Senin, 28 Februari 2011

02.28 Mon

M O N D A Y
February 28, 2011
Jeffrey Lease


Theme: Captain, My Captain — The first word of each theme answer is a well-known captain.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *1968 sci-fi classic remade in 2001 (PLANET OF THE APES).
  • 23A: *Chili competitions (COOK-OFFS).
  • 50A: *Reason for rhinoplasty (HOOK NOSE).
  • 58A: *1980 Disney comedy about an all-night puzzle-solving race (MIDNIGHT MADNESS).
  • 38A: Rank that goes with the first parts of the answers to starred clues (CAPTAIN).
Welcome to today's edition of "Excellent Theme Idea With Iffy Execution." I have to say I don't understand how these theme answers made it past Quality Control. CAPTAIN PLANET? Who the heck is that? CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT isn't any better and, to add insult to injury, it's clued with a movie nobody's heard of. I realize sometimes a constructor gets stuck for theme answers (believe me, I know!) but just off the top of my head, both KANGAROO COURT and AMERICA ONLINE are 13 letters and reference Captains most people have heard of, which makes them perfectly acceptable (dare I say better?) entries for this theme. I'm sincerely baffled by the choices made in this puzzle.

There were, however, a couple entries in this grid that seemed particular colorful and made me smile:
  • 43A: Jump (on) suddenly (POUNCE).
  • 25D: Lacking strength (FEEBLE).
  • 27D: Bug-hitting-windshield sound (SPLAT).
Bullets:
  • 20A: Jewish (SEMITIC). When I hear the word SEMITIC, it's most often in the context of something that's "anti-SEMITIC" so even without the "anti" my instinctual response is to flinch.
  • 22A: Conference including Duke and UNC (ACC). The Blue Devils and the Tar Heels are part of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
  • 28A: Liver secretion (BILE). This is another one of those words that I'd rather not see in my puzzle. Hello? Breakfast test?
  • 47A: Band-Aid and Barbie, e.g.: Abbr. (TM'S). Band-Aid and Barbie are both trademarks.
  • 53A: Corn unit (EAR). I miss Iowa.
  • 54A: Inexpensive brand (CHEAPIE). Personally, I would say "CHEAPO." You?
  • 64A: Wrinkle remover (IRON). HAha! The visual I got here was an old woman taking an iron to her face. Yeah, okay, the old woman was me. It was still funny.
  • 34D: Occurrence (HAP). Not a fan of this entry. See also 56D: "This __ silly!" (IS SO).
  • 49D: Farm (GRANGE). Thank goodness we're going to end on a rockin' note.


Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 5A: Double reed instrument (OBOE).
  • 68A: School attended by many princes and prime ministers (ETON).
  • 8D: Tolkien's Treebeard, for one (ENT).
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Everything Else 1A: One with a degree (GRAD); 9A: Bit of campaign nastiness (SMEAR); 14A: Assistant (AIDE); 15A: Course of action (PLAN); 16A: Croatian-born physicist Nikola (TESLA); 21A: Rotten (BAD); 30A: "What's up, __?" (DOC); 31A: Clean the floor (SWEEP); 32A: Was victorious (WON); 33A: Dissertations (THESES); 36A: It can be airtight or waterproof (SEAL); 37A: Fishing pole (ROD); 40A: Support garment (BRA); 41A: Slightly (A BIT); 44A: Tennis call (LET); 45A: Keg party attire (TOGAS); 48A: Like much wine and cheese (AGED); 52A: Rover's warning (GRR); 63A: Overindulge, as kids (SPOIL); 65A: Fight for air (GASP); 66A: Wedding dresses (GOWNS); 67A: Fey of "30 Rock" (TINA); 1D: Spaces (GAPS); 2D: Annoy (RILE); 3D: TV Batman West (ADAM); 4D: "I did not!" is one (DENIAL); 5D: __ nerve (OPTIC); 6D: Voting group (BLOC); 7D: Palooka (OAF); 9D: Texas Roadhouse fare (STEAKS); 10D: Grassy fields (MEADOWS); 11D: Sixth sense, briefly (ESP); 12D: Pub pick (ALE); 13D: Dorm supervisors: Abbr. (RA'S); 18D: "And so on and so forth," for short (ETC. ETC.); 19D: "True Blood" airer (HBO); 23D: Party disguise (COSTUME); 24D: Indian and Arctic (OCEANS); 26D: Dreaded (FEARED); 28D: Owie (BOO-BOO); 29D: Spectrum color between blue and violet (INDIGO); 30D: Train stations (DEPOTS); 32D: Ire (WRATH); 35D: Start of a guard dog command (SIC); 39D: Approached (NEARED); 42D: Deceived (TAKEN IN); 46D: Slow mollusks (SNAILS); 51D: Nonprofit's URL ending (ORG); 52D: The Gold Coast, since 1957 (GHANA); 54D: "Let's roll!" ("C'MON!"); 55D: __ moss (PEAT); 57D: "Monday Night Football" channel (ESPN); 58D: Chinese food additive (MSG); 59D: Wall St. debut (IPO); 60D: Wall Street index, with "the" (DOW); 61D: Smack (HIT); 62D: Prefix with athlete (TRI-).

Minggu, 27 Februari 2011

02.27 Sun

S U N D A Y
February 27, 2011
Jeremy Horwitz & Byron Walden


[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at cruciverb.com.]


Theme: "It's an Honor Just to Be Nominated" — The eight films for which Peter O'Toole received a Best Actor Oscar nomination...and lost.

Theme Entries:
  • 1A: *1964 (BECKET).
  • 7A: *2006 (VENUS).
  • 28A: *1968 (THE LION IN WINTER).
  • 43A: *1972, with "The" (RULING CLASS).
  • 65A: *1982 (MY FAVORITE YEAR).
  • 67A/71A: *1962 (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA).
  • 72A: *1969 (GOODBYE MR. CHIPS).
  • 96A: *1980 (THE STUNT MAN).
  • 112A: See 127-Across (BEST ACTOR OSCARS).
  • 127A/128A: Performer nominated for 112-A (he didn't win any) in all the answers to starred clues (PETER O'TOOLE).
Hi, everybody. Brad Wilber here, making my INAUGURAL (83D) foray into public puzzle commentary. Doug, I’m sure, surmised that asking me to guest-solve on Oscar Sunday would be the equivalent of a lazy pitch right over the plate to Ron CEY (54A) or Mel OTT (78A). I won’t claim to be top movie maven among cruciverbalists —- not with John Farmer and others out there –- but I am something of a student of Oscar and lack only 25-30 films in my long-running aim to see every Oscar-nominated performance in major categories (all four acting races, Picture, Director, writing, cinematography, etc.)

So did I have an overconfident start to the puzzle? Yes, I think that’s fair to say. Confronted with dates as my only clues to theme entries, I started penciling in Best Picture winners, and it was my bad luck to start with 1969 at 72A. MIDNIGHT COWBOY fit neatly. But oops – 1980’s ORDINARY PEOPLE did not find a home at 96A. So I shrugged philosophically and allowed my eyes to light on the last clue on the page. Great – TAO (120D). And, of course, the bottom line of the puzzle is where the key twist on the Oscar theme lurked. As soon as I knew Jeremy and Byron were giving us a splendid tribute to PETER O’TOOLE – well, at the risk of sounding obnoxious, I could lay in all the theme entries without waiting for crossings. MIDNIGHT COWBOY was gone in a cloud of eraser dust, replaced by GOODBYE MR. CHIPS (you know this version is a quasi-musical, right?). Then the rest, with a brief pause at 112A before I could pin down that BEST ACTOR OSCARS was going to be plural.

If you’re going to serve up a tribute puzzle, this is the way to do it and please the purists and the completists. All of the films for which O’Toole was nominated appear, and with gratifying symmetry, entries BECKET / VENUS mirror PETER / O’TOOLE. Having to snip the initial article from THE RULING CLASS to make it fit must have been a mildly galling moment for our constructing duo, but not a big deal. Compensation – having three of the films stacked in adjacent rows right at the heart of the grid (MY FAVORITE YEAR, CHIPS, and a split-up LAWRENCE OF ARABIA).

So theme-wise I had just one “light bulb” moment as opposed to seven or eight, but movie knowledge alone does not give you a finished puzzle. I still had plenty of work to, with lots of fun moments along the way.

Bullets:
  • 1D: Like the most secure passports nowadays (BIOMETRIC). This is the kind of cluing that makes me pleasantly gooey inside – an elegant snippet of writing, specific but still a bit mysterious, and offering a break from strictly lexical match-ups. Ditto U.S. BORDER at 88A (It runs through four Great Lakes). 
  • 7D: Facilities for many ex-GIs (VFW HALLS). With V__H__L_ in place from my movie titles, I was betting on VALHALLA before I saw the clue.
  • 44D: Remedy for a pain in the neck (NERVE BLOCK). New crossword entry born out of the need to have the N, the E and the B in their appointed spots. But also eminently familiar.
  • 65D: “Who wants candy?” response ("ME! ME!"). Much more verve in this cluing avenue, to my mind, than in asking for an Internet MEME. Excuse me while I go get a bag of Swedish Fish.
  • 70D: "Ice Age" unit, e.g. (CEL). Going along quickly, I almost put CEN. as an abbreviation for “century,” since ice ages, you know, took a while. I have a feeling that’s just the kind of gentle trap the guys wanted to lay for us. But...maybe it wasn’t deliberate at all. Speaking of AGE, a few extra minutes of my life went by before that answer occurred to me for 111A (It always increases). Nice!
  • 99A: Tennis shoe that debuted at Wimbledon in 1966 (K-SWISS). The first all- leather sneaker, with a striped shield logo. File it in that part of your brain where the other tennis apparel is, like ELLESSE (go, Chrissie!) and FILA.
  • 81A: How nice that OSH by itself it a (Kyrgyzstan city) and we don’t have to have a rhyming fill-in-the-blank.
  • 47A: (Item, such as interest, recorded only when earned) clues NON-ASSET, another entry new to me. Sometimes when I go through puzzles my lack of background in accounting and economics is a non-asset.
  • 92D: Prince Andrew’s younger daughter (EUGENIE). Did you waver between EUGENIA and EUGENIE? Moseying right next door – come on! Given the timing can we not have LESBIAN referencing “The Kids Are All Right” (nominated for four big awards tonight)? Although that movie technically involves three parents, two of whom are lesbian, so the potential clue suddenly becomes more syntactically complicated than the one we got.
  • 60A: It was pretty cool to get almost to the end of the puzzle and encounter a double-J with HAJJI (Muslim pilgrim). The crossing at 62D made me recall that I thought "Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire" was a little bit inert compared to the infectious giddiness of the VERY best Bollywood numbers. Anybody agree?

  • 25A: A.O. SCOTT should send Byron a gift basket – this is at least the second occasion Byron has worked the New York Times film critic into a puzzle (2009-'10 "At the movies" cohost).
  • The puzzle has a fair amount of cross-referencing even apart from the instances needed to execute the theme. The fellows turned such a nice trick with ONE-SEATER (22A and 39A) that I wished they could have shoehorned LAUDER into the grid and spared us a stand-alone ESTEE at 107D. Oh, well.
In case you do trivia at your Oscar party tonight, here are some other “bridesmaid” multiple nominees: Richard Burton (7), Deborah Kerr (6), Thelma Ritter (6), Glenn Close (5), Irene Dunne (5), Albert Finney (5), and Arthur Kennedy (5). Directors Clarence Brown, King Vidor, and Robert Altman also have 5 nominations each, without a win.

Back to O’Toole for a minute. Do I think he was ever “robbed”? Truthfully, no. In the abstract, yes, I think he deserves to have an Oscar on his mantel as much as anyone. But considering each of the years in which he competed, it’s hard to imagine changing the verdict in Peter’s favor. You wouldn’t want Gregory Peck to be without his award in 1962 for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and at that stage voters probably thought the upstart O’Toole had plenty of time for a future victory. In 1964, whatever you think about Rex Harrison in MY FAIR LADY, how could you give an Oscar to a guy in BECKET who didn’t play Becket? In 1968, voters were happy enough to let THE LION IN WINTER accolades go to Hepburn, and Cliff Robertson had the trump card of playing a sympathetic soul coping with disability instead of a braying king. 1969’s nomination for MR. CHIPS was more recognition for maintaining dignity in the face of bad material than a dog that would hunt. And all of O’Toole’s remaining nominations (1972, 1980, 1982, 2006) found him up against can’t-miss performances (Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, Robert DeNiro as Jake LaMotta, Ben Kingsley as Gandhi, and Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin).

What Mr. O’Toole needed, in my opinion, was another movie like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA whose sheer scale could have better absorbed his big acting style. His LORD JIM (1965) is such a film – an underrated one – and I think if he’d been able to snag a nod that year he might have been in with a real shot. Or I do wonder what would have happened if he’d slipped in as a Supporting nominee in 1987 for his tutor in THE LAST EMPEROR – by then, doing some very subtle work.

Geez – I’ve overstayed my welcome and sort of strayed from the puzzle. Let’s go to the videotape!

Peter O’Toole was given an honorary Oscar in 2003. Initially he wrote to the Academy begging off, saying he wanted to win “the lovely bugger outright,” but he showed up to receive his honor and gave a speech that oozed class. If you're one who holds the view that plenty of Oscar winners have sentiment and politics to thank as much as merit, maybe you'll agree with one of the comments made during O'Toole's campaign for VENUS, to the effect that an O'Toole win at some point in history would have legitimized Oscar, not the other way around:

2003 – O’Toole recipient of Honorary Oscar

Some other Best Actor clips of Oscar ceremonies involving O’Toole (he’s only shown in two of them). Presenters Sally Field and John Travolta both have deer-in-the-headlights syndrome:

1969 – O’Toole in Goodbye Mr. Chips loses to John Wayne

1972 – O’Toole in The Ruling Class loses to Marlon Brando

1980 – O’Toole in The Stunt Man loses to Robert De Niro

1982 – O’Toole in My Favorite Year loses to Ben Kingsley

Others who received a competitive acting nomination or win AFTER being awarded an honorary Oscar are Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, and Alec Guinness.

2006 – Peter O’Toole in Venus loses to Forest Whitaker

Thanks for allowing me to visit...and ramble...everyone. If you'll be tuning in to the ceremony tonight, enjoy!

Sabtu, 26 Februari 2011

02.26 Sat

S A T U R D A Y
February 26, 2011
R. M. (Bob) Peoples


Theme: None

I'm getting a late start this morning and have a lot to get done today. PuzzleHusband has called a Budget & Finance Committee Meeting for this evening so I need to pull together spreadsheets, charts, and PowerPoint slides. Not really, but I do need to crunch some numbers along with all the other stuff working people get done on the weekend, now that I'm a working person. (Aside: I've found that working full-time really eats up a big chunk of the day most days.)

Before I forget, though, I want to let you know that we heard a rumor that tomorrow's syndicated puzzle would have an Oscar theme, so we found a guest blogger who actually knows a little something about the Oscars to fill in. If you do tomorrow's puzzle and/or if you're interested in the Oscars, you should come on back to LACC tomorrow.

So, today's puzzle. The good news is that I'm not going to whine about it not being hard enough. (LACC readers respond: "That is good news!") Overall, I found the sheer number of plural entries very distracting. IDEAS and LILIES are passable, but HAIR GELS and CALLER ID'S? Not so much. I also felt like in a lot of cases the struggle didn't seem particularly worth it for the pay-off. But there is definitely some good stuff in this grid. I particularly like the ATTACK AD / FROM HELL stack in the southeast corner (58A: Part of a smear campaign / 61A: Worst of the worst).

Other highlights in the grid for me include:
  • 33A: Skunk River city (AMES IOWA). Obviously, I'm not a fan of the college in this particular town, but I do like seeing both the city and state in the grid. Kinda like when we see a person's full name instead of just first or last.
  • 37A: Utter fiasco (WATERLOO). I'm sure this clue is fine, but it's not how I personally think of a WATERLOO. Of course, my first idea of WATERLOO is … another town in Iowa.
  • 1D: Without notes (BY HEART).
  • 3D: "Most assuredly" ("QUITE SO").
  • 9D: Coleridge, Southey and Wordsworth (LAKE POETS).
  • 42D: Eccentric (ODDBALL).
Bullets:
  • 1A: It might make marks on your dog (BBQ GRILL). That would be a hot dog.
  • 21A: One concerned with bites (DENTIST). Pretty sure this clue is here so that even once you understand that the "dog" in 1A is a "hot dog," your mind will keep going to bite marks and not be able to figure out what other kind of marks might be on your dog. Not that that's what happened to me or anything.
  • 30A: Subj. partner (PRED.). Predicate. I'm all "Verb? But that's not an abbreviation."
  • 52A: Ones going to court? (SUITORS). Cute clue. Not a court of law, but courting as in wooing.
  • 54A: Sony competitor (NEC). The only CW101 word in the grid that we've already covered.
  • 57A: Verdi title bandit (ERNANI). Crosswordese 301.
  • 5D: 1997 Emmy winner for TV's "Rebecca" (RIGG). That second G was the last letter I entered into the grid. Never heard of this miniseries, although I have heard of Diana RIGG.
  • 49D: Shaped like a megaphone (CONED). I tried CONIC first.
  • 55D: Outfit you don't want to be seen in, briefly (CAMO). Hands-down best clue in the grid. Love it.
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    Everything Else 9A: Walks quickly (LEGS IT); 15A: "Great job!" ("YOU DID IT!"); 16A: Johnson & Johnson skin care brand (AVEENO); 17A: Some mousses (HAIR GELS); 18A: Destinies (KARMAS); 19A: Auto insurer's request: Abbr. (EST.); 20A: "__-Jin": Clavell novel (GAI); 22A: Rate __: be perfect (A TEN); 24A: Entrapments (SET-UPS); 26A: H.S. support group (PTA); 27A: Start over, in a way (RESET); 29A: Make go away (SHOO); 31A: Geographical parallel (TROPIC); 35A: Entirely, with "from" (HEAD TO TOE); 40A: Logo, e.g. (SYMBOL); 44A: "__ Esau": kids' rhyme book (I SAW); 45A: Advanced (LENT); 47A: Restaurateur known for satiric wall art (SARDI); 48A: Recipe amt. (TSP.); 49A: Post product (CEREAL); 51A: Network meeting point (NODE); 56A: Japanese band (OBI); 60A: Brought home (NETTED); 62A: Some smart phones (DROIDS); 63A: Spoon (CANOODLE); 2D: Bigmouth (BOASTER); 4D: E. Berlin's land (GDR); 6D: Head lights? (IDEAS); 7D: Ornamental flowers (LILIES); 8D: West Point grads: Abbr. (LTS.); 10D: Mary Ann __, George Eliot's birth name (EVANS); 11D: Goldfinger portrayer Fröbe (GERT); 12D: Part-time, in a way (SEMI-PRO); 13D: Het up (IN A STEW); 14D: Taco relative (TOSTADA); 21D: Milano cathedral (DUOMO); 23D: One crying uncle? (NEPHEW); 25D: Choice words (THAT ONE); 28D: Level (TIER); 30D: Acquaintance of Simon (PIEMAN); 32D: Revealing numbers (CALLER ID'S); 34D: Edamame beans (SOYS); 36D: They don't just sit around (DOERS); 37D: Giving-up point (WIT'S END); 38D: One offering comfort (ASSURER); 39D: Draw on (TAP INTO); 41D: Put up with (BROOKED); 43D: Remain in mothballs (LIE IDLE); 46D: Asian enlightenment doctrine (TANTRA); 50D: Gave away (LET ON); 53D: Filmmaker Jacques (TATI); 58D: Jets' org. (AFC); 59D: John who played Sulu in "Star Trek" (2009) (CHO).

    Jumat, 25 Februari 2011

    02.25 Fri

    F R I D A Y
    February 25, 2011
    Annemarie Brethauer


    Theme: Add LA — The letters LA are added to familiar phrases, creating wacky new phrases.

    Theme answers:

    • 16A: Move from Crystal to Caesar's? (CHANGE OF PALACE).
    • 28A: Antelope of questionable virtue? (LOOSE ELAND).
    • 33A: "Another regulation, sorry to say"? ("ALAS, A RULE").
    • 43A: Greengrocer's grab bags? (SALAD SACKS).
    • 53A: 1997 Kevin Spacey film, and a hint to this puzzle's theme (L.A. CONFIDENTIAL).
    I have very mixed feelings about this theme. As add-a-letter(s) puzzles go, the theme answers are funny and well clued (LOOSE ELAND made me LOL). Also, I'm not sure you noticed, but this blog's name is a play on the movie title "L.A. Confidential," so it's fun to see a theme based on that movie. Except … um, how exactly does the movie fit in again? We're adding the letters LA to familiar phrases (which, of course, creates wackiness). But but but … what does confidential have to do with anything? A better movie title for this theme would be something like "L.A. Is Everywhere" or "Forever L.A." or "Have You Seen L.A.?" Sure, those titles suck and the movies would probably be terrible, but you get my point. Also? Wait for it. … Too easy for a Friday.

    Highlights for me today include:
    • 36A: Gait between walk and canter (AMBLE).
    • 52A: Repartee (BANTER).
    • 37D: Jackson dubbed "Queen of Gospel" (MAHALIA).

    It seems like some of the clues were toughened up a little in an attempt to make this more Friday-ish. Like:
    • 5A: Curve of a cabriole leg (KNEE). I don't know what a "cabriole" is.
    • 7D: "The Silmarillion" being (ELF). I don't know what "The Silmarillion" is."
    • 25D: Jennifer Crusie's genre (ROMANCE). I don't know who Jennifer Crusie is.
    See? A bunch of stuff I don't know. But the answers were easy enough to figure out through crosses.

    Bullets:
    • 27A: Cliff, Carlos and Derrek of baseball (LEES). Phillies pitcher, Astros left-fielder, and Orioles first-baseman.
    • 30A: Mag wheels? (EDS.). This is one of those clues you've seen before if you do crosswords regularly, but if you're new to solving you have no idea what's going on. The clue is basically pointing you toward toward important people (i.e., "big wheels") at "magazines": EDitorS.
    • 49A: "Cheers" waitress (CARLA). Do you think the "Cheers" creators gave both the waitresses five-letter names just to confound future crossword puzzle solvers? Yeah, I do too.
    • 50A: Sixth rock from the sun: Abbr. (SAT.). Cute clue; terrible abbreviation.
    • 11D: French president Sarkozy (NICOLAS). His last name has never sounded particularly French to me.
    • 29D: 2004 Anne Hathaway title role (ELLA). I know the name of the movie is "Ella Enchanted," but in my head I was actually picturing the Amy Adams movie "Enchanted." I've not seen the former, but the latter is actually pretty interesting. For a princess movie.
    • 35D: Adds to (UPS). Like in the phrase "ups the ante" — something 19A: Danish poker star Gus HANSEN might do. Actually, no. The players don't determine the ante. But you'll forgive me for tying these two answers together. Because you're good like that.
    Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
    • 14A: Anago and unagi (EELS).
    • 58A: "Exodus" novelist (URIS).
    • 10D: Gardner of "Mayerling" (AVA).
    • 28D: Mauna __ (LOA).
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    Everything Else 1A: Rigged support (MAST); 9A: Sheet of stamps (PANE); 13A: "So that's how it's going to be" ("I SEE"); 15A: An amulet may ward it off, purportedly (EVIL); 20A: Curling surface (ICE); 21A: Texter's "Heavens!" (OMG); 23A: Oscar night figure (EMCEE); 24A: Small, vocal bird (WREN); 26A: __ market (FLEA); 31A: Pound output (POEM); 32A: Has a powerful desire (for) (LUSTS); 39A: Wine Train valley (NAPA); 40A: MoveOn.org, e.g.: Abbr. (PAC); 46A: Hole maker (MOTH); 47A: Mongol sovereign (KHAN); 48A: Trap, in a way (TREE); 51A: Rye go-with (HAM); 57A: Lowdown (INFO); 59A: Compass __ (ROSE); 60A: Riding (ATOP); 61A: Took off (LEFT); 62A: Dot and Flik, in "A Bug's Life" (ANTS); 1D: "Glee" star Lea __ (MICHELE); 2D: Embarrassed (ASHAMED); 3D: Medium settings (SEANCES); 4D: Time indicators of a sort (TENSES); 5D: Gung-ho (KEEN); 6D: Rebirth prefix (NEO-); 8D: Uses binoculars, say (ESPIES); 9D: Athlete dubbed "O Rei do Futebol" (PELE); 12D: Gold or silver (ELEMENT); 17D: "Hmm ..." ("GEE …"); 18D: Embarrassing marks (ACNE); 22D: Roams (GADS); 24D: Troubles (WOES); 26D: Obstacle for Santa? (FLUE); 31D: Responded in court (PLED); 33D: King of comedy (ALAN); 34D: Shed tool (RAKE); 36D: Sets a price (ASKS); 38D: Sticking out (BLATANT); 40D: Helping (PORTION); 41D: In any case (AT LEAST); 42D: River to Boston Harbor (CHARLES); 44D: Seven-time N.L. batting champ Musial (STAN); 45D: Two or three bags of groceries, say (ARMFUL); 46D: Transforming syllable (MANTRA); 49D: Lockup (CAN); 51D: Stud alternative (HOOP); 52D: As good as it gets (BEST); 54D: Corp. exec (CFO); 55D: Fury (IRE); 56D: "What's the __?" (DIF).

    Kamis, 24 Februari 2011

    02.24 Thu

    T H U R S D A Y
    February 24, 2011
    Harvey Estes


    Theme: Goooooooooooooooole! Huh? — The first words of familiar phrases are misspelled using a rhyming word with the pattern *OLE. Then? It's all wackiness from there.

    Theme answers:

    • 17A: Money for the Warsaw government? (POLE TAXES).
    • 25A: Foot-tapping songs? (SOLE MUSIC).
    • 35A: Songwriting, to Porter? (COLE FIELD).
    • 49A: Actor's messages from an agent? (ROLE CALLS).
    • 58A: Grain for bagels? (HOLE WHEAT).
    I really enjoyed this fun theme today. It was at the perfect difficulty level for me: not so hard that I couldn't figure out the trick and got frustrated, and not so easy that I could fill them all in without crosses. The six- and seven-letter downs in the corners range from acceptable (SELECT) to awesome (ONE-STOP). Even the three-letter words didn't bother me today. Sure there are a few stale three-letter entries (ET'S, -ENE, EEO), but those are countered with some Scrabbliness in REX, LOX, and OWL. An overall enjoyable solve today.

    Bullets:
    • 9A: Gets ready (PREPS). I recall somebody complaining earlier this week about shortened answer words not being indicated by shortened clue words. Whoever that was doesn't like this one.
    • 15A: Role for Carrie (LEIA). Star Wars! Princess Leia was, of course, played by Carrie Fisher.
    • 19A: Letter alternative (LEGAL). If you're going to try to trick me, you're going to have to do it with something other than paper sizes. 'Cuz I know my paper sizes.
    • 27A: "1984" protagonist __ Smith (WINSTON). It's been so long since I've read this book that I didn't get this answer until WINST was already in place. And then I guessed the ON.
    • 31A: French mystic Simone (WEIL). No idea.
    • 38A: G-note (THOU). This is a money reference. One thousand dollars is sometimes referred to as a "G," sometimes as a "thou."
    • 56A: Rob of "90210" (ESTES). Any relation, Harvey??
    • 62A: Old Boston Bruin nickname (ESPO). Phil Esposito, a professional hockey player from 1963–81, played most of those years for the NHL's Boston Bruins.
    • 2D: Vacation for the vain? (EGO TRIP). Great clue.
    • 3D: Smoked deli meat (BOLOGNA). With the B in place, I tried BRISKET first. Is a brisket even smoked? I don't know.
    • 8D: Drawing support (EASEL). It took me a minute to shift from thinking of "drawing" as a verb to realizing it's a noun in this clue.
    • 12D: Rachmaninoff, e.g. (PIANIST). I suffered from over-thinking here. I know Rachmaninoff was Russian and composed during the Romantic period, but I thought the fact that he was a PIANIST was too simple to be the right answer. Sigh.
    • 25D: Look from Snidely Whiplash (SNEER). If you can't appreciate the name "Snidely Whiplash," then there's something wrong with you.
    • 32D: "__ picture paints ...": song lyric (IF A). I was going to post a video here, but ya know what? I'm going to have enough trouble getting this song out of my head.
    • 36D: Shunned ones (OUTCASTS). Maybe this will help.

    Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
    • 53A: TV's Alf and others (ET'S).
    • 63A: Newbies (TYROS).
    • 57D: Fair-hiring abbr. (EEO).
    [Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

    Everything Else 1A: Lee followers (REBS); 5A: Works in the Uffizi Gallery (ARTE); 14A: "__ Rhythm" (I GOT); 16A: Singer Gorme (EYDIE); 20A: They may be precious (STONES); 21A: Divulge (TELL); 23A: Hydrocarbon suffix (-ENE); 24A: Fluorescent bulb filler (ARGON); 29A: Cut it out (DESIST); 30A: Place to be pampered (SPA); 34A: Maundy Thursday period (LENT); 40A: Increase in intensity, with "up" (RAMP); 41A: Previously (AGO); 44A: Weather map features (FRONTS); 46A: Ardor (PASSION); 52A: __ asada (Mexican meat dish) (CARNE); 54A: Skin-soothing stuff (ALOE); 55A: Bouquets (POSIES); 60A: Sport with clay pigeons (SKEET); 61A: Auth. of many quotes? (ANON); 64A: Following (NEXT); 65A: Remarriage prefix (STEP-); 1D: With-the-grain cutters (RIPSAWS); 4D: Dictators' aides (STENOS); 5D: Wistful word (ALAS); 6D: "Wonder Dog" of comics (REX); 7D: Relate with (TIE TO); 9D: Willy-nilly (PELL-MELL); 10D: 3-Down might be on it (RYE); 11D: Enters carefully (EDGES IN); 13D: Prime (SELECT); 18D: Certain caterpillar's creation (TENT); 22D: Was in front (LED); 26D: Broken in (USED); 28D: Rice University mascot (OWL); 33D: Walks with a cane, perhaps (LIMPS); 35D: Road marker (CONE); 37D: Clean air org. (EPA); 38D: October Revolution leader (TROTSKY); 39D: It can facilitate drawing (HOLSTER); 41D: With the most open windows (AIRIEST); 42D: Flipped (GONE APE); 43D: Convenient, shoppingwise (ONE-STOP); 44D: Least constrained (FREEST); 45D: Erie Canal mule (SAL); 47D: Flat-bottomed boat (SCOW); 48D: Ornamental bands (SASHES); 50D: Lindsay of "Labor Pains" (LOHAN); 51D: Sierra __ (LEONE); 55D: Cooped (up) (PENT); 59D: Bagel topping (LOX).

    Rabu, 23 Februari 2011

    02.23 Wed

    W E D N E S D A Y
    February 23, 2011
    Jerome Gunderson


    Theme: Big Dummies

    Theme answers:
    • 1A: Court jester (FOOL).
    • 17A: Country singer with the 1961 hit "Crazy" (PATSY CLINE).
    • 56A: Shameful emblem in Genesis (MARK OF CAIN).
    • 64A: Hammer or sickle (TOOL).
    • 10D: Hockshop receipt (PAWN TICKET).
    • 29D: Remora (SUCKERFISH).
    • 38A: 1- and 64-Across, and the first words of the four longest puzzle answers (DUPES).



    I really like this theme idea. It's cool that there are so many words that aren't exact synonyms but are close enough in meaning that they hang together pretty well. Unfortunately, even though they're symmetrical, they nonetheless have the feeling of being haphazardly placed all over the grid. Also, if the theme is already this all-over-the-place, I would have worked extra hard not to include another random entry that fits the theme but isn't included in the theme, i.e., NINNY (63A: Doofus). So, yeah. Just seems kind of disorderly to me.

    The theme answers themselves are colorful phrases, so that's pretty cool. Other highlights for me include:

    • 35A: Sudden ache (PANG).
    • 45A: Fastening pin (COTTER).
    • 62A: Reggae musician Peter (TOSH).
    • 1D: Dandies (FOPS).
    • 18D: 2009 Series winners (YANKS).
    There were two clues that completely puzzled me. First, [10A: Sourdough's ground breaker] for PICK. Even now after having considered this for a good bit of time (relatively), I still don't understand what it means. Second, [48A: Sponge for grunge] for LOOFAH. To me, "grunge" means only one thing and that's late-80s, Seattle-based, Nirvana-Pearl-Jam-Etc. music so it was hard for me to shift gears and think of it as its former definition. Which I guess is, like, dirt? Only it sounds grosser than dirt. And speaking of gross, if LEPER COLONY never appears in the puzzle again I'll be okay with that. Totally okay.

    Oh, and I've never heard the word "calaboose," which I guess is a slang word for "jail," thus [12D: Calaboose compartment] = CELL. I'm not saying that any of these entries aren't perfectly legitimate. I'm just saying that for a puzzle that already seemed kinda slapdash because of the theme, the clues that seemed strange to me were more irritating than enlightening.

    Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
    • 14A: Quint's boat in "Jaws" (ORCA).
    • 16A: Yemen seaport (ADEN).
    • 25A: Mine entrance (ADIT).
    • 41A: Russia's __ Mountains (URAL).
    • 55A: "The Time Machine" race (ELOI).
    • 7D: Adidas rival (AVIA).
    • 32D: Sharp ridge (ARETE).
    • 49D: Hodgepodge (OLIO).
    • 54D: First-year law student (ONE-L).
    [Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

    Everything Else 5A: Zoo barriers (MOATS); 15A: Polite (CIVIL); 19A: Trickery (WILE); 20A: __-mo replay (SLO); 21A: Vicinity (AREA); 22A: Submerge while sitting poolside, as one's feet (DANGLE); 24A: Australian folk hero Kelly (NED); 26A: 49th state (ALASKA); 30A: Like the son in a parable of Jesus (PRODIGAL); 34A: Bills of fare (MENUS); 36A: Heal (CURE); 37A: Old Norse mariner (ERIC); 39A: Retain (KEEP); 40A: Cranny relative (NOOK); 42A: "Beau __ " (GESTE); 43A: Kitchen areas, perhaps (DINETTES); 46A: Cereal grain (RICE); 47A: Also (TOO); 51A: Play a round (GOLF); 52A: Timing lead-in (TWO); 59A: Puppy bites (NIPS); 60A: Mindy, to Mork? (ALIEN); 61A: Teen bane (ACNE); 2D: Shouted, say (ORAL); 3D: Septi- plus one (OCTO-); 4D: Vegas opener (LAS); 5D: Joel who was the first actor to portray Dr. Kildare (MCCREA); 6D: No longer squeaky (OILED); 8D: Badge material (TIN); 9D: Snow pack? (SLED DOGS); 11D: Beatnik's "Got it" ("I DIG"); 13D: Pants part (KNEE); 23D: Lend a hand (AID); 25D: Synthetic fiber (ARNEL); 26D: Congressionally change (AMEND); 27D: The king of France? (LE ROI); 28D: Atom with a negative charge (ANION); 30D: Mamas' mates (PAPAS); 31D: Hotel client (GUEST); 33D: With 45-Down, Middle Ages quarantine area (LEPER); 35D: Put through a sieve (PUREE); 38D: "The Flying __": Wagner opera (DUTCHMAN); 42D: Explode (GO OFF); 44D: Padre's hermana (TIA); 45D: See 33-Down (COLONY); 47D: Memento (TOKEN); 48D: Pre-Easter period (LENT); 50D: "Uh-oh, I dropped it!" ("OOPS!"); 51D: Big smile (GRIN); 52D: Crisp, filled tortilla (TACO); 53D: Sot (WINO); 57D: Ring icon (ALI); 58D: Sylvester, e.g. (CAT).

    Selasa, 22 Februari 2011

    02.22 Tue

    T U E S D A Y
    February 22, 2011
    John Lampkin


    Theme: Fooded Things — Verbs based on words that can be words for food are used to describe random things. In the past tense. (What am I missing?)

    Theme answers:

    • 20A: Arborist's handiwork (PRUNED TREE).
    • 26A: Windshield nuisance (SQUASHED BUGS).
    • 44A: Result of an errant brushback pitch (BEANED BATTER).
    • 55A: Deli sandwich filler (CORNED BEEF).
    Can't say this theme did anything for me except cause me to ask a lot of questions. For example, why? And what? Also huh? Yes, I get it. The first word of each theme answer is a word that can be a type of food. But the phrase itself is just … random. Except for the last one. Yes, trees can be pruned; that doesn't mean that PRUNED TREE is a good phrase. Yes, bugs can be (and frequently are) squashed. Is SQUASHED BUGS a phrase people use? I suppose it might be. A batter might get beaned by an "errant brushback pitch" but in what circumstance would someone ever use the phrase BEANED BATTER? Then there's CORNED BEEF. Perfectly legitimate phrase all on its own. I've never really thought about what the CORNED part means — turns out it has to do with salt curing — so to me this answer also stood apart from the rest because I couldn't picture corning the way I can picture pruning, squashing, and beaning. So. Yeah. That's what I think of the theme.

    I always feel bad when I start out negative like that. You know what I'm gonna need to turn this write-up around? A really, really awesome entry. Like … maybe, HIFAULTIN?! Yes that should do it! What a great word. Love seeing it in the puzzle. Other highlights for me include:
    • 35A: Older woman's young lover, facetiously (BOY TOY).
    • 8D: "Jeez Louise!" ("SHEESH!").
    • 42D: Hack's service (CAB RIDE).
    • 45D: One taking bets (BOOKIE).
    Bullets:
    • 5A: Go badly together (CLASH). Great clue.
    • 18A: Time __ time: repeatedly (AFTER).


    • 42A: Monopoly token (CAR). I think we've over this before here at LACC. Or maybe it was over at Rex's. It's not a CAR, it's a racecar. Similarly, there is not HAT token, it's a tophat. Says PuzzleGirl.
    • 48A: Out of use, as words: Abbr. (OBS.). OBSolete.
    • 53A: World dodo population (ZERO). I don't know if it was the "dodo" or the Z or what, but this one made me laugh.
    • 59A: Pier gp. (ILWU). International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
    • 7D: Helen Hunt or Holly Hunter, e.g. (ACTRESS WITH THE INITIALS HH).
    • 21D: ABA member's title (ESQ.). Members of the American Bar Association are attorneys, who for some reasons are allowed to put "Esq." after their names.
    • 50D: Yo-Yo Ma's instrument (CELLO). A friend from my childhood randomly posted on Facebook this picture of me playing the cello in 5th grade. For me, it's a cool picture in and of itself, but the really crazy part is that several people that know me literally thought this was a picture of PuzzleDaughter and not me.
    Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
    • 25A: Shocking swimmer (EEL).
    • 47A: HDTV brand (RCA).
    • 60A: Religious recess (APSE).
    • 32D: Siouan tribe (OTOE).
    [Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

    Everything Else 1A: Raise, as produce (GROW); 10A: Stylish (CHIC); 14A: Instant, in product names (REDI); 15A: Madre's milk (LECHE); 16A: Bride's ride (LIMO); 17A: Busy, busy, busy (AT IT); 19A: "The Wizard __": comic strip (OF ID); 22A: All there (SANE); 23A: Development developments (HOMES); 24A: Jazz guitarist Montgomery (WES); 31A: Average guys (JOES); 34A: H.S. elite (SRS.); 36A: Place to make deposits, briefly (ATM); 37A: Bouquet delivery letters (FTD); 38A: Dream letters (REM); 39A: Novelist Fleming (IAN); 40A: Alabama's only seaport (MOBILE); 43A: Chip in a pot, maybe (ANTE); 49A: Chip in a bowl (NACHO); 57A: Blue book filler (EXAM); 58A: Dust Bowl refugees (OKIES); 61A: Center (MIDST); 62A: Amber brews (ALES); 63A: Dieter's goal (LOSS); 64A: Care for (SEE TO); 65A: Branching point (NODE); 1D: Boardroom diagram (GRAPH); 2D: Fashionably dated (RETRO); 3D: Intense dislike (ODIUM); 4D: One sitting on the stand (WITNESS); 5D: Attired (CLAD); 6D: How liberals lean (LEFTWARD); 9D: Not there (HERE); 10D: Quite near (CLOSE BY); 11D: Pretentious, informally (HIFALUTIN); 12D: Chip-tossing declaration (I'M IN); 13D: Programmers' writing (CODE); 25D: Ancient kingdom near the Dead Sea (EDOM); 27D: You, in Yucatán (USTED); 28D: Longtime "At the Movies" co-host Roger (EBERT); 29D: Capricorn's animal (GOAT); 30D: Holiday song closer (SYNE); 31D: Doorway side (JAMB); 33D: Humiliate (EMBARRASS); 37D: Pet pest (FLEA); 38D: Disorderly place (RAT'S NEST); 41D: Salaries, wages, etc. (INCOMES); 43D: Graceful steed (ARABIAN); 46D: Conclusion (END); 51D: Hacked (HEWED); 52D: Worth having (OF USE); 53D: Zest (ZEAL); 54D: Trade show (EXPO); 55D: Dot-__: e-businesses (COMS); 56D: This, to Pablo (ESTO).

    Senin, 21 Februari 2011

    02.21

    M O N D A Y
    February 21, 2011
    Angela Olson Halsted & Doug Peterson


    Theme: Three Petes. (Not to be confused with "Three-peat", which is a term trademarked by Pat Riley). Each of the long answers starts with a word that is also the last name of someone named Pete. Speaking of which, this is Pete Mitchell guest-blogging for PuzzleGirl, as she didn't have the heart to dis her own puzzle. Well, okay, it's not that bad, but for the sake (Pete's sake?) of full disclosure, I don't really care much for Monday puzzles to begin with, so don't expect a rave. Also, I really, really, really dislike Pete Rose. He and Don King are the two vilest creatures in sports, in my opinion, and I have felt this way long before any gambling scandal came to light. So, please bear with me if I come across a little on the grumpy side.

    Here, click on this. It'll be good background as you read the rest.


    Theme answers:

    • 17A: Legendary spring that creates spring chickens? (FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH). Pete Fountain is the world-reknowned jazz clarinet player that you're listening to right now if you clicked the above link.
    • 38A: Grammy revoked from Milli Vanilli (BEST NEW ARTIST). Pete Best is best known as the original pre-Ringo drummer for the Beatles. The friend that got kicked out of the band before they became the biggest thing since sliced bread. Would they have been as successful with Pete instead of Ringo? Here, judge for yourself. Milli Vanilli achieved infamy when it was discovered that the front-"men" weren't actually singing on the Grammy-winning songs; they had been lip-syncing the whole time.
    • 60A: Portland Trail Blazers' home (ROSE GARDEN ARENA). Pete Rose played baseball.
    • 71A: Name that can precede the first word of 17-, 38- or 60-Across (PETE).
    So, my first gut reaction here was "Really, those are the best Petes you could come up with?" But when I started thinking about it, most famous Peters go by Peter, not Pete. My second thought was "Why two musicians and a baseball player?" Ideally, themes tie a little tighter than that. But while there are other famous Pete musicians (Townshend, Seeger, etc.), none of them lend easily to a theme phrase. So, we'll give a pass to the theme and look at the rest of the puzzle.

    Bullets:
    • 30D: Girl group with the 1986 #1 hit "Venus" (BANANARAMA). Done originally, and more famously, by Shocking Blue, in 1970. But I love the band name and the 80's reference. Nice fill.
    • 15A: Old Geo model (PRIZM). Cool way to get a Z into the puzzle.
    • 42A: Polite "Ready to go?" ("SHALL WE?"). In-the-language phrases like this always punch things up more than straight dictionary answers. Same with 54D: "Obviously!" ("NO DUH!") and, to a lesser extent, 19D: ''I agree, however ...'' ("YES, BUT"). 21A: "I'll treat!" ("ON ME!") fell a little flat for me, as it feels like it's missing an "It's...". The only way I can make it work as written is as a continuation: "Let's go to dinner. On me."
    • 4D: Hawaiian who sang "Pearly Shells" (DON HO). Can you name another singing Hawaiian? Me neither.
    • 1D: DOJ division (ATF). It's now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, but they still use the ATF acronym. DOJ is, of course, Department of Justice.
    • 11D: Justice replaced by Sotomayor (SOUTER). Souter is from New Hampshire, so I gotta give him props.
    • 27A: Mighty long time (EON). Occasionally spelled AEON, as well.
    • 28A: Stat for Mariano Rivera (ERA). Funny that these two show their heads side by side. Many times you'll have a vague clue like "Span of time" that's three-letters beginning with E, and you don't know whether it's EON or ERA. Here, we already have EON, so ERA was clued as Earned Run Average. Sometimes it's a detergent ("Tide rival"), which throws those 'Bama fans for a loop. Oh, and here's a bit of trivia for you: In 1972, the Dodgers retired Jackie Robinson's #42. In 1997, Major League Baseball retired it across all teams, the only number for which this has ever been done. There were a dozen players currently wearing the number, and they were grand-fathered. Today, there is only one active player left wearing the #42 — Mariano Rivera.
    Not much else to talk about. This is one of the problems with Monday puzzles. 78 words, but 23 of them are 3-letters long and another 22 are 4-letters long, and one of the two longest non-theme answers is AM/FM STEREO (9D: Car sound system). This means a lot of boring fill for only three theme answers. The only way to make short words sparkle is with tougher clues, but you can't do that on Monday, so you're basically hosed.

    Crosswordese 101: Even if you know nothing of foreign languages, you should learn how to count to at least three (preferably ten) in the major European languages, French (un, deux, trois), Spanish (uno, dos, tres), German (eine, zwei, drei), and Italian (uno, due, TRE [22A: Three, in Turin]). These show up a ton.

    Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
    • 10A: Employee protection org. (OSHA).
    • 50A: Paranormal showman Geller (URI).
    • 6D: Magnate Onassis (ARI).
    • 10D: El Dorado gold (ORO).
    • 61D: Heart test letters (EKG).
    Well, that's it for me. I've probably overstayed my welcome as it is. Thanks, PuzzleGirl, for having me. It's been a while since I've done this kind of thing and I must say, I don't really miss it that much. :)

    - Pete M.

    [Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

    Everything Else1A: Grew older (AGED); 5A: American __: Pacific territory (SAMOA); 14A: Chore list heading (TO DO); 16A: Carrot or turnip (ROOT); 20A: Garment border (HEM); 23A: College concentration (MAJOR); 26A: Pungent salad green (CRESS); 29A: CEO's degree (MBA); 31A: Ford classics (T-BIRDS); 33A: Carvey of "Wayne's World" (DANA); 35A: Karaoke singer, usually (AMATEUR); 43A: Linger in the tub (SOAK); 45A: Start to melt (SOFTEN); 48A: Bordeaux brush-off (NON); 51A: "Fresh Air" airer (NPR); 52A: Rear end (FANNY); 55A: Political aficionado's station (C-SPAN); 57A: Absorbed, as a cost (ATE); 58A: Circular cookie (OREO); 59A: Stable tidbit (OAT); 66A: Good fortune (LUCK); 67A: Cursor controller (MOUSE); 68A: Diabolical (EVIL); 69A: Fawn's father (STAG); 70A: Campfire remains (ASHES); 2D: Bit of baby babble (GOO); 3D: Academic URL ender (EDU); 5D: Inbox junk (SPAM); 7D: 23-Across opposite (MINOR); 8D: Atmospheric layer (OZONE); 9D: Car sound system (AM/FM STEREO); 12D: Souped-up ride (HOT ROD); 13D: Aegean capital (ATHENS); 18D: Time in office (TERM); 23D: __ school (MED); 24D: Part of U.A.E. (ARAB); 25D: Dick's storybook partner (JANE); 26D: Caravan creature (CAMEL); 32D: Spring blossom (IRIS); 34D: Admin. aide (ASST.); 36D: Pointy tool (AWL); 37D: Like a lion's coat (TAWNY); 39D: It "comes on little cat feet," in a Sandburg poem (THE FOG); 40D: Campbell's product (SOUP); 44D: Reunion group (KIN); 45D: Entangles (SNARLS); 46D: Decline to participate (OPT OUT); 47D: Grapefruit-flavored diet drink (FRESCA); 49D: Academic sports org. (NCAA); 53D: Detective Wolfe and an emperor (NEROS); 56D: Throat bacteria (STREP); 59D: Tip jar bills (ONES); 62D: Suffix with Canton (-ESE); 63D: Anticipatory time (EVE); 64D: Trivial point (NIT); 65D: Drink by a dartboard (ALE);

    Minggu, 20 Februari 2011

    02.20 Sun

    S U N D A Y February 20, 2011
    Merl Reagle


    [Note: This is the puzzle that appears in the Sunday L.A. Times newspaper. If you don't get the paper, you can find the puzzle here. Scroll down to see today's syndicated puzzle.]


    Theme: "Punjabbing" — Indian puns.

    Theme answers:

    • 22A: Co-star of "Apu of Mayberry"? (RANI HOWARD).
    • 24A: Publisher of Indian Gourmet magazine? (GANDHI NAST).
    • 26A: Ravi Shankar's band? (THE RAGA FELLERS).
    • 38A: Most popular word game in India? (SIKH AND FIND).
    • 41A: "What will you be wearing in Poona, Oona?" (SARI CHARLIE).
    • 57A: "Okay, you can visit that Indian city, but come right home!" (DON' T DELHI DALLY).
    • 77A: What 1987's "The Untouchables" had? (AN ALL-STAR CASTE).
    • 91A: Indian dancer of the 1930s? (RUPEE KEELER).
    • 93A: Most popular race in India? (THE HINDI 5OO).
    • 109A: Film about an Indian restaurant? (TANDOOR MERCIES).
    • 113A: Actor in Indian spy films? (RAJAH MOORE).
    • 117A: What you might feel while solving this puzzle? (AGRAVATION).
    [Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

    Everything Else 1A: Plants in a Fugard title (ALOES).; 6A: Somewhat (A BIT).; 10A: Downfall (RUIN).; 14A: A tug may tow it (SCOW).; 18A: Part of a cell, the ___ body (GOLGI).; 19A: Three-trio combo (NONET).; 21A: Reverse (UNDO).; 28A: "What have we here?!" ("OHO!").; 29A: Goose genus (ANSER).; 30A: Commandment verb (STEAL).; 31A: Conscripted one (DRAFTEE).; 35A: Toothpaste amount (DAB).; 48A: Unctuous (OILY).; 49A: Actress Susan (DEY).; 50A: Hard hike (TREK).; 51A: Phony handle (ALIAS).; 52A: Nuts (GAGA).; 53A: Pages and pages (REAMS).; 55A: Supreme Court duds (ROBES).; 60A: It'll never fly (EMU).; 61A: Minotaur's home (CRETE).; 63A: ___ budget (ON A).; 64A: Juan's conclusion? (-ITA).; 65A: Baby-sitters (WATCHERS).; 67A: Clubber, opposite Rocky (MR. T).; 68A: b, d, f, h, k, or l (ASCENDER).; 73A: Subtle tone (HUE).; 74A: James Clavell's "___-Pan" (TAI).; 75A: Jumped between electrodes (ARCED).; 76A: Outside prefix (EXO-).; 82A: Intensify (REV UP).; 84A: All-out attack (BLITZ).; 85A: Upside-down, e.g. (CAKE).; 86A: Francis, e.g. (SAINT).; 88A: Like some loads (WIDE).; 89A: Dune buggy: abbr. (ATV).; 90A: "No thanks, ___ already" (I ATE).; 97A: Red or White follower (SOX).; 98A: Piano pieces (SONATAS).; 99A: Selassie disciple (RASTA).; 103A: "Chestnuts roasting ..." melody writer (TORMÉ).; 108A: Old boob-tube adjunct (VCR).; 118A: Ready to serve (OPEN).; 119A: "Great!" ("SUPER!").; 120A: "The Family Circus" cartoonist Bil (KEANE).; 121A: "___ see it ..." (AS WE).; 122A: Greek letter (ZETA).; 123A: Brit's intro (I SAY).; 124A: Strikes speechless (STUNS).; 1D: All ___ (excited) (AGOG).; 2D: Baritone-sax note (LOW A).; 3D: Five Norwegian kings (OLAFS).; 4D: Florida flyer (EGRET).; 5D: Come (up to) slyly (SIDLE).; 6D: Actress Pier of "The Silver Chalice" (ANGELI).; 7D: Sty guy (BOAR).; 8D: Vacancy venues (INNS).; 9D: Lou's clueless anchor (TED).; 10D: Tiebreaker of a sort (RUN-OFF).; 11D: Spanish article (UNA).; 12D: Cards with photos (ID'S).; 13D: "___ a problem" (NOT).; 14D: Mex. miss (SRTA.).; 15D: "All the Way" lyricist Sammy (CAHN).; 16D: Items (ONES).; 17D: Unlike Joan's hangers (WIRE).; 20D: Tough to solve (THORNY).; 23D: Sound heard at the beginning of camp? (HARD C).; 25D: "___ no idea!" (I HAD).; 27D: Use a surgical beam (LASE).; 31D: Lama lead-in (DALAI).; 32D: Like some basins (TIDAL).; 33D: The Axis, to the Allies (ENEMY).; 34D: Ice cream brand (EDY'S).; 36D: "So that's it!" ("AHA!").; 37D: Not-so-hairy Norse god? (BALDER).; 39D: Sitter in a eucalyptus tree (KOALA).; 40D: Forecast extreme (HIGH).; 41D: Scatter (about) (STREW).; 42D: Bakery beckoner (AROMA).; 43D: Counter (an argument) (REBUT).; 44D: A Clanton at the OK Corral (IKE).; 45D: Runs amok (RIOTS).; 46D: Olympic swimmer's slot (LANE).; 47D: Final extension? (-IST).; 52D: Decent chap (GENT).; 53D: For mature viewers (RATED R).; 54D: Joie de vivre (ELAN).; 56D: Creator of "the little round-headed kid" (SCHULZ).; 58D: Column style (DORIC).; 59D: Fuzzy hangups (DICE).; 62D: Barn-dance dance (REEL).; 66D: Shoot the breeze (CHAT).; 67D: Farm female (MARE).; 68D: Bandleader Shaw (ARTIE).; 69D: Script sections (SCENES).; 70D: Dickens (DEVIL).; 71D: Ooze (EXUDE).; 72D: Cowboy, at times (ROPER).; 74D: Relax (TAKE 5).; 75D: Quickly, quickly (ASAP).; 77D: Clipped conjunction (ALTHO).; 78D: "Stairway to Heaven" star David (NIVEN).; 79D: Lots (SCADS).; 80D: Filmmaker Jacques (TATI).; 81D: Tempe sch. (ASU).; 83D: Farm female (EWE).; 84D: Is up (BATS).; 87D: Ring outcome, briefly (TKO).; 90D: Comrades ___ (IN ARMS).; 91D: Hog's milieu? (ROAD).; 92D: Additional (EXTRA).; 94D: Cigar city (HAVANA).; 95D: Hankering (ITCH).; 96D: Cantankerous (ORNERY).; 100D: Saturates (SOAKS).; 101D: Play hard ___ (TO GET).; 102D: Pianist Claudio (ARRAU).; 104D: Hedron intro (OCTA-).; 105D: Reformer Jacob (RIIS).; 106D: Persian comment (MEOW).; 107D: Ye olde Anglo-Saxon serf (ESNE).; 109D: Bikini parts (TOPS).; 110D: Purview (AREA).; 111D: Author of "The Magic Mountain" (MANN).; 112D: After 6 p.m., in ads (EVES).; 113D: Actress Russell, to pals (ROZ).; 114D: Jungle groomer (APE).; 115D: Namath was one (JET).; 116D: Paris accord? (OUI).

    02.20 Sun

    S U N D A Y February 20, 2011
    Peter Wentz


    [Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at cruciverb.com.]


    Theme: "Find Out" — F in, D out. The letter F replaces the letter D in familiar phrases, yielding wacky theme answers.

    Theme Entries:
    • 23A: Flight attendant's reminder when serving alcohol? (THIS IS NOT A FRILL).
    • 32A: Equine exhibition with poor visibility? (FOG AND PONY SHOW).
    • 45A: Stick around for sautéing? (HANG OUT TO FRY).
    • 64A: Energizing bluegrass instruments? (FUELING BANJOS).
    • 75A: Craze for some moms? (STAY-AT-HOME FAD).
    • 95A: Pixie dust? (FAIRY PRODUCT).
    • 104A: Written warning about gangster Gotti? (FEAR JOHN LETTER).
    • 119A: Imposing monetary penalties with a nice Chianti? (WINING AND FINING).
    Nice puzzle today! Did you figure out how the title works? F in, D out. Very clever. I assume that Mr. Wentz came up with the title first and then brainstormed theme entries to fit the pattern. (I usually save the title for last and end up struggling to think of a half-decent one.) FEAR JOHN LETTER was a highlight for me, and I appreciated the elegance of the "Pixie dust?" clue for FAIRY PRODUCT. Lots of fun in the rest of the grid too. You've got HOT COCOA, YULE LOG, THE FLASH, CBS SPORTS, LOUDMOUTH. Good stuff.

    You should take a few minutes to read Brendan Emmett Quigley's interview with Peter Wentz here. (You'll also be able to download of his of his gnarly themeless puzzles.) Among other things, you'll learn that he's not the rock star Pete Wentz who used to be married to Ashlee Simpson & named his son Bronx Mowgli Wentz. That's a relief.

    Bullets:
    • 20A: Anthem with line "The True North strong and free!" (O CANADA). Great clue, eh?
    • 26A: Fixed, as a pump (SOLED). When you see "pump" in a crossword clue, nine times out of ten it's referring to a shoe.
    • 28A: Hip-hopper's adjective (LIL). Li'l Abner was a hip-hopper? That's phat.
    • 58A: '70s-'80s NHLer known as "Lucky Pierre" (LAROUCHE). I'm not a hockey fan, but this one was easy enough to get from the crossing entries. I can understand why Peter & Rich wanted to avoid a reference to Lyndon Larouche and his political insanity.
    • 92A: Baseball's Matsui (HIDEKI). Great player. He was the 2009 World Series MVP for the Yankees. Not to be confused with their $12.8 million dollar pitcher, Hideki "Fat Toad" Irabu. (His picture keeps making me yawn.)
    • 102A: BART stop (STN). Bay Area Rapid Transit.
    • 10D: Excellent, in slang (DEF). As in Def Leppard.
    • 34D: Like some bks. for kids (ABR). An abridged version of "abridged."
    • 71D: Oldest active NBAer (SHAQ). Interesting that we have an "NHLer" clue and an "NBAer" clue today. I don't mind those two words, and I'm fine with NFLer too. But I can't stand ALer and NLer.
    • 84D: Speedy superhero (THE FLASH). I love this entry! He's literally "The Fastest Man Alive." One of the mainstays of the DC Comics universe, just a notch below Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. There are Green Lantern, Thor, and Captain America movies coming out this summer, so you've got to think a Flash movie is in the works. Sorry to geek out on you. Let's move along...
    • 86D: Thought process (IDEATION). This was the ugliest entry in the grid, but its appearance allowed THE FLASH and HIDEKI to fit into that same corner, so I'm good with it. Go ahead and ideate all you want!
    • 89D: Clip joints? (ARSENALS). Nice clue. Clips of ammunition can be found in arsenals.
    • 113D: "Grand" brand of ice cream (EDY'S). We don't have this brand in the western U.S., so it always bugs me to see it in a puzzle, especially a Los Angeles-based puzzle
    • 115D: Epitome of smoothness (SILK). Shout-out to Barry C. Silk.
    • 123D: Good times (FUN). Apt entry to finish up on. Very enjoyable puzzle today.
    Be sure to come back on Monday. We've got a guest blogger coming in, and you're going to love the puzzle.

    Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
    • 69A: U.K. medal (OBE).
    • 108A: Auburn's conf (SEC).

    Sabtu, 19 Februari 2011

    02.19 Sat

    S A T U R D A Y February 19, 2011
    Bruce Venzke


    Theme: None

    I'm having a really hard time focusing on the blog tonight, but I feel like I have a lot to say about this puzzle, so I'm going to do the best I can. Overall, I would have to say I liked this puzzle. It felt kind of uneven to me — really hard spots right next to super super easy spots, some awesome 15-letter entries and some really really bad shorter stuff …. Let me just get this out of the way and then we'll move on to the good stuff. Ed SNEED has no business being in a puzzle. I'm sorry, but he just doesn't. I mean, look at that clue! [33D: Ed __, runner-up in the first Masters sudden death playoff.] I might have — might have — cut some slack here if the man had actually won the first Masters sudden death playoff but no. He was the runner-up. You know what that means, right? He lost. Do you want to know who he lost to? Cuz that guy I bet you've heard of: Fuzzy Zoeller. I'm sure that Ed SNEED is a very nice man and I congratulate him for all his success, but I'm not budging from this position. He has no business in being in the puzzle. Said PuzzleGirl.

    And it's not that I'm one of those people who thinks anything I hven't heard of myself personally must be obscure. There were several other entries in today's puzzle that I didn't know but that I would classify as perfect legitimate. For example:

    • 27A: Velvet's older sister in "National Velvet" (EDWINA).
    • 29D: Peter's "Easy Rider" role (WYATT).
    Oh, and it's also not that I have something against difficult golf clues. I don't mind [59D: Golfer IAN Woosnam] at all. I didn't know his first name right off the top of my head, but I know that he's a current golfer who has had some success over the last couple of decades.

    Okay, one last thing. I promise this will be my last gripe about the puzzle. ASSY.?!?!? I'm sorry, but put that next to 53D: Butt end (ASH) and it looks like we have a mini-theme going here that's completely inappropriate.

    Good stuff? Yes! There's good stuff!:
    • 1A: Set off, as an alarm (TRIPPED). I like this clue because it tricked me. "Set" is one of those verbs that can be both present and past tense and in crossword clues I always read it as present tense and then can't figure out why the answer has so many letters.
    • 15A: TV host's segue (BE BACK IN A MINUTE). This is a little clunky but I think it's just because of the clue. The answer itself is pretty good.
    • 17A: Sources of track reports (STARTERS' PISTOLS). Again, very tricky! I was thinking more along the lines of the Daily Racing Form. But in this case "report" refers to the sound a gun makes.
    • 20A: Egyptian fertility deity (ISIS). I had to laugh at myself here. I had both Ss in place and saw the word "Egypt" in the clue so I immediately entered ASPS without even thinking about it.
    • 34A: Lonely guy in old 60-Down [ads] (MAYTAG REPAIRMAN). I had the REPAIRMAN part but couldn't remember what company he worked for. I'm all, "Whirlpool? Amana? …." Anyway, I love this entry.
    • 58A: Creed foe, with "The" (ITALIAN STALLION). And I love this entry even more! Got it with absolutely no crosses in place.
    • 63A: Maneuver through a tight opening (THREAD THE NEEDLE). Funny, I was sewing patches on PuzzleDaughter's Girl Scout sash yesterday and thinking to myself about how I've never been much of a seamstress, but that these days the most frustrating part is threading the needle.
    • 10D: As far as the eye can see: Abbr. (VIS.). VISibility? Yikes.
    • 16D: Secretive org. (NSA). I tried CIA here first.
    • 25D: Very little money (PEANUTS). This is an excellent, excellent clue.
    Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
    • 8A: Elko native (NEVADAN).
    • 52A: Defense gp. formed in Bogotá (OAS).
    • 6D: Just make, with "out" (EKE).
    • 9D: Former Radiohead label (EMI).
    • 55D: Musical with the song "Radames' Letter" (AIDA).
    [Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

    Everything Else 18A: Certain border, to a philatelist (PERF); 19A: Menlo Park wizard, initially (TAE); 21A: It might be req. for some new furniture (ASSY.); 24A: Eject (SPEW); 30A: Sends, in a way (EMAILS); 38A: Author Levin (IRA); 39A: Kind of blouse (PEASANT); 40A: Shade (HUE); 41A: Fighting words (LET'S STEP OUTSIDE); 44A: Impressive property (ESTATE); 45A: Filled in (TEMPED); 46A: Travel about (ROAM); 48A: Fed. inspection group (USDA); 49A: Letter on a sweater (ZETA); 52A: Defense gp. formed in Bogotá (OAS); 54A: Shortfall (LACK); 64A: High-powered (INTENSE); 65A: Lower (DEGRADE); 1D: Medicinal amt. (TBSP.); 2D: Anatomical network (RETE); 3D: Support beam (I-BAR); 4D: Layered dessert (PARFAIT); 5D: Election night fig. (PCT.); 6D: Just make, with "out" (EKE); 7D: Bad way to play (DIRTY); 8D: Collars can hide them (NAPES); 9D: Former Radiohead label (EMI); 11D: Dovelike (ANTIWAR); 12D: Batman and Robin et al. (DUOS); 13D: King of the Huns, in Norse myth (ATLI); 14D: Loch seen from Urquhart Castle (NESS); 22D: Shapes up (SNAPS TO); 23D: Smart-sounding brew (SAGE TEA); 26D: Gave off (EMITTED); 27D: '60s boxing champ Griffith (EMILE); 28D: Braves (DARES); 31D: "You dig?" response (I'M HIP); 32D: Cum __ (LAUDE); 35D: "The Facts of Life" actress (RAE); 36D: Debatable "ability" (ESP); 37D: Kung __ chicken (PAO); 42D: Illinois-based food giant (SARA LEE); 43D: Compressed (SMALLER); 47D: __ Cristo: fried sandwich (MONTE); 48D: Peruvian pronoun (USTED); 49D: Rigatoni relative (ZITI); 50D: Race: Pref. (ETHN-); 51D: Sharp (TART); 55D: Musical with the song "Radames' Letter" (AIDA); 56D: Under 20, to most (COLD); 57D: Joint for guitarists? (KNEE); 60D: Some pitches (ADS); 61D: Chemical suffix (-ANE); 62D: It may be pulled (LEG).