02.29.08 -- The Leap Year Puzzle

Leap Froggie -- Roominations by Carol
Friday, February 29, 2008
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Puzzle by Patrick Berry, edited by Will Shortz
If we are to do one extra crossword puzzle every four years, this would be the one to do! Of course, as we all know, and Wikipedia puts it so aptly, “A leap year (or intercalary year) is a year containing one or more extra days (or, in case of lunisolar calendars, an extra month) in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year.”
It is the day that every four years, a maiden may propose to her BEAU (56A Ball boy?) with full intent of discarding her MAIDENNAME (15A. One abandoned at the altar?). It’s the year the calendar seems to TAKEABREAK (28D. Stop working), instead of going along regularly ATALLTIMES (27A. Continuously).
INAPOTHER (1D. Agitated), one may leap for escape -- or a YOKEL (25A. Clodhopper) may do so in a stunt! Others as an OMEN (54A Mystical indicator) of life or death!
Ah, but on with today’s crossword -- in a word, it’s own word, COOL (23A Snazzy)!
In addition to the three ten-letter entries mentioned above, add ALPHATESTS (17A. In-house debugging); ICEICEBABY (52A. 1990 #1 rap hit that starts “Yo, V.I.P., let’s kick it”); THE NATURAL (55A. Bernard Malamud’s debut novel); MONOPHONIC (2D. Like most 1950s recordings); and ANOTHERYOU (3D. Final Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor comedy).
Nine-letter entries: For leap day, we have SKATEOVER (5A Barely mention, as something one doesn’t want to discuss); BETWEENUS (33D. “Don’t spread this around, but …”); and SORELOSER (57A. One who refuses to shake hands, maybe).
Eight-letter: CONTESSA (4D. Neapolitan noblewoman); TEAROSE (8D. Flowers named for their scent); SORRIEST (20A. Most useless); THESSALY (24A. Region bordering Mount Olympus); LEMONLAW (42A. It protects car buyers); BEDCOVER (47A. Soft spread); CLEAVETO (35D. Tightly embrace); and MANITOBA (35D. Home for the Ojibwa and Cree).
Seven-letter: OPHELIA (21A. “Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind” speaker); LETITBE (46A. #1 Beatles hit with the only known vocal contribution by Linda McCartney); ENTROPY (9D. Tendency toward chaos); and BIFOCAL (38D. Split right before your eyes?).
Six-letter: POTTER (18A. Person at the wheel?); RETIRE (51A. Hang it up); ONEILL (10D. “The Great God Brown” playwright); and RACINE (41D. Wisconsin city that’s home to S.C. Johnson & Son).
Five-letter: Stepping down the center of the puzzle without a break -- 15. MARIA Full of Grace” (2004 film); 22. ALGAE, Pool owner’s nuisance; 25. YOKEL; 31. REPEL, Push off; and 43. MERYL, Actress Streep. Stepping across and up without a break -- 40. CURIE, Unit of radioactivity; 38. BLEEP, Dispel a curse?; 30. GORY, Edward who created the Gashlycrumb Tinies -- here’s a filmed version; and 26. SPLAT, Sound of a dropped scoop of ice cream. There’s also HORSE (29A. Certain chess piece, informally); VALET (39A. Man); ADHOC (7D. Having a single purpose); and REBUS (45D. Picture writing, of a sort).
Four-letter: IMAC (1A. Product once advertised with the catch- phrase “There’s no step 3!”); NONO (14A. Putting regular gas in a diesel engine, e.g.); ANON (16A. Presently); ENYA (34A. “Caribbean Blue” singer); MAKE (36A. Ford or Lincoln); AFAR (44A. In the distance); ASKS (58A. Poses); KIPS (6D. Goes to bed, in Britspeak); VASE (11D. Classical art medium); EMTS (12D. Lifesavers, for short); REST (13D. Others); ELSE (19D. Other); VOTE (39D. Go for a party, say); BITS (47D. Atoms); ECHO (48D. Comeback); DEER (49D. Pullers of the chariot of Artemis); and RARE (50D. Practically unheard-of).
Three-letter: SAL volatile (5D.); TAB (32A. Coca-Cola creation); RIO (37A. “Notorious” setting); and BAR (53D. Rule out).
From today’s Free Press : “Being a leaper, as adults are called, brings with it the novelty of staying young because the person's birth date occurs once every four years. But it also brings some frustration -- from trouble registering for services online with computer programs that don't recognize Feb. 29 as a valid date, to getting arrested for having a driver's license where the birth date and expiration date don't match. Despite a few frustrations with their actual birth date, area leapers say they enjoy their quadrennial event.”
Well, sure -- you're special!
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02.28.08 -- Word for Word

Thursday, February 28, 2008
Puzzle by Matt Ginsberg, edited by Will Shortz
In linguistics, a homonym is one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings, although there is confusion as to the terminology.
Words for words can be confusing, and to be economical with words, today I’m using homonym. Autoantonym is arguably the best definition -- others in use are contranym, whose meaning is “any word that can be its own antonym, e.g. cleave, overlook; also called antilogy, enantiodrome.” There is also a recently invented superfluous term-- antagonym -- a fakakta word not accepted in respectable dictionaries.
Eleven homonyms are featured in today’s crossword --
GOOFF (19A. Beginning operating or stop operating);
RESERVATION (20A. Confirmation or uncertainty);
ORIGINAL (30A. Unchanged or novel);
NOTHINGISBETTER (38A. Words of praise or words of condemnation);
SANCTION (45A. Approve or penalize);
TRANSPARENT (55A. Easy to see or impossible to see);
RAVEL (60A. Entangle or disentangle);
WEAR (1D. Last under use or erode under use);
LEFT (13D. Remaining or gone);
TRIM (52D. Add to or remove from); and
TRIP (59A. Move gracefully or move clumsily).
Other long entries include MINIDRESS (8D. Revealing garment); 36A. “No national is permitted to live in IGNORANCE with impunity”: Jefferson; GRAVAMEN (5D. Grounds for legal action); and BIGAPPLE (40D. Gotham).
Six-letter: PETERI (4D. “Great” czar); EGGNOG (9D. It might be spiked); TETLEY (46D. Twinings competitor); ATREST (49D. Sitting); TAOISM (27A. Belief in a harmony with nature); and GIANTS (48A. Willie Mays and teammates).
Five-letter: EMAIL (9A. Place for an emoticon); GAGNE (16A. Dodger All-Star pitcher Eric); SEINE (35A. Repeated setting for Georges Seurat paintings); NOSIR (43A. Respectful refusal); IRENE (64A. Comedic title role for Renee Zellweger, 2000); MESSY (67A. Chaotic); RADAR (6D. Gary Burghoff role of TV and film); ROSSI (21D. Martini’s partner); 30D. ONION Ring; 41D. Dr. ERICA Hahn of “Grey’s Anatomy”; TENTHS (27D. Fair housing?); ALOHA (28D. Welcome to paradise?); OFTEN (29D. Commonly); NOTIN (31D. Away from the office); ARENT (32D. Don’t exist); LARKS (33D. Shenanigans); and PSALM (51D. “O, sing to the Lord a new song,” for one).
Homonyms? Ho hum!
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Across: 1. Sari, e.g.; 5. Gloomy; 14. Life of Riley; 15. Asian princess; 17. Some; 18. Deuce follower; 24. Stadium sound; 25. Some Grammy winners; 34. Kobold; 37. Discussion spots; 42. TV’s Kojak; 44. Pen’s partner; 50. Deborah nominated for six Academy Awards; 51. Accord; 52. It’s definite; 62. Minimal tide; 63. E.R. part: Abbr.; 65. Univ.; 66. California’s ___ Valley; 68. Olaf’s girlfriend in Lemony Snicket books; 69. Sporty car roof option. Down: “Hurlyburly” playwright David; 3. “No returns”; 7. L., B. or J.; 10. Jiang’s husband; 11. Like kids at a circus, maybe; 12. Dope; 22. Paris accord; 26. Sort through; 39. Equine ankle; 47. Non-std.; 53. Fabled slacker; 54. 12/24/ and 12/31; 56. Converts to a cause, briefly; 57. Broadcast; 58. Fictional submariner; 61. Nav. rank.

02.27.08 -- Nukes

Nuclear Family, 1975 -- Ron Waddams

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

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Puzzle by Lee Glickstein, edited by Will Shortz

NUCLEARFAMILY (36A. Members of this can be found in the centers of 17-, 24-, 51- and 60-Across), along with SKEDADDLE (17A. Make tracks); PAWNBROKERS (24A. Sources of ready cash); THERMOMETER (51A. Turkey insert); and SUBSISTED (60A. Got by [on]) are this Wednesday’s inter-related entries.

Across: 1. Bankruptcy causes; 6. Part of “snafu”; 9. Invite for; 14. ILLAT ease; 15. Water temperature tester; 16. Ending with farm or home; 19. “Survivor” team; 20. Mead study locale; 21. Chips that one might “muncha buncha”; 22. Hotel offerings: Abbr.; 27. Cassidy portrayer of TV and film; 29. NARY a one; 30. “Born Free” feline; 31. Words of willingness; 34. Defaulter’s loss; 41. Flash drive filler; 42. NEMEAN lion, beast slain by Hercules in his first labor; 44. Dept. of Labor branch; 48. Movie theater candy; 50. Directional lead-in; 55. Authorizes; 56. T. Boone Pickens, for one; 57. With full force; 59. I, historically; 60. Got by (on); 64. McEnroe rival 65. Bud; 66. Calls for; 67. Pundit’s piece; 68. Knock out; 69. It helps raise dough.

Down: 1. Talk trash about; 2. Lodge member; 3. “Gesundheit!”; 4. “Look what I did!”; 5. Notary’s item; 6. Time to crow; 7. “That’s funny!,” in an e-mail; 8. Antietam leader; 9. Nolan Ryan, for years; 10. Its symbol is X; 11. Harvey of “The Piano”; 12. Marchers’ drums; 13. Black Sea port; 18. Beyond paramedic aid, in brief; 21. Short order cook’s utensil; 22. One of four in a grand slam: Abbr.; 23. Cut close; 25. Add a soundtrack to, perhaps; 26. Concise, in Cannes; 28. Vietnam’s Le DUC Tho; 32. Foreign law deg.; 33. Absolutely accurate; 35. Cockney’s abode; 38. Chat room shorthand; 39. Sore throat soother; 40. Pull suddenly; 43. “NIS for Noose” (Sue Grafton book); 44. Best Actor nominee for “Venus,” 2006; 45. Has star power; 46. Mt. St. HELENS; 47. Loser of 1588; 49. Unlikely to lose it; 52. One way to be in love; 53. Ambulance letters; 54. Befitting of umbrellas; 58. “Understood”; 60. Rest spot; 61. Motor City grp.; 62. Masthead figs.; 63. Period after springing forward: Abbr.

ATOM (37A Bit to split), a bit off-center, shares its "A" with NUCLEAR FAMILY and its "M" with THERMOMETER which shares its second "M" with MADLY -- things could get hot -- Mt. St. HELENS doesn't need someone to push a button -- the Creator will fire at will.

My father was fond of saying that he hoped when the nuclear bomb was dropped, they'd let us know a little ahead of time so that he could go out and watch! Ten years ago this month, at the age of 84, he left this world before it happened --so, for my father -- IN LOVING MEMORY.


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©Simone G. Des Roches, Woad newt, dusty moth and toadstool
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Puzzle by Sarah Keller, edited by Will Shortz
Excuse my paronomasia exercised in the title above -- just wanted to get in the mood. Oh, definition of NEWTONTOADSTOOL -- eft in error on faux flora. No newts is not good newts --more on that later.
"Puns are little 'plays on words' that a certain breed of person loves to spring on you and then look at you in a certain self-satisfied way to indicate that he thinks that you must think that he is by far the cleverest person on Earth now that Benjamin Franklin is dead, when in fact what you are thinking is that if this person ever ends up in a lifeboat, the other passengers will hurl him overboard by the end of the first day even if they have plenty of food and water." -- Dave Barry
Four groans -- CORNELLSANDERS (20A. Polishing machines at an Ithaca campus?); EMORYBOARD (35A. Trustee group at an Atlanta campus?); TULANEROAD (43A. Thoroughfare at a New Orleans campus?); and MARQUETTESHARE (53A. Rental arrangement at a Milwaukee campus?) -- are the inter-related entries of this tepid Tuesday crossword puzzle. I’m not going to explain them, that would be insulting -- I leave you to groan alone!
"Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted." -- Fred Allen
Two more long entries, thankfully not puns, slash downwards in the puzzle -- RANACROSS (36D. Discovered by accident) and NOTEPAPER (10D. Stationer’s supply). After that, it’s just a witch’s soupçon of crosswordese.
Seven-letter entries: PULLTAB (5D. Can opener) and NAMETAG (44D. Conventioneer’s wear).
Six-letter: ENACTS (31A. Puts into effect); NAMATH (45A. Broadway Joe); SWEDEN (9D. Volvo’s home); and TOQUES (46D. Close-fitting hats).
Five-letter: More hats, KEPIS (50D. French military hats) -- along with AEIOU (60A. Letters that must be bought on “Wheel of Fortune”); BLESS (66A. Cross over?); CANOE (32D. Paddled vessel); CODAS (39A. Musical closings); DONNE (4D. John who wrote “Love built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies”); EARLS Court (London tube station) (30D.); EMMYS (21D. Outstanding Comedy Series awards); ETAIL (19A. Business on the internet);IMONA Roll!” (26D.); PARSE (63A. Analyze in English class); PECAN (25D. Pie nut); PHONE (52D. Nokia offering); RENEE (41A. Zellweger of “Chicago”); REPOS (41D. Towed items, sometimes); SEEDS (34D. Tournament favorites); SNEAK (8D. Take furtively); SNORE (9A. Sleep soundly?); SODOM (27A. Sin city); TREAT (33D. One of two choices on Halloween); and WOMBS (16A. Prenatal sites).
1A. TOAD (Its eye may be part of a witch’s brew) upset me, as I‘ve always known the ingredient as an eye of NEWT -- Macbeth (IV, i, 14-15). Not to nitpick, but simply to object. NITS (65A. Lice-to-be) are also in the puzzle, crossed by RATS (58D Piper’s followers) -- near half a witch’s brew!
No NEWT! No magic!
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Across: 5. Daddy-o; 14. Popular cornstarch brand; 15. “___ my word!”; 17. Low-fat, as beef; 18. Not on time; 23. CPR giver; 24. Opposite of throw away; 25. Geometry symbols; 28. Recipient of “G’day”; 38. Peel; 40. Old Michael Jackson ‘do; 42. In a bit; 47. Flip out; 49. Fishing float; 61. Versifier; 62. King of hygiene; 64. Mental flash; 67. Dance’s partner; 68. Let (up). Down: 1. Face powder ingredient; 2. Lunchbox goody; 3. Food thickener; 6. October gem; 7. What Texas hold’em tables hold; 11. Sharif of “Funny Girl”; 12. Baseball stat; 13. Night school subj.; 22. Addiction; 29. Vegetarian’s protein source; 37. A horse of a different color?; 43. No ___ traffic; 53. Repast; 54. Suffix with billion; 55. Fuss; 56. Adolescent; 57. Melody for Dame Nellie Melba; 59. Ultimatum’s ultimate word; 60. N.Y.P.D. alert.

02.25.08 -- Woodwork and Wordwork

Print shop wooden letters by photographer Giuseppe Ceschi

Monday, February 25, 2008

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Puzzle by Randall J. Hartman, edited by Will Shortz

WOOD (55A. Object of the actions suggested by the starts of 17-, 30-, 47- and 66-Across), along with STRIPTEASE (17A. X-rated dance); SANDDOLLAR (30A. Beach find); PRIMEMOVER (47A. Initial power source); and PAINTHORSE (66. Pinto) are the inter-related entries in this Monday back-to-work crossword puzzle. Woodworkers know that (after finding today's little piece of wood off in a corner by itself) the four long entries are in proper order -- strip, sand, prime, paint.
After the wood, a cord or core of words to SORT (73A. Alphabetize, e.g.), almost add up to stairs -- HOLE and OLE, OLEO, OLIO, OREO, REO constituting a nice scattered group -- throw OARS, OVAL, and ONTO into that for good measure. Other matching pieces include EXAM and TEST; a crossing of ATALE and ATARI, ALLAH and ALAS; TOUPEE and TAPOUT; and two inventors, one a KITER (28D. Ben Franklin, famously, in an electrical storm), the other, an ALVA (65A. Thomas Edison’s middle name).
Standing alone are ELIMIDATE (37D. Competitor of "The 5th Wheel," in reality TV) and HOMEALONE (10D. 1990 Macaulay Culkin film). Also on the menu board -- ROTTEN (49D. Spoiled), EGG (42A. Fabergé collectible), CATERS (5D. Supplies, as food for a party) and BOOZE (40A. Rotgut) all of which might call for a little FOAM (13D. Cappuccino head) to sober the MAGPIE (48D. Chatterbox) and the SCAMP (27D. Little rascal) with the PAST (1D. It might be checkered) -- hey, all in all, this is a puzzle with lots of (to use one of today's wordworking terms) MERIT!
Wordwork remaining, Across: 1. Boston orchestra; 5. Seaboard; 10. 30 minutes, in the N.F.L.; 14. Once more; 15. God of the Koran; 16. Mixed bag; 19. Miniature plateau; 20. Top secret?; 21. “That SHE blows!”; 22. Something to cram for; 23. Banjo picker Scruggs; 25. Org. that publishes American Hunter; 27. Some Caribbean music; 36. Referred to; 39. REO Speed wagon (1970s-’80s band); 41. “ATALE of Two Cities”; 43. Acquire, as a debt; 44. MERIT badge, boy scout’s award; 45. Dover’s state: Abbr.; 46. NEHRU jacket, 1960s fashion; 50. One of a D.C. 1200; 51. 401(k) alternative, for short; 52. Oodles; 58. “You’ve GOT Mail”; 61. Lose all one’s money in gambling; 68. Plane assignment; 69. Ryan of “The Beverly Hillbillies”; 70. Julia Robert’s role in “Ocean’s Eleven”; 71. Golfer’s target; 72. Krupp Works city.
The finishing touches Down: 2. Not fooled by; 3. Llama country; 4. Slide, as a credit card through a reader; 6. Cheer for El Cordobes; 7. “Ah, me!”; 8. Part of a girl scout’s uniform; 11. The “A” in A-Rod; 12. Kudrow of Friends; 18. PEA brain (nitwit); 24. “Streets of LAREDO” (classic cowboy song); 26. Bird that comes “bob, bob, bobbin”; 29. Arcade game maker; 31. Israeli desert; 32. Sharp turn on a golf course; 33. Source of Scottish streams; 34. Sky-blue; 35. Twice-seen TV show; 38. Scare off; 53. Scrooge’s cry; 54. Dalmatian markings; 56. Margarine; 57. White House office shape; 59. Crew’s control?; 60. Deadlocks; 62. Cookie with a crème center; 63. Stalingrad’s land, for short; 64. The “T” of S.A.T.; 67. U-turn from SSW.
I’ve been waiting for a crossword reference to laundry, e.g., WASH (55D. Launder) to show this neon sign in Rapid City, South Dakota -- HERE.
…and how can I knot close this out with THEEND (9D. Finis)!
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02.24.08 -- OSCAR

Sunday, February 24, 2008

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Puzzle by Nancy Nicholson Joline, edited by Will Shortz
The encircled letters of the inter-related entries, ONTHEWATERFRONT [23A. Film (1954), actress (2003)]; PETERJACKSON [37A. Director (2003), actor (1962]; UNFORGIVEN [61A. Film (1992), actor (1958)]; CLARKGABLE [71A. Actor (1934), actor (1995)]; MARLEEMATLIN [94A. Actress (1986), director (1962)]; SHIRLEYMACLAINE [112A. Actress (1983), supporting actor (1999)]; SCHINDLERSLIST [17D. Film (1993), actress (1987)]; WHITECHRISTMAS [46D. Song (1942), supporting actress (1994)] yield the second half of their respective clues -- THERON, PECK, NIVEN, CAGE, LEAN, CAINE, CHER, and WIEST.

1-Across identifies the inter-related entries' common bond as THEOSCAR.

I don’t think I’ve seen OIL and OYL together in the same puzzle before, but then this OSCAR special is heavy on O’s -- SONATA, NONONONO, SOONER, ANO, OMA, OAT, OSHEA, RENATO, OOHS, OOF, NORELCO, LESOTHO, PANCHO, etc.

OEUVRES, ACTOUT, HECKLER, ART, OPENER, ABNER and LUM, AUDEN, ALDOUS, APU, TENNISON, LENO, HECUBA, LOUISA, and ALMA are other show-biz type entries -- although ALMA‘s clue (109A. Girl in Tennessee Williams‘s “Summer and Smoke“) seems inaccurate, Geraldine Page was 37 years old when she played Alma. She was nominated for the role as best actress in 1961, the year Sophia Loren won for “Two Women“. Nominated seven times, Page finally won the Oscar in 1986 for her performance in "The Trip to Bountiful", and died the following year.

Better late than never!


The envelope, please! -- read Linda, Madness...Crossword and Otherwise

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Across: 9. Accord competitor; 15. Is afflicted with sigmatism; 20. Emphatic refusal; 21. Tulsa native; 22. French pen filler; 25. Nothing, to Nero; 26. Brief; 27. Comments around cute babies; 28. East ender?; 29. “We can’t delay!”; 30. Visually assess; 31. Morsel; 33. Fish in fish and chips; 35. Isabel Allende’s “____ of My Soul”; 36. Florence-to-Rome dir.; 39. Interject; 40. Rests; 41. 12 meses; 42. Low tie; 44. Like the Wild West; 47. Pen with a cap; 48. Abbr. at the bottom of a letter; 49. Places for runners; 52. Work ___; 53. Granny, in Gelsenkirchen; 55. China’s largest ethnic group; 57. Nineveh’s kingdom; 59. Smeared; 64. Follower of weekend news, briefly; 65. ___ bran; 66. Friend in a western; 68. “The Age of Anxiety” author; 69. Rent; 70. Philosopher Kung Fu-___; 73. Destination of the Bounty in “Mutiny on the Bounty”; 76. Comedy club annoyance; 78. Olive ___; 79. Troll dolls, once; 81. Beau ___; 81. Milo of “Ulysses”; 83. Kind; 85. “___ Diaboliques”; 87. Big pan; 91. Venezuelan export; 92. Object of veneration in ancient Egypt; 93. Cool; 98. Mail order option, for short; 101. Sport jersey material; 102. Author Huxley; 103. Wallop; 104. Kwik-E-Mart owner on “The Simpsons”; 107. Tahoe, e.g., for short; 108. Future school?; 109. See 113-Down; 111. Soil improver; 116. Humble; 117. Rebel; 118. Checks; 119. Surgical aid; 120. Jerks; 121. Forensic experts. Down: 1. Investment options, for short; 2. Dolls; 3. Password, e.g.; 4. Reactions to fireworks; 5. N.F.L. guard Chris; 6. Overawe; 7. Santa ___; 8. Spin; 9. Rus. And Ukr., once; 10. Response to “pow!”; in cartoons; 11. Big name in grooming aids; 12. Winter wear; 13. Detective superintendent Jane of TV’s “Prime Suspect”; 14. Knack; 15. Jay that chatters; 16. At first; 18. Ready; 19. Three-time French Open champ, 1990-92; 24. Household item with a neck; 29. One flying over Hawaii; 31. Stakes; 32. Linda Ronstadt’s “___ Easy”; 33. Villa in Mexico; 34. Like the inside of a sphere; 37. Gat; 38. ___ alai; 40. Slender; 43. Org.; 44. Basutoland, today; 45. World books; 47. Capital known as the Venice of the East; 48. Swamps; 50. Informal eating place; 51. More racy; 54. Sierra Club founder; 56. Prized horse; 58. Elated; 60. Area between hills; 62. Geezer; 63. Inspiration; 67. Kind of vow; 71. Reunion gatherers; 72. “Us” or “them” in “It’s us against them”; 74. “Didn’t we just have that?”; 75. Global energy company; 77. Make the beds, dust, etc.; 80. March around camp, e.g.; 84. Term of respect abroad; 86. “…as old as yonder ___”: James Joyce; 88. Late news?; 90. Part of a Latin 101 conjugation; 91. Works; 93. Mother of Paris; 95. One of the Alcotts; 96. “It’s ___!”; 97. Swarmed; 98. Tibetan or Afghan; 99. First act in a revue; 100. Pressure; 101. Taj ___; 106. Junkie; 108. Solicits orders (for); 109. Girl in Tennessee Williams’s “Summer and Smoke”; 110. Worms, e.g.; 112. Jrs. No more; 113. 109-Across’s old radio partner; 114. Fire; 115. Truck part

02.23.08 -- BADLANDS


Saturday, February 23, 2008

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Puzzle by Barry C. Silk, edited by Will Shortz

Depending upon one’s familiarity with selective areas of interest and experience, a crossword puzzle in which no word relates to another in any way, shape or fashion can be a tiresome and thankless chore. However, when there are a few sparks here or there which elicit one’s immediate response, it can be satisfying. BADLANDS (4D. South Dakota's ___ National Park), an otherwise apt description of this crossword puzzle, was that for me today, along with a half-dozen others, making it possible to get through this brainbuster -- albeit with help from my tattered TOME (51D. Space hog in a library).

Another was STALACTITES (39A. They hang from the roof). Summers in South Dakota, a young fellow could work as a guide in one of the many caves in the Black Hills -- mine was the Black Hills Caverns. Other comfort included ARON (2D. “East of Eden” twin), usually clued Elvis ___ Presley, and XANADU (40D. Exotic estate), calling to mind two of my favorite films.

Movement and non-movement in the puzzle seemed to come easy -- ROADWARRIOR (30A. Frequent business traveler); DIRTROAD (37D. Where you might get into a rut); ONELEG (19A. What flamingos often stand on); AREAMAP (15A. G.P.S. receiver display); AROMAS (22A. They travel by air); JAM (33A. Flow stopper), not “dam“; AVIATOR (54A. An ace is a good one); even DOGCATCHER (29D. One who might pick up toys), although I can’t say I’ve ever seen a Poodle on the loose.

No problem either with SACRILEGE (20D. Profanity); LOVER (12D. Gallant); CONSENTINGADULT (36A. One who didn’t say no?); PORN (49D. Feelthy stuff); or CARGOPANTS (6D. Wear for rough outdoor activities) -- don’t ask!

Real sticklers, due mostly to the cluing, were NETFLIX (8A. Service with a queue) which could be anything; SIS (20A. Reunion moniker), now really! ANALOGY (16A. Explanatory tool); FLORAL (11D. Like some prints), which could be a lot of things -- well, that whole upper right corner… actually XYLEM (14D. Botanical nutrient conductor) came easier than REVE (21A. Vision de nuit), NARIS (8D. Nostril); REMOVAL (18A. Ousting); or the nefarious SIS.

Continuing with this pseudo-thesis of trials and tribulations -- something in which I don’t exactly specialize, leaving same to others in the blogosphere -- there are those names of places to which virtually no one has ever been or will go, and whose existence is unknown to most of humanity -- HERAT (24A. Afghan province or its capital), which my spell-check keeps changing to “heart”, stop already! WESER (31D River formed by the junction of the Fulda and Werra); EWA Beach, Hawaii (41A); Burkina FASO (1D.); KILDARE (57A. County west of Dublin); and ULAN-Ude (Russian city on the Trans-Siberian Railroad) -- all of which I am convinced exist, along with a multitude of others, only to fill difficult corners for crossword constructors with a penchant for Googling! A QUAKE (43D. Faultfinder’s concern?) take them all!

While we’re at it, throw in QATAR (43A. Home to Al Jazeera), along with the AMEER (5D. Robed ruler: Var.) and his HAREM (24A. Part of some Muslim households)! Oh, and the ENSUING (59A. Subsequent) SHMOOZE (56A. Chin-wag); FATBACK (1A. Lard source); SOLDERS (17A. Uses a certain iron); CARTEL (50A. Trust); SESAMES (58A. Some oilseeds); ERODERS (60A. Things that wear well?) which round out the eclecticism along with conversation in the form of IGETIT (46A. “Oh right”), and IAMSO sorry!” (47D.) none of help in soothing, Much LESS (53A.) solving!

Remaining clues: Across -- 1. Ltr. Recipient pinpointer; 28. Candidate supporter, briefly; 29. First to be admitted?: Abbr.; 38. Abbr. in some city names; 40. Indications of good bowling; 42. What’s left; 49. Game intro?. Down -- 3. MTV segment?; 7. Some G.I. duties; 9. Chemical endings; 10. Laddie’s lid; 13. Donation declaration; 23. Atlanta commuting option; 25. Mischievous; 26. Sound of impatience; 27. Some vacationers’ acquisitions; 32. Amazed; 33. Cordage material; 34. Potent round; 35. MTST Helens; 44. Gridder Harper; 45. Heads-down view; 46. Like some bad goods: Abbr.; 52. Israel’s Weizman; 55. Sea beam, in a sushi bar; and 56. Birmingham-to-Montgomery dir. -- what would constructors do without SSE, NNE, ESE, ENE, SSW, NNW, and every other which way?

Well, all's well that ends well, and this puzzle did bring back memories of rock-hunting and spelunking in the good old days of yore with nary a soul or a word in sight!


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