but they're often gimmes for me.

The three theme answers are clued identically...Enjoying an outing, of sorts...20A (on the golf course), 39A (playing eighteen) and 56A (hitting the links). Aside from some of the basics (Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead), I don't know a whole lot about golf...but these were easy enough for the likes of me.

And that one reminds me of one of my father's favorite golf jokes. Three guys are out playing eighteen holes. A funeral procession passes by, and one of the men stops, bows his head and makes the sign of the cross. His friends are amazed and say, "Gee, Bob, I didn't know you were so devout." Bob nods his head and says, "Well, she was a good wife."

Not to worry...I won't quit my day job.

Favorites answers in this puzzle include:

15A: Di or da preceder in a Beatles song (obla). You know I love all things Beatles. I also loved the clue.

17A: "What __ Did" (classic children's book with a punny title) (Katy). That reminds me of a rather old song. "What did Delaware, boys, what did Delaware? She wore a brand New Jersey..." Does anyone else remember it?

18A: __ Spee (old German warship) (Graf). The parenthetical addition was much appreciated. When I see Spee (by itself), I picture Smee...from Peter Pan.

19A: Catcher's position (squat).

23A: "Gets the red out" sloganeer (Visine).

51A: Edit (revise).

1D: Comic Smirnoff (Yakov).

8D: Port of Israel (Jaffa). Didn't know...guessed right.

9D: Treat leniently, with "on" (go soft).

10D: Talkativeness (loquacity) that a beautiful word?

27D: Ad infinitum (no end).

33D: Former Connecticut governor Grasso (Ella). She was the first woman governor of Connecticut, as well as the first woman to be elected governor who was not the wife or widow of a governor. According to this article, she resigned from her second term because of ovarian cancer, and died just a few weeks later. I didn't know that.

35D: "I can't blame anyone else" (my mistake).

37D: Latvia's capital (Riga).

41D: Georg who wrote "The Philosophy of Right" (Hegel).

I brought work home and I need to spend at least another hour on it, so I'd better wrap this up. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Monday, February 18 - Lynn Lempel

It's always nice to see Lynn Lempel's name on a byline. Her puzzles are always fun, with a better-than-average share of fresh fill. In addition to today's puzzle, Lynn also has the syndicated puzzle for today.

The theme is political positions...all far from the right...and the theme answers are:

17A: Free health and dental care, and then some (liberal benefits).

25A: Math symbol for extraction of a root (radical sign).

45A: In limbo (left hanging).

57A: Eyeglass option for different distances (progressive lens).

The nontheme multiword answers are 1A: Bounce to the surface (bob up), 34A: Entree in a bowl with beef or lamb, say (meat stew), 39A: "Hey, come back a bit" (not so far), 42A: Enter en masse (pour in), 42D: Home viewing for a price (pay TV) and 43D: Subscription period, often (one year)...I liked them all.

I guess I should have watched more of the Star Wars movies. I didn't know 23A: Luke's twin sister in "Star Wars" (Leia)...the letters were playing out that way, and Elaine confirmed it. I can't help but wonder why no one told me once it was discovered...that was big news, even for (especially for?) those of us who only saw the first movie. Look how much in love they were!

I'm still in shock, but I have to get on with this post.

Favorite clues:

16A: Present opener? (omni)...a gimme.

44A: Peppermint __ of "Peanuts" (Patty). I always liked her...and the candy that bears her name is also a favorite. This was Peppermint Patty's debut in the comic strip.

1D: Pitcher's faux pitch (balk).

3D: One often needing a change (baby).

6D: Pertaining to a son or daughter (filial). I realize it comes from the Latin filialis (of a son or daughter), but it almost sounds as though it should pertain to a young female horse.

46D: Loathing (hating). I like the word, although it reminds me of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." I tried to read it and got physically sick in the first couple of pages...felt like I was on a really bad trip. I had never had that experience with a book before...or since.

Favorite answers in the grid include 6A: Botch (flub), 14A: Belittle (abase), 22A: Limerick or sonnet (verse), 33A: Warnings (alerts), 47A: Wood-shaping tool (adz), crossing with a fun three-letter word at 41D: Turk's topper (fez), 60A: Early state in the presidential campaign (Iowa), 10D: Errand runner (gofer), 27D: God or goddess (deity), 31D: His tomb is in Red Square (Lenin), 32D: Banjo sound (twang) amd 47D: Aquatic plant life (algae).

The next three days will be crazy at work with our annual fundraiser. I hope I still have a brain tomorrow night.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G