Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2009

Title: Four Corners
Author: Peter A. Collins
Theme: The four corner letters are used in four distinct clockwise sequences, one starting with each letter, to "clue" the four theme entries, as follows:
  • 20a: The corner squares, clockwise from the upper left => ONAN => LEAH'S GRANDSON.

  • 28a: The corner squares, clockwise from the upper right => NANO => METRIC PREFIX.

  • 45a: The corner squares, clockwise from the lower right => ANON => IN A SHORT TIME.

  • 56a: The corner squares, clockwise from the lower left => NONA => SINGER HENDRYX.

This is a very clever theme, conceptually, and is quite well-executed. Even if you don't know Nona Hendryx (and I don't, though I feel like I've seen the name in a puzzle before) or the biblical Onan (which was slightly more-vaguely familiar), the middle two theme clues were enough to suss out the appropriate letters. I'm not sure what kind of a biblical scholar you need to be to know that Onan was Leah's grandson (I guessed Levi's from the L), but it's eventually untangle-able via the crossings. That's not to say it wasn't hard, because it was. But we expect that from a Friday, so it was right where it belonged. I'm not sure why the corner squares needed to be circled (at least in the AcrossLite version), as there didn't seem to be any ambiguity about the clues, but I guess they felt better safe than sorry.

Sunny Spots:
  • 1a: Secret target (ODOR). This one fooled me, and provided a true "Aha" moment when the dime finally dropped. The reference, of course, being to Secret deodorant -- "strong enough for a man, but made for a woman".

  • 37a: Bald pitcher? (MR CLEAN). Phenomenal clue.

  • 43a: Intergalactic bridge worker (SULU). Great clue and reference to the original "Star Trek".

  • 34d: Supersize house? (MCMANSION). Very nice.

  • 5a: Follower of "seven potato" (MORE). One potato, two potato, three potato, four. Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more.

  • 9a: Great depression (BASIN). Good clue.

  • 14a: City mentioned in "Folsom Prison Blues" (RENO). From the man in black.

  • 15a: Overleap (OMIT). Wasn't familiar with overleap as a word, but it makes sense.

  • 17a: Left speechless (AWED). This was the root of my troubles in the NW, as I confidently put in AGOG.

  • 18a: Deuce, for instance (OATH). What the deuce? I'm not familiar with using this as an oath, but apparently it's like "devil" or "dickens".

  • 19a: Champ (GNASH). As in champ at the bit.

  • 23a: Club rule (BYLAW).

  • 35a: "Giant" star (James DEAN).

  • 36a: Mary Quant creation (MINI).

  • 39a: Capitol output (RECORDS). I own enough vinyl that this one didn't fool me.

  • 42a: Tank (BOMB). Interesting that two such military nouns mean to fail when turned into a verb. Perhaps there's a lesson in here somewhere.

  • 50a: Power base? (TEN). Easy for a math geek.

  • 60a: Linesman's call (ICING). A hockey linesman, that is.

  • 65a: Comic strip boy surnamed Tuttle (ELMO). From "Blondie"./

  • 67a: Montana, in the '80s ('NINER). Joe Montana, of the 49ers.

  • 69a: Fictional Newfoundland (NANA). I'm assuming this is the dog from "Peter Pan". I never realized it was a Newfy.

  • 1d: Brand of gum stimulator (ORAL B).

  • 3d: "Barry Lyndon" star (Ryan O'NEAL). I own the entire Stanley Kubrick collection on DVD. This one is very long and not one of my favorites, but still a decent flick. I prefer "Lolita" and "A Clockwork Orange".

  • 4d: Clinton, once (RODHAM). This should have been a gimme, but AGOG instead of AWED threw me for a big loop.

  • 5d: It can be heard in Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Lucky Man" (MOOG). Hear it here if you've forgotten the song.

  • 6d: "A Jug of Wine ..." poet (OMAR). Okay, two issues here. First, what tells us we're looking for Omar Khayyam's first name? Secondly, Khayyam wrote "The Rubaiyat" in Persian, so the translation referenced in this clue
    A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
    A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou
    Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
    Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

    is actually by Edward Fitzgerald.

  • 7d: ADHD drug (RITALIN). Gimme.

  • 9d: California setting of the Esalen Institute (BIG SUR). It was enough to be aware that the town existed in California. I have no idea what the Esalen Institute is.

  • 11d: Don't give in (STAND FIRM).

  • 13d: Kabuki kin (NOH). Crossword staple.

  • 21d: Malmö resident (SWEDE).

  • 31d: "I loaned a friend of mine $8,000 for plastic surgery and now I don't know what he looks like" comic Philips (EMO). I just included an Emo clip this week, so I'll spare you another.

  • 32d: Boundary (AMBIT). Cool word.

  • 40d: Poker player Elezra (ELI). I'm sure many people were scratching their heads on this one, but I watch enough poker on TV that it was a rare first-name gimme for me.

  • 41d: Chili powder ingredient (CUMIN).

  • 48d: Maker of the Whipps bar (REESES).

  • 49d: Minstrel performer (END MAN). Bonus points for a good clip showing an example of a minstrel end man.

  • 58d: Pentagon on a diamond (HOME). Baseball clue.

  • 59d: C-3PO worshiper (EWOK). Easy enough for a "Star Wars" fan.

  • 61d: 802% of L (CDI). 802% of 50 equals 50% of 802 = 401.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 25a: Pro Bowl cornerback Bly (DRE). Yeah, whatever.

  • 2d: Battle of Manila Bay leader (DEWEY). I'm not a big war buff, but I suppose I should probably have known this.

  • 60d: Professor Cameron's first name in "Mary Worth" (IAN). This one, on the other hand, was completely done by crossings. At least it's a normal name, as opposed to, say, DRE.

All in all, I found this to be a very challenging puzzle that I had to break open slowly and deliberately. My biggest problem was the northwest corner, where AGOG/LEVI instead of AWED/LEAH really set me back. Still, I was able to finish in under 25 minutes, which isn't bad for me for a difficult puzzle since I'm no speed demon. A unique theme in a tough, but not unfair puzzle, with a plethora of interesting fill and clever clues -- what more can you ask for on a Friday? For my money, not much.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Title: Themeless Thursday
Author: Tony Orbach
Theme: None. Well, sort of. See mini-theme discussion below.

Sunny Spots:
  • 1a: All that (DA BOMB). Nice in-the-language phrase to start things off at 1a.

  • 19a: 1961 Jackie Gleason role (MINNESOTA FATS). From "The Hustler", starring Paul Newman. A great billiards movie, though I actually prefer the later "Color of Money", with Newman and Tom Cruise.

  • 40a: Figure in the Beastie Boys song "Rhymin & Stealin" (ALI BABA). Here it is, if you're interested.

  • 58a: "You've come a long way, baby" sloganeer (VIRGINIA SLIMS). I'm not big on cigarettes or commericals, but this one is just so over-the-top you can't help but like it as a piece of Americana. It also perfectly complements Minnesota Fats, for a nice "mini-theme".

  • 64a: Beat walkers' walkout (BLUE FLU). Wonderful.

  • 8d: Stir (KERFUFFLE). I've always loved the word kerfuffle.

  • 33d: "Cat Scratch Fever" singer (TED NUGENT). For some reason, the first name that came to mind was Bob Seger. Luckily it didn't fit. I know this, too. It sucks getting older.

  • 39d: It might need to come before you can go (EXIT VISA). Love the clue. And yes, my mind went there.

  • 7a: Incomplete (SKETCHY). A great string of solid 7-letter words.

  • 16a: Daydream (REVERIE).

  • 17a: Lousy team that wrecks a contender's chances (SPOILER). And this is the time of year (in baseball anyway) when they come into play.

  • 18a: Make two cuts in, perhaps (TRISECT). As a math geek, I kind of like this one.

  • 23a: Intl. group that issued the controversial MacBride report in 1980 (UNESCO).

  • 26a: Supermini of the '70s and '80s (LE CAR).

  • 29a: TV series set in the Tanner household (ALF). "Alf" is a little after my time, so I didn't know this off the top, but it was easy enough to deduce.

  • 31a: "Boogie Nights" character Diggler (DIRK). Love the clue. Hated the film. I thought it was a real borefest.

  • 32a: "You're pitiful!" (GET A LIFE).

  • 36a: Gp. that publishes American Spirit magazine (DAR). Daughters of the American Revolution.

  • 37a: Dirtbags (SLEAZES).

  • 42a: Concert score? (TIX). This is part of the section that messed me up when I chose the wrong Gardner (see below). Good clue, though.

  • 45a: "Fer sher ... not!" (AS IF). Yeah, okay. Whatever.

  • 48a: Fluke roll-ups? (SUSHI). Great clue. One of my favorites of the puzzle.

  • 62a: Worked at a bar? (CHINNED). Uhh... I suppose. Kind of a stretch as a verb.

  • 65a: Pertaining to any of five popes (SISTINE). I suppose LEONINE would have fit, but I'm not sure I've heard that one used in regards to popes.

  • 66a: Klepto, e.g. (STEALER). This is one of those -ER words I really don't care for. If you steal, you're a thief. Stealer is not a word people use.

  • 67a: Afternoon services (TEA SETS). Fooled me for a few, as I was trying to think of religious services (e.g., MATINS or VESPERS). I think there is an afternoon one, but I can't recall what it is.

  • 68a: Grapefruit League city (ST PETE). Okay, so what part of this clue indicates that we should be expecting a short form of St Petersburg, Florida? I got it okay, but it grates a little.

  • 2d: Really long (ASPIRE). Clever, but you long FOR and you aspire TO, don't you?

  • 3d: Like Jaime Sommers (BIONIC). Very good.

  • 4d: Balder parent (ODIN). Cute. Maybe a little too easy in such close proximity to the Norse Gods puzzle.

  • 5d: Spicy sauce with chocolate (MOLE). Mmmm... mole poblano sauce is one my favorite Mexican flavors.

  • 9d: ___-les-Bains, France (EVIAN).

  • 11d: Shakespeare title character (CRESSIDA).

  • 12d: "Pardon me" elicitor (HIC). I'm just glad this was a three-letter fill and not a four. That's all I'm saying.

  • 27d: Ottoman Empire officer (AGA). Standard puzzle fare.

  • 30d: Super duper? (LIAR). Very good clue.

  • 34d: Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year between Jordan and Shula (ASHE). I can't imagine we're supposed to know things like this off the top, but it certainly makes sense once you get a few crossings.

  • 35d: Fünf fifth (EINS). One-fifth of five is one.

  • 38d: Suspense novelist Gardner (LISA). I went with ERLE, as I'm sure they expected me to. Slowed down this section quite a bit.

  • 44d: McGregor of "Scenes of a Sexual Nature" (EWAN). Everything after McGregor is superfluous, but I'm intrigued. Anyone seen this one?

  • 49d: Squelch (STIFLE). Would have loved an "All in the Family" clue here. Even if you don't follow any of the other links, watch this one. It's one of the best Edith scenes ever.

  • 50d: Shakespeare title character (HAMLET).

  • 53d: Roxanne's boss on "L.A. Law" (ARNIE). I was surprisingly able to recall this, and it's been years since I've seen that show. The mind is a strange thing.

  • 55d: BBQ waitress's rack (RIBS). Fantastic clue.

  • 56d: Shakes' peers? (MALTS). Nothing like a good chocolate malted on a hot summer's eve.

  • 59d: 10/15, e.g. (IDES). As in, October 15.

  • 60d: Spotted dog ingredient (SUET). I'm sure I've seen this one before, because I knew it was right after I figured it out from the crossings.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 14a: St. ___ of Seville (Spanish encyclopedist) (ISIDORE).

  • 21a: Christina's dad (ARI). Christina who? I'm too lazy to look this up. Actually, I just don't care. Christina is too common a name to use as this type of clue.

  • 22a: Cyrillic alphabet letter (TSE). Sorry, not up on my Cyrillic.

  • 28d: Tony-winning playwright Yasmina (REZA). No clue.

I mostly really liked this puzzle, despite the handful of clues that seemed a bit stretchy and the few names that seemed a bit obscure. None of the tough clues crossed, so the puzzle was eminently fair, and the great fill and nice clues were enough to compensate. It's also one of the best examples of a New York Sun mini-theme (two long, related or complementary clues in a Themeless Thursday) that I've ever seen. Good job.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Title: Divine Intervention
Author: Joon Pahk
Theme: Phrases that contain Norse Gods (Odin, Thor, Tyr, and Loki).
  • 18a: *Classic jazz composition by Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard (MOOD INDIGO). Great tune. Here's a little different version by Nina Simone.

  • 28a: *Boundary of a black hole (EVENT HORIZON).

  • 47a: *Common political principle (MAJORITY RULE).

  • Badtz-Maru
  • 59a: *Friend of the penguin Badtz-Maru (HELLO KITTY). I had absolutely no clue when I read this clue, figuring it was some reference to "Happy Feet" or something. But I've certainly heard of Hello Kitty, so it wasn't hard once I hit a few crossings.

  • 53d: With 58-Across, what can be found in each of the answers to the asterisked clues (NORSE / GOD).

It definitely would have taken me longer to figure this theme out without the helper clues, especially since TYR is not as familiar to me as the others. But it's definitely a nice and well-executed theme, with each deity spanning the two-word phrases that contain them.

Sunny Spots:

  • 2d: Doll in the National Toy Hall of Fame (GI JOE). I still my old ones, minus a couple of hands and feet. The oldest has the smooth molded head; the other has the fuzzy buzz cut.

  • 3d: Maestro Seiji (OZAWA). Formerly the head of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. A gimme for me.

  • 25d: Result of a hook-and-eye connection? (SHINER). Excellent boxing reference here.

  • 29d: Possible cause for an R (NUDITY). See? I don't always rise to the bait. Some things just scream for pictures; others I leave well-enough alone. Great fill though.


  • 1a: They can be inflated (EGOS). I knew this even before I saw it was a 4-letter fill.

  • 5a: "ER" costar of Julianna (ERIQ). I know I've mentioned this before, but it's been a long time since Eriq La Salle has been on "ER". Please, Eriq... do something else of note so we can update these stale references.

  • 14a: Sphinx site (GIZA).

  • 17a: "The blue dot cleanser" (AJAX). A couple of nice, Scrabbly short fills. I don't know if they still use that phrase in their advertising, but I certainly remember it from TV commercials growing up.

  • 22a: Victim of Bart's prank calls (MOE).

  • 23a: Two-___ (kind of fastball) (SEAMER). Easy for a baseball fan. There's also a four-seam fastball, which has different action on it due to the way airstream passes over the seams.

  • 25a: Web user (SPIDER). I know you wanted us to put SURFER in there, didn't you. Luckily, I already had the I in there.

  • 32a: Emmy winner Woodard (ALFRE). You're right, Karen M. Tracey, I remembered it this time. I even remember that her middle name is ETTE.

  • 38a: Little biters (RED ANTS).

  • 42a: Turn and river preceder in hold'em (FLOP). Some day, I'd like to play in the Main Event. That'll be after the kids are out of college, as there's no way I can front the entry fee right now.

  • 44a: North Pole list header (NICE). As opposed to NAUGHTY. Which one are you on?

  • 50a: Rock genre? (COMEDY). Chris Rock, that is.

  • 55a: Rock genre (EMO). And, of course, EMO is also a comedian, so it's kind of a tight loop.

  • 63a: Swift, e.g. (BIRD). Aww, Joon. We can't get a Larry clue here? How about "Johnson rival"?

  • 4d: Zoot's instrument in Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem (SAX). Love the clue. The reference, if you don't know it, is to "The Muppet Show" band.

  • 5d: "Freaky Deaky" author ___ Leonard (ELMORE).

  • 6d: Quadratic formula solution (ROOT). The first of two mathy clues which, as a former math major, were gimmes for me.

  • 8d: Abbr. that a proof reader might come across? (QED). This second one was well-disguised, which made it even nicer.

  • 13d: Roadway writing (SLO). I've never seen SLO written in a roadway.

  • 19d: Customs duty (IMPOST).

  • 27d: Colleague of Lauer and Vieira (ROKER).

  • 30d: Rockets star McGrady (TRACY).

  • 31d: Cousin of a congo snake (NEWT). I didn't know this off-hand, but I'm glad it avoided yet another first-name reference.

  • 34d: Nickname for a fast woman (FLO-JO).

  • 39d: City hard by Vance AFB (ENID, OK.). I didn't parse this correctly until just now. I saw it as Enidok, which I was not at all comfortable with.

  • 40d: Leaves in a bowl (SALAD). I've seen this clue before, so I wasn't fooled.

  • 43d: Large citrus fruits (POMELOS).

  • 59d: Haw's partner (HEM). You know it's either HEM or HEE.

  • 61d: Lucy who voiced Viper in "Kung Fu Panda" (LIU).

Suns of Bitches:
  • 35a: Former name of Broadway's George Gershwin Theatre (URIS).

  • 56a: McFarlane who spawned the comic book "Spawn" (TODD).

  • 64a: "Eight Men Out" author Asinof (ELIOT).

Nice theme and nice puzzle by Joon. Plenty of Scrabbly letters (in fact, it's a pangram, containing every letter at least once) with interesting fill and some clever cluing. Maybe a touch name-heavy, though it could have been moreso if EMO, BIRD, and NEWT had been clued differently. Everything was gettable from crossings, so all-in-all, it was an entertaining Wednesday.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Title: Pick-Me-Ups
Author: Alan Arbesfeld
Theme: Adding ME to phrases.

  • Flu season => FLUME SEASON (17a: When water parks make their money?).

  • Conga lines => CON GAME LINES (23a: "It's easy, pal-just keep track of the shell with the pea" and others?).

  • Sha Na Na => SHAME NANA (31a: Embarrass grandma?).

  • Do or die => DOME OR DIE (40a: Motto of indoor stadium advocates?). "Do me or die" would have a whole different connotation. See how good cluing is important?

  • Princess Di => PRINCESS DIME (45a: Coin featuring Sleeping Beauty?).

  • Lee Majors => MELEE MAJORS (57a: Ones getting a degree in riot control?).

I love this theme. It's a great example of what you get when both the base phrases and the new phrases are full of sparkle. I mean, check out the base phrases: conga lines, flu season, Sha Na Na, Lee Majors... wonderful stuff! I was hooked at FLUME SEASON and wasn't let down throughout the puzzle. I was a little fuzzy regarding the title "Pick-Me-Ups", but I guess it just means phrases "picking up" the MEs. I was looking for more "up-ness" somewhere, but it was not to be found.

Sunny Spots:

When you include six sparkling theme entries, you don't need the rest of the fill to be spectacular; you just need to keep it reasonable and entertaining. Which it is.

  • 1a: Maker of Centipede (ATARI). If it's a classic video game being referenced in a crossword, it's probably ATARI.

  • 15a: Partially lit (TIPSY). My guess of ESSEX for 8d: ___ Downs (English racecourse) (EPSOM) led me to try PISSY here, figuring it was a Britishism along the lines of getting pissed. Note that if this had been the NYT puzzle, I wouldn't even have considered it. I consider that a compliment to Peter Gordon and the Sun.

  • 29a: Russian fighter jet (MIG). If you didn't know this right off, you need to go rent "Top Gun" again. And not just because I'm in it (well, in a manner of speaking).

  • 30a: Alter (AMEND). If someone can explain the difference between AMEND and EMEND, I'd like to hear it. I'm always guessing, and I almost always guess wrong.

  • 38a: Blue-footed bird (BOOBY). Heh heh... Hey Beavis, he said "booby".

  • 39a: Imposture (HOAX). Lots of Xs in this puzzle.

  • 42a: Perfume during a church service (CENSE). Isn't it INCENSE? Is this slang, like 'CENSE?

  • 44a: Maybelline's parent company (L'OREAL).

  • 52a: First-stringers (A-TEAM). I would have preferred a colorful Mr. T reference here.

  • 56a: It might have a certain ring to it (TUB). Clever clue. What was the Dr. Seuss book with the bathtub ring? I think it was "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back". Let me check... yup, that's the one.

  • 61a: Library implement (DATER). Is this that inkpad date stamp that libraries used to use before everything was bar coded and scanned? I never heard it called a dater.

  • 65a: It gets put in a sinkhole (DRANO).

  • 1d: ___ Romeo (ALFA).

  • 2d: Joust (TILT). As in tilting at windmills, a la Don Quixote.

  • 5d: Freezing (ICE COLD).

  • 6d: "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" author William (STEIG).

  • 10d: Illustration, for example: Abbr. (SYN). Another of those very clever cryptic definitions. "Illustration" and "example" are synonyms.

  • 11d: Relay race handoff (BATON). Very appropos with the Olympics just finished.

  • 13d: Its state flower is the bluebonnet (TEXAS). Name a five-letter state that ends in S.

  • 22d: Words on a sticky note attached to a contract (SIGN HERE). If you've ever closed on a house, this should have been a gimme for you.

  • 24d: Shirley Dinsdale was the first person to win one (EMMY). Name a four-letter award that begins with E.

  • 27d: Magazine contents (AMMO). I've seen this ruse too often to be fooled.

  • 34d: Jim-dandy (A-ONE).

  • 38d: Oscar-winning role for Jane in "Klute" (BREE). Great film also starring Donald Sutherland. I tried to spell it BRIE, like the cheese, at first.

  • 41d: Like some meds (OTC). Over-the-counter.

  • 42d: Charge (COMMAND). As in "I'm in charge here".

  • 45d: Boy in "The Snowy Day" (PETER).

  • 50d: John on a farm (DEERE). Easy, but cute clue. OUTHOUSE didn't fit.

Suns of Bitches:

I'm bad enough trying to remember first names of people I know, never mind those I don't. Luckily, they were relatively normal names, unlike yesterday's collection of INAs and PIAs.
  • 63a: Baseball announcer Hudler (REX).

  • 33d: First name in "The Lonesome Train" (ABE).

  • 53d: Marathoner Mota (ROSA).

I thought this was a great puzzle for a Tuesday. The theme entries were plentiful and enjoyable, the fill and clues were decent, and the hard stuff wasn't all that hard. Two thumbs up.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Before I start, I just wanted to publicly thank Joon, Norrin2, and CrossMan for their adept guest-hosting last week. It was great to have no worries as we got the kids off to college. We had a great trip through Pittsburgh and D.C., culminating in a Red Sox game in Baltimore on Tuesday night where, as I was riding the throng of people into the streets, I heard "Hey, aren't you Pete Mitchell?" It was none other than New York Times puzzle blogger Michael Sharp, aka Rex Parker. Man, it's a small world. So, let's get back to work, shall we?

Title: Military Medicine
Author: Mark Feldman
Theme: Medical phrases that contain a military rank.

  • 17a: Long-running ABC soap (GENERAL HOSPITAL).

  • 37a: Open-heart surgeries, e.g. (MAJOR OPERATIONS).

  • 59a: "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff (PRIVATE PRACTICE).

This is a pretty straightforward Monday theme, with three common 15-letter phrases. Of course, all operations are major when they involve you or someone you love.

Sunny Spots:

  • 1a: Browsing annoyance (POP-UP AD). More insidious than ads that pop up in new windows are those annoying ones that hover over the text you're trying to read. Maybe if people started boycotting sites that used these techniques, they wouldn't be so prevalent. Then again, maybe not.

  • 16a: Program that might have naptime on its schedule (DAYCARE). I am a firm supporter of naptime. I wish companies would adopt this practice.


  • 8a: Of the surrounding environment (AMBIENT). Especially noise and light.

  • 20a: Medieval tenant (VASSAL).

  • 22a: One who plays chez Shea (MET). I'll be honest, I didn't even notice the cutesy homophone when I did the puzzle. So, how's Pedro working out for you guys?

  • 23a: Ecclesiastical council (SYNOD). This shows up enough that it should be a gimme to regular puzzlers.

  • 27a: Diagonally (ASLOPE). First thought: ASLANT.

  • 30a: Navigation aid for drivers: Abbr. (GPS). I work for a company that provides digital maps for GPS units, on-line maps, etc., so this was pretty easy.

  • 42a: Clouds of interstellar dust (NEBULAS). Sometimes this is NEBULAE, so watch out.

  • 49a: Take home? (STEAL). I missed the baseball aspect of this the first time through. Shame on me.

  • 51a: Jolson and Jefferson (ALS). Al Jefferson is the young, talented centerpiece of the deal that brought Kevin Garnett from Minnesota to the Boston Celtics. I have no doubt he'll be a great player some day soon, but we got a championship out of the deal, with good prospects for another, so I'm not complaining.

  • 54a: "___ Rides Again" (1939 James Stewart film) (DESTRY). Jimmy Stewart is such a classic and great actor.

  • 64a: Digs up, as a corpse (EXHUMES). Ewwwww.

  • 65a: Ornaments sometimes hidden by socks (ANKLETS).

  • 3d: Letter-writing friend (PEN PAL).

  • 4d: Runnin' ___ (Mountain West Conference basketball team) (UTES). REBELS didn't fit (and I don't know what conference they're in anyway).

  • 7d: Investigate (DELVE). I feel like the equivalent of investigate is "delve into". Seems a little off.

  • 10d: Skip over (BYPASS). This could easily have been linked to the MAJOR OPERATIONS theme entry.

  • 22d: Christopher of "Law and Order: SVU" (MELONI). He was also in the great Wachowski brothers' film "Bound", with Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, and Joe Pantoliano. Highly recommended.

  • 30d: Ashram instructor (GURU).

  • 35d: Southern soldier (REB). Also, SECESS. And if you knew that, then you were probably at ACPT 2007 in Stamford, CT.

  • 36d: It loses to an open hand in rock, paper, scissors (FIST). Colorful clue.

  • 37d: Gaping mouths (MAWS).

  • 39d: Ridiculously inadequate thing (JOKE). Insert own political commentary here.

  • 44d: Quality of a corrupt politician (SLEAZE).

  • 47d: One who expresses an opinion (VOICER). Voicer? Yuck.

  • 55d: Don't dele (STET). A crossword staple.

  • 56d: "Dick Tracy" character Trueheart (TESS). This is vaguely familiar, but I was never much of a Dick Tracy follower.

  • 62d: Prop in "The Wizard of Oz" (AXE). There are lots of props in said film/book, but the Tin Man's axe is certainly one of the more obvious.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 21a: "Barefoot Contessa" host Garten (INA). Not crazy about this crossing 1d: "Sexual Personae" author Camille (PAGLIA) in a Monday puzzle. It's a guessable vowel, but you shouldn't have to.

  • 6d: 2008 French Open winner Ivanovic (ANA).

  • 59d: TV journalist Lindström who's the daughter of Ingrid Bergman (PIA).

  • 60d: 1999 Heisman Trophy winner Dayne (RON).

I was a little disappointed in this puzzle, as with only three theme entries I expected more sizzling fill and less INA, ANA, PIA stuff. Nothing terribly wrong, though I don't care for guess-the-vowel name crossings in early-week puzzles. It just didn't thrill me.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Title: Weekend Warrior
Author: Karen M. Tracey
Theme: None
Guest Blogger: Cross-Man

Pretty much a nice clean Tracey, though the fill is a tad weaker than her usual high standard. Not bad by any means, just not quite as shiny. While I got through the upper two thirds pretty quickly -- for a Weekend Warrior, anyway -- I had a little trouble in the bottom third, particularly in the SE.

Sunny Spots:

Mostly the longer entries.
  • 15a: Singer of "Like a Surgeon" (with the lyric "I can hear your heart beat for the very last time") (WEIRD AL YANKOVIC). A very clever guy. I still crack up every time I watch the video of White & Nerdy, featuring Donny Osmond. Check it out on YouTube.

  • 59a: From a reliable source (ON GOOD AUTHORITY). An excellent 15-letter phrase.

  • 62a: Ruthless group since 1935? (THE BRONX BOMBERS). As in Babe Ruth and the Yankees. This one took me longer than it should have.

  • 8d: Like a refrigerator, sometimes (RAIDED). Points for giving me an aha! moment.
  • 16d: Portrayer of Weena in "The Time Machine" (YVETTE MIMIEUX). Though I've never seen the movie, I got this almost as soon as I filled in the Y from the crossing WEIRD AL YANKOVIC. A very nice change from the usual Time Machine entry of ELOI, and extra good because Weena was actually one of them.

  • 43d: Worthless loafer? (ODD SHOE). Did you know that there's a National Odd Shoe Exchange (

  • 1a: Classic retro style (ART DECO). Of course, it wasn't retro at the time it originally appeared.

  • 8a: Varlets (RASCALS). This quotation from the OED illustrates the correct usage: "1829 LYTTON Devereux II. iv, ‘Now for thee, varlet,’ cried Tarleton, brandishing his rapier."

  • 17a: #1 hit of 1999 (LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA). By Ricky Martin. Wikipedia tells me that Rolling Stone names this one of the 20 Most Annoying Songs. I can see -- um, hear -- what they mean.

  • 20a: Cordero or Nieves of baseball (WIL). Gambling: Pete Rose:: Domestic abuse: Wil Cordero.
  • 21a: British-style crossword constructor (SETTER). A dog of a clue. I hope no one minds the pupcake.

  • 24a: Supt.'s responsibility (BLDG). And he or she probably spends a lot of time in the 24d: Rm. without a view (BSMT). Nice crossing.

  • 30a: Words that might accompany a shrug (SEARCH ME). I can picture this perfectly.

  • 32a: Ewan's "Moulin Rouge" costar (NICOLE). Kidman.

  • 36a: Obsession (MANIA). A bit of a stretch for a synonym clue, but it's legit.

  • 37a: Little, in Lockerbie (SMA). I'm not fond of these regional accent spellings, never mind a crossing pair of them (see 38d). And shouldn't this be "wee," anyway?
  • 40a: Bean Town skyscraper (THE PRU). An ugly box (pox?) on the Boston skyline since 1964. Beantown, by the way, is usually spelled as one word.

  • 42a: 1977 Paul Davis hit (I GO CRAZY). I'd say Paul Davis was more than a one-hit wonder, but less than a household name. Crossings took care of the whole thing.

  • 44a: Popular game show of the '70s and '80s, familiarly (PYRAMID). This went from a $10,000 version in 1973 to a $100,000 version by 1985. Don't you miss those inflation years?

  • 46a: "___ Final Broadcast" (Broadway song sung by Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin) (EVA'S). From the musical "Evita".

  • 47a: Present time, for short (B'DAY). My first thought was XMAS, but the crossings eliminated that in a second.

  • 50a: "Wicked" character (GLINDA). The Good.
  • 53a: Young enfant (BÉBÉ). A little French to start the day. Boy, was I tempted to use a Bebe store ad for a pic. But I compromised between that and one of Bebe Rebozo.

  • 54a: Burns and Allen (STEVES). I very much appreciate the cleverness of the cluing, but do you know who Steve Burns is without checking?

  • 63a: 2004 All-Star Game MVP (SORIANO). Alfonso Soriano, now of the Chicago Cubs, then (2004) of the Texas Rangers, and earlier of the aforementioned Bronx Bombers.
  • 64a: Proposed state of 1849 that was not granted admission to the Union (DESERET). While you might guess that this included most of today's Utah, it also took in great chunks of Nevada, Arizona, and California.

  • 2d: Mutual fund alternative: Abbr. (REIT). Real estate investment trust. But can you trust real estate investment?

  • 4d: Coffeemaker style (DRIP). As opposed to the percolator kind whose sweet burbling was often a presence at dinner parties in the 1960s and 1970s, maybe even earlier.

  • 5d: Best and others (EDNAS). Oddly, the first person I thought of here was pre-Ringo drummer Pete Best, who I think once released an album entitled "Best of the Beatles".

  • 6d: Where the Beavers play (CALTECH). MIT's mascot is also a beaver, but the school's teams are named Engineers.
  • 7d: Oporto greeting (OLÁ). A rare appearance of a Portuguese word besides São or Rio. Also a widely-distributed brand of ice cream novelties over in the old country.

  • 9d: Firedog (ANDIRON). Though the object is usually made of iron, it seems to be coincidence that the word contains the name of the metal. Alternative answer that wouldn't fit: DALMATIAN.

  • 10d: Game similar to sheepshead (SKAT). I've heard of the answer (a card game), and the game in the clue was mentally filed somewhere nearby.

  • 11d: Mustard, e.g.: Abbr. (COL). As in Colonel Mustard, one of the murder suspects in the game Clue.

  • 13d: Not crooked (LICIT). Not one of my favorite words. It may as well be EPT.

  • 14d: Blanch (SCALD). In the cooking sense, not the whitening one.

  • 22d: Stomach-soothing roll (TUMS). Probably not if you swallow the entire roll.

  • 25d: 1962 Roy Orbison hit (LEAH). I'd prefer to spell this as BLEAH. Really, listen to the song and see if you disagree.

  • 27d: Afflicted with the flu (GRIPPY). I really have to question this one. First, does anyone really use the term "grippe" anymore? Second, has anyone ever used this adjectival form?

  • 29d: Its motto is "Forward": Abbr. (WISC). Weren't we just talking about state mottoes last week? Here's a less usual non-Latin one. Anyone know the only Greek one? Here's a hint: If I had to guess, I'd say that 10% of you do.
  • 31d: He lost out to Bing for Best Actor of 1944 (CARY). Der Bingle won for his role in "Going My Way"; Cary Grant was nominated for his role in "None but the Lonely Heart".

  • 33d: Nordic saint (OLAV). Olaf with a V, not to be confused with…

  • 34d: Beth alternative (LIZA). …Liza with a Z. But to be honest, I don't think too many women named Elizabeth use Liza as a short form, and the only Beth I know has a complete first name of... Beth.

  • 38d: Once more in the country? (AGIN). See my comment on 37a, which this crosses.

  • 45d: Pro wrestler Lou (ALBANO). He had a very recognizable beard in his day, and his day went on for far longer than you might have guessed.
  • 47d: Vulnerable backgammon pieces (BLOTS). I never took to this game.

  • 48d: "Pearly Shells" singer (DON HO). Great, now I've got "Tiny Bubbles" floating through my head…

  • 49d: Author of "The Young Bank Messenger" (ALGER). As in Horatio. Though he wrote dozens of stories, I don't think I can name a single one besides "Ragged Dick." Didn't stop me from getting this entry, though.

  • 53d: When repeated, one of the Society Islands (BORA). Besides Bora Bora, Pago Pago, and Walla Walla, are there any other repeated geographical names? Sing Sing doesn't count.

  • 57d: Soyez is a form of it (ÊTRE). More French, and a subjunctive to boot. Mon Dieu, gardez-moi!
  • 58d: Part of AWACS (SYST). Airborne Warning and Control System.

  • 61d: Up in the air, on a sched. (TBD). Having been on a plane a few days ago, I was thinking airline schedules rather than television or conferences.

Suns of Bitches:
  • 55d: Kathryn of "Oz" (ERBE). She is far better known for her role in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and that's not a show I watch. Having this right next to VIER made for an uncomfortable SE corner.

  • 56d: One-fifth of zwanzig (VIER). I figured it was a German number, but I lose count after three. Too bad VIER is four.

Thanks for listening.

- Ruy (Cross-Man)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thursday, August 21st 2008

Salutations, Sun solvers! It's your old pal Norrin2, the Green Genius, putting down the shuffleboard cue and my gin-and-Geritol to briefly unretire from crossword blogging.
Man, I can't believe I used to do this five days a week. It's a heck of a lot of work, and Pete M deserves a big pat on the back for putting in the effort every day. (Whether or not he might also deserve a swift kick where the Sun don't shine for letting me guest blog remains to be seen.)
Let's get on with it, shall we?

Title: Dressed to the Nines
Author: Tony Orbach
Theme: Common phrases modified by the inclusion of the Roman numeral 9 (IX)

18A: Orchard Sprites? (APPLE PIXIES)

24A: Sound editor's '80s TV gig? (MIXING DYNASTY)

40A: Animation company's quality control goal? (PIXAR EXCELLENCE) I would say that this goal has been met. I've seen all of the Pixar films and they are all great.

53A: Skipped a trip to Belgium? (NIXED FLANDERS) Flanders is the land of the Flemish (You didn't think they were from Phlegmland, did you?) as such is not only in Belgium, but also in France and the Netherlands. It was the site of some horrific war battles (what other kind of war battles are there?) and was the setting of the most famous poem to come out of that conflict:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

63A: Frank fellow who tilts at windmills? (OPEN QUIXOTE)

I have to admit since I retired from daily crossword blogging I don't do the puzzle every day, and I've kind of gotten off Peter Gordon and company's wave length. So it took me a while to get into the swing of things. Music was what allowed me to get a foot in the door. I may not know my Sudanese supermodels or my Saudi Arabian billionaires, but I know about Johnny's golden fiddle: 69A: "The _____ Went Down to Georgia" (1979 Charlie Daniels hit) (DEVIL) and I know that rust never sleeps: 11D: "Hey, Hey, My My" singer (NEIL YOUNG) who also had a song called "My My, Hey Hey," and no, I'm not kidding. After a few dead ends on EVERLY and WINTER, I also knew 7D: Surname of brothers in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (ISLEY) and I speak the language of love so I knew 43D: "___ Means I Love You (1968 Delfonics hit) (LA LA). BTW, this song is featured prominently in one of those movies I love that everyone else hates.

Maybe it's just because I know Tony Orbach is not just a cruciverbalist but also a musician (a modern day Renaissance man -- is that an oxymoron?) but it does seem as though his puzzles always feature a lot of musical clues. Also in this puzzle: 1D: Shabbat song (PSALM) 2D: Dizzy Gillespie's faith (BAHAI) and 61A: Big ___ (Andre 3000's Outkast partner) (BOI) and 50D: Musical with the song "All the Dearly Beloved" (I DO I DO)

Sunny Spots:
71A: Piece of Lamb or Bacon
(ESSAY) Francis Bacon is probably best known these days as one of the possible playwrights that elitist snobs who can't believe that a poor boy like Bill Shakespeare wrote some magnificent plays put forth as the real author of said works. Too bad, he was quite an essayist. Here he is on the subject of children: "The joys of parents are secret; and so are their griefs and fears. They cannot utter the one; nor they will not utter the other. Children sweeten labors; but they make misfortunes more bitter. They increase the cares of life; but they mitigate the remembrance of death. " He also coined the phrase "Knowledge is power" but it wasn't always true in his case. He had an idea that you could use snow to preserve meat and he died of a case of pnuemonia he contracted while trying to freeze a chicken.

62A: Character in "The Return of Jafar" (GENIE) Hey, say what you want about kids, Sir Francis, but mine's video watching habits ensured that I had no problem with this clue.

29A: Lucky tip (ASH) Wow, do they still make Lucky Strike cigarettes? Hang on a sec, while I Google that. Yep, according to Wikipedia: "Lucky Strikes currently have a small but very loyal base of smokers." (Small, and getting smaller, no doubt. That's what happens when you kill your customers.) The only reason I know anything about LSMFT is because I am a big fan of old-time radio and Lucky Strike was the sponsor of Jack Benny's radio show.

27D: "A Giraffe and a Half" author Silverstein. (SHEL) It's always good to see Shel Silverstein in the puzzle. Another Renaissance man, Silverstein gave us "The Giving Tree" "A Boy Named Sue" and plenty of great cartoons like this:


55D: Pulitzer-winning Bernard Malamud novel, with "the" (FIXER) I've never read this one, but I've read Malamud's "The Natural" and I can tell you that is one of the few instances where the movie is not only better than the book, it's a heck of a lot better. Terrible book, great movie IMOH.

(And speaking of baseball) 12D: First of three Mets to hit a lead-off home run in a World Series Game 3 (AGEE) Even if you know nothing about baseball you know the answer starts with an A. Four letter baseball name? Got to be either AGEE or ALOU.

60D: "House co-star (EPPS) No, that I'm no longer a full-time crossword blogger I've been catching up on my TV viewing -- I love House. (Can you believe they killed Amber off on the season finale?)

45A: Loss leader? (AT A) I was thinking ELL

3D: Women's undergarment brand (SPANX) I was not familiar with this line of slimming unmentionables, but they evidently carry a full line, including "power panties."

33D: Church recess (APSE) One of these days I'm going to learn the difference between anave and an apse.

Suns of Bitches:

Actually the only thing I considered to be a real son of a B-word was where 9A: Billionaire Khashoggi whose luxury yacht was bought by Donald Trump (ADNAN) crossed 10D: Utterance (DIXIT). There were -- as we shall see -- other words I didn't know but this was the only place where words I didn't know crossed each other. DIXIT? What the heck is a dixit? Or is this another themed entry and it's actually DIT? I don't know. And if I was a billionaire the first thing I'd do is change my name to something less monstrous than KASHOGGI.

51A: Merry, to a Euskara speaker (ALAI) Wow, I guess he didn't want to go the JAI ___ route, but Euskara?

33A: Sudanese supermodel Wek (ALEK) Never heard of her. (him?)

23A: Marquises, e.g. (ILES) I thought they were like French dukes or earls or dukes of earl.

19D: What some whistles lack (PEAS). I remember from crossword blogging back in the day that there were times when I just had to say "I don't get it." It was always embarrassing because as soon as it was explained to me I was smacking myself in the head like the most rueful V-8 drinker. But I have to admit -- I don't get it.

That's about all I have time for. By the way, I still blog, just not all crosswords all the time. One of the things I discuss is my autograph collection. Here's one of my favorites:

Thanks for listening. Thanks Pete M. for this forum. It's been fun but if I can just find my sandals and black socks I'm heading back to crossword blog retirement land -- well, right after a quick stop at Denny's for the early bird special.
Robert Loy AKA Norrin2

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Title: mixed emotions
Author: lee glickstein
Theme: phrases ending with an emotion instead have the emotion "mixed" (anagrammed) to give wacky new phrases, which are then clued

  • 17a: Immortal rodent? (EVERLASTING VOLE). the song "everlasting love."
  • 24a: Motorcycle helmet and gloves? (ROAD GEAR). road rage.
  • 47a: Seafood? (CAPE FARE). the movie cape fear. or also, i guess, the north carolina geographical feature cape fear.
  • 60a: Peek over one's shoulder before going too far? (LOOK BACK IN RANGE). look back in anger. this one is definitely the most forced of the four theme entries. it's one thing (and probably good) if the "surface sense" of a wordplay theme entry is a little silly. EVERLASTING VOLE falls into this category. it's another thing (and not good) if the surface sense isn't sense at all, but rather nonsense.
lee seems to specialize in wordplay themes. this is a pretty good one--all four of the base phrases are very well known, and the theme is really very tight. only one of the four falls a little flat. and (not an insignificant consideration) the title is great: apropos and itself "in the language."

Sunny Spots:
  • 45a: Like "10," "54," and "300" (RATED R). good fill, great clue.
  • 12d: Brazil's "Rei do Futebol" (PELE). brazil lost to argentina in the olympic semifinals yesterday, but as consolation, i give you this (it's 10 minutes long, but the whole thing is highly recommended):

  • 38d: Uncomfortable feelings (BAD VIBES). boring clue, but a great, great answer.
  • 1a: Cracked a bit (AJAR). it's wednesday, all right--the clues are starting to get trickier. this one seems like it might be a past tense verb, but it's an adjective.
  • 5a: Fall faller (LEAF). easy, but i like it.
  • 15a: Tiger Woods's father (EARL). only vaguely familiar to me. he certainly hasn't made himself into the public spectacle that, say, richard williams has.

  • 22a: One or more (ANY). as in, "are you guys hiding ANY weapons of mass destruction? no? we'll just be on our way, then."
  • 23a: FBI guys (G-MEN). not T-MEN, this time.
  • 29a: Tense (ON EDGE). seems like this has been coming up a lot, but that probably just means i've been doing too many puzzles.
  • 33a: "Where the bold saguaros raise their arms on high," according to its alma mater: Abbr. (ASU). another holdover from monday's puzzle, this time with a classic peter gordon clue: one that makes it guessable (saguaros -> desert -> arizona), but unlikely to have been used before. it's a long way to go for those three simple letters, though.
  • 34a: Bass and the like (ALES). "bass" has a lot of meanings, but clues like this point to ALES or ALE more often than not. it's probably just a matter of bayes's theorem at work: ALE is just so common that if you think it might be ALE, it is. kind of like how [Fencing sword] in four letters could be FOIL, but in practice it's always EPEE.

  • 38a: Unsupported, in a way (BRALESS). nice clue. and of course, i know exactly what kind of picture to post with this one. hot hot hot!
  • 41a: "Ran" director Kurosawa (AKIRA). i have a confession to make: i fell asleep about 15 minutes into this movie, which i was supposed to watch for a shakespeare class in college (it's an adaptation of king lear). i was also supposed to see "throne of blood" (macbeth), but never made it to the showing. and in fact, i've never seen another kurosawa movie. and yet for some reason i still feel he's one of my favorite directors.
  • 44a: Generic top-level domain (NET). this is the kind of clue that almost doesn't even make sense until you have the answer.
  • 50a: Program interrupter (TV AD). i knew right away what this clue was going for, but it still took almost all the crosses to figure out how this answer was going to parse.
  • 52a: Genetic stuff (RNA). i wonder if the intent here was for the solver to misread this as "generic stuff."
  • 53a: "Steps in Time" autobiographer (ASTAIRE). and for once, it's fred rather than adele.
  • 56a: Professional wrestling duo (TAG-TEAM). good fill word here. am i the only one who uses this expression as a transitive verb? for example, i'll often refer to my wife and i "tag-teaming" sam to mean taking turns watching the baby.
  • 62a: Put through the mill? (PUREE). the food mill, naturally.
  • 63a: French fashion nickname (COCO). you can't hide from me, COCO! even if "chanel" isn't in the clue.
  • 67a: Old Testament twin (ESAU). ESAU sold his birthright to younger brother jacob for a bowl of food, but has avenged himself by appearing in crosswords infinitely many more times than jacob.
  • 1d: Assert with confidence (AVER). for once, this clue actually seemed to be specific to AVER rather than AVOW. maybe i'm dreaming, though, and tomorrow we'll see the same clue for AVOW.
  • 2d: Louis Prima's "Jump, ___ an' Wail" (JIVE).
  • 3d: Ex-husband of Kim (ALEC). bassinger and baldwin.
  • 4d: Proof, maybe (REREAD). another tricky clue--"proof" is a verb.
  • 5d: 2000, e.g. (LEAP YEAR). unlike most years ending with 00. this is because the length of a sidereal year is 365.24 days, which isn't quite 365.25.
  • 6d: Lyme or Orange preceder (EAST). EAST lyme is in connecticut; EAST orange is in new jersey.
  • 7d: Busts and such (ART). good wednesday clue. oh, right, this is my cue to post a picture of a beautiful busty woman.
  • 10d: Good emcee, for example (LIVENER). eww.
  • 13d: One-quarter of doce (TRES). i wonder why peter doesn't make us do outrageous foreign language arithmetic. like, why isn't this [Cube root of veintisiete]? i guess everybody knows roman numerals, but not everybody knows spanish numbers larger than, say, ten.
  • 19d: "Captain ___ and the Underwater City" (1969 Chuck Connors film) (NEMO). another gordonesque clue, much in the same vein of the ASU clue: unlikely to have been used before, but totally guessable.
  • 24d: Storm shower? (RADAR). it shows storms.
  • 25d: Home of Nagai stadium (OSAKA). bayes at work again: five-letter japanese city, guess OSAKA.
  • 30d: Bride of 7/29/81 (DIANA).
  • 31d: D&D fan, e.g. (GAMER). wait, did i already use my quota of simpsons pics? yes? oops.
  • 32d: Happify (ELATE). is that a word? really? that sounds like the kind of inflected form i routinely use while knowing full well that it's not a word. i didn't think you could do that in crossword puzzles, though.
  • 39d: They can get high (SOPRANOS). let's see, does this count as the daily NYS drug reference? judges? ... we have a yes.
  • 42d: Shot again (RETAKEN). ouch.
  • 48d: Dilbert, for one: Abbr. (ENGR). i guess he's an engineer. i used to be an "engineer," too.
  • 53d: One of its products features chicken, vegetables, and rotini pasta (ALPO). rotini? that seems excessive.
  • 54d: Joke locale for a fly doing the backstroke (SOUP). it seems like "joke" is misplaced, but that's a very lively clue.
  • 57d: Grandson of Eve (ENOS). that would make him, let's see, much older than ESAU.
  • 58d: Pearl Mosque city (AGRA). hmm. i thought AGRA was in hindu country. then again, my indian geography is not very good. i'm reading salman rushdie right now and i'm always confused about which places are muslim and which are hindu.
  • 59d: It might have a list of starters (MENU). this is definitely the first thing i thought of, but i guess i was "supposed" to think about a lineup for a sporting event.

Suns of Bitches:
  • 16a: "The ___ Sanction" (1975 Clint Eastwood film) (EIGER). no clue.
  • 49d: Lancôme mascara brand (FATALE). okay.
  • 51d: "Rock Around the Clock" record label (DECCA). i'm just glad these three all had easy crossings.
overall, this was a very good wednesday puzzle: good theme, some really nice fill, and only one real clunker (LIVENER). it wasn't super-tough, but there were enough misleading clues to keep me on my toes.

anyway, that's all from me this week. i enjoyed filling in, but boy, it's a lot of work. (frankly i don't understand why pete does it, but don't tell him i said that or he might stop doing it.)

i'll see you all in the comment box.