Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Title: Weekend Warrior
Author: Karen M. Tracey
Theme: None

Everything at Once:

  • 1a: Ballet pose (ARABESQUE).

  • 10a: My brothel's keeper? (MADAM). I love this clue. I'm sure I'm not the only one who read it as "brother", not "brothel", the first time around.

  • 15a: "Chapel of Love" group, with "the" (DIXIE CUPS).

  • 17a: Neither fore nor aft (AMIDSHIPS). This was the first fill I entered, and it helped break out the whole section.

  • 18a: Ease up (RELAX).

  • 19a: Semirigid colloids (GELS). Very scientific sounding, isn't it.

  • 20a: Word "go" (ONSET). As in, "from word 'go'"...

  • 22a: 1944 Physics Nobelist (RABI). Had everything but the A from crossings, and the A just felt right.

  • 26a: Eccentric wheel (CAM). I tried HAM first, but CAM is more literal.

  • 28a: She's behind Biden in the presidential line of succession (PELOSI). Speaker of the House.

  • 30a: LP Field player (TITAN). LP Field is where the Tennessee Titans play.

  • 33a: "Keeping Up With the Steins" actress (JAMI GERTZ). I got this one through crossings and Zen. I really don't know who she is. Oh, wait! She's the girl from "Crossroads" (the Ralph Macchio one, not the Britney Spears one).

  • 37a: One taken in (ADOPTEE). Nice clue.

  • 38a: The Lone Ranger, for one (MASKED MAN). This was easier once I realized that Tug McGraw was the baseball player and Tim McGraw was the singer.

  • 41a: Red dwarfs (M-STARS). Luckily, I had the M before I saw this clue, so I didn't have to guess.

  • 45a: Guitarist at Woodstock (SANTANA).

  • 52a: Prime time (YOUTH). This one baffled me for a bit longer than it should have. Probably because I'm not there anymore.

  • 53a: Littermate of Rover (FIDO).

  • 58a: Little skill (APERY). That's Rich Little, and I've seen this exact clue recently, so it didn't fool me.

  • 59a: Listing (AT AN ANGLE). Excellent.

  • 60a: Bridge positions (WESTS). Not the most exciting of bridge clues, but a bridge clue nonetheless.

  • 61a: Provide sympathetic attention (LEND AN EAR).

  • 6d: "Danke ___" (1963 Wayne Newton hit) (SCHOEN). I wasn't sure of the spelling here at first, but got it eventually.

  • 7d: Fruity bread spread (QUINCE JAM). Very nice!

  • 8d: Swedish university city (UPPSALA).

  • 9d: European Capital of Culture for 2010 (ESSEN). Erie rule.

  • 12d: Central Park theater (DELACORTE). I had no idea. Which is why this section was the last to fall for me. Between this and CAM and RABI and JAMI GERTZ, there was some guessing going on.

  • 13d: Figurine material, perhaps (ALABASTER).

  • 14d: Makes as big as possible, as a computer window (MAXIMIZES). A little too easy, don't you think?

  • 25d: Spanish city known for its aqueduct (SEGOVIA).

  • 29d: Anathema (LEPER).

  • 30d: "Live Like You Were Dying" singer (TIM MCGRAW).

  • 31d: Like rough-and-tumble kids, frequently (IN A SCRAPE).

  • 34d: Museum Mile milieu (MANHATTAN).

  • 39d: Get going (ACTUATE).

  • 48d: Writer ___ Rogers St. Johns (ADELA).

  • 53d: Paavo Nurmi, for one (FINN).

Nice puzzle, with good scrabbly letters. Not as tough as many -- I was able to come in under 20 minutes, which is damned good for me for a KMT/WW. And I was ahead of that pace until the NE corner slapped me down.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Title: Chop to it
Author: David J. Kahn
Theme: is spelled out at 39a: Antelope with spiraled horns (and a hint to this puzzle's theme) (ADDAX). In other words, the letters A and X are added to common phrases to create new and unexpected answers that are then clued. Like most themes it's easier to show than to spell out:

18a: Levy on cover girls? (MODELTAX).

60a: Try to influence a game show leader? (COAXHOST).

3d: Person born in northwest Germany 1,500 years ago? (NATIVESAXON).

6d: Deception requiring a vote recount? (TALLYHOAX).

25d: Is a student in a housekeeping course? (TAKESWAXING). Also, I guess, a class one might take in cosmetology

36d: Dissertation about neuron appendages? (AXONPAPER). My least favorite of the themed entries -- because I'm not too hip on sub-atomic stuff and I can't find a picture of an axon.

Sunny Spots:

52a: Place for steamers? (SPA). Love those sauna jokes.

26d: NPR's Hansen (LIANE). Co-host with Will Shortz of the NPR Weekend Edition Sunday Puzzle, which I will win someday.

9d: Start of a noted palindrome (MADAM). As in "Madam, I'm Adam." My first thought was AMANA, as in the start to another noted palindrome "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama."

Suns of Bitches: Nothing really, although I did not and still don't know anything about "Knuffle Bunny" so 47d: Girl in the "Knuffle Bunny" books (TRIXIE) was tough.

Sundries: (Presented sans commentary due to poor time management)

  • 1a: Like some yogurt (NONFAT).

  • 7a: Chip maker (IBM).

  • 10a: With 35-Across, die (PASS).

  • 14a: "Spamalot" costar (AZARIA).

  • 15a: Prix fixe alternative (ALACARTE).

  • 17a: "I want to hear all the details" (DOTELL).

  • 19a: "Idylls of the King" name (ENID).

  • 20a: "Otello" premiere locale (LASCALA).

  • 22a: Accelerate, with "up" (REV).

  • 23a: Edgar Allan Poe character Arthur Gordon ___ (PYM).

  • 24a: Courage and fortitude (METTLE).
  • 28a: Spellbind (ENCHANT).
  • 32a: Adjust one's sights, maybe (REAIM).
  • 33a: Language of Afghanistan (PASHTO).
  • 35a: See 10-Across (AWAY).
  • 37a: Jazz trombonist Winding (KAI).
  • 38a: 60-year-old carrier (ELAL).
  • 41a: Fender flaw (DENT).
  • 42a: ___-en-Provence (AIX).
  • 43a: 11% of DC (LXVI).
  • 44a: Weights (ONUSES).
  • 46a: Franklin (CNOTE).
  • 48a: Sherbet variety (RAINBOW).
  • 50a: Matisse and others (HENRIS).

  • 53a: Galoot (APE).
  • 56a: "Understood" (IGOTCHA).
  • 59a: Line through the poles (AXIS).
  • 63a: Cans (POKIES).
  • 65a: What a zigzag line might represent in a schematic (RESISTOR).
  • 66a: Make clear (EVINCE).
  • 67a: False negative? (TRUE).
  • 68a: Fashion monogram (YSL).
  • 69a: Kitchen appliances (RANGES).
  • 1d: LaDuke was his vice presidential running mate in 1996 and 2000 (NADER).
  • 2d: Triatomic form of oxygen (OZONE).
  • 4d: Ethel's husband (FRED).
  • 5d: Be hurting (AIL).
  • 7d: Cat food brand (IAMS).
  • 8d: Cartel (BLOC).

  • 10d: Epicurean sense (PALATE).

  • 11d: Works at the Whitney (ART).
  • 12d: D.C.'s Union, for one (STA).
  • 13d: Census form info (SEX).
  • 16d: Waldorf salad ingredient (CELERY).
  • 21d: Org. with a staff of Aesculapius logo (AMA).
  • 23d: Mtge. point, for example (PCT).

  • 27d: Gives out (EMITS).
  • 29d: Wild bunch?: Abbr. (NHL).
  • 30d: First name at the 1976 Summer Olympics (NADIA).
  • 31d: "You're going to like us" sloganeer (TWA).
  • 33d: Crayola color that used to be called Flesh (PEACH).
  • 34d: Dress with a flared skirt (ALINE).
  • 40d: TiVo, e.g. (DVR).
  • 41d: Couple (DUO).
  • 43d: Vivien and Janet of filmdom (LEIGHS).
  • 45d: It has four franchises in Calif. (NBA).

  • 49d: Freak ending? (ISH).
  • 51d: Black, in a way (SOOTY).
  • 54d: Knight, e.g. (PIECE).
  • 55d: A lot of stress? (ESSES).
  • 57d: General ___ chicken (TSOS).
  • 58d: Keyboard key (CTRL).
  • 59d: Having a similar quality (AKIN).
  • 60d: Monitor, for short (CRT).
  • 61d: "Jingle Bells" contraction (OER).
  • 62d: Tempe inst. (ASU).
  • 64d: Fertilizable gametes (OVA).

    Today's puzzle was brought to you by your friendly neighborhood addax.
    Have a nice Thursday, Norrin

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    Title: On With Its Head
    Author: Gary Steinmehl
    Theme: Adding the letters H, E, A, and D, respectively, to the beginnings of phrases.
    • 3d: System for keeping closets organized? (HANGER MANAGEMENT). I never saw this Nicholson/Sandler film. With a couple of exceptions, I don't much care for Adam Sandler films, but I tend to like Jack so I'll probably rent it eventually.

    • 13d: "The Scream," e.g.? (EMOTION PICTURE).

    • 14d: Amelia Earhart flight starter, for example? (ASCENT OF A WOMAN). This is the film that finally scored Al Pacino an Oscar, which is strange to me because I think he's way better in many other earlier films. I thought this particular role was a touch over-the-top. But I still enjoyed the movie.

    • 9d: Apprehensive about a train trip? (DREADING RAILROAD).

    Nice Tuesday theme. I liked the two film-related theme fills better than the other two, but finding four films that would fit must not have been feasible. Again, we have a 15x16 grid with themes running down, to accommodate the long 16 answers.

    Sunny Spots:

    • 19a: "American ___" (1980 Richard Gere film) (GIGOLO). Sure, it's a fill-in-the-blank. But it's a great word.

    • 52a: Baa maid? (EWE). That's a pretty damned funny clue, if you ask me.

    • 13a: Virus named after a Congolese river (EBOLA).

    • 16a: Bond villain (DR NO).

    • 17a: Canasta plays (MELDS).

    • 21a: King, e.g. (FACE CARD).

    • 23a: Chad of "Medical Center" (EVERETT).

    • 25a: Extremely cold (GELID).

    • 26a: To be, in Spanish (SER).

    • 28a: Tennis partners? (ENS). Cryptic letter clue. Two 'N's in "tennis".

    • 35a: Surname of ALF's family (TANNER).

    • 39a: "Cool!" (NEATO).

    • 49a: Ticker symbol for Harley-Davidson (HOG).

    • 56a: Pica alternative (ELITE). Back before there were 50 million computerized fonts, typewriters were either Pica (10-characters per inch) or Elite (12-characters per inch).

    • 58a: "Be honest" (DON'T LIE).

    • 60a: Big hits (HOME RUNS). Pitchers and catchers report in 17 days. Giddy-up!

    • 65a: Lasso (RIATA).

    • 69a: Page of "Juno" (ELLEN).

    • 72a: Delta might precede it or calculate it (ETA). A dual-clue -- very cryptic-crossword-like. Here, referencing delta and eta the Greek letters, and Delta the airline calculating ETA (estimated time of arrival). Clever.

    • 4d: Game trail (SPOOR). That's game as in hunted prey, not like Monopoly or something.

    • 6d: Word with ball or bag (GOLF).

    • 66d: Word with ball or bag (TEA). Here, a tea ball is that metal thing you use to brew from loose tea. Not the kids' game, which is TEE ball.

    • 8d: Early calculators (ABACI). Beware the plurals that don't end in 'S'.

    • 10d: Christian of the cloth? (DIOR). Cute clue, but pretty easy.

    • 20d: Act of faith? (LEAP). Verging on over-cuteness.

    • 22d: Movie lioness (ELSA). From Born Free.

    • 30d: Creator of Genesis (SEGA). Genesis, the video console.

    • 34d: "___ Pueblo" (Ansel Adams book) (TAOS).

    • 38d: Meshuga (LOCO).

    • 54d: Three-time Gold Glove winner Minnie (MINOSO). His prime was in the 50's and 60's, but he came back (albeit briefly) twice after his retirement, once in '76 and once in '80. Pretty amazing for a guy whose rookie year was 1949!

    • 60d: Blondie and Dagwood's neighbor (HERB).

    Suns of Bitches:

    • 12a: Former Kenyan president Daniel ___ Moi (ARAP). Not a name I recall seeing.

    • 62d: 2002 Mark Kurlansky book subtitled "A World History" (SALT). Didn't know this at all.

    Thanks for listening.

    - Pete M.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Title: Hitchcock Double Features
    Author: Ogden Porter (Peter Gordon)
    Theme: Pairs of Hitchcock movie titles are joined to form wacky phrases, which are then clued

    • 3d: Wholly engrossed wackaloon? (SPELLBOUND PSYCHO). is "wackaloon" really a word? i'm pretty sure i've never seen it before, but it was pretty clear from context what it meant.

    • 5d: Thing that a second-story man might use to break into a house? (REAR WINDOW ROPE). ROPE is the only one of these movies that i've seen, philistine that i am. it's loosely based on one of my favorite novels, crime and punishment. i think i've seen about 10 minutes of REAR WINDOW while flipping channels at my in-laws' house.

    • 10d: Subvert hawks and doves? (SABOTAGE THE BIRDS). this one feels like it hangs together as a phrase slightly less well than the other "double features."

    • 18d: Madness in an emergency vessel used after a shipwreck? (LIFEBOAT FRENZY). this actually sounds very much like the plot of stephen crane's story the open boat. (okay, maybe not so much with the FRENZY and maybe more with the grim naturalism that we expect from crane.)

    okay, this was a cool theme. i'm no movie buff, and my ignorance of old movies is particularly galling (to some), but by and large, these films are pretty famous. the only ones i'm not familiar with are SABOTAGE and FRENZY. and the resulting combinations are fairly amusing, too.

    Sunny Spots:

    • 22a: It gets laughs from just a few people (IN JOKE). i don't think i've seen this in a puzzle before. great fill word, and the clue is perfect.

    • 64a: Hershey's chocolate bar with toffee (SKOR). yum...


    • 13a: Wholly engrossed (RAPT). cute to cross this with SPELLBOUND, also clued as "wholly engrossed."

    • 15a: "A Night at the Opera" name (MARX). karl? richard? no, silly. it's groucho et al.

    • 19a: Old Testament fratricide victim (ABEL). "fratricide" is one of those words you don't get to use very often in everyday conversation.

    • 21a: Tennis coach's concern (GRIP). i'm currently watching novak djokovic play andy roddick in the australian open. both guys are playing well, but it's 120° out there on the court. mercy! of course, it's currently 20° outside my window, which makes 120° seem not so bad.

    • 24a: In an easygoing manner (MELLOWLY). i guess that's a word, but boy, what an awkward adverb.

    • 26a: Thing that gets socked? (FOOT). not bad, but teetering close to the edge of the "clever but tortured" tag.

    • 28a: Carmaker whose logo is a horse rampant (FERRARI). two things i liked about this clue: 1) i knew i knew it, but it still took me a while to remember which one it was; 2) the noun-following adjective "rampant."

    • 32a: Euphonium's big cousin (TUBA). euphonium is another name for the baritone horn.

    • 34a: Former Georgian president Shevardnadze (EDUARD). matt gaffney recently used SHEVARDNADZE as a theme entry in a "people whose names end with tools" puzzle.

    • 48a: Bills, e.g. (NFL TEAM). i had the NF from crossings before i saw this clue, so it was pretty easy for me, but that's a pretty tough clue for a tuesday.

    • 52a: Part of PDF (PORTABLE). portable document format. so no, "PDF file" isn't redundant.

    • 2d: Hurtle (BARREL). i didn't read this clue carefully enough on the first pass: i thought it was "hurdle," and the answer might be BARRIER with some kind of rebus action going on. but no, it's just the verb BARREL.

    • 6d: Number one Hun (ATTILA). hey, this clue rhymes. betcha didn't notice that. :)

    • 9d: Musical key with four sharps (E MAJOR). or C# minor, but that didn't fit.

    • 23d: Tom and Meg's "Sleepless in Seattle" director (NORA ephron). i always wonder if her nerdy high-school friends nicknamed her "nephron." or maybe her email address is nephron@something. there's gotta be some kind of kidney joke in here somewhere, right?

    • 29d: "Exit Ghost" author (philip ROTH). the ninth and purportedly last of the nathan zuckerman books.

    • 32d: Many Legoland visitors (TOTS). my son sam is now old enough to play with the playland-sized legos. he's quite deft at putting them together and taking them apart, which is fun to watch.

    • 37d: Elbows on the table? (PASTA). great clue. i'm sure i must have seen something like it before, but i enjoyed it anyway.

    • 42d: Stones, e.g. (PELTS). both stones and PELTS are nouns, but they are only related as verbs. so what's more gruesome: the idea of stoning someone, or animal-skin PELTS?

    Suns of Bitches:

    • 5a: Robot dog in "Sleeper" (RAGS). "sleeper," you say?

    • 37a: Babyshambles singer Doherty (PETE). babyshambles, you say?

    • 50d: Giraffe in the "Madagascar" movies (MELMAN). i have at least heard of the "madagascar" movies. but this answer reminds me only of the planet MELMAC, the homeworld of ALF.

    see you next time.


    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Title: Roman Wrestling
    Author: Tony Orbach
    Theme: Names that are anagrams of "ROMAN".

    • 3d: Joanie Cunningham portrayer on "Happy Days" (ERIN MORAN). This one's a gimme for me. I watched a lot of "Happy Days" in my day, even after they jumped the shark.

    • 7d: 1997 A.L. Rookie of the Year (NOMAR GARCIAPARRA). I should have known this right off, but my brain doesn't catalog things by year. Once I had the NOM-- it was all over. Btw, he married soccer star Mia Hamm, so keep that in mind for future puzzles.

    • 9d: Actress in "The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg" (NORMA SHEARER). Know the name, that's about it.

    • 24d: Actor in "The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg" (RAMON NOVARRO). Didn't know the name at all. Apparently, this Mexican actor played a latin lover in silent films. A bit before my time.

    • 38d: Financial guru who wrote "Women & Money" (SUZE ORMAN). Seen her plenty on cable TV.

    This is a really cool theme, nicely placed in a 15x16 grid to accommodate the former Red Sox shortstop. Since he was with the Red Sox when he won the ROTY, we'll give a Red Sox tag.

    Sunny Spots:

    • 25a: Class that ends before labor day? (LAMAZE). Very cute.

    • 52a: Drool makeup (SALIVA). Nothing like a good spit clue.

    • 1d: Creep around (SKULK). I had SNEAK to start, which slowed me down. But I like SKULK better, it's a great word.

    • 9a: Phrase on a menu that includes egg rolls and wonton soup (NO MSG). This messed me up, because I thought the phrase included egg rolls and wonton soup, not just the menu. I get it now.

    • 14a: Lagerfeld of fashion (KARL).

    • 17a: Arms of the Mediterranean? (UZIS).

    • 23a: Royal Dutch Airlines letters (KLM).

    • 24a: Sound at the start of an MGM movie (ROAR). From the lion, whose name is "Leo".

    • 30a: A head (PER). I had a mental block on this one, even with _ER. And the crossing was no help at all.

    • 31a: Walker of whisky fame (HIRAM). Booze tag.

    • 33a: Mason of "Chapter Two" (MARSHA). I remember her from "The Goodbye Girl".

    • 42a: David Sarnoff's co. (RCA). Really? This seems like a tough clue for a Monday. Luckily I never saw it.

    • 43a: Like a 45° angle (ACUTE). Less than 90° is acute, more than 90° is obtuse.

    • 51a: First name of a Warner Bros. skunk (PEPE). Le Pew.

    • 59a: Girl, in Guadalajara (CHICA).

    • 64a: Marvel superhero group (XMEN).

    • 67a: Make like a hot dog? (PANT). Cute.

    • 68a: Authoritative expression of permission (SAY SO).

    • 5d: Record label founded by Sean Combs (BAD BOY).

    • 10d: Den drug (OPIUM). Drug reference.

    • 29d: Buy a round, say (TREAT). More booze tag fodder.

    • 34d: Music royalty gp. (ASCAP).

    • 39d: Ike's command in WWII (ETO). European Theater of Operations.

    • 40d: One with a pre-K kid, maybe (X-ER).

    • 48d: Showy flower (DAHLIA).

    • 49d: Got along with minimal effort (SLID BY).

    • 51d: Car radio button (PRESET).

    • 53d: Slush Puppie lookalikes (ICEES).

    • 55d: Tonalpohualli calendar user (AZTEC). Let me guess. Peter Gordon's clue?

    • 58d: The Lone Ranger's sidekick (TONTO).

    • 61d: Player of the national pastime who became a National (EXPO). Formerly of Montreal, before the team was moved to D.C. and renamed.

    Suns of Bitches:
    • 11d: Singer Ronnie (MILSAP). I had no clue on this one, even with MILSA_.

    Overall, an enjoyable Monday.

    Thanks for listening.

    - Pete M.

    Friday, January 23, 2009

    Friday, January 23, 2009

    Title: And the Nominees Are...
    Author: Roger Depont, or some Peter Gordon anagram
    Theme: Academy Awards Nominations

    As of the time of this writing, this puzzle wasn't released yet. That's because the nominations were just announced this morning, and it's not easy to come up with a good puzzle on a moment's notice.

    But... I'm out all this evening and my Mom is having surgery tomorrow morning, so I probably won't get a chance to blog this puzzle by the time you all have gotten it and completed it.

    So... I'm going to do something new. I'm going to pre-blog the puzzle. You can all comment as you wish, as normal. (Joon, if you want to add anything after the puzzle comes out, be my guest.)

    The Best Picture nominations are:

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    Slumdog Millionaire
    The Reader

    If I were a betting man (and sometimes I am), I'd guess you'll see these as follows:

    READER (6)
    MILK (4)
    SLUMDOG (7)
    CURIOUS (7)
    CASE (4)
    BUTTON (6)

    At least, that's how I'd try to do it, keeping the long titles together and in order. Amazing that it works out symmetrically. Still, it's a lot of theme fill, which makes the gridding process tough. Don't be surprised if you see some ugly clumps of black squares around the edges, and/or a few nasty entries. Just producing a viable puzzle from the above is no simple task, so you should be suitably impressed. Peter Gordon is, after all, the man.

    It's for puzzles like these that you should go out and buy three friends a Sun subscription. Do you really want these to stop?

    Thanks for listening.

    - Pete M.

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    Title: Themeless Thursday

    Author: Mark Feldman
    Theme: N/A

    Yesterday was my birthday, but this puzzle seemed about as easy as most of the Thursdays have been lately. So I guess I haven't totally lost my crosswording skills at the ripe old age of 51.

    Sunny Spot:
    36d: King's title (REVEREND). A MLK reference certainly seems appropriate this week.

    50a: Fresh start (NEWLEASEONLIFE). This seems particularly appropriate this week as well.

  • 23a: Seductive glance (COMEHITHERLOOK). A sexy look with a sexy name. I mean doesn't "come hither" sound much more erotic than "come here"?

  • Sundries:
  • 1a: Wrap around a fatty Japanese roll? (OBI). Why does it have to be "fatty"? Can't a skinny geisha wear an obi?
  • 4a: Princess in "The Tale of Despereaux" (PEA). Didn't see (or read?) the story in question. Is there actually a princess named Pea, not just tossing and turning trying to get to sleep on one.
  • 7a: Decorative works (MOSAICS).
  • 14a: Show that can be downloaded to an MP3 player (PODCAST). Best crossword podcast that I have found: Ryan and Brian Do Crosswords.
  • 16a: Chaos (ANARCHY). Not necessarily. Anarchy is the absence of government or law. It doesn't necessarily follow that we will descend into chaos. We might just learn to get along.

  • 17a: Italian province (TRIESTE).

    18a: Water holder (CANTEEN).
  • 19a: Polo rival (IZOD).
  • 20a: Honeydew source (APHID). Wait a minute. You mean aphids make those melons?
  • 22a: XX x XXXV (DCC). As Roman multiplication goes, this equation is pretty easy.
  • 27a: Family nickname (SIS).

  • 28a: Ocean menace, once (UBOAT).

  • 29a: "Sorrows" poet (OVID). Perhaps he wouldn't be so sorrowful if he knew he was still relevant today. Bob Dylan borrowed some lines from Ovid's Poems of Exile on his album Modern Times.
  • 31a: Meager (LENTEN).

  • 33a: Paradoxical figure? (ZENO).

  • 38a: Spring (EMERGE).

  • 40a: Mad River ___ (Vermont ski area) (GLEN).

  • 41a: 16th- and 17th-century entertainment in England (MASQUE).
  • 45a: Go crazy (RAVE). Or a 20th and 21st century entertainment in England.
  • 46a: "Seabiscuit" author Hillenbrand (LAURA).
  • 47a: Unit used in measuring wire diameters (MIL).
  • 54a: Mess up (ERR).
  • 55a: "12 Angry Men" director (LUMET).
  • 56a: Son of Seth (ENOS).
  • 57a: Meat from a crossbreed (BEEFALO).
  • 59a: Homemade pistols (ZIPGUNS).
  • 62a: Given a new title (RENAMED).
  • 63a: John, e.g. (APOSTLE).
  • 64a: "Most likely ..." (ODDSARE).
  • 65a: Fortune (LOT).
  • 66a: View finder? (EYE).
  • 1d: Light study (OPTICS).

  • 2d: Russian wolfhound (BORZOI).

  • 3d: Translator's challenges (IDIOMS).

  • 4d: Certain step (PAS).

  • 5d: Werner Erhard program (EST). This was huge in the 70's. Everybody was into EST. Valerie Harper and John Denver were prominent participants.

  • 6d: Gorged oneself (ATEATON).

  • 7d: Jungle slasher (MACHETE).

  • 8d: Televising (ONAIR).

  • 9d: Financial inst. (SANDL).

  • 10d: Skill (ART).

  • 11d: Froze up (ICEDOVER).

  • 12d: Depositor's account choice (CHECKING).

  • 13d: Put in phase (SYNC).

  • 15d: Yield (CEDE).

  • 21d: Baby ___ (urban fashion line) (PHAT).

  • 24d: Clumsy ship (HULK).

  • 25d: Rooftop bar? (IBEAM).

  • 26d: Sludge (OOZE).

  • 30d: Kid nurser (DOE).

  • 32d: Logical beginning? (NEURO).

  • 34d: Bus. driver? (MGR).

  • 35d: Voicer of Fred Flintstone (ALANREED).

  • 37d: Understood (KNEW).

  • 39d: Statistics class calculation (MEAN).

  • 42d: Fashionable (ALAMODE). Hmmm, I thought it meant "with ice cream."

  • 43d: Invitation encl. (SASE).

  • 47d: Up-to-the-___ (MINUTE).

  • 48d: "I wish!" (IFONLY).

  • 49d: Apartment dweller, often (LESSEE).

  • 51d: Alpaca's mate, sometimes (LLAMA).

  • 53d: Pins, so to speak (LEGS). The only instance I can think of where legs are termed "pins" is in the somewhat old-fashioned expression "wobbly on ones pins."

  • 54d: Battle of the ___ (Spanish Civil War event) (EBRO).

  • 58d: Sol-___ (does some practice singing) (FAS).

  • 60d: NASDAQ debut (IPO).

  • 61d: Joint stuff (POT).

  • Suns of Bitches:
    34a: Former Finnish currency (MARKKA). I sure miss the franc and the lira, the last foreign currencies I knew anything about.

    44d: Guatemala's national bird and currency unit (QUETZAL). Never heard of them. They're pretty colorful though:

  • 52d: Goldbach contemporary (EULER). Never heard of either of them. Evidently they're mathemeticians.

  • Have a nice Thursday, Norrin.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    Title: Where Have All the Vowels Gone?
    Author: Scott Atkinson
    Theme: Names a phrases with seven consecutive consonants.
    • 17a: Basketball Hall of Fame coach known as "Big Bear" (BRANCH MCCRACKEN). Heard the name before.

    • 23a: Rainn Wilson's role on "The Office" (DWIGHT SCHRUTE). Don't watch the show, but that's my own fault.

    • 40a: "Li'l Abner" character Joe who has a rain cloud over his head (BTFSPLK). WTFSTHSSHT?

    • 50a: Subject of a Pee Wee Hunt rag (TWELFTH STREET). Nice clue, great song.

    • 62a: What can be found consecutively in 17-, 23-, 40-, and 50-Across (SEVEN CONSONANTS).

    Not much to say about this one. It is what is it. I suppose Joe BTFSPLK is like Mr. Mxyzptlk -- you either know it or you don't. I didn't, but the crossings were all fair, so I don't mind all that much.

    I'm in a hurry, so I'm going to breeze through the rest.

    The Rest:

    • 9a: Vietnam Veterans Memorial inscriptions (NAMES). My eldest son spent yesterday standing amongst the throngs on the Mall in Washington D.C., watching Obama's inauguration. It's a great place to visit in the summer, with the Vietnam wall being especially moving.

    • 27a: Figure skater Midori (ITO).

    • 36a: Brand in the lyrics of "Kodachrome" (NIKON).

    • 43a: With 68-Across, Sri Lanka exports (PEKOE / TEA).

    • 46a: Limp Bizkit drummer John ___ (OTTO). I wouldn't have known this, but I never saw the clue.

    • 58a: "___ Baby" ("Hair" song) (ABIE). Know it from puzzles.

    • 59a: Reacted to reveille (AROSE). The morning bugle call. Here it here.

    • 69a: Nobody may go in front of it (ELSE'S). Umm... okay.

    • 70a: Partiality (BIAS).

    • 71a: Accordingly (ERGO). Therefore...

    • 4d: "Told ya!" (I KNEW IT).

    • 6d: Energy (OOMPH). Oomph is a great word.

    • 10d: Portion of a lemniscate (ARC). A lemniscate is a figure-eight-shaped curve, like the infinity symbol.

    • 11d: Beauty aid (MAKE UP KIT). Nice fill.

    • 12d: Navratilova rival (Chris EVERT).

    • 18d: Lit ___ (college course, informally) (CRIT).

    • 25d: Amount of hair (HANK).

    • 30d: "Miracle at St. Anna" director (LEE). If it's a director in three letters, it's probably Lee (Ang or Spike). This one's the latter.

    • 31d: Cluster on military awards (OAK LEAVES).

    • 49d: Actor Astin (SEAN), who played Sam in "The Lord of the Rings" films.

    • 51d: Big cheese, in more ways than one (WHEEL).

    • 52d: One-third of XXX? (TAC). Tic-tac-toe.

    • 61d: Station identification, once (ESSO). I wasn't fooled by this clue even for a second. Don't know why.

    Outside of the theme, I thought the puzzle was easier than normal for a Wednesday. There were 29a: Truckloads (ALOT) of Monday-ish clues here.

    Thanks for listening.

    - Pete M.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Title: Attention to Details
    Author: Patrick Blindauer
    Theme: Wordplay theme in which D is added to the end of two-word phrases

    • 17a: Site of a hospital auction? (BIDDING WARD).

    • 28a: Gradual curve in the road? (GENTLE BEND). my favorite of the theme answers. nice base phrase, and a good clue-answer pairing for the modified version.

    • 48a: Perform some physical therapy? (MUSCLE MEND).

    • 61a: Tiny greeting from Hallmark? (COMPACT CARD).

    • 11d: Work for the military police? (BASE TEND).

    • 38d: Group that plays during finals week? (TEST BAND).

    not the world's most exciting theme, but well-executed with six rock-solid theme answers. the only thing i didn't like about it was having the two vertical entries which weren't longer than the other down answers—indeed, they're each in 3x8 stacks. the stacks are nice, but i actually had some difficulty determining that they were part of the theme, especially since the puzzle is fairly loaded with ? clues in the fill.

    i was kind of expecting this puzzle to have something to do with the inauguration, but maybe that's because i expect everything to have something to do with the inauguration. i can't remember an inauguration this anticipated.

    Sunny Spots:

    • 34d: Plant tissue (XYLEM). i've always loved this word. i mean... it starts with X, and then goes later in the alphabet from there. good stuff. it gets much more crossword play than its counterpart, PHLOEM.


    • 1a: What some people do to enter united states? (ELOPE). okay, that's a tortured clue. i did figure it out, and almost smiled. i think i'll give it the "clever but tortured" tag.

    • 6a: Storybook elephant (BABAR). also a major particle physics experiment at SLAC.

    • 14a: 2008 French Open and Wimbledon champ (NADAL). NADAL is great, but i was pretty bummed that he took out roger federer at wimbledon. but it was the greatest tennis match i've ever seen, so there's that consolation.

    • 15a: Hoopster Danny (AINGE). he's now the GM of the boston celtics.

    • 16a: Ex of Mickey, Artie, and Frank (AVA gardner). i don't know who any of those guys are, but i recognize this clue from having seen it in many forms before.

    • 19a: Where to find a father-to-be: Abbr. (SEM). seminary. tricky clue. it seems cruel to combine misdirection with a not-very-common abbreviation on a tuesday.

    • 22a: Caterpillar competitor (DEERE). i guess caterpillar makes farm equipment? or maybe lawnmowers?

    • 24a: 1970 John Wayne film (RIO LOBO). there are at least three RIO ___ john wayne movies. i needed the B to figure the rest of this one out.

    • 27a: ___ Beach, South Carolina (MYRTLE). i've been there, and yet i didn't get this even after i had MYR_L_. why? because i was misreading it as "southern california." duh.

    • 33a: Novartis product (GAS-X). wasn't this one of the central answers in PB2's "big ten" friday puzzle from last october? i liked that one a lot.

    • 35a: "Winter of Artifice" writer (anais NIN). not a work i'm familiar with, but there are only so many ways to clue NIN.

    • 40a: Blah? (YADDA). in the sense that YADDA YADDA YADDA is roughly synonymous with "blah blah blah." this is a stretch, but i guess with the ? it's okay.

    • 46a: Comic strip character who loves Dick (TESS). that's TESS trueheart and dick tracy, but this clue is definitely getting the "sexual innuendo" tag.

    • 57a: "It's ___ real!" (BEEN). i liked this a lot: it's a fun way of cluing a boring word.

    • 66a: Dry (UNWET). yuck.

    • 68a: With 69-Across, Valentine's Day gift (RED/ROSES). don't get me started.

    • 1d: Sportscaster with the catchphrase "Oh, my!" (dick ENBERG). i got this instantly, but is it really a catchphrase? it's so... uncatchy. ENBERG is perfectly inoffensive, but he's not exactly memorable.

    • 2d: Actress Kazan (LAINIE). no relation to director elia. i think.

    • 3d: Like some favorites (ODDS-ON). not sure i've ever seen this fill. it looks like ODD SON in the grid.

    • 5d: Member of the Whiffenpoofs (ELI). the poofs are yale's premier all-male a cappella group. i wish i didn't know that, but i do.

    • 6d: Bug planter's break-in (BAG JOB). i didn't know whether to sort this into "sunny spots" or "suns of bitches," so i split the difference. cool-looking phrase, but i've never heard of it.

    • 9d: The A of A&M (AGR). yuck.

    • 13d: Cross-dressing star of "The Royal Tour" on Broadway (DAME EDNA). the clue says "star," but apparently she's a fictional character. i did not know that.

    • 18d: Prize that Sartre declined (NOBEL). i wonder if sartre gets jealous that his lover NIN is in crosswords so much more often than he is. i mean, she never did anything as cool as declining the NOBEL prize.

    • 25d: About 9.46 trillion km (LTYR). i still hate this answer. the standard way of abbreviating "light-year" is just ly. at the very least, it should get a "Var." tag.

    • 41d: Many people bank on them (ATMS). i've noticed that when the clue refers to the answer using a pronoun ("it" or "them") and contains a figure of speech, it's usually supposed to be interpreted literally rather than figuratively.

    • 45d: His epitaph says "That's all folks" (mel BLANC). the guy who voiced bugs bunny, among thousands of other characters. interesting trivia.

    • 52d: "Annus Mirabilis" poet (john DRYDEN). the "annus mirabilis" is 1666, the year of the great london fire. i'm not sure why they thought that year was so great.

    • 62d: Gibraltar bride of 1969 (yoko ONO). i had no idea. gibraltar? really?

    Suns of Bitches:

    • 43a: "American ___" (Benjamin Nugent book) (NERD). i can't imagine a less helpful clue. there's probably a book called american ___ that i've never heard of for any value of ___.

    • 26d: Mrs. ___ of Folgers fame (OLSON). not enough fame, if you ask me, but i've been known not to recognize characters from decades-old commercials. just ask madge, who's soaking in it.

    • 39d: "___ Calling" (short-lived Fox series) (TRU). i had trouble with the T here, because the crossing 39a: Glover's specialty (TAP) wasn't doing me any favors. is that danny glover? gary glover? i'm guessing no, but i don't know who it is.

    nice puzzle for a tuesday. it's not one of the PB2 outside-the-box specials, but a well-executed puzzle and an enjoyable solve nonetheless.


    Monday, January 19, 2009

    Monday, January 19, 2009

    Title: The Last Hurrah
    Author: Andrea Carla Michaels
    Theme: "Sis Boom Bah" found at the ends of the respective theme entries.
    • 20a: Author of "Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players" (STEFAN FATSIS). I have never heard of this person. Now, sure, it's more likely that a crossword puzzle solver will be familiar with an author about words and Scrabble, but please... it's only Monday. This dude gets less than 35,000 Google hits.

    • 36a: Taking decisive punitive action (LOWERING THE BOOM). This is a great phrase. Love it!

    • 50a: Muck-a-muck (GRAND POOH-BAH). Love this one too. Reminds me of "Mr. C." on "Happy Days".

    I like the theme concept. My only complaint is that if there are only three theme entries, I'd like to like all three of them. STEFAN FATSIS just doesn't measure up to the other two for me. He's just not a well-known-enough name for a Monday puzzle. He'd be a stretch for a Friday puzzle. I would have preferred RISK ANALYSIS or maybe AUTOHYPNOSIS, or even OSTEOPOROSIS.

    Sunny Spots:

    • 17a: Shares one's thoughts? (MIND MELDS). Wonderful! Star Trek geekiness and clever cluing combine for a real gem here.

    • 47a: Little squirt (SPRITZ). Great word, great clue.

    • 4d: Ex-lover (OLD FLAME). Excellent fill.

    • 14a: Jannings of "The Blue Angel" (EMIL). Didn't know this, but it wasn't hard to figure.

    • 27a: Macabre cartoonist Charles (ADDAMS). Inspiration for "The Addams Family".

    • 30a: It's a wrap (SARI).

    • 34a: It's a wrap (SARAN).

    • 41a: "___ Irish Rose" (ABIE'S). There was a time when I would have had no clue what this was. But it's been in enough crossword puzzles that it's second nature now.

    • 42a: Basketball court part (LANE).

    • 49a: Mountain capper (SNOW). I live in New Hampshire, and let me tell you it caps more than just mountain tops.

    • 64a: "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" writer (AGEE). This is ERIE-rule for me. Writer in four letters starting with A? AGEE.

    • 3d: Wine's partner (DINE).

    • 9d: Like a nose that resembles an eagle's beak (AQUILINE).

    • 21d: "SNL" role for Tina (SARAH). That's Tina Fey and Sarah Palin, for those who might have been living under a rock for the past year. I'd tell you which is which, but I'm afraid I'd get it wrong. :)

    • 25d: Power of Hollywood (TYRONE).

    • 28d: Genre of "Under the Boardwalk" (DOO-WOP).

    • 29d: Buzzkill (DOWNER).

    • 37d: Ramshackle structures (RAT TRAPS).

    • 38d: Island in the western Mediterranean (IBIZA).

    • 56d: Cold-cocked (K.O.'D).

    Suns of Bitches:
    None to speak of. Well, except for Stefan Fatsis.

    Despite this puzzle's bout with stefanfatsisitis, I really enjoyed it.

    Thanks for listening.

    - Pete M.

    Friday, January 16, 2009

    Friday, January 16, 2009

    Title: Weekend Warrior
    Author: Barry C. Silk
    Theme: None

    Sunny Spots:
    • 1a: Leaving while the iron is hot? (FIRE HAZARD). Nice fill, nice clue. Of course, many irons today have auto-shut-offs, as do some coffee makers.

    • 15a: Highly flawed plan (ROTTEN IDEA). Excellent.

    • 60a: Chinese dumpling (POT STICKER). Yummy. And much more well-known to me than, say, a GYOZA.


    • 11a: Butters? (RAMS). Those who butt. Ick. Would have prefered a "South Park" clue.

    • 18a: Forest Whitaker's role in "The Crying Game" (JODY). I remember certain key elements of this movie, but not the character names.

    • 19a: It's often passed in silence (GAS). Wow, a fart clue! I think that deserves its own tag.

    • 25a: Ricky Ricardo's signature song (BABALU).

    • 27a: Make up? (ELATE). Okay, that's pushing it a little.

    • 32a: Hansen's disease victims (LEPERS). I've seen this here before, I think... yep, September 8, 2008.

    • 34a: Seafood delicacy (SHAD ROE).

    • 49a: Like pigs' feet (BRINED). Ewww.

    • 53a: Brushback pitch (DUSTER). I always assumed a DUSTER was a pitch that not only brushed the batter back, but caused him to hit the ground trying to get out of the way, such that he had to dust himself off afterwards. Maybe that's how it started and it has developed to apply to any brushback. After all, baseball players and announcers aren't always the best stewards of the English language. But anyway, not too long now before spring training starts up. Man, I can't wait! DUSTER is also an old car by Plymouth.

    • 63a: It's an indeterminate form when raised to itself (ZERO). Any non-zero number raised to the 0th power is 1. So, should 0 to the 0th be 1 also? Or should it be 0? Well, it's neither. Or both. Don't ask.

    • 64a: 1976 Best Actress nominee (TALIA SHIRE). For "Rocky", I assume.

    • 66a: Animated film of 2006 (OPEN SEASON).

    • 1d: Michigan J. ___ (mascot of the WB) (FROG). Really? Who knew?

    • 2d: The Gaels of collegiate sports (IONA). Ditto.

    • 7d: Autoharp, e.g. (ZITHER).

    • 10d: It has 18° sectors (DARTBOARD). 360 / 18 = 20 sectors. Yep, dartboard works.

    • 12d: Landmark seen in the opening credits of "Hawaii Five-O" (ALOHA TOWER). I didn't know this off-hand, but it wasn't hard to figure. If you want to see the reference go here. It's at about the 13 second mark.

    • 13d: Global hot spot (MIDDLE EAST).

    • 21d: Qualcomm Stadium setting (SAN DIEGO) and 43d: Headquarters for (SEATTLE) give this puzzle a Western vibe.

    • 28d: "How Do I Live" singer (LEANN RIMES). Why do I always want to spell RIMES with a Y? Even when it crossed LYZ, I wasn't 100% sure it was wrong.

    • 29d: Introductory courses? (APPETIZERS). It's a weekend warrior, lose the question mark on this one.

    • 31d: Oldies syllable (SHA). Kind of weak, especially when you also have 62d: When doubled, a ballroom dance (CHA).

    • 45d: Lagniappe (TIP). As in a gratuiuty.

    • 56d: Son of Eliel (EERO). I missed ELIEL in a puzzle in last year's ACPT, but it wasn't clued in reference to EERO Saarinen.

    • 59d: Tic-tac-toe loser (XOO). Luckily I had the _OO when I saw this clue, so there were no guesses to be made.

    Suns of Bitches:

    • 38a: Graynor of "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist" (ARI). Didn't know it. Never saw it (the clue or the movie). She apparently plays neither Nick nor Norah, so I'm not sure how famous that makes her.

    • 52a: Romance novelist Carlyle (LIZ).

    Not as hard as WWs have been lately, it seems. But no major complaints.

    Thanks for listening.

    - Pete M.

    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    Thursday, January 15th 2009

    Title: Size Matters
    Author: Matt Ginsberg
    Theme: You're going to have print this out, kids. Across Lite won't work because we've got enlarged squares, one TALL, one WIDE, and one BIG. We've also got more than one letter per square and I'm not going to go into the whole rebus vs. Cramalot thing because even though I know I'm right I also know I'm in the minority. Anyway, your themed entries are:

    33A: Major (BIGTIME)
    35A: Hits the jackpot (WINS BIG)

    5D: Important guy, in slang (MISTER BIG) Not modern slang, mind you, but very hep in the 1930s.

    And my favorite (because the B-I-G does not refer to size): 33D: Bunker, for example (BIGOT)

    On to the TALLs:

    28A: They often have tiled floors (SHOWER STALLS)

    30D: Scored (TALLIED)

    And the WIDEs:

    55A: Weblike? (WORLDWIDE)

    57D: Harvard library (WIDENER)

    57D: Far apart, as eyes (WIDESET)

    To put the newest denizen of the dictionary to work -- meh. I was underwhelmed by the theme, which seemed familiar and pretty easy to fill in once you knew how it worked. There was some interesting fill however, and as I'm pressed for time this week, what say we hit the highlights and call it a day?

    1A: Abnormal contraction (SPASM) I was thinking something like "Dasn't" (for "Dares not") or somesuch. Different kind of contraction.

    49A: "Beautiful Girls" director Demme (TED) I thought this movie -- one of my favorites -- was going to appear in last Thursday's puzzle, but it turned out to be "Drugstore Cowboy" instead, so it was interesting to see it show up this week.

    4D: Tahini ingredient (SESAME) And tahini in turn is an ingredient in hummus, which I am enjoying right now. Hope I don't get any on your computer screen.

    7D: Exemplar of strength (OAK) Had the first letter and couldn't get it. My mind didn't want to let go of OX, even though that word is obviously not tall enough to go here.

    26D: Actress Durance (ERICA) The lovely young lady who plays Lois Lane on "Smallvile"

    No SoB's this week. Once you got the theme, it was pretty easy.

    See you next Thursday.