Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday, May 31 - Robert H. Wolfe

If you weren't afraid of the big bad Wolfe before, you may be now. Robert H. Wolfe delivers another killer Saturday puzzle. Here's the first blog I did on one of his previous puzzles.

I finished the bottom half last night but couldn't keep my eyes open another minute...and I'd already spent a good half hour on it. I tackled it again this morning (with coffee in hand) and some answers just jumped out at me. I filled in a few across, a few in down, a few more across...and it was finished. I wasn't sure my grid was correct, but I just checked with JimH...and our answers agree.

I had a few parts of answers (shown in red) was just trial and error to fill in the rest...12D: Tool for sewing canvas (sail needle), 26D: Between seating sections (in the aisle) and 27D: Attic, often (third floor). I also had a couple of good guesses that turned out to be right...10A: Socs. (assns), 17A: Where habits are picked up? (nunneries), 61A: "Sure looks that way" (so it seems), and 39D: Cot spot (tents). The only gimmes I had were 37A: Tennis star Petrova (Nadia)...we had a cat with the same name, 58A: Jenny Craig testimonial starter (I Lost), 23D: "Amarantine" Grammy winner (Enya)...I have the CD, and 51D: "The washday miracle" sloganeer, once (Tide)...because I'm old enough to remember that one.

Not much to go on. I Googled to get 16A: "The Wreck of the Mary __" (1959 film) (Deare), 25A: First Earl of Chatham (Pitt) and 3D: 1956 Olympic skiing sensation __ Sailer (Toni)...that opened things up a bit.

Favorite multiword answers include 15A: "Whatever" (I don't care), 20A: "That's good enough" (It'll do), 29A: Proceeding (going ahead), 38A: Like some adult hippos (three ton), 59A: Read the riot act (bawled out) and 22D: Day when courts are not in session (dies non) about it here.

There were some answers that were so hard to suss out...once I got them, though, they made perfect sense...19A: Seat (keister), 21A: Get down (sadden), 34A: Exchange for something very valuable (eye teeth), 40A: Product with a rotating ball (roll-on), 56A: Not too much of a stretch (plausible), 5D: Retaining instructions (stets), 7D: Top arrangement? (hairdo), 11D: Bears do it (sell), and 14D: Tick source (second hand)...the best.

Other noteworthy answers...45A: Lyric stand-in, perhaps (na-na-na), 60A: Heavenly discovery of 1801 (Ceres), 13D: Certain atomic X-ray emission (N-radiation), 25D: After the Pentateuchal period (post-Mosaic), 40D: One of three French auto-making brothers (Renault) and 42D: Chichewa and English are its two official languages (Malawi).

That's it for this one. Don and the birds are waiting. Earlier this morning, there were two baby birds on the patio table. Mama (or Papa) Bird was getting seed from the feeder, then flying to the babies to put the seed in their waiting mouths. It was too cute.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Friday, May 30 - Natan Last

I knew exactly four answers after my first run through Natan Last's Friday puzzle...38A: Four-legged film star of the '30s (Asta), 44A: Bouncing off the walls (hyper), 10D: Follower of Sha Na Na at Woodstock (Jimi Hendrix) and 35D: She had a 1993 hit with "No Ordinary Love" (Sade).

After that I guessed a few and Googled a few more. Google got me 21A: "The Big Lebowski" director (Coen), 54A: "The Fog of War" director Morris (Errol) and 5D: Peter who wrote "The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde" (Ackroyd). That led to more good guesses, some of which panned out.

Among my favorites (always!) are the multiword answers at 14A: Soapmaking compound (oleic acid), 16A: Living end (bee's knees) it one bee or multiple bees?, 24A: Occupies (stays at), 27A: Not view innocently (leer at), 37A: "Without __" (Grateful Dead album) (a Net), 55A: Old comedian known for his unique piano-playing style (Chico Marx), 58A: "Oh well" (c'est la vie)...a very good guess with only one letter in place, 60A: "My parents are gonna kill me!" (I am so dead), 21D: Question while eying someone else's plate (can I try some)...Elaine would very quietly say, "I wonder what that tastes like" was too cute, 25D: Be a whipping boy (take the rap), 26D: "__ Forget" (Harbach/Kern tune) (Try to), and 39D: Eschew aid (fly solo).

I'm curious to know (but at 11:30, it's too late to spend the time to find out) if we have debuts with 1A: Elaborate procedure (rigmarole) and/or 11D: Clears (exonerates). I'll have to hope that JimH covered that in his blog.

My favorite clue was also my very best guess...49A: Keys (isles).

For some reason, I was exhausted after solving the puzzle and took a two-hour nap on the couch. I was startled awake by Dooley's furious barking. In the wake of seventeen arson fires in the last couple of months (five of them at a co-worker's home, one at the home of a former member of our board, and one at the new apartment complex we're building for the chronically homeless), you can bet we checked things out. All seems well now, and Dooley is resting comfortably.

It'll be midnight before I get into bed, so I'd better wrap this one up. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thursday, May 29 - John Farmer

Gettin' DOWN with John Farmer...what a way to spend a Wednesday evening!

While I managed to figure out that I was dealing with a rebus, I originally didn't limit it to DOWN...had ACROSS in a couple of the squares. When I couldn't make sense of some of the crosses, I finally got it straightened out.

[UPDATE: I didn't really get it straightened out. See JimH's blog for an explanation...and read the right words into the blathering that follows!]

The theme answers...all good ones:

1A: First clue (one D[own]). This was the site of one of my ACROSS mistakes...since I always read 1A before 1D. Its cross at 4D: Jazz/blues monthly (D[own] Beat) was one that didn't make any sense with ACROSS in place.

18A: Spans, as a river (stretches D[own]). Again, stretches ACROSS made perfect sense, although 13D: Hit the skids didn't...until I changed go ACROSS hill to go D[own]hill.

35A: Relocate from one side to the other (move D[own]town). Another ACROSS mistake here...made obvious by 26D: Master (get D[own] pat).

[Well, wonder ACROSS made sense in so many of the answers!]

58A: Facing one's house from a short distance away, say (D[own] the street), crossing at 39D: Scorn (look D[own] on).

68A: Transect (cut D[own]), with 45D: Inverted (upside D[own]).

I definitely need to brush up on my political facts...couldn't remember 10A: Secretary of state after Muskie (Haig) until I had a few letters in place. In fact, I didn't even remember that Muskie had been a Secretary of Jimmy Carter's cabinet.

I had a minor mix-up with tonight's featured connected cluing...27A: With 22-Across, order at a tiki bar (Mai / Tai). I had them switched, so the crosses were a bit difficult. Once I realized the error, I got 8D: Celt of NW France (Breton) and 11D: Handy guide for a walking tour (area map).

I spent years attending an Episcopal church, so I immediately knew 2D: Church vestibule (narthex) looks so good in the puzzle. I also nailed 1D: Faux fat (Olestra). Western Colorado was part of the test market for Lay's fat-free chips made with Olestra. They caused serious gastric distress in some people...I had no problem, though, and thought they were pretty tasty.

I really liked the clue at 21D: A Baldwin. Nope, not Alec or any of his brothers. In fact, it's the only Baldwin I'd want in my house...a gorgeous Baldwin piano.

Other favorites:

25A: Ancient square (Agora).

29A: "Coming to America" co-star (Arsenio Hall). I didn't know that but managed to get it with a couple of letters in place.

33A: __ Scamander, pseudonym of J. K. Rowling (Newt). Didn't know that.

39A: Title girl in a 2002 Disney film (Lilo). This was about the time the girls thought they were too old for Disney, so I didn't see it.

52A: Quarterback Rodney (Peete)...only because of crosses.

57A: St. Clare's birthplace (Assisi). We've had this more than once...St. Francis is more well known, but St. Clare holds her own in the New York Times.

63A: City on the Oka (Orel).

64A: Non __ (not so much, in music) (tanto).

7D: Sci-fi debut of 1921 (R.U.R.)...only because I've seen it in a puzzle.

9D: Doha dweller (Qatari).

40D: Like some fertility lab techniques (in vitro)...interesting cross at 51A: Some modern donations (ova).

41D: Hide in a closet? (leather)...probably my favorite clue.

49D: Stab in the back (betray). Eveb when I had BETR*Y, it still took some time to see it.

57D: "This is not __" (warning label) (a toy)...although it should have read "This bag is not __"...

Good one, John. I'm frequently frustrated by rebus puzzles, but I thoroughly enjoyed solving this one.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wednesday, May 28 - C. W. Stewart

Nice Wednesday puzzle from C. W. Stewart...good theme answers, some out-of-the-ordinary fill.

The theme is revealed at 38A: Word that can follow the starts of 17-, 21-, 58- and 64-Across and 3- and 40-Down (balls).

The theme answers:

17A: Fund-raiser wear, perhaps (black tie).

21A: Yellow flower (buttercup).

58A: Artist's smudge remover (gum eraser).

64A: 1952 Gary Cooper western (High Noon). If you missed KarmaSartre's "Don't Forsake Me, Darlin' Blogger," be sure to check it out here. He gets much of the credit (the blame?) for the swift end to my sabbatical.

3D: "All in the Family" nickname (Meathead).

40D: Cajole (soft soap). This was the last theme answer to come to me. I was sure I had something wrong in that southeast corner. The cross at 60A: Goes for (costs) and 51A: Aqualung, e.g., in the 1971 Jethro Tull album (lecher) just wasn't coming together.

Some of my favorites:

14A: Chief Hun, in Scandinavian legend (Atli).

15A: Bygone political council (Soviet).

19A: Superlawyer Gerry (Spence).

25A: Metric volume measure (stere).

33A: Lacking subtlety (blatant).

63A: Cure-all (elixir)...crossing at the X with 53D: Either President Bush (Texan). I could think of several appropriate answers...but I had trouble coming up with one that had five letters.

6D: Out (alibi). That seems like a much-tougher-than-Tuesday clue. I just realized that this is I changed the first sentence of the post. These three-day weekends can be confusing.

30D: Iraqi port (Basra)...finally remembered that from previous puzzles.

34D: Breaks in concentration (lapses). I've had a few of those since I started this post. My computer wasn't cooperating, and I had to reboot in the middle of posting. That's one of my pet peeves...another is that I'm so impatient when I have to reboot. What are we talking? Five minutes or less...

47D: Repeller of evil (amulet).

48D: Pizza box logo (domino). The next time you get a Domino's pizza, be sure to read everything on the box...including (especially!) the bottom.

I caught some improper parsing as I was reading over the grid. 44D: Arranging in rows (tiering)...not tie ring.

Time to wrap up for tonight. These early morning meetings may be an indication of what's in store as my job morphs into a new shape.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tuesday, May 27 - Adam G. Perl

Adam Perl's Tuesday puzzle was a real gem. I caught on to the theme rather quickly, but I wasn't sure how he was going to wrap it up.

The three theme answers span the grid horizontally. In-the-language phrases have ID removed...the new phrases are then cleverly clued.

17A: E.S.L. class, perhaps? (scene of an acc*ent).

36A: Seedy hangout across the Atlantic? (continental div*e)...the funniest of the bunch.

56A: Hip-hop critics? (rap* response team).

The theme is revealed at 52D: Reason to be barred from a bar...or the theme of this puzzle (no ID).

I'd love to know how Adam (or any constructor) comes up with an idea for a theme like this. To find three phrases that are originally 17 letters, each containing ID...then to be able to craft a pun to clue just amazes me.

How many of you noticed that he managed to work his name into the the first and last across answers? 1A: "Fall" guy (Adam) and 65A: 1995 Physics Nobelist Martin L. __ (Perl). That's just too good.

Good connected cluing at 34A: With 44-Down, "Wuthering Heights" actress (Merle / Oberon). Here she is as Cathy, with Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff. I should add this to the list of classics I want to see.

Favorite clues in the puzzle:

5A: Three, it's said (crowd).

15A: Slot machine fruit (lemon). I really thought it should be cherry...the only fruit I could remember...but I couldn't make it fit.

47A: Makes verboten (bans).

61A: Get off one's behind (arise).

23D: Kid you might feel like smacking (brat).

25D: First name in scat (Ella).

54D: "Aquarius" musical (Hair).

Favorite answers include 16A: Enterprise alternative (Avis), 22A: Main line (aorta), 23A: Harris's __ Rabbit (Br'er), 29A: Save for a rainy day (salt away), 64A: Meal with readings (Seder), 7D: Actor Epps (Omar) and 10D: Puget Sound city (Tacoma).

Elaine and Jesse came over tonight with fresh rainbow trout...he wrapped them in foil and cooked them on the grill. Delicious! So I was late getting to the puzzle and blog, and now it's almost 11:00...and time to wrap it up.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Monday, May 26 - Mark Sherwood

Mark Sherwood's Memorial Day puzzle was a real treat...a clever enough theme and fill that's not generally found on Monday.

The theme is revealed at 29A: Experts with the ends of 17- and 55-Across and 10- and 24-Down (dentists). Theme answers:

17A: Strap-on leg supports (knee braces).

55A: Mincemeat, e.g. (pie filling).

10D: It sets things off (blasting cap).

24D: Feat for Secretariat (Triple Crown)...a beautiful horse.

Favorite answers include 14A: Old Big Apple restaurateur (Sardi), 42A: Rifle and revolver (firearms), 44A: Poisonous atmosphere (miasma), 47A: Football refs (zebras)...never heard them called that, 50A: Mitchell who sang "Big Yellow Taxi" (Joni), 5D: Chest protector (rib cage), 9D: Decreased (lessened), 12D: Western writer Grey (Zane), 13D: Baseball's Hershiser (Orel), 18D: Rakish short (roué)...I like the word, not people like that, 32D: "Come Back, Little __" (Sheba)...a major tearjerker, 34D: __ d'Or (Cannes award) (Palme), 37D: Appearing and disappearing feature on Jupiter (dark spot), 41D: "Fresh as a daisy" and others (simile) and 50D: Bach's "__, Joy of Man's Desiring" (Jesu).

A nice blast from the past to see 10A: Classic clown (Bozo)...although the hair is a little scary.

And I was delighted to see some old favorites in connected clues...22A: Film critic Gene (Siskel) and 60A: 22-Across's longtime partner (Ebert).

To be expected...some crosswordese to fill in the gaps. 25A: Lady's partner (gent), 33A: Eagle's nest (aerie), 40A: Away from the storm (alee), 58A: Gullet (craw), 59A: Bones: Lat. (ossa), 3D: "Jurassic Park" giant, informally (T-Rex), 6D: Some psychedelic designs (op art), 48D: Longest Spanish river (Ebro) and 53D: Some noncoms: Abbr. (sgts.).

It looks as though we'll have a quiet Memorial Day at home...just the two of us. The weather is supposed to be nicer, more we'll probably go for a bike ride or a long walk. However you spend your day, be safe.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sunday, May 25 - Elizabeth C. Gorski

Another delightful Sunday puzzle by one of the masters. To my knowledge, Elizabeth Gorski has never done a puzzle that wasn't top quality.

The title of the puzzle, Spy Glass, didn't give me much of a clue as to the theme. I managed to nail the across answers in the northwest corner, though...and I couldn't help but see the answer to 3D: *1962-67, 1971 (Sean Connery). It was easy enough to guess that we'd find all of the James Bond portrayers in the puzzle, along with his signature 39A: [See instructions in Notepad] (martini)...pictured when you connect the circled letters, in accordance with those instructions.

I don't think I've seen a James Bond movie with any of the other 007 actors, but I somehow knew all of them.

23A: *1969 (George Lazenby).

48A: *1973-85 (Roger Moore).

68A: *1987-89 (Timothy Dalton).

115A: *1995-2002 (Pierce Brosnan). If I could ever let go of the Sean Connery image of my impressionable teen years, Pierce Brosnan would probably get my vote.

71D: *2006- (Daniel Craig).

Elizabeth wrapped things up with 72D: Bond common to the answers to the six starred clues (James). For good measure, she added 90A: Writer born May 28, 1908 (Ian Fleming) and 33D: Title for 48-Across and 3-Down (Sir).

It's good that I knew so many of the long answers, because there were a few things that were complete unknowns...or otherwise escaped me.

13A: Ottoman V.I.P.'s (Aghas). I'm sure I wasn't alone in thinking of the other kind of ottoman.

110A: 2003 best-selling fantasy novel by teen author Christopher Paolini (Eragon).

123A: Artist Watteau (Antoine) of those that escaped me until I had a few letters in place.

14D: Like some wrestling (Greco-Roman). I know as much about wrestling as I do any other sport, so I looked it up. Here's everything you ever wanted to know about Greco-Roman case you decide to take it up. I think I'll lifting skills wouldn't cut it.

15D: Tennis star Mandlikova (Hana).

53D: March 25, in the Christian calendar (Lady Day)...not in any calendar I've ever seen.

I have so many favorite answers. Some of the best:

1A: How architects' models are built (to scale).

61A: "Smooth Operator" singer (Sade). I haven't heard this in forever. I also like "The Sweetest Taboo."

77A: Semitic deity (Baal).

80A: Gut course (easy A). No such thing...if it's so easy, how come some people get a C or D in it?

88A: Ventured (forth) (sallied). I learned this in a puzzle in recent months and just love the expression.

102A: Mexican beer (Corona). One of my favorites...right up there with Sunshine Wheat and Fat Tire.

119A: New Jersey city, county or river (Passaic). My high school best friend was from Passaic, so it was a gimme.

4D: Attire with supersized pockets (cargo pants).

38D: "The Allegory of Love" writer, 1936 (C.S. Lewis).

66D: In song, "Once you pass its borders, you can ne'er return again" (Toyland).

68D: Fights (tussles).

77D: Rock guitarist once married to Goldie Hawn (Bill Hudson). Thank you, Kate...that's the only way I remembered his last name.

87D: Night lights (auroras).

Favorite clues include 50A: Moles' production (tunnels), 82A: Alexander Hamilton's last act (duel), 97A: Offering from St. Joseph (aspirin), 99A: Willy Wonka's creator (Dahl), 105A: "Lost" filming locale (Oahu), 121A: Name-drop, maybe? (erase), 8D: Chairman's supporter? (Maoist), 51D: Butterfly experts, perhaps (swim team) and 74D: It's full of holes (golf course).

We spent the better part of the day cutting up a tree that snapped during some high winds...fortunately missing the house. A long soak in the hot tub is just what the doctor ordered.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Saturday, May 24 - Charles Barasch

I'm not sure if Charles Barasch's Saturday puzzle was extremely tough...or if I was just extremely tired. I know that I was exhausted by the end of the day, and I could have crawled into bed at 7:00 without guilt. In retrospect, I probably should have.

I dozed off while trying to work the puzzle and some areas just weren't making any sense. I finally set it aside at 9:30 and went to bed. This morning I tackled it again...with new (or at least better-rested) eyes, and the northeast corner (which had been fairly empty) started to come together. I still questioned a couple of the answers, but I just checked the grid against Donald's, and that wrong-looking cross turned out to be right...15A: Mideast royal name (Faisal) and 10D: Repeated musical phrase (ostinato). Faisal worked in my head, but I've never heard of ostinato. It actually comes from the same word as obstinate...hence the meaning.

I do enjoy the appearance of identical clues, and I got more than one today. [One taking a shot] at 1A and 1D proved to be one of my areas of undoing. I wanted heckler and hitman and wouldn't give them up easily...but eventually yielded to guesser and gunman. At least I wasn't far off on one of them. The other...[Split] at 7D and 8D resulting in rend and dashed away, respectively.

One pair was close to identical...54A: Went (off) and 56A: Went off...with veered and erred as the answers.

In that wicked northeast corner, I so wanted 12D: Horror movie character to be monster. I should have remembered slasher from previous puzzles...we're talking a real horror movie. The clue at 17A: Second in court?: Abbr. forced me to choose between a tennis court and a courtroom. I chose tennis...which was wrong...even though I couldn't come up with an answer for it. Had I chosen courtroom, Asst DA would have come to mind more readily. 8A: Worthless stuff was dross (not trash), and 9D: Gamble was referring to a noun...not a verb...risk.

Before I go on, I should add that I enjoyed the puzzle, despite all of the above. The fill was fresh, with some good long answers. I was just...bone tired.

Favorites include 16A: What some patches provide (nicotine), 18A: Like a family man (married with kids), 21A: "To you, Antonio, __ the most": Shak. (I owe), 34A: One of the Blues Brothers (Elwood), 37A: Counterpart of "pls" (thx), 38A: What most couples try to have together (quality time)...because quantity just doesn't happen, 43A: Slow runner in the woods (sap), 45A: '60s theater ('Nam), 46A: Be like Clark Kent (lead a double life), 57A: Girl with a future? (seeress)...I had heiress at first, 15D: It's stuffed with dough (fat wallet), 26D: In a daze (astounded)...I had awestruck but finally let it go when nothing was working, 32D: Beer brand since 1842 (Schaefer), 33D: One with a duty (taxpayer), 35D: Song from Bernstein's "Wonderful Town" (It's Love), 41D: They have family units (Mafias), and 51D: "There was an old man..." poet (Lear).

Awards for the best clue and answer go to 23A: Pitch between columns (newspaper ad) and 25D: Area of interest to Archimedes (pi r squared).

A long weekend is upon us, and we have thunderstorms (rare) and cooler weather in the forecast for today and tomorrow. It looks as though our quality time will be spent least until Monday.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Friday, May 23 - Patrick John Duggan

We went to see "The Wizard of Oz" at our local dinner theater and didn't get home until after 10:30. I have a 7:30 meeting tomorrow...poor planning on my I'll have to make this short.

I managed to work through most of Patrick John Duggan's Friday puzzle. Several good guesses panned out, which led to other good guesses. I ended up Googling for two answers...35A: Literally, "art of softness" (Ju-Jitsu) and 51A: Philosopher who coined the phrase "the best of all possible worlds" (Leibniz). The cross at 52D: Man-to-man alternative (zone) doesn't make any sense to me, though.

Good guesses that panned out include 7A: Dr. Seuss story setting (Whoville), 17A: Fop in "The Wind in the Willows (Mr. Toad), 40A: Popular teen hangout, once (soda shop), 46A: Fifth state to ratify the Constitution: Abbr. (Conn.)'s not just The Nutmeg State, 54A: 1989 film set in an inner-city high school (Lean on Me), 58A: Like some airport purchases (duty free), 1D: It was shipwrecked in 1964 somewhere in the South Pacific (S.S. Minnow), 9D: Constellation with the star Betelgeuse (Orion), 21D: Doctor often seen on writers' bookshelves (Roget), and 35D: Title girl in a 1958 hit by the Playmates (Jo-Ann)...I believe they also did Beep-Beep, the song about the little Nash Rambler.

The best of the best...16A: Parting words (au revoir), 20A: One of a French literary trio (Porthos), 25A: Like a wet blanket (no fun), 31A: "If you shoot at mimes, should you use a silencer?," e.g. (one liner), 8D: "Quiet!" (hush up), and 38D: Popular boxing venue (UPS Store).

I don't watch violent movies and/or television shows, but I liked the similar clues at 2D: Crime family name (Corleone) and 37D: Crime family (Sopranos). One of the pictures I found had a bunch of dead bodies with the cast of "The Sopranos"...were those supposed to be people they had killed during the season?

It's getting close to 11:30...and time to hit the sack. [UPDATE Friday morning: I was just reminded by JimH via his blog...this is another debut by a young constructor. Eighteen-year-old Patrick John Duggan has a real gift for constructing. How many debut puzzles are Friday quality? I'm looking forward to more from this talented young man...and I'm certain we'll see it.]

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thursday, May 22 - Richard Silvestri

If I could read and write, I'd probably have an easier time with crossword puzzles. I don't know what it is lately, but I've had a problem with both...more about that after the theme.

Richard Silvestri's puzzle really wasn't very Thursday-ish. I had two problem areas...both caused by operator error. Otherwise, I might have almost breezed through this one.

The theme is revealed at 38D: Sign...or a description of the answers to the six starred cues? (omen).

And the six O-men are:

17A: *Five-time Wimbledon winner (Björn Borg)...the best-looking one of the bunch. This was my writing error. While saying it correctly in my head, I wrote Bjorg Born...making for a bit of a mess in that area.

24A: *"Numb3rs" star (Rob Morrow). I've never seen it...or even heard of it...but he's actually not bad looking.

51A: *Harpers Ferry raider (John Brown).

64A: *"Newhart" actor (Tom Poston).

3D: *Famed restaurateur (Toots Shor). Here he is with Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe...some time in the fifties.

36D: *Co-star of "The Andy Griffith Show" (Don Knotts). Did anyone else have Ron Howard at first? He's another O-man.

Favorite clues in this one include 22A: Start court proceedings? (serve), 30A: Fire proof? (ash), 31A: "Son of" story (sequel), 47A: Howard in shorts (Moe)...two days in a row, 69A: Catfish Row denizen (Bess), 4D: Perfect pitch (strike), 10D: Vesta, Pallas or Hygiea (asteroid)...a good guess with only two letters in place, 27D: Orly : Paris :: Gardermoen : __ (Oslo), 40D: Athletes on horses (gymnasts)...clever, and 56D: Yclept (named)...that's a new one for me.

My reading problem was at 68A: Classic spy plane. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how UTWO could be correct. I checked and rechecked every answer in that corner until it finally registered...U2. Is it time to turn in my Pentel?

A few more noteworthy answers before I wrap it up. 1A: Lively group? (arts), 5A: Volkswagen route (Bahn), 41A: "The Last Supper," e.g. (mural), 44A: Be deceitful (palter), 57A: 252-gallon unit (tun)...who knew?, 63A: Parsonage (manse)...I'm sure we've had it before, but I needed crosses to get it tonight, 2D: Red, as a Spanish wine (roja), 7D: Silent film star (Harpo), and 28D: " __ paratus" (motto of the U.S. Coast Guard) (Semper)...I think that's Latin for "Always Keep the Boat Afloat." Not's Always Ready.

Skating queen Sonja Henie appears at 53D: "Sun Valley Serenade" star, 1941. Way before my time, but I remember hearing about her when I was a kid. She won her first gold medal at the age of fifteen. You can read more about her here.

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

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wednesday, May 21 - Dave Mackey

Dave Mackey's Wednesday puzzle has a bit of a wicked twist...then again, that may be his usual style. I had a lot of blanks staring back at me for some time, and I was beginning to think I was dealing with a rebus.

There were only a few answers that were Google-able, so it boiled down to trial and error...heavy on the latter.

The long answers were all good...and I just this minute saw their connection.

17A: Solitaire card game (Rouge Et Noir)...if I ever played it, I called it something else.

24A: Pugs in gyms, at times (shadow boxers).

37A: Good thing to build on (solid foundation).

50A: Initially (at first blush).

59A: Cunard fleet member (luxury liner).

I'm struggling to stay awake...actually dozed on and off while I was solving. That does take away from the enjoyment level somewhat...but the end result in this case was more than worth it.

Favorite answers include 1A: Birdbrain (nitwit), 15A: Norse epic (Edda), 28A: Forcefully, in music (furioso), 44A: Gentle opening? (soft G) of just a few gimmes, 53A: 1983 Keaton comedy (Mr. Mom)...I had the wrong Keaton in mind, 6D: Certain sorority members (Thetas), 7D: Slowly, on a score (lento), 10D: "American Graffiti" extra (carhop), 11D: Item from a registry, perhaps (shower gift), 30D: They show altitude (relief maps), 36D: "A Loss of Roses" playwright (Inge), 41D: Peter of reggae (Tosh), and 49D: "Guys and Dolls" is based on his writing (Runyon).

The connected clues/answers were fairly easy, considering my struggle with much of the puzzle...48A: 52-Down part (bristle) and 52D: Toiletry kit item (brush).

Favorite clues...7A: Of the flock (laic), 45A: Québec's southern neighbors (Etats), 65A: Greasy spoon sign (Eats), 67A: Saucer contents, in brief? (ETs), 1D: "Quo Vadis" role (Nero), 5D: It's never in a neat order (ice)...I'm quite proud of that gimme, 18D: List-starting words (to do), 48D: Astigmatic's view (blur), 41D: Red hair or freckles (trait), 55D: Social workers? (ants), and 63D: Liked leader? (Ike).

Although he's a favorite from way back, I didn't get 32A: 1972 Bill Withers hit (Use Me) until I had some crosses. I wanted it to be "Lean on Me," which is one of the main reasons I thought we had a rebus.

It's late and I'm 56D: Ready for the sack (beat). Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tuesday, May 20 - Billie Truitt

According to, Billie Truitt made his New York Sun debut last month. It's probably safe to assume that this is his debut with the New York Times. Way to go, Billie!

This was definitely an enjoyable puzzle. The theme featured two-word expressions, with the spelling of the last word changed to become an animal. The new expression was then cleverly clued.

20A: Antlered salon employee? (styling moose).

31A: Lost bobcat? (missing lynx).

45A: Wildebeest who doesn't spare the rod? (spanking gnu) favorite of the clues.

52A: Unwelcome porcine party attendee? (crashing boar)...although that one was pretty good.

Favorite clues include:

25A: Curly poker (Moe)...nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

28A: Make darts, say (sew). Raise your hand if you were thinking the other kind of darts.

62A: Continental divide? (ocean).

38D: Something to slide on (banister). Those were the good old days...sliding down the banister at my grandmother's house.

54D: What wavy lines signify in the comics (odor). I couldn't for the life of me picture that and needed crosses to get it.

Favorite answers include 23A: Woodworker's groove (dado), 36A: Grab some Z's (take a nap), 43A: Passé (old hat), 50A: Broadway musical with the song "Will I?" (Rent) easy guess, 57A: Crawfish's home (bayou), 5D: Mrs. Bumstead (Blondie)...nee Boopadoop, 6D: Slow movements in music (largos), 8D: Showy blooms (begonias), 9D: Prom accessory (corsage), 26D: Even (with) (on a par), 30D: Li'l fellow (wee lad), 41D: Vail trails (ski runs), and 46D: It's between the headlights (grille).

Since I love birds and everything having to with them, it follows that I would like 25D: Chatty avians (mynahs). They're not just chatty...they're downright resourceful.

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

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Monday, May 19 - Mike Nothnagel

If Mike Nothnagel ever had a Monday puzzle, it had to have been many years ago. I can only recall Friday, Saturday and Sunday puzzles for the last year and a half that I've been solving.

What a welcome relief, though, after he kicked my butt on Saturday!

The only VOID in the puzzle was in the theme answers...each begins with a synonym (appearing at 5D: Roget's listing) for that word.

16A: Place not generating rent (vacant apartment).

24A: Guarantees that mean nothing (empty promises). My favorite, for reasons I can't explain.

42A: Win that brings little actual gain (hollow victory). This one ran a close second.

57A: Contents of guns used in training exercises (blank cartridges).

I'd venture a guess that Mike whipped this one up in short order...relative to one of his Friday or Saturday offerings.

There was some good fill in this one, and very little compromised to put it all together.

Favorite clues and/or answers:

1A: The pyramids, for pharaohs (tombs).

13A: "The Cat and the Curmudgeon" author Cleveland __ (Amory).

19A: Feeling tied up, as a stomach (in knots).

20A: Rock band follower (groupie).

49A: Brandy cocktail (sidecar).

63A: Baby boomers' kids, informally (Gen-X).

1D: Rikki-Tikki-__ (Tavi)...a childhood favorite by Rudyard Kipling.

6D: "Star Trek" weapon (phaser).

10D: Portrayer of Frank Sinatra on "Saturday Night Live" (Joe Piscopo). The only thing I love more than multiword answers is having both first and last name.

26D: 1998 Robin Williams title role (Patch Adams)...a real tearjerker, which is probably obvious from this picture.

41D: A pair of deuces beats it (Ace high).

44D: Whirlpool or tornado (vortex).

Often the multiword answers, especially the short ones, tend to confuse me when I look over the finished grid. What in the world is GOAS? Nothing...the answer to 38A: Pretend to be, as at a Halloween party is go as. Similarly, 41A: Increase (amp up) looks very much like AM PUP. Who/what are you? I am pup. My favorite one tonight is looks as though it would rhyme with wispy. Actually, 34D [1960s Bill Cosby TV series] is I Spy...also starring Robert Culp.

Other quick mentions before I wrap up...10A: PBS newsman Lehrer (Jim), 14A: Inventor Elias (Howe), 36A: Euphoric (giddy), 39A: Without a prescription: Abbr. (OTC), 40A: Pal for Spot or Rover (Fido)...right next to AM PUP, 46A: Avis competitor (Alamo)...originally had Hertz, 2D: Neighbor of Yemen (Oman), 15D: Stubborn as __ (a mule)...another one that's easy to mis-parse, 22D: Scuttlebutt (lowdown), 40D: Group watched by Little Bo Peep (flock) and 47D: Eli __ and Company (Lilly)...maker of Prozac.

So...where's Mike? He commented from sunny Florida on Saturday...perhaps vacationing? If so, where's Mike on Monday?

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G