Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thursday, May 1 - Jim Leeds

In yesterday's puzzle, Henry Hook gave us permission to use Google for crossword solving. was right there as an answer. But even without his okay, I'd have felt okay Googling to finish today's puzzle.

We haven't seen a New York Times puzzle by Jim Leeds since December 27, 2007...and we haven't had a rebus in some time. It was fairly easy for me to guess that that's what we were dealing with...I just knew that 4D [Boonies] had to be sticks, but it wasn't going to fit.

The theme was revealed at 38A: "That's repulsive!"...or a hint to this puzzle's theme (gross). At that point, though, I thought it would have something to do with a know, twelve dozen.

Instead, we have ick hidden in the grid...a total of nine times. Four of the entries give us a double shot of it.

17A: Club founder and president in an 1836 Dickens novel (Mr. P[ick]w[ick]).

18D: Field goal attempter, once (drop k[ick]er).

36A: Handle (mon[ick]er). I think there should have been some indication of an alternative spelling. Moniker is seen more often.

41A: 5th Avenue alternative (Sn[ick]ers). This was another argument for a rebus...I was pretty sure of this answer my first time through.

53A: Century, e.g. (Bu[ick]). [UPDATE: This appears incorrectly in the grid...see Bob's comment and my reply.]

59A: Crispy appetizer (breadst[ick]). I spent too much time trying to think of something deepfried.

61A: Easy winner in bridge (qu[ick] tr[ick]). I know nothing about bridge. I'm not even sure if that's one word or two.

And the downs that crossed them...

4D: Boonies (st[ick]s).

6D: __ and snee (sn[ick]). I'm not familiar with that one.

11D: Hysterical hen of fable (Ch[ick]en L[ick]en). I've heard of Chicken Little and the Little Red Hen. I thought Chicken Licken was a fast-food chain.

35D: Awkward situations, informally (st[ick]y w[ick]ets).

52D: Quiz show gizmo (cl[ick]er). I went to Catholic school for seven years. The word clicker brings up images of Sister Anybody with her little clicker. Sit up straight...get rid of the gum...stop talking and start reading.

56D: Amusement park purchase (t[ick]et).

58D: Eat without enthusiasm (p[ick] at). That's definitely not a problem for me. I really enjoy food...and am lucky that I don't weigh twice what I do.

There were a few answers I wasn't sure about. Some I got from crosses, others from Google.

14A: Ex-Dodger manager Walter (Alston).

47A: Sir Thomas who introduced the sonnet to England (Wyatt). I sort of knew it, but it was more of a guess...confirmed by crosses.

32D: Beaux-__ (Arts). Describing it as ornate would be an understatement.

39D: Opinionated Hannity and others (Seans).

48D: Former CBS chief Laurence (Tisch).

54D: 1934 Chemistry Nobelist Harold (Urey).

Then there was the answer I couldn't get at all...until I checked out Harris's posted grid at Water and Waves. 7A: U.S. Army award: Abbr. (DSC). I checked with stands for Distinguished Service Cross. I didn't have a clue, and I wasn't getting anywhere with whatever I'd originally had. The crosses weren't much help, either. 7D: Pedestal part (dado), 8D: Parade walks (struts) and 9D: Draper's offering (cloth). It's late, and I'm tired. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

Favorite or otherwise noteworthy clues and/or answers...1A: Unicorns and griffins (beasts), 26A: Cause of a sore spot (thorn), 33A: Tiniest bit at the bottom of a coffee cup (last drop), 43A: Grapefruit units (segments)...not sections, 45A: According to __ (Hoyle)...don't get that at all, 46A: Free __ (1850s abolitionist) (Stater), 55A: Waist removal regimens? (diets), 64A: Brown and simmer (braise), 2D: The Jetson boy (Elroy), 44D: Dram or gram (measure) and 46D: Chest: Prefix (stetho).

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

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wednesday, April 30 - Henry Hook

I know someone who's very happy to see a Henry Hook puzzle today. The sad news...I can't remember who it is.

Henry did with this puzzle what he manages to do with every other one...messes with my mind. Only this time he did it literally...with three musical theme answers.

20A: 1968 Glen Campbell hit (Gentle On My Mind). That was always a favorite...and listening to it now I realize I still love it. Here's a duet with the song's writer, John Hartford.

34A: 1960 Ray Charles hit (Georgia On My Mind).

53A: 1982 Willie Nelson hit (Always On My Mind). Another favorite.

My favorite answer...hands 1D: Solver's online recourse (Googling). I've been saying for more than a year that it's okay...and now it's been legitimized in the New York Times puzzle.

Other good fill:

13A: Sans deferment (one A). Took me forever to see it, though.

25A: Mouse who's always throwing bricks at Krazy Kat (Ignatz). I haven't a clue who either of those characters are...that was either before my time or way after. But they made it to a postage stamp.

40A: Peace-and-quiet venue (Arcadia).

44A: Little fingers or toes (minimi). Okay, I like the looks of it...but I've never heard it. And it's not in my Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition.

47A: He wrote "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him" (Voltaire). That was a good guess...based on another good guess at 42D: Burial place of King Arthur (Avalon).

57A: False deity (Baal).

58A: "Gilmore Girls" daughter (Rory).

61A: 1961 "spacechimp" (Enos). He's appeared a few it was a gimme.

4D: Title locale in a Cheech Marin flick (East LA).

5D: Actor Billy of "Titanic" (Zane)...and the cross at 5A: Slalomer's moves (zags).

7D: Adorned, in the kitchen (garni). I so wanted something that would end in ED, especially before I figured out the theme...and remembered the name of the Glen Campbell song. I won lunch at the Honeybaked Ham Cafe, courtesy of our local oldies station. The disc jockey read five words from a song, and I called in and identified the song and the artist. Here are the lyrics...misty memories of days gone. The answer appears at the end of the post.

9D: What demonstrators demonstrate (activism).

11D: Longtime Cowboys coach Tom (Landry). I don't know why I know this, but I do.

36D: Van Susteren of Fox News (Greta). While searching for a picture to post, I discovered the hoopla about her plastic surgery...about which I had been blissfully unaware. I wasn't sure if I should do a pre- or post-surgery photo, so I decided to skip it altogether.

I like the three consecutive answers in the southeast...37D: Begin (initiate), 38D: Put up (nominate) and 39D: Approached zero (dwindled).

43D: Ravel work (Bolero). Capital R...accent on the second syllable.

I wasn't wild about the multiword answers in the northwest...2D: Allied (with) (in league) and 3D: Enjoyed doing (been into). Similarly, 24A: Cut into parts (dissever)...if sever means to cut apart, shouldn't dissever mean to put it back together? I mean...think about it.

Struggled with 23A: Daughter of Muhammad Ali (Laila). I know her name, but I can never remember how to spell it...relying (again) on the crosses.

Favorite clue in the puzzle...35D: Things people are trained in? (railways).

This is the song that won lunch...the video doesn't appear to work.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tuesday, April 29 - Will Nediger

I didn't get home from quilting group until after 9:30...and the mother of all early-week puzzles was waiting to be solved.

I don't remember the last time I needed Google to finish a Tuesday puzzle. I'll be interested to see if the rest of you found it as difficult.

There must be a word to describe this theme...but I don't have a clue what it would be. The five theme answers all begin with A and end in Z:

17A: Semiautobiographical Bob Fosse film (All That Jazz).

38A: A.L. M.V.P. in 2003, 2005 and 2007 (Alex Rodriguez).

60A: 1970s joint U.S./Soviet space project (Apollo-Soyuz).

12D: Namesake of a branch of Judaism (Ashkenaz).

38D: The Rock (Alcatraz). I guess if you were to escape, there really wouldn't be anywhere to go.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I had never heard of one of them...and barely remembered another.
When all was said and done, though, how could you not love this puzzle? Exceptional fill included:

22A: Creature from the forest moon of Endor (Ewok).

43A: New Jersey's __ Air Force Base (McGuire).

50A: Arizona birthplace of Cesar Chavez (Yuma). Good guess...what else would have started with Y? Thanks to 32D: Hang on the line (air dry).

1D: Daisy developed by Luther Burbank (Shasta). We used to have several in the yard, but they've just died away over the last twenty years...go figure. I think I'll plant a few more this year.

8D: Resident of Japan's "second city" (Osakan).

11D: Supporter of the House of Stuart (Jacobite).

23D: The Beatles' "I Am the __" (Walrus).

25D: Only son of Czar Nicholas II (Alexei).

39D: Georgia city or college (LaGrange).

40D: Drag performer with a wax likeness in New York's Madame Russauds (RuPaul).

46D: Alignment of the sun, earth and moon, e.g. (syzygy).

And that's barely the tip of the iceberg.

But it's almost 11:00, and my head is pounding. I just noticed I missed a letter in the grid...the T at the cross of 56A: Decisive defeat (rout) and 57D: Hitler : German :: __ : Japan (Tojo).

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Monday, April 28 - Gary Disch

Gary Disch is no stranger to crossword construction, but this may be his first New York Times puzzle.

I enjoyed this one...a pretty fine Monday puzzle, with some out-of-the-ordinary fill.

The theme is revealed at 41A: Making out...or a hint to this puzzle's four hidden articles of clothing (necking). The theme answers:

17A: Boardinghouse sign (ROOMS TO LET).

64A: Halifax's home (NOVA SCOTIA).

11D: Favoring common folk (ANTI ELITE).

34D: Daytona 500 enthusiast (NASCAR FAN).

I don't understand the inclusion of a note in AcrossLite...17- and 64-Across and 11- and 34-Down each conceals an article of clothing. It seemed pretty easy to figure out the theme without it. Maybe because it's a Monday puzzle?

Best fill in the puzzle includes:

5A: Mafia bosses (capos).

15A: Japanese cartoons (Anime).

23A: Katmandu resident (Nepali).

25A: Snarled mess (tangle). I think this would qualify as a pretty nasty one.

46A: Perfectly clear (lucid).

54A: Slave (thrall). That doesn't seem like a Monday word, but it was a nice addition to the puzzle.

62A: Eskimo home (igloo).

67A: El __, Spanish artist (Greco).

70A: Church council (synod).

71A: God of war (Ares). That's definitely one to shows up fairly often.

4D: Church songbooks (hymnals).

10D: Snoopy, for one (beagle).

31D: Lennon/Ono's "Happy __ (War is Over)" (Xmas). We wish. Here they are, along with some beautiful children singing the background.

33D: Language of Lahore (Urdu).

45D: Shaded passageway (pergola)...a great word.

56D: Valley known for its chateaux (Loire). If you didn't know this, and you didn't know the cross at the L (thrall), you could have been in deep trouble.

Favorite clues include 1A: "Miss America" might be printed on one (sash)...although the thought gags me...and 32A: Many conundrums have them (puns).

Elaine and Jesse were here for dinner, so I got a very late start blogging. I had done the puzzle as soon as it was available online...probably should have just done the blog then. Now it's late, and I'd better call it a night.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sunday, April 27 - Oliver Hill

OOPS! is right. I don't know about the rest of you, but I had a tough time spelling all of the theme answers incorrectly. And I'm willing to bet this will be a tough post to write. I may end up spelling them correctly...that is, wrong.

Oliver Hill is one of the young crossword wonders...and also Will's neighbor. This is his third New York Times puzzle...and I believe his second Sunday. This young man definitely has a future in this business...probably another one as well.

The theme is revealed at 65A: Like the answers to the 10 asterisked clues, more often than any other English words, according to a 1999 study (improperly spelled).

26A: * Long, long time (millenium).

32A: * Stick with a needle, maybe (innoculate).

34A: * Absence at a nudist colony? (embarassment).

44A: * Bugs (harrasses).

51A: * Wee (miniscule). This one looks the most fact, I had to look it up to see that it's minuscule. That looks as wrong.

82A: * Conspicuous (noticable).

87A: * Supplant (supercede).

94A: * Doggedness (perseverence).

97A: * Oblige (accomodate).

107A: * Event (occurence).

Just as I suspected...I wanted to spell them correctly.

Steppe reappears in the grid...just four days after its last appearance. Today it's at 122A, clued as [Plain]. On Wednesday, it was [Part of the Kazakhstan landscape].

Favorite answers in the puzzle include:

14A: Casual attire (Levis). I had jeans at first...because I wanted the cross at 16D [It's bowed] to be arrow, rather than the correct viola. That answer always makes me think of Ultra Vi, a frequent past Madness and other crossword blogs. It really stinks when real life has to take precedence over reading blogs.

23A: Turn away (alienate). I was hung up in that corner and had to walk away for an hour before I began to see the light. 1D: Symbol of happiness (clam) finally revealed itself, and that began to open things up.

42A: Stuck (in a jam).

50A: Jazzy Jones (Norah).

55A: X-ray __ (Spex). That was the last answer to fall...that is, the S was the last letter I filled in. Don confirmed it...but denied having ordered a pair. While Googling for a picture, I discovered a group by the same name...haven't a clue who they are or what they've done.

58A: Whatchamacallit (gizmo). Love the the answer.

71A: __ choy (Chinese vegetable) (bok). After our morning at the spa, TOL and I went to the new Mongolian grill in was the best! I have finally learned how to fill the bowl to overflowing so that it cooks down to a reasonable amount of food. Bok choy was only one of the many vegetables I piled in. I'll be going back there soon...and often.

77A: Spicy cuisine (Thai). They also have a separate Thai menu...that will have to wait for another time.

113A: Root used in perfumery (orris). I had no idea that was an iris. That's odd...because when I pick irises and bring them into the house, they smell kind of rotten.

117A: Attempts (has a go at). I love it because it's four words...and because I kept seeing it as has a goat.

120A: Like some pens (erasable). Doesn't that look like it should be a misspelled answer?

2D: Long-haired sheepdog (Puli). I can't believe this is really what they look like. I'm in no way advocating cruelty to animals, but this guy looks like a moving dustmop. Some of the pictures I found were of stuffed animals, but I think this one is real. At least, the tongue looks real.

14D: 1950s Braves All-Star pitcher Burdette (Lew). This is the other corner that caused a few problems...mostly because of the aforementioned jeans/Levis dilemma, but also because I didn't know this guy.

18D: Cubic meter (stere). This word was a complete unknown to me. I just checked in the dictionary...that's the definition...verbatim.

34D: Karl Marx's one (eins). How clever is that!

37D: Product with TV's first advertising jingle, 1948 (Ajax) the United States anyway. According to Wikipedia it was "You'll stop paying the elbow tax, when you start cleaning with Ajax." I guess that was considered pretty catchy at the time.

51D: Orator's no-no (monotone).

85D: __ profundo (basso).

88D: Rare imports, maybe (exotica).

112D: Somme times (etes). I have finally caught on to this one.

Last night's date night was rescheduled...and will now be Sunday brunch. There's a fairly new (three years or less) golf course in town, and I just heard they have the best Sunday brunch, so we're going to try it out. The food sounded good...but what sold me was that they don't just include champagne with brunch. I do love a good Bloody Mary, and I haven't had one in years.

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

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, April 26 - Brad Wilber

A quick run through my mini-database shows that this is Brad Wilber's fifth puzzle since I started blogging...and every one of them has been a Saturday puzzle.

Last night should have been date night, but Don and I were both exhausted. I managed to solve the puzzle...with a little help from Google...before crashing at ten. This morning I'm celebrating my longtime friend's 50th birthday with a day at the spa...we'll both get a manicure, pedicure and facial. It's tough, I know...but I'd do just about anything for TOL (The Other Linda).

I thought it was a good sign that I had a nine-letter gimme on the first clue I read...1D: Techie's drawing (schematic). I expect fellow blogger/techie JimH to get that easily, but I was delighted that I did.

Unfortunately, it didn't turn out to be much of a sign. Brad's now-famous stacks in the corners were pretty challenging...I managed to get a few of them with only a few letters in place, but most of them were a struggle.

Along with schematic, in the northwest...2D: Cell's lack (phone line) and 3D: Indicators of intelligence? (code names). Both were problematic...I was thinking of a plant cell and wanted something beginning with photo.

The northeast...5A: Play for which Julie Harris won the 1952 Tony for Best Actress (I am a Camera), 16A: Title housewife in an Oscar-winning film (Mrs. Miniver)...I got that with only the S in place, and 18A: Something damned with faint praise, in British lingo (curate's egg). I hope someone can explain that...I think I've parsed it correctly.

The southwest...51A: Like King Kong in New York City (on a rampage) the clue, 56A: Its currency unit is the ariary (Madagascar), and 58A: O. Henry specialty (plot twists). I had the O and foolishly thought it was something as simple as short story.

And in the southeast...31D: Some airplane runners (tailskids), 32D: Douglas is its capital (Isle of Man) helps that I know all the US capitals and could rule that out immediately. I managed to get that with the I and A. The best clue in the puzzle is at 33D: High-occupancy vehicles? (clown cars).

Two very nice expressions in the center of the puzzle...30A: Rhapsodize (wax poetic) was easy to get because of 24D: Replacer of the Humble brand in the early 1970s (Exxon), and 37A: Song title followed by the lyric "Lovers say that in France" (C'est si bon). I have no clue what that means, but I'm sure someone out there does and will share.

Other favorites:

40A: Gunsmith Remington (Philo).

43A: Cousin of the sandpiper (curlew).

44A: Titular author of two books of the Bible (St. Peter). I used to be fooled by answers that began with a more. Well, not today.

47A: Swedish soprano noted for her Wagnerian roles (Nilsson).

11D: "Lose" at the office (misfile) the clue.

12D: Winner of six U.S. Opens (Evert) this time, not golf.

30D: Max who wrote "Politics as a Vocation" (Weber)...a few things from Sociology have stuck with me.

46D: Home of "The Garden of Earthly Delights" (Prado).

KFC appeared as an answer again 50A, clued as [Crispy Twister sandwich offerer]. I loved yesterday's clue...[Its logo is a goateed man in an apron].

47A: Time of Ta'anit Esther (Adar)...if it's a four-letter Hebrew month they want, I'm guessing Adar every time.

The award for today's [Married woman abroad] goes to Germany...frau appears at 21A.

There were a few unfamiliar answers...or I've heard the word but didn't recall its meaning. 17A: Burdens on some shoulders (hods), 27A: Old-style call to arms (alarum), 6D: Green dragon and skunk cabbage (arums) and 40D: Whimper (pule). That's skunk cabbage at Mount Rainier...prettier than it sounds.

Better wrap this up...time's getting short.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Friday, April 25 - Mike Nothnagel

Wouldn't you know...the night I think I'll blow off the puzzle it turns out to be one of Mike Nothnagel' way in hell I can do that!

I didn't get home from the volunteer appreciation dinner until almost 10:00. Fortunately, I was really on Mike's wavelength and solved much faster than I normally do a Friday puzzle.

My very favorite was the two-part answer at 30A: With 36-Across, shortsighted (pennywise and pound foolish). That was one of my mother's favorite expressions, and it has affected many of the decisions I've made...not just those relating to spending...all my life. I was able to get it with the I and A in 30A and the P and I in 36A. To say I was proud of that would be an understatement.

The other long answer that came easily was 21D: Fictional secret agent (Maxwell Smart). Really...who else could it have been? Especially since I had (correctly) guessed 28A: Dr. Seuss book, with "The" (Lorax).

Nice that my four years of Spanish came in handy tonight. 15A: Hombre-to-be (muchacho) was a nice answer to have in the northwest corner...especially since some of the others weren't coming very easily. It took me forever to see that 1D: No Oscar contender was B movie.

Similarly, I didn't get 57A: Some natural history museum attractions (T-Rexes), even after I had the correct letters in place.

So maybe I wasn't totally on Mike's wavelength, but there were several other gimmes.

33A: Disappear, in a way (go AWOL).

43A: Piece of cake in school (easy A). I thought several of my classes fit that category...but how do you explain that more than half of the class got C or lower?

7D: Long-running Art and Chip Sansom comic strip (The Born Loser).

12D: Some are sweetened (iced teas). I can't tell you how happy I am to see it written that way. One of my pet peeves is seeing it written as ice teas. The tea is iced...hence, the name. I'm probably preaching to the choir here.

These weren't exactly gimmes, but I was able to suss them out with very few letters in place.

17A: Accurate (on target).

53A: Landmark on the Chicago shoreline (Navy Pier). We went there with the girls to visit Don's mother and brother. I wish I could find the picture of Leslie at the top of the ferris wheel with her Uncle Brian. It was know, when kids have that look of absolute wonder.

55A: Fill up with gas (aerate).

58A: Its dome was designed by Michelangelo (St. Peters).

13D: Mountain, e.g. (time zone). Mine. Well, I share it with a lot of other people.

14D: Inflammation reducer (steroid). I just got a shot of Kenalog for my allergies this week. I'm guessing that it's a steroid. All I know is that two days later, I am about 99% better than I've been in over a month. Pollen and wind are not a good combination...but Kenalog is a miracle drug.

The one answer I changed multiple times...36D: Views through a keyhole. First I had peeps at...changed it to peers at. Finally figured out that 47A: Its logo is a goateed man in an apron referred to Colonel Sanders. KFC changed my answer once and for all to peeks at.

I've never heard of 46A: "T.J. Hooker" actor Adrian (Zmed)...but isn't that some last name.

Geographical things I didn't know and will probably never remember...5D: __ Sea (arm of the Arctic Ocean) (Kara) and 30D: Iloilo's island (Panay)...unless they're in the puzzle again in the next week or so.

Also didn't know 18A: Simple inflorescence, as in a lily of the valley (raceme)...which incorrectly (funnily) parses as race me. Again, I don't hold out much hope for remembering it.

It's after 11:00, and I still need to make frosting and frost a I'd better wrap this up.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thursday, April 24 - Michael Langwald

Michael Langwald's New York Times debut was just last month...and here he is with a late-week puzzle his second time around.

Four good theme answers which make up a rebus...minus the pictures.

18A: Summer arctic phenomenon (midnight SUN).

24A: 1890 battle site that's now a memorial (Wounded KNEE).

37A: Grandmother of Jesus (Saint ANNE).

56A: Measure of a company's dominance (market SHARE).

The theme is revealed at 62A: 1965 hit by the performers suggested phonetically by the ends of 18-, 24-, 37- and 56-Across (I Got You Babe).

In addition to a cleverly executed theme, there's the added treat of some really good fill.

4A: Former New York governor (Cuomo). I only know three of them, and the other two wouldn't fit.

15A: Big name in pest control (Orkin). The older I get, the more I freak out over bugs. Orkin (or someone like them) came and sprayed at things are coming out to die. At least once a day, some large thing crawls into my office, causing me to shriek (quietly) and find someone to dispatch it. I honestly don't understand why they bother me...I'm still okay with spiders. Go figure.

16A: __ Bowl (Aloha). My favorite of all. Guess why?

28A: Mayo can be found in it (año). How very clever is that? My first answer was BLT, although I skip the mayo on them.

41A: Hamilton who wrote "Mythology" (Edith). Never heard of it...or her. It was a good guess once I had the TH in place.

53A: "Ghostbusters" director Ivan (Reitman). Well, at least I've heard of the movie. I probably even saw it twice.

4D: Field for Fields (comedy). Totie Fields has been in the puzzle at least once since I've been blogging...maybe twice. This is one of her quotes. She was a class act...and one very funny lady.

11D: Proportionately (to scale).

12D: Condiment made with a mortar and pestle (chutney).

13D: Two-wheeled carriages (hansoms). I know we've had that before, but it continues to trip me up.

36D: Mother of Charlemagne (Bertha).'s not enough that we have to know the grandmother of Jesus.

43D: Tied up (in knots). Have you noticed that many of the two-word answers can be parsed incorrectly and still make two nots, in this case. 54D: "Honest!" (I swear) is another wear. They don't make any sense, but that's how I saw them when I looked back over the grid. Toscale (see above) could be the name of a city in Italy.

46D: Hobbyist (amateur).

48D: Israeli parliament (Knesset).

51D: War preceder (man o')...Raise your hand if you tripped over that one.

52D: Actress Andress (Ursula). She was a Bond girl...and absolutely gorgeous.

It's been a busy night. I came home and baked a big batch of my now-famous layered mint brownies for our volunteer appreciation dinner which is tomorrow night. Things have come together nicely for the event. We have about 400 volunteers, so this is a pretty big deal. I also baked a birthday cake for our director. She bakes a birthday cake for every addition to what we have at work on our birthday. Before I came along, no one attempted to bake one for her...they all said they were a bit intimidated. I was up for the challenge...and last year I made a German chocolate cake. This year I made a yellow butter cake, frosted with French Silk.

So I was late getting to the puzzle, and now it's 10:15...past my bedtime.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wednesday, April 23 - Stephen Edward Anderson

According to, Stephen Edward Anderson had his first New York Times puzzle published on Thursday, March 20, 2008. He didn't come up in a search of my blog., though...I guess that was during my short-lived sabbatical.

I found this pretty tough for a Wednesday...maybe it's just that I'm tired. It will be interesting to hear what others have to say.

A quick diversion before I go on with the puzzle. Since I posted an email address in the sidebar earlier in the week, several readers have chosen that option over posting a comment. It's always nice to hear from you...however it happens...but other readers can only interact with you via the comments section. You can be as anonymous as you'd like to be with your one knows who you are, including me. If you'd like to be a little less anonymous, you can post anonymously but include your first name.

On to the puzzle...

Nice work on Stephen's part. Good long answers and several multiword, along with some not-often-seen fill.

The long answers...17A: Mercury (quick silver), 60A: Easily set off, as a temper (hair trigger), 11D: #1 on the Hot 100 (chart topper) and 25D: Discoverer of stars? (talent scout). [Update: Oh, hello! Those are also theme answers. Look at the last word of each...a famous TV western horse is lurking.]

Multiword answers include 21A: Where to spend time with moguls? (ski run), 23A: What French fries are fried in (hot oil), 29A: All riled up (in a stir)...I had in a snit for a while, 31A: Working the desk, say (on duty), 38A: Ate, but not much (had a bit), 5D: Try to get by through bluffing (fake it), 9D: Strands after a blizzard (ices in), 46D: Nice enough fellow (okay guy)...who would want to be described that way...and 50D: "I ain't buyin it!" (no dice).

If I'm not mistaken, the two-part answer [30D: With 27-Down, western cry] (ride 'em / cowboy) was in a puzzle not that long ago.

I'll bet that many of you got sidetracked by one of my favorite answers...1A: Low pitch symbol (F clef). I know I did. I was tickled to remember 2D: Premier __ (wine designation) (cru) from a recent puzzle...and I was sure that 1D: Help page rubric was I was pretty sure I had a wrong answer. What could possibly start with FCL?

Other favorites include 47A: Part of the Kazakhstan landscape (steppe), 49A: Neil Simon's "Lost in __" (Yonkers), 55A: And so on and so forth (etc etc), 66A: "I'm so bored" feeling (ennui), 12D: Prognostication (augury) and 51D: It has a test of brightness (Mensa).

How many of you recognized 44D: "La Belle et la __" (Bête ) as Beauty and the Beast? Here it is in French.

Favorite clues...6A: Prepare for a physical exam (strip), 8D: Gun in the garage? (rev)...and the very best...47D: Soap alternative (sitcom).

It looks as though Obama is still in the running. Here it is...almost the end of April...and we don't yet know who the Democratic candidate will be. Has this happened in my lifetime? I'm thinkin' it hasn't.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tuesday, April 22 - Nancy Salomon

Nancy Salomon has co-authored a couple of puzzles in the past few months, but I haven't seen her name appear solo on a byline since June 7, 2007. [UPDATE: Thanks to JimH for letting me know that Nancy also authored the December 25 puzzle...I solved it but didn't blog it, so it didn't show up in my search.] Nancy's puzzles usually involve puns of some sort, and this Tuesday doesn't stray too far from her MO.

The theme answers are all investment terms...very appropriate in light of the stimulus payments that many of us will be receiving soon...with puns appearing as the very literal clues.

17A: Fishing trawler's haul? (net earnings).

28A: Seat of government's acquisitions? (capital gains).

44A: Publisher's windfall? (paper profits).

59A: Salary for selling insects as food? (gross income)...the funniest of them all.

It's always a pleasure to see fresh fill in an early week puzzle. Some of my favorites:

1A: What a gal has that a gent doesn't? (hard G)...I didn't get it immediately, but it wasn't too far off.

6A: Elephant of children's literature (Babar). How can you not love an elephant in a suit?

15A: Muscat resident (Omani).

25A: Lukas of "Witness" (Haas).

53A: Getting slick during winter (icing up). Did anyone else read that as "getting sick" at first?

64A: Ryder rival (U-Haul).

66A: Fakes out with fancy footwork (dekes). Okay, I checked this grid and it's right...but this word doesn't appear in my dictionary. It's a favorite because it still looks good in the grid...with the K and all.

67A: By itself (per se). According to this article, it's also a restaurant in New York City.

2D: Mideast pooh-bah (Ameer) of several ways to spell that. It's a good idea to know the others as well...Amir, Emir, Aamir.

6D: Dwarf tree (Bonsai). Bedtime for Bonsai...wasn't that a movie about a man who covered up his dwarf tree at night?

11D: Works out with weights (pumps iron). This is why squirrels don't pump iron.

26D: "American Idol" quest (stardom). Several of them have made it...for my money, though, Kelly Clarkson is the best.

34D: Throws in the trash (deep sixes)...I also like its cross at 58A: Jazz instrument (sax). Here's a fellow crossword fan who also plays the sax. If you haven't already seen Wordplay, he also makes an appearance in it...but he doesn't play the sax.

39D: Add some meat to the bones (fatten up). My goal for the spring and summer is to avoid doing that.

42D: Go off a diet big-time (splurge)...because I did that today. It's volunteer appreciation week, and someone brought in homemade chocolate chip pecan cookies for our staff and volunteers. I think I had seven or eight of them...but they were kind of small.

51D: Twin of Romulus (Remus). I always get this story confused with Uncle Remus. Not really. Romulus and Remus were twins who were left in a basket on the river. They were found by a she-wolf who nursed them. You can read the rest of the story here. It doesn't have a happy ending...but it's not believed to be a true story.

55D: "The other white meat" (pork). That deserves a mention...just because.

It's getting close to the witching hour ( bedtime), so that's it for tonight.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Monday, April 21 - Janet R. Bender

Janet Bender hasn't had a New York Times puzzle since I started solving, but I discovered one of hers from February 9, 1999. According to this site, that puzzle holds the record for the most E's in a New York Times puzzle...78 of them.

Overall, this was an average Monday puzzle with an average Monday theme, but there were a couple of answers that had me wondering if I had an error.

32A: Fugard's "A Lesson From __" (Aloes). The cross at 27D: Baseball's Felipe or Jesus (Alou) wasn't much help. I think I should have known that, at least from a previous puzzle...but I didn't.

50A: Hasty glance (aperçu). I can honestly say I have never heard this word used in my life...or seen it in print.

The theme was housework...the first word of each theme answer was a household chore.

18A: Symbol of a new start (clean slate).

20A: Low-growing tree found typically in rocky soil (scrub oak).

33A: It indicates the seconds on a clock face (sweep hand).

40A: Small whirlwind (dust devil).

52A: Stock transaction done at a loss for tax purposes (wash sale).

57A: Old radio part (vacuum tube).

There must have been something subliminal about the theme. After solving the puzzle, I spent the next three hours cleaning out my office...and I made great progress.

The most noteworthy answer in the puzzle is 49D: Local theaters, in slang (nabes). We had it just a few days ago, and it baffled a lot of us...every blog had comments about it. I found it very exciting that it appeared again before I had a chance to forget it.

Other answers were gimmes because of previous puzzles...some more recent than others...3D: Banned spray on apple trees (alar), 24D: Actor Tom of "The Girl Can't Help It" (Ewell), 29D: Legendary Washington hostess Perle __ (Mesta), 34D: Asia's __ Sea (Aral) and 46D: Sudden outpouring (spate).

Favorites include 16A: Actor Murphy of old westerns (Audie), 26A: Dangerous cargo (hazmat), 43A: "As You Like It" forest (Arden), 59A: "Stronger than dirt" sloganeer (Ajax), 64A: "Hey!" (psst), 9D: Old-fashioned light (gas lamp), 30D: Lover (swain), 41D: Bram Stoker novel (Dracula), 42D: Central part (pith), 51D: Go to rack and __ (ruin) the clue...and 52D: Pantywaist (wuss).

The most newsworthy answer in the puzzle is 11D: Red who fought oil well fires (Adair). I remember him from the awesome film "Fires of Kuwait," which we saw on an IMAX screen. Red Adair was truly an amazing more about him and his firefighting career here. R.I.P., Red.

I'm exhausted and ready to call it a night. Thanks, was a fun puzzle...and my office needed a good cleaning.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sunday, April 20 - John Farmer

Although he's kicked my butt on more than one occasion, I've always enjoyed John Farmer's puzzles...but he won my heart with this one.

I can't explain it...but as soon as I see circles in the grid, I get almost giddy.

Today's circles spelled out the names of the eight planets within the theme answers...and what excellent theme answers they were.

24A: 1941 Henry Luce article that coined a name for an era (THE AMERICAN CENTURY).

34A: Closeout come-on (EVERYTHING MUST GO).

52A: Novel that ends "Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody" (THE CATCHER IN THE RYE).

75A: Artful deception (SMOKE AND MIRRORS).

82A: 1972 Harry Nilsson hit (JUMP INTO THE FIRE).

107A: Prime eatery (FIVE STAR RESTAURANT). This was the answer that revealed the theme...or at least part of it.

125A: Stanley Cup finalists of 1982 and 1994 (VANCOUVER CANUCKS).

138A: Head of a special government inquiry (INDEPENDENT COUNSEL).

But there's more. 9D: Center of many revolutions (whose first letter starts a bonus phrase reading clockwise around the shaded squares). The first letter of the answer...sun...starts us around the grid to form SOLAR SYSTEM. I've highlighted the letters in the grid at the end of the post.

John even found a way to include 131D: 2006 neologism meaning "to demote."

Most difficult answers:

29A: Tevye creator __ Aleichem (Sholom).

33A: Celine Dion's "I'm Your Angel" duet partner (R. Kelly).

45A: Truncated cones, in math (frusta).

1D: "Number 10" Abstract Expressionist (Rothko). I believe I could paint something like that.

7D: Money (lucre). Haven't heard the word, but I'm guessing that lucrative comes from the same root.

8D: Botanist Gray (Asa).

15D: Spanish sherry (Amontillado)...although I'm sure I read Poe's story, "The Cask of Amontillado."

51D: Hills of Yorkshire (Wolds).

84D: Nick Nolte movie based on a Kurt Vonnegut novel (Mother Night). I'm a big Nick Nolte fan, but I'd never heard of this.

116D: Sting's last name (Sumner). I never stopped to think that he had one.

125D: Singh on the links (Vijay). I can never remember how to spell his name...or maybe it's that I don't ever remember it.

Favorites include 4A: 1960s-'80s Red Sox legend, informally (Yaz)...along with its cross at 6D: Closed (in on) (zeroed), 67A: First principles (axioms), 97A: 1984 Heisman winner (Flutie), 101A: Laughing gas and water, chemically (oxides), 104A: Lover in "The Merchant of Venice" (Portia), 134A: He played Krupa in "The Gene Krupa Story" (Mineo), 149A: Charles de Gaulle alternative (Orly), 48D: Royal Navy foe of 1588 (Armada), 59D: Bleeth of "Baywatch" (Yasmine), 102D: __ Zagora, Bulgaria (Stara), 121D: "Into the Wild" actor Emile (Hirsch) and 122D: Home of Gannon Univ. (Erie, PA).

The best clues in the puzzle are 1A: Thing in a case (res)...think Latin, 22A: King of comedy (Alan), 23A: Going rate?: Abbr. (mph), 70A: "I'm king of the world!," e.g. (boast), 113A: You can't take it with you (estate), 2D: Made a comeback? (echoed), 76D: Like some twins (evil)...can you spot the evil twin in the picture?, 124D: Past records? (LPs) and 130D: Jaded figure (cynic).

AcrossLite wouldn't accept my solution, and I couldn't find an error to save my life. I finally checked it against Harris's posted solution...and discovered it at 114A: Upstate N.Y. sch. I had RBI (wondering why they didn't clue it in relation to baseball), giving me pab (short for pablum?) for 104D: Infant's food. The correct answer for the school is RPI (I should have known that)...but how is pap a baby food? I hope someone knows and will share.

There was just so much to love about John's puzzle, and I barely scratched the surface. Did I miss your favorite?

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G