Preceder of bravo in radio alphabet - THURSDAY Apr. 30 2009- G Kaiser/S Ginzburg (Food whose name comes from a language of West Africa)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "CAPITAL OFFENSES" (36A: Pun-crimes committed by the answers to the six starred clues?) - theme answers are world capitals clued via puns on their names

Word of the Day: LUNA moth - n.

A large, pale-green North American moth (Actias luna) having elongated, taillike hind wings.

Here is a LUNA moth:

And here is a LUNA moth shawl I found at (no foolin') (40D: Personal flair):

I winced inwardly when I saw the phrase "pun-crimes" (the phrase being a redundancy in my book), but mercifully there are no punny tortured phrases in the grid itself, which is masterfully, beautifully, colorfully filled. Honestly, I think this puzzle is beautiful, from the RUMINANT (18A: Cow or goat) in KHARTOUM to the SPACE BAR (57A: Long key) in NEW DELHI. The grid is super-geographical, with six world capitals plus IDAHO (50D: Home of the sawtooth range), SIBERIA (14D: Home of the 2,700-mile-long Lena River), and the UBANGI (17A: Congo tributary) ... plus SARONG (43A: Island attire) and PAN-ARAB (46A: Like Gamal Abdel Nasser's movement), both of which suggest more and different parts of the globe (different parts of ASIA, to be precise - 56A: _____-Pacific). I had a little trouble getting into the NE - I knew RIDGE (16D: First secretary of homeland security), but the other 4+ Downs were adequately disguised enough that I had to crawl into that tiny 3x4 space in the puzzle's attic and work on those 3-letter answers. Poor initial success (didn't know, wrong answer (NTH), right answer, didn't know) ended up being enough, as the "G" from GUN (11D: Rev) tipped me to MTGE (9A: You can get one on the house: Abbr.), and everything fell from there.

Oh, and I "finished" the puzzle and then realized I hadn't checked my crosses and had NUTTY where BATTY was supposed to go (67A: Crackers), resulting in the plausible cross of NIN (for NIB - 62D: Penpoint) and the implausible cross of ABRU (for ABRA - 56D: Start of a magic incantation).

Theme answers:

  • 2D: *Multiplyin' by 2? (Dublin) - HA ha. Love that one.

  • 48D: *Base of a fragrant tree? (Beirut)
  • 15A: *Final resting place for old autos? (Khartoum)
  • 24A: *Father of the Ziploc? (Baghdad)
  • 49A: *Wide shoe specification? (Tripoli)
  • 63A: *Recently opened sandwich shop? (New Delhi)
Gotta run - busy day - so I'm going straight to ...


  • 19A: Preceder of bravo in a radio alphabet (alfa) - thought Bravo would be capitalized in this context. Also thought ALFA was spelled "alpha." Live and learn.
  • 29A: Extreme Atkins diet credo ("No carbs!") - so extreme that if you followed it, I believe you would die. Then you'd *really* lose weight.
  • 33A: Author Fallaci (Oriana) - had it as ARIANA, but then the wonderful COIN-OP came into view and set things straight (30D: Pinball machine, e.g.)
  • 64A: It's white and fleecy (cirrus) - another beautiful word for the grid
  • 5D: REM researcher's tool (EEG) - new clue on old fill. Nice.

  • 6D: Food whose name comes from a language of West Africa (okra) - I had no idea - part of the reason getting into the NE was harder than it might have been, what with OKRA's providing the first letters for those long Acrosses.
  • 23D: It has feathers and flies (dart) - a bit too much like a riddle for my tastes
  • 59D: "How cute!" (aww) - ah, the arbitrary, rarely-seen double-W. If you're lengthening the vowel, why isn't the "A" the letter that's repeated?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


WEDNESDAY, Apr. 29, 2009 - B Silk (Early MP3-sharing web site / Camp Swampy dog / Theater for niche audiences / Prayer wheel user)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "NINE to FIVE" word ladder - starred clues are all part of a word ladder that starts with NINE and moves down the grid (changing one letter at a time) to end at FIVE. Theme tied together with central, grid-spanning answer, STANDARD WORK DAY (38A: Hint to the word ladder in the answers to the starred clues)

Word of the Day: SESSILE - adj.

  1. Botany. Stalkless and attached directly at the base: sessile leaves.
  2. Zoology. Permanently attached or fixed; not free-moving: a sessile barnacle.

[Latin sessilis, low, of sitting, from sessus, past participle of sedēre, to sit.] (

I usually like Barry Silk puzzles, but not this one. As you know, I'm always immediately put off by a 1A that requires that I look elsewhere in the grid, especially when I go look there and there is no way to know what I'm looking at. Word ladders in general are ho-hum as concepts to me. You have to do something fantastic to make it worth while. And this one? Meh. I got your word ladder right here: NINE FINE FIVE. The end. The only semi-interesting thing about this word ladder is the stacked parts - TINE over TONE, FORE over FIRE - which require a whole bunch of (occasionally inventive) double letters in the Downs. The biggest problem for me with this puzzle concept is STANDARD WORK DAY. First of all, NINE to FIVE isn't very STANDARD anymore. Second, STANDARD WORK DAY is a dead, dull phrase. I had nearly all of the letters and still had no idea what I was looking at. "Hey, is it "STANDARD WORD DAY" today?" Thought it might be some kind of self-referential CROSSWORD thing for a while. I had to endure SESSILE (29A: Permanently attached, in zoology) and HEXOSE (51D: Simple sugar) for ... what? A very basic word ladder and this phrase? No thanks.

Hey, you know what else fits in the slot occupied by STANDARD WORK DAY?


Love her:

["I set out to get you with a fine-toothed comb..."???]

Theme answers:

  • 1A: *Start of a 38-Across (nine)
  • 15A: *Small part of a spork (tine)
  • 18A: *Musical quality (tone)
  • 22A: *Made tracks (tore)
  • 35A: *Teed off (sore)
  • 44A: *Put into piles (sort)
  • 56A: *Locale in a western (fort)
  • 64A: *It may precede a stroke (fore) - cute
  • 67A: *Ax (fire)
  • 71A: *End of a 38-Across (five)
Here's some more stuff that irked me a little. SCENE V = arbitrary. Could have been I or V or X, and there's nothing even to suggest which one. (50D: Part of an act, perhaps). While it's true that some men's hair is PARTED, there is nothing particularly manly about the part (33D: Like some men's hair). There are parts in some women's hair too. ART HOUSE + ARTY = one too many ARTs for my taste (40D: Theater for niche audiences + 28D: Pseudo-cultured). On the other hand, I really liked the unexpected noun cluing of EMPTY (16A: Recyclable item), and the somehow-made-it-work cluing on NO MAN'S (3D: Kind of land). My biggest "???" moment came at 12D: "The Way of Perfection" writer (St. Teresa). I studied the Middle Ages in grad school and I didn't know this. The title sounds Chinese to me (the way = tao), but then again the title also sounded like a contemporary self-help book.


  • 17A: Prayer wheel user (lama) - I wrote in SUFI. I was ... on the right continent at least.
  • 27A: Good name for an investment adviser? (Ira) - recycled clue. Old joke. Next.
  • 32A: Early MP3-sharing Web site (Napster) - a big, infamous name about a decade ago when people were worried that file-sharing would kill the music industry. The uproar all seems kind of quaint now.
  • 45A: Canal site (isthmus) - my first thought when "canal" is used in xword clues is always EAR.
  • 47A: Showing irritation (peevish) - ironically, one of the few things I liked today.
  • 53A: Toxic pollutant (PCB) - I always want this to be PFC. Maybe because I'm mashing PCB up in my head with CFCs = Chlorofluorocarbons?
  • 65A: Rat Pack nickname (Dino) - that came easily
  • 63A: Crossword maker or editor, at times (cluer) - true enough
  • 36D: Wynn and Harris (Eds) - better than cluing it as an abbrev. for "editors," I think.
  • 10D: Survivalist's stockpile (ammo) - I had CANS
  • 9D: Orkin victim (pest) - I like how the clue makes "Orkin" sound like a serial killer.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


TUESDAY, Apr. 28, 2009 - M Ginsberg (Eric who played 2003's Hulk / Pacific archipelago nation / Nordic runners)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: SIMILES (51A: Theme of this puzzle) - all 17 theme answers are phrased "_____ as a something"

Word of the day: GAGES - (21D: Light green plums)


Green"gage`\, n. (Bot.) A kind of plum of medium size, roundish shape, greenish flesh, and delicious flavor. It is called in France Reine Claude, after the queen of Francis I. See Gage.

"Greengage" appears as one word in most descriptions I found. To complicate things further, "GAGE" appears also to be simply another word for "plum," as the definition of "plum" at Wikipedia begins, "A plum or gage is a stone fruit tree in the genus Prunus ..."

I did this one in well under 5, but still found it much thornier than your typical Tuesday (though with Tuesday, really, who's to say any more?). There was a veritable pantheon of B-to-C List crossword acting talent, some of whom didn't come readily to mind (most notably that damned ERBE woman - 57D: Kathryn of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"); there were plums I didn't know and a peninsula I'd never even heard of (KENAI - 40D: Alaskan peninsula where Seward is located), and then SERAPH (48D: Angelic figure), which I knew but couldn't spell immediately (SERIPH? Ugh - 48D: Angelic figure). But my two main sticking points came about as a result of my simply not knowing (or not readily getting) a couple similes. The two:
  • 10A: _____ as a post (DEAF)
  • 66A: _____ as a judge (SOBER)
Now, when I look at them, they seem familiar and right. But my brain wanted only DULL and DUMB for the "post" clue, and when you throw in the fact that I completely misread the clue for AARON (12D: Baseball All-Star every year from 1955 to 1975) as [Baseball All-Star event ...] and then throw in a sch. abbrev. that ended up looking like a typo (UCAL -> 15A: Golden State sch.) - it was all a recipe for small-scale disaster. The "judge" simile just isn't that familiar to me. I know I've heard it, but not nearly as often as the others. And there was ERBE, withholding the key letter. My dislike for the entire "L&O" franchise continues to grow...

Other theme answers:
  • 24A: _____ as a pin (neat)
  • 25A: _____ as a fox (cunning) - isn't "sly" more common?
  • 26A: _____ as an ox (strong)
  • 37A: _____ as an owl (wise) - with the bonus SAPIENS at 5D: Latin for 37-Across
  • 41A: _____ as a dog (sick) - not a phrase I want to think about right now
  • 56A: _____ as an eel (slippery)
  • 67A: _____ as a doornail (dead) - SICK and DEAD. Nice.
  • 68A: _____ as a diamond (hard)
  • 6D: _____ as a drum (tight)
  • 25D: _____ as a whistle (clean)
  • 27D: _____ as a rail (thin)
  • 29D: _____ as a bell (clear)
  • 34D: _____ as a kite (high)
  • 51D: _____ as a rock (solid)
  • 54D: _____ as a bat (blind)
Gotta take the dog in for her follow-up pneumonia xrays this a.m., so quickly...

  • 14A: Pacific archipelago nation (Samoa) - Kiwis (and perhaps others) put the stress on the first syllable of this word. Hard to get used to.
  • 19A: Actress Singer of "Footloose" (Lori) - she and BANA (54A: Eric who played 2003's Hulk) and ERBE are all here auditioning for the Bobby SEALE biopic (31A: Newton's Black Panther Party co-founder). I misread this clue at first and thought it was looking for an actress/singer from "Footloose." So naturally I thought of this:

  • 23D: Lawrence Welk's "one"/"two" connector ("and a") - yuck. Common enough, but yuck.
  • 28D: Literally, "scraped" (rasa) - and the Latin lesson continues...
  • 58A: It means nothing to Sarkozy (rien) - and some French for good measure.
  • 2D: Auto denter in a supermarket parking lot (cart) - "denter" is cute. Most words undergoing crossword "ER"-ificiation aren't cute.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


2008 campaign personality - MONDAY, Apr. 27, 2009 - J Krozel (Politico Paul / Norman Rockwell painting subject W.W. II)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "_____ the _____er" - three theme answers follow that phrasing pattern

Word of the Day: IONIC (51D: Kind of column, in architecture) - n.

One of the three main orders of classical Greek architecture, characterized by two opposed volutes in the capital.

(tomorrow's word of the day - VOLUTE ... actually, I think that's just the name for the scrolly things)

Not much of a theme, and considering the non-theme fill was less than stellar, I have to give this one a thumb's down. There's something to be said for having such a contemporary theme answer in JOE THE PLUMBER (35A: 2008 campaign personality). But then again, there's something to be said for not forcing me to contemplate this moron and his absurd fame on a Monday before breakfast. Nothing against conservatism per se (shout-out to RON Paul - 27D: Politico _____ Paul - who makes many other self-described conservatives look like craven, spineless fools), but I don't think of JOE THE PLUMBER as "conservative." I don't know what he is. I'm just glad I haven't had to hear about him for months. Until today. He does not go well (if at all) with the other theme answers - in fact, the "theme" coheres quite poorly. Why these three? What's the point? Where's BOB THE BUILDER? SAM THE BUTCHER? MANDRAKE THE MAGICIAN? MOTT THE HOOPLE?

Theme answers:

  • 24A: Animated TV character whose best friend is Boots (Dora the Explorer) - seen her several times as a grid-spanning answer. Moratorium!
  • 35A: 2008 campaign personality (Joe the Plumber)
  • 50A: Norman Rockwell painting subject of W.W. II (Rosie the Riveter) - this was the hardest of the three for me to get, especially given that I went with HAH and HAW before I hit on HAR (40D: Part of a guffaw), which provides the "R" in ROSIE.

Not Good:

  • 39D: The year 1406 (MCDVI) - it's a Monday. Your Roman numerals should be three squares tops, if you even have to resort to them at all. Actually, I'd like to extend that rule to all puzzles. Special dispensation if the area around the long Roman numeral is particularly sparkling. Dispensation in this case is Not granted.
  • 1D: High-priority item (must-do) - something can be a "must-see," but a "must-do" ... maybe, but it feels iffy. Don't like it.
  • 15A: Not appropriate (unapt) - always hate this word. I think INAPT sounds better.
  • 10A: Get an _____ effort (E for) - bah. Why all the cruddy fill on a Monday? Partials and abbrevs. and what not ... So you've got a few Scrabbly letters ... they are not worth having to endure this low-rent stuff. Never mind the slew of ugly crosswordese (EMIR, ADE (42A: Fruity cooler), ADEN, EPEE, ST PAT (21D: March 17 honoree, for short), ESE, IDE, EWER (26D: Fancy pitcher), SAC and SEC, etc.) I mean, -ORY? Where are my Monday pros? Bring back the smooth, professionally filled puzzle. I did this in 3:20, like any other Monday, but between the bad fill and having to endure the "personality" of JOE THE PLUMBER, I kind of wish I had my 3:20 back.
The rest:

  • 5A: Rich soil component (humus) - add an "M" to get a delicious chickpea and tahini spread. Other earth-related words you might see in the grid include LOAM and LOESS.
  • 16A: Duo plus one (trio) - not liking this phrasing. Makes it seem as if "duo" and "TRIO" are part of same language as opposed to just sets of two and three.
  • 54A: Fix permanently, as an interest rate (lock in) - this, I liked. Fresh, colloquial, recognizable, in-the-language. Nice.
  • 38D: Like the Beatles' White Album (untitled) - thought it was just called "The Beatles."
  • 36D: Minimum pizza order (one slice) - this one is also pretty good, in that I didn't know what to make of it, but couldn't dispute the answer once I had it.
  • 32D: Beer blast centerpiece (keg) - I like how "centerpiece" does not really go with the image of a KEGger at all.
  • 8D: Coming immediately after, as on TV (up next) - more decent colloquialness.
  • 45D: "Don't let it get you down!" ("chin up!") - ditto. HUSH HUSH (5D: Top-secret) and FREE RIDE (11D: Something for nothing, as what a hitchhiker seeks) aren't bad either.
  • 32A: Casey of "American Top 40" (Kasem) - one of the most important and familiar voices of my childhood.

  • 40A: Like paintings and some juries (hung) - right under JOE? And next to SAC? Seriously, breakfast.
  • 60A: Idiot (dope) - went with DOLT. DODO would also have worked.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Beautiful Monday puzzle in the LAT today - write-up here


SUNDAY, Apr. 26, 2009 - T Payne (Comedy webzine founded 2000 / * picada burrito filler / Anakin Skywalker flew one in "Star Wars Episode I")

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Roughly Speaking" - rebus puzzle with "ER" or "UM" (sounds of hesitation one might make when speaking) crammed into 35 (!!!!!) different squares

Word of the Day: ESDRAS - n. Bible. (Abbr. Esd. or Esdr.)

One of four books of the Vulgate, the first two of which correspond to Ezra and Nehemiah and the second two of which were rejected as apocryphal but are sometimes included as an appendix to the New Testament as 1 and 2 Esdras. (

Wow. This puzzle is astonishing. I have never seen such a dense rebus puzzle. At times, it felt as if I was being riddled with bullets or pelted with tennis balls from a tennis ball machine, but more often I enjoyed myself and found myself amazed at the inventive ways Trip filled the grid. I actually had to fight with this puzzle, and sometimes fights annoy me - if the puzzle fights dirty, with cheap punches and what not - but today, even though I got smacked around a little, I ended up with respect for my worthy adversary.

The first big punch in the mouth came in the NW, where I couldn't parse 3D: Statement of philosophy to Save My Life. Latin phrase with two rebus squares clued as if it were a general term and not a very very specific, unique statement ... ugh. If I had ever seen the abbreviation SLC (1A: 2002 Winter Olympics host: Abbr.), I might have had an easier time with COGITO (ER)GO S(UM). But I couldn't remember where the 2002 Winter Olympics were held, and SL- did nothing for me. Slovakia? That can't be right. The main problem - if you're not looking for a multi-word Latin phrase, then parsing a long answer like that with even just a few missing squares can be rough. In that same section, I was balking at SISL(ER) (55A: Baseball Hall-of-Famer), which felt right, but which wasn't making COGITO (ER)GO S(UM) any easier to see. Never mind that this LYELL guy is a complete mystery man to me (34D: 19th-century geologist Charles). After finally finishing off the NW, I was actually mildly afraid to continue. How much more @#$#-slapping would I have to take? The answer was - some, but not as much as the NW had led me to fear.

In order to get so dang many rebus squares in a puzzle, you gotta ... stretch the limits of crossworthiness here and there. RALLYES (54A: Driving events that use checkpoints) are apparently real things, but what kind of spelling is that??? I had RALLIES, but then EBAI was clearly wrong (40D: Its first sale was a broken laser pointer). Further ESDRAS!? (30D: Either of two books of the Apocrypha). Wow ... I really should pay attention to that section of my Bible more often. Not only have I never heard of it, I was 80% sure it was wrong. ESTRUS I can imagine saying. But -SDR- is not a common letter sequence. And yet all the crosses seemed (and were) rock solid. So I left it. And it was right. In other Stuff I Didn't Know ... I've seen NO BID in puzzles a lot, but never CUE BID (75A: Bridge tactic). Bridge, opera, Broadway musicals ... all stuff I know very little about. And yet I manage, somehow.

My least favorite clue/answer of the day was 82D: Shoat holder (sty), as it reminded me of the swine flu that is about to destroy us all.


  • 25A: Worries for ransom recipients [S(ER)IAL N(UM)B(ER)S] - love this. Great clue for an original (and very rebusified) answer
  • 7A: J.J. _____, co-creator of "Lost" and director of 2009's "Star Trek" [ABRAMS] - he's everywhere right now, and the "Star Trek" movie is in a major hype phase. The latest issue of "Wired" is guest-edited by ABRAMS. It's got puzzle folks in it. You should check it out.
  • 27A: Resident of Asmara [(ER)ITREAN] - without rebus, I wouldn't have known. But with just that one rebus square in place - gimme.
  • 33A: Santiago, to Hemingway [OLD MAN] - nearly put in RED MAN. I wish I were kidding.
  • 44A: Anakin Skywalker flew one in "Star Wars Episode I" [POD RAC(ER)] - that's the "Episode" when I stopped caring
  • 52A: Greeting you shouldn't say at an airport [HI, JACK] - cheeky, but I like it. Really should have had a "?" on it, though. I could greet a guy named "JACK" with that greeting and absolutely nothing would happen. If I had that disease where I couldn't modulate my voice and so I shouted the greeting, then maybe I'd have a problem.
  • 56A: Flanged weapons [MACES] - yeah, I've decided that "flanged" is up there among the most awful words in the English language.
  • 70A: Salon product for flat hair [VOL(UM)IZ(ER)] - great, fresh answer with super rebus power
  • 79A: Reason to get all gussied up [HOT DATE] - gotta call a foul here. The word "gussied" belongs nowhere near the word "HOT." There is nothing "HOT" about the word "gussied."
  • 80A: _____ picada (burrito filler) [CARNE] - haven't heard this phrase. I know "CARNE asada," but only from "Taco Bell" commercials.
  • 94A: Professional who may wear goggles [AVIATOR] - this came to mind instantly, but a. I didn't think you had to be a "professional" to aviate, and b. I feel like I just saw a clue that referenced the fact that "goggles" are antiquated or old-timey. No such indication here.
  • 111A: Pitched quarters [TENT] - I think this is supposed to be tricksy ("pitched" = verb?), but this is another I got instantly.
  • 113A: Seventh-brightest star in a constellation [ETA] - I learned the whole Greek-letter way of naming stars from crosswords. ETA is the seventh letter in Greek alphabet after alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon and zeta.
  • 4D: Gang hanger-on [MOLL] - one of my favorite words from crime fiction. Best when preceded by "GUN"
  • 9D: Guitarist Cooder and others [RYS] - misread it as singular at first and wrote in RYE ... did not look right.
  • 11D: Bird once hunted by the Maori [MOA] - yay. I love this (gigantic, extinct) bird. Look out also for the (much smaller, non-extinct) KEA, a parrot that Will rarely puts in the puzzle, but that I've seen in other puzzles multiple times. KEA are common as pigeons in parts of NZ.
  • 16D: Feather, to Fernando [PL(UM)A] - can you feel the PLUMA, Fernandooooo...?

  • 17D: State trisected by a river of the same name: Abbr. [TENN.] - entertained CONN. and PENN. there for a while.
  • 56D: Comedy webzine founded in 2000 [MOD(ER)N H(UM)ORIST] - I love fresh, contemporary answers, but what fresh hell is this? Never, ever heard of it. I live on the damned web. How embarrassing.
  • 62D: 2003 sequel to a popular 1994 comedy [D(UM)B AND D(UM)B(ER)(ER)] - this deserves some kind of award. A four-rebus answers Intersecting Another Four-Rebus Answer -> B(UM)P(ER) TO B(UM)P(ER) (98A: Crowded, in a way). My god, he's got five rebus squares just in that little 3x5 section in the SE. Wow.
  • 65D: Groucho Marx foil Margaret [D(UM)ONT] - didn't know it. Did she play the dowager figure in one/many of the movies? I think so.
  • 70D: End of a famous claim [VICI] - see also SUM (3D)
  • 75D: Dark quaff [COLA] - nice one. "Quaff" sort of suggests beer, but no ...
  • 105D: Largest known dwarf planet [(ER)IS] - an example of why there is no substitute, when trying to get better at solving, for practice practice practice. As you all know, my knowledge of astronomy is iffy at best, but first ETA, and then ERIS went down easily. Having seen ERIS before, and knowing the "ER" theme, I didn't even hesitate here - even one year ago, there would have been hesitation aplenty.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
(waiting for someone to give me a wrap-up of yesterday's Crosswords L.A. Tournament)

PS Orange's write-up of Sunday (syndicated) LAT is here.


SATURDAY, Apr 25, 2009 - B Wilber (Introducer of math symbol e / Battle of Cabra victor 1071 / Act of Supremacy institutor)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Names I Don't Know (or, NONE)

Word of the Day: PETCOCK - n. (1A: Runs through a petcock, e.g. => DRAINS OFF)

A small valve or faucet used to drain or reduce pressure, as from a boiler. (wik.)

This was tough. The SW and NE in particular gave me fits, with the NE being the toughest part of the whole grid for me. The only thing worse than a B'way clue is THREE B'WAY CLUES. Criminy, it's like the constructor personally hates me. FRED EBB? Nope (8D: "New York, New York" lyricist). Garson KANIN? Oh hell no (18A: Garson _____, writer and director of Broadway's "Born Yesterday"). A song from "Hair?" Well, thankfully, I'd heard of it, but I needed crosses to jar it loose, and they were Not Forthcoming (13D: "Hair" song with birthday wishes to a president). For a while, the only thing I had up in the NE was Peppermint Patty's damned SANDALS (14D: Wear for Peppermint Patty). I threw MERGED across that section at 21A: United, and that gave me the "G" in what I thought was DOUGHNUT at 12D: Thing with a sweet ring to it? Mother of Pearl, how could those very, very plausible answers both be wrong? Well, they were.

WASHBOARD ABS (31A: Desirable trunk feature) took forever to appear because of yet Another very believable wrong answer: GO NUTS instead of GO WILD (23D: Lose it). Thank god for grad school, because somehow I was able to see SCIPIO (35A: He crushed Hannibal at Zama) even through the wrongness of GO NUTS, and SCIPIO pretty much saved my life in the (to that point) barren SW. I figured "THE LAST METRO" (38A: 1980 Truffaut film that won 10 César awards) would be in French, given the "César" reference in the clue (I realize it's an award, and it's not being used as a French word, but still ... seemed Frenchy). I had METRO, but was surprised when THE LAST showed up. ISAAC who? (56A: Shorthand inventor Pitman) ... ERI what now? (46A: European conductor _____ Klas). My god, if I weren't a longtime solver, OAKIE (learned from xwords - 7D: "The Great Dictator" Oscar nominee) and EULER (learned from xwords - 42A: Introducer of the math symbol e) would have hurt me too. And here I started out so confident, with ANDRES Gallaraga as a flat-out gimme (3D: 1993 N.L. batting champion Galarraga). "The Big Cat." Thought the puzzle would be right in my wheelhouse. Boy was I wrong. All in all, a healthy Saturday workout. I think it's a little cheap to rely so heavily on proper nouns for your difficulty, but I still enjoyed the ride.


  • 16A: Setting of Queen Beatrix airport (Aruba) - another reason the NE was a bear. I was looking for some kind of Swedish city. Maybe Danish. Who the hell is Queen Beatrix? What? The Netherlands still has a @#$#ing Queen? Democracies with royalty = people with third nipple or vestigial tail. Puzzling.
  • 20A: City founded during the Cherokee Strip land run (Enid) - city blah blah somewhere in the west blah blah four letters long = ENID! I love that this crosswordy city crosses another crosswordy city in NOME (5D: City east of Saint Lawrence Island).
  • 27A: Food giant based in Springdale, Ark. (Tyson) - Not a fan of factory-farmed meat/poultry.
  • 47A: Unagi restaurant suppliers (eelers) - one of my few gimmes today. Not sure why we don't see UNAGI in the puzzle more often. Terminal "I"! 60% vowels!
  • 57A: Act of Supremacy institutor (Henry VIII) - established the English monarch as the head of the Church of England.
  • 4D: Christian trigram (IHS) - INRI I know. This, I don't. Iesus Hominum Salvator - hey, is that where the "H" in "Jesus H. Christ!" comes from?
  • 9D: Most famous resident of Warm Spr., Ga. (FDR) - Warm Springs was the site of a hospital for polio patients founded by FDR.
  • 28D: Vacation spot for some oenophiles (Napa) - virtual gimme. Had the "N" in place and so no problem.
  • 32D: Alfred _____, "Footbridge at Argenteuil" artist (Sisley) - another name that gave me fits. I've heard of SISLEY, but that didn't help a lot today.
  • 39D: Who said "I'll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure" (Mae West) - didn't *know* it, but given the spirit of the quotation, the answer was pretty obvious.
  • 43D: Cause of a dry spell in the Midwest (La Niña) - whoa. Total guess that paid off.
  • 47D: Battle of Cabra victor, 1079 (El Cid) - I have this eerie feeling I Just Did a puzzle with this very clue. EL CID is a relatively frequent puzzle denizen, though usually just his CID makes it in.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Had an even harder time with the LAT. Orange's write-up here.
P.P.S. I'm a clue in a puzzle! Thanks, Ben Tausig


Residents of dry open country in South America - FRIDAY, Apr. 24, 2009 - B Silk (Carrier of very destructive cargo / Reason to do a 2 a.m. shift)

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: GUANACOS (3D: Residents of dry open country in South America) - A reddish-brown South American ruminant mammal (Lama guanicoe) related to and resembling the domesticated llama.

Honestly, I figured GUANACOS were some kind of people until I looked the word up just now. Yikes. That word crossing RIC (25A: Rapper _____-A-Che) was nearly fatal. Luckily, I was able (finally) to figure out the word that the rapper's name was supposed to sound like ("ricochet"), and even though the "C" felt iffy, I went with it, and ... success. That was the only scary part of this puzzle. I wonder if RIC-A-Che could FIND A WAY (49A: Succeed somehow) to put SUSAN DEY (37A: "L.A. Law" Golden Globe winner) on the ENOLA GAY (28A: Carrier of very destructive cargo). That would make an awesome rap song. As for the rest of the puzzle, it was solid Friday fare, pitched at just the right level of difficulty. It's a weird grid, in some ways. First, it has no answers longer than 8 letters. Second, it's got that looong (9 squares) diagonal wall in the middle, which makes the grid look like some odd racing track with two anterooms in the NW and SE.

Mystery answers for me today:

  • GREGG (26A: Texas county named for a Civil War general, with its seat in Longview) - oh, with its seat in Longview ... now I get it (sarcasm = high)
  • EMMETT (14D: Daniel Decatur _____, minstrel who wrote "Dixie") - I've been meaning to brush up on my minstrels.
  • MEER (48D: Physics Nobelist Simon van der _____)

Everything else was at least familiar. I started with RENT-A for 23A: _____-Car, but then changed it to ECONO when I realized that the Down cross on the first letter (23D: Plant problem) was probably EDEMA. Well, I was right to change it to ECONO, but I was wrong about why. Answer ended up as ERGOT, which is one of those words that broke me once in the past, and which therefore I will never forget. Grew up watching Fresno State play the Anteaters of UC IRVINE (52A: The Anteaters of the Big West Conf.), so that was easy, as was HTTPS (41A: U.R.L. opener indicating an additional layer of encryption), which anyone who has ever bought anything online should recognize. Most of the fill in the puzzle was familiar, but clued in such a way that I had to think hard or get some crosses in order to get at it. Just what Friday should be. The only things I didn't like in the puzzle were STRAYER (37D: Lost soul) - what the hell? - and ADRENALS (33D: They're located above the kidneys). Aren't they ADRENAL GLANDS? ADRENALS sounds informal. I'm sure it's common parlance in, say, hospitals, but it still feels like an abbreviation of sorts. I (desperately) had ADENOIDS, which are near your tonsils. To my credit, the ADENOIDS are, technically, "above the kidneys."


  • 7A: Its flag features an image of a stone-carved bird (Zimbabwe) - when I first looked at the clue, I already had the "M" and "W" in place. Got it instantly.
  • 19A: Kings Peak's range (Uinta) - the greatest crossword range of all.
  • 24A: 1984 perfect game pitcher Mike (Witt) - should have been in my baseball sweet spot, but I totally blanked on his name and needed first two letters before I got it.
  • 38A: Reducer of pier pressure? (jetty) - honestly, I'm not sure what this is, though I was familiar enough with the word to know that it was right.
  1. A structure, such as a pier, that projects into a body of water to influence the current or tide or to protect a harbor or shoreline from storms or erosion.
  2. A wharf.
So it can be a pier ... and it reduces pressure on ... piers. OK.

  • 47A: Phenomena associated with some dwarfs (novae) - figured it wasn't the Snow White kind of dwarves (dwarfs).
  • 53A: What wisdom outweighs, according to Sophocles (wealth) - on the scales of what?
  • 6D: Reason to do a 2 a.m. shift (DST) - that's a Great clue
  • 7D: Alfred Kinsey's field (zoology) - zing. You were thinking sex, weren't you? Weren't you?
  • 32D: Home of the World Museum of Mining (Butte) - "Can we go mom, can we go? Huh? Can we!?"
  • 39D: It was first publicly performed in Vienna in 1805 ("Eroica") - also, the first Beethoven symphony I ever heard performed live.

  • 41D: Plaza de la Revolución locale (Havana) - would like to visit (you know, once relations with the U.S. thaw or whatever it is they seem to be in the process of doing now)
  • 50D: Richard Gere title role of 2000 ("Dr. T") - this movie was no great addition to the cinematic pantheon, but man has it been gold for constructors. Without it, they'd still be waiting around for Mr. T to get his Ph.D.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Two more announcements, one for L.A., one for NY.

  • L.A. - the Crosswords L.A. Tournament is tomorrow. It's a charity tournament. It's cheap. You will have fun. Go.
  • N.Y. - artist Emily Cureton, whose NYT crossword drawings are legendary, would like you to know that the Morgan Fine Arts Building is having a Spring Studio Open House tomorrow, 5-10pm. She writes, "My studio will be open to the public and decked out in my most recent work, plus a trashcan full of ice cold beer. Hope you can make it." You should go.


THURSDAY, Apr. 23, 2009 - S Dobis (Documentarian Morris / Financial writer Marshall / One of Isabella I's kingdoms / Word with mountain or fly)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: BROWN (71A: Shade that defines 17-, 27-, 49- and 65-Across)


Word of the Day: IVOR Novello - David Ivor Davies (15 January 1893 – 6 March 1951), better known as Ivor Novello, was a Welsh composer, singer and actor who became one of the most popular British entertainers of the early 20th century. [...] After World War I, Novello pursued a film career until the 1930s. He starred in two silent films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, The Lodger and Downhill, both in 1927. (wikipedia)

Not much to say about this one. Solid. Non-theme fill is pretty blah, but the theme is nice, tight, and the BROWNs are wonderfully varied - a name, a company, a football player, a school. The only thing that provided any difficulty in the puzzle, aside from some odd names here and there, was the fact that in a puzzle like this, your answers are really definitions and so are not apt to spring readily to mind because they don't tend to hold together as stand-alone phrases. The one big exception here is GODFATHER OF SOUL, which would be a fine entry in any puzzle (hard to think of any puzzle, or anything at all, that wouldn't be improved by a little James BROWN).

I had no trouble with the puzzle, though the first two theme answers were slower in coming than I would have liked. Much as I love James BROWN, I was not looking for him (didn't know the theme was "BROWN" yet, and I had GODFATHER -F SOU- and my mind went "GODFATHER OF SOUP?" and about a millisecond later I realized the right answer. Also had most of FEDEX COMPETITOR before I was able to get it. My FEDEX read -E-EX, and I thought "TELEX COMPETITOR?" Forgot, for a moment, that "BROWN" was what UPS has been calling itself lately. The other two theme answers were much easier for me to uncover.

Heavy on the proper nouns today. ROMER (34D: Former Colorado governor Roy) and LOEB (63D: Financial writer Marshall) and (oddly) LINC (51D: "The Mod Squad" role) were the only ones that gave me any trouble, but IVOR (56D: Songwriter Novello) might have been tough if you've never seen it before. AOKI (62D: Golfer Isao), ERROL (28D: Documentarian Morris), and OLSEN (19D: Merlin of football and TV) are standard crossword fare, and GIBB (55D: 1970s-'80s singer Andy), while not exactly common, is pretty damned famous (or was, in the late 70s). He was Teen Beat heartthrob of epic proportions.

[Olivia! ... give the video 10 seconds to get going]


  • 9A: Certain sultan's subject (Omani) - one of many vague clues. Got it easily 'cause I had the "O" in place.
  • 21A: Midcentury year (MDL) - see. Vagueness.
  • 37A: Language that contains no adjectives (Navaho) - wow ... how does that work. No BROWN?
  • 54A: Alternative to "roll the dice" ("spin") - I wanted STAY or STOP or something that meant "I choose NOT to continue in this game."
  • 55A: Band lineup (gigs) - I know that you "line up" GIGS, but would you call your GIGS a "lineup?"
  • 69A: Def Leppard hit "Pour Some Sugar _____" ("On Me") - don't mind if I do.

  • 72A: Title grp. in an ABC drama (NYPD) - "old" would have helped here
  • 6D: Word with mountain or fly (ash) - I don't know what mountain ASH or fly ASH is. They sound familiar, but I couldn't define them or draw you a picture. The former is apparently a tree.
  • 50D: One of Isabella I's kingdoms (Aragon) - a place more often associated with Catharine. Still, pretty easy with the "AR" in place.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Interview with me over at Crossword Corner today - you've probably heard it all before, but why not hear it all again!?


WEDNESDAY, Apr. 22, 2009 - D Finan (Chekhov play or its antihero / Stethoscope users at times / "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" duettist, 1976)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Shipbuilding - as the "Note" to the puzzle says, circled letters contain letters A through I, which, which connected in alphabetical order, form a picture of the puzzle's theme - in this case, a sailboat. Letters A through I are used in clues to indicate parts of the ship they describe. Additional boat-related content in the long answers ... and LOGS (28D: Old shipbuilding needs)

Word of the Day: YEGGS (63A: Stethoscope users, at times) - n. Slang. A thief, especially a burglar or safecracker.

How many times will I be asked to draw boats on my puzzles ... ?

Much kerfuffle at the NYT puzzle site last night. Apparently something in the formatting of this puzzle caused a big snafu and on-line subscribers couldn't get their puzzles until well after midnight (normal time: 10pm). Someone emailed me a bootleg copy of this puzzle in pdf format (from last week's Marbles Amateur Crossword Tournament in Chicago, which used this week's NYT puzzles), and so I printed it out and solved on paper. Came in at just under 6. I think that's pretty normal, especially factoring in the paper-solving (which almost always takes longer than keyboard-solving). It is news to no one that I am a big non-fan of this kind of puzzle. I hate taking the time to read a note (don't do it if I don't have to) and when I saw that the first theme clue was essentially gibberish, i.e. "With this other answer, these letters in some illustration you can't see yet," all I felt was annoyance. I do not like being asked to draw on my puzzle. In fact, I refuse. So I ignored the theme answers completely - solved around them - and in the process of doing so, the I intuited the nautical theme and I just made ship-related words out of any clue that was just giving me letters, e.g. [F-G], [C-D]. Didn't bother even looking at the (non-) illustration. This seems like the kind of puzzle that took some time to conceive and execute, and it probably deserves our admiration. But I didn't enjoy solving it. Except YEGGS. That clue was @!#$#ing awesome.

[title should read "Golden YEGGS"]

I started the puzzle off horribly, almost despairingly. Theme was inscrutable, or at least annoying, and the NW wouldn't come together. Never heard of the Chekhov antihero IVANOV (2D: Chekhov play or its antihero), and for some reason thought DOTS would be a good answer to the Morse Code clue (1A: A Morse "I" consists of two => DITS). I knew the lyric at 14A: "Climb _____ Mountain" but the answer I had in mind didn't seem to fit. Had no idea it was a contraction: EV'RY. So, some initial floundering, but once I got out of there, and then shortly thereafter picked up the theme, it really wasn't hard at all.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: With 59-Across, A-B-C-A in the illustration (main / sail)
  • 25A: F-G (keel)
  • 30A: C-D (mast)
  • 43A: A-B (boom)
  • 49A: E-F-G-H-E (hull)
Value Added:

  • 18A: Ship in "Pirates of the Caribbean" (Black Pearl)
  • 55A: Ship to the New World (Santa Maria)

ANNABEL Lee (23D: Poe's "_____ Lee) and KIKI DEE (25D: "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" duettist, 1976) make a beautiful rhyming pair of puzzle pillars. DOTS for DITS and DIABLE for DIABLO (40A: Counterpart of un ángel) were my only hiccups. I look forward to Thursday. The end. Almost.


  • 21A: Half of a mountaineering expedition (descent) - if you're lucky.
  • 36A: "Top Hat" dancer (Astaire) - you know, I've never seen even a little bit of an ASTAIRE/Rogers movie. Let's change that.

  • 52A: People in fierce snowball fights (pelters) - odd job, but I like the vivid action it implies.
  • 61A: Makeup of some little balls (lint) - wrote it in with no crosses. Felt bold, but ended up right.
  • 5D: Incorporate, as a YouTube video into a Web site (embed) - watch as I EMBED this ODE (10D: Tribute with feet):

  • 12D: 1921 play that introduced the word "robot" (R.U.R.) - a piece of crosswordese that I have great affection for.
  • 48D: Magnetic induction units (Teslas) - I don't remember much of anything important about my physics courses ... but his name really sticks.
  • 59D: Number on a bottle at the beach (SPF) - I was using lots of SPF 50 in Costa Rica. That stuff works - assuming you apply it completely ... my red patches are almost gone now.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. My write-up of the LAT crossword is here.

P.P.S. If you are in the Southern California area, just a reminder that this Saturday is the CROSSWORDS LA TOURNAMENT. It's the real deal - good puzzles, great talent (Hinman! But he's not competing, don't worry), corporate sponsorship, the works. All for a wonderful charity. You should go. Here's the press release.

Press Release
For immediate release

April 25 event to raise money for local non-profit

LOS ANGELES, CA – April 20, 2009 – Crosswords West today announced the launch of the first annual Crosswords LA Tournament. The event will bring together crossword enthusiasts from the Los Angeles area and elsewhere – all for the purpose of having fun and raising money to benefit a local non-profit organization (Reading to Kids). The puzzles will be provided by Will Shortz, Editor of The New York Times Puzzles and Games section.

Crossword puzzle tournaments have been around for more than 30 years, but have until recently taken place primarily on the East Coast. The largest tournament in the nation – the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament – is held annually in New York and has, since distribution of the 1996 documentary “WordPlay,” grown in popularity to involve roughly 700 competitors.

“Los Angeles is overdue for a similar crossword tradition,” said Elissa Grossman, tournament organizer and professor of management at Loyola Marymount University. “These events offer people a chance to get together and share something they enjoy, while at the same time, in this instance, helping Reading to Kids continue its wonderful work.”

The tournament will be held at Loyola Marymount University on Saturday, April 25 (Hilton Center, Room 100). Online registration is available through April 23 at On-site registration will be available on tournament day, through 10:50 AM (doors open at 10:00 AM). Prices vary from $10 - 30, depending on the time at which a person registers and the division in which the person participates. In an effort to make the tournament appropriate for a range of skill levels, there will be Regular, Expert, Student, and Spectator divisions. (Spectators can do the puzzles along with everyone else, but will not have those puzzles scored.) Competitors and spectators will be eligible for various tournament and raffle prizes. The prizes have been donated by St. Martin’s Press, Electronic Arts, Dell PennyPress, Pentel, Watson Adventures, Kustom Imprints, and Houdini, Inc.

The tournament will culminate in a playoff that pits the top three finishers overall – head to head to head – in a puzzle completed in front of an audience. Accompanying this race to complete the final puzzle will be live play-by-play and color commentary (as in a televised sporting event) by Tyler Hinman and Michael Colton. Tyler is a crossword constructor and the five-time American Crossword Puzzle Tournament champion. Michael is a panelist on VH1’s “Best Week Ever” and “I Love the 80s” and writes for the new comedy “Sit Down, Shut Up” (on Fox).

All event profits will be donated to Reading to Kids ( – a grassroots organization dedicated to inspiring underserved children with a love of reading, thereby enriching their lives and opportunities for success in the future. On the second Saturday of every month, Reading to Kids gathers together an average of 1,130 children and 460 volunteers for elementary school reading clubs.

For more information, please contact the tournament organizer:
Elissa Grossman
(310) 338-7401


1908 Cubs player and position - TUESDAY, Apr. 21, 2009 — RJ & NJ Byron (1946 high-tech wonder / Black-clad white-clad Mad adversaries)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy (or Challenging?)

THEME: TINKER to EVERS to CHANCE — Three theme answers, each clued [1908 Cubs player and position], end up describing perhaps the most famous DOUBLE PLAY COMBO in baseball history.

Word of the Day: VETCH - n.

Any of various herbs of the genus Vicia, having pinnately compound leaves that terminate in tendrils and small, variously colored flowers.

Hard to rate the difficulty level on this one. For me, this was one of the easiest Tuesdays I've ever done. Even with a few rewrites and rough patches, I still came in at 3:24 — fast for me for a Tuesday. I merely glimpsed at the first clue and immediately filled in the beginnings of the first three theme answers and the entirety of the fourth. I can see non-baseball fans, however, being absolutely stumped by this puzzle. You know 'em or you don't, and if you don't, it's going to be something of a slog (though non-theme clues are mostly remarkably easy, perhaps for just this reason). Cubs fans in particular know the phrase "Tinker to Evers to Chance" because those guys were part of the last Cubs team to win a World Series, six thousand years ago. The names of the men in that COMBO were immortalized in a 1910 poem by Franklin Pierce Adams:

These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

By Franklin Pierce Adams
New York Evening Mail July 10, 1910

For folks who don't know what a DOUBLE PLAY COMBO is — they're the guys who touch the ball in a routine double-play, i.e. a ground ball to the shortstop with a man on first, shortstop throws to second-baseman who tags second and throws to first to complete the double play. Two outs on one ground ball. 1908 is also the year that the song "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" debuted.

My only trouble in solving this one involved my confusing "TINKER to EVERS to CHANCE" with John Le Carré's "TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY," which resulted in my writing the names of the COMBO at first as TINKER, TAYLOR, CHANCE. "TINKER to TAYLOR to CHANCE" sounds right to my ear. Better, in fact. More alliterative, more mellifluous. EVERS barely sounds like a name. Do you mean EVANS? EVERT? Make up your mind. Anyway, I worked it out fairly quickly, even though that section of the puzzle involved VETCH, which I've never heard of (26D: Climbing plant with pealike flowers). KVETCH, yes. Alexander OVECHKIN, yes. VETCH, no. Oh, didn't know SPRITS either (5D: Mast extensions). Yuck.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: 1908 Cubs player and position (TINKER, SHORTSTOP)
  • 25A: 1908 Cubs player and position (EVERS, SECOND BASE)
  • 43A: 1908 Cubs player and position (CHANCE, FIRST BASE)
  • 57A: What 17-, 25- and 43-Across were, famously (DOUBLE PLAY COMBO)
This seemed an awfully straightforward puzzle for the NYT. Simply descriptive of a historical phenomenon. The main gimmick seems to be the amazing coincidence that the three man + position answers and DOUBLE PLAY COMBO all come out to 15 letters. That discovery must have prompted the puzzle, which is otherwise adequate but kind of unremarkable. Lots and lots of crosswordese, and then SPRITS and VETCH (?), which feel off and ugly to me. When most of your fill is short, you really want to maximize the punch of the 5+ stuff. Loved BRAINIAC, but wasn't that fond of the clue (52A: 2006 Ken Jennings book ... or the author himself). The book part is fine, but something about calling the author that feels off. The word, which I love, still has at least vaguely pejorative connotations to me. BRAINIAC is a DC supervillain, for one. And for two, I'm pretty sure "BRAINIAC!" was a playground taunt before it was ever a thing you might innocuously call a smart person.

  • 16A: When repeated, Road Runner's call (beep) — I believe there was some discussion on this blog a while back about whether the sound wasn't more appropriately represented "meep meep!" The "meep" spelling is preferred in a number of places, including the Wikipedia entry for Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. You be the judge.

  • 35A: Hydrotherapy locale (spa) — This puzzle has "locale" and "sloganeer" in its clues (49A: "Yes we can" sloganeer) — sadly, it lacks "denizen" and thus fails to pick up the coveted Clue Jargon Trifecta.
  • 39A: Polish's partner (spit) — Easy to get, though "Polish" is always a tricky one — nationality or verb?
  • 41A: Baseball analyst Hershiser (Orel) — Is the "analyst" clue new? He's been one for years, but usually he's clued as a pitching great. I like that he's in this baseball puzzle.
  • 60A: Virginia _____ (noted 1587 birth) (Dare) — Honestly, I've heard the name, but I don't know who this is. I see that she was the first child born in America to English parents.
  • 4D: Peeling potatoes, stereotypically (on KP) — I see what the clue is going for, but something about it feels off, grammatically. I can think of situations where I can switch the two phrases neatly if I try (Sarge yelling at Beetle that he'll be "peeling potatoes" (i.e. ON KP) if he doesn't, I don't know, clean the latrine or stop ogling girls or something), but the verb phrase-to-prepositional phrase shift here feels jarring.
  • 25D: 1946 high-tech wonder (Eniac) — It's always ENIAC. 1946? ENIAC. Pre-Gates computing? ENIAC. Maybe ADA Lovelace, if it's three letters. But otherwise, ENIAC. Learned it from crosswords.
  • 31D: Black-clad and white-clad Mad adversaries (spies) — Best clue in the grid. Loved these guys (and Mad generally) as a kid.
  • 32D: Wonderland cake phrase (eat me) — Also, like BRAINIAC, a playground taunt.
  • 52D: Nonkosher diner offerings (BLTs) — I've never liked this clue on BLT. Seems unfair to clue it so negatively. "Nonkosher" seems to be puzzle shorthand for "it has pork in it."
  • 53D: Iditarod terminus (Nome) — One of the many crosswordy terms given to us by Alaska. See also ALEUT and ATKA and many others.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PuzzleGirl's write-up of today's LAT puzzle is here.


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