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LAT 2-9-14
Today's Sunday puzzle is by Pawel Fludzinski, and the theme is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything: 42.  How appropriate that it should come today -- If you take the 2nd root of 9 and multiply it by 14, you get, you guessed it:  42.  Also, if you rearrange the numbers in today's date, you get 42: 9+1, which describes the theme answers -- nine factoids about 42, and the 1 reveal.
Difficulty:  Easy
Theme entries:
His number 42 is now permanently retired:  JACKIE ROBINSON
It's roughly 42 kilometers:  MARATHON
President number 42:  BILL CLINTON
It contains 42 crude gallons:  BARREL OF OIL
Its first printing had 42 lines on most pages:  GUTENBERG BIBLE
It has 42 spots:  PAIR OF DICE
King who died at 42: ELVIS PRESLEY
42 appears on the street signs near this Big Apple landmark:  GRAND CENTRAL
Its atomic number is 42: MOLYBDENUM
Douglas Adams' facetious answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything:  FORTY-TWO

Naturally, BILL CLINTON and MOLYBDENUM stand out as less interesting because any number 1-44 could be used here.  I had thought of this theme before, thinking it might be a niche puzzle, but most of these facts I did not know (JACKIE ROBINSON I was able to put in immediately, though).  My first word in was LAURIE (He played House).  On a Saturday, that could be devilishly clued by putting House at the front of the clue.

Immediately upon looking at the puzzle, I noticed the wide-open, but cut down the middle, center.  Overall, the fill was very smooth with not many isolated spots.  Upon working it, I noticed not one, but two six-letter partials, which are usually no-nos:  A SENSE (In ___: sort of) and ONE EAR (In ___ and out...).  It's also unfortunate that P. DIDDY (Sean Combs stage name) is outdated, though not wrong, in that it was once.

Needed all crosses:
97A Arctic blast:  NORTHER.  Defined as a sudden cold gale coming from the north.
101A Like some landings: Abbr.:  INSTR.  In the DB, it always clues this as instrument or instructor.  Apparently there is an Instrument Landing System.
105A Verdun's river:  MEUSE.  This is a major European river, rising in France and going through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining in the North Sea.  It was used as the rough border between the Kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire, and it has the distinction of being the oldest river in the world.  Maybe now I'll remember it.  If nothing else, I hope to keep the connection that it's the oldest river: you can find it in METHUSELAH.
106A Den ___, Nederland:  HAAG.  From the same part of the world, this is the Dutch name for The Hague, the seat of government in the Netherlands.
40D Pond ducks:  TEALS.  I was trying to think of the crosswordese duck I knew, but I saw pretty soon that it would not fit.  I just remembered it:  SMEW.
42D "The Jungle Book" pack leader: AKELA.  I was thinking that what would really set this puzzle over the top would be a relevant answer for the answer numbered 42, but instead we get this name for which I needed all crosses, only being familiar with Disney's "The Jungle Book."
66D Painter Fra Filippo ___:  LIPPI.  I'm fairly sure I learned this name because of FRA before, but here we are again.  Lifespan about 1406-1469, he was an Italian painter.
72D High schooler:  TEENER.  OK, maybe not all crosses, but I still don't know this word, and still wasn't sure when I put the R in (since it crossed NORTHER).
80D Impressionist John:  BYNER.  I was going to say I need to bone up on my painters, but this impressionist is one who does impressions:  his specialties include Dean Martin, Jackie Mason, Ed Sullivan, Johnny Mathis, and John Wayne, and he did a spot-on impression of Lyndon B. Johnson on an episode of Get Smart.
96D Mobsters' code of silence:  OMERTA.  Here's a word I've seen a lot and never learned the definition of.  Now I do.
113D Cable co. that merged with AT&T:  TCI.  Tele-Communications, Inc., now owned by Comcast when they acquired AT&T.

Clues and answers liked:
121A Cheaters, to teachers:  ANAGRAM.  This is a good sort of clue for ANAGRAM.
115D Uplifting wear:  BRA.  Cute clue, though I don't think I saw it until I had the across answers already.
Not a lot stood out (the two above even crossed) -- I think in general, liveliness was traded for smoothness of fill, and the fill was quite smooth.

The Return? 8 Feb 2014 LAT
I may try to post about the puzzles I solve again, although I don't have a subscription to the NYT crossword right now (I may get another one soon).  Anyway, to the literally 0 people reading this, here we are.



Author:  David Steinberg
Relative Difficulty:  Mostly not terrible, but there were two blank squares when I was finished.
General Notes:  This puzzle is 16x15, and features a quadruple stack in the middle, the first time I've seen this feat in an LAT puzzle.  It also contains 73 words, 1 more than is usually allowed in a themeless puzzle (though that's probably fair because there are 15 additional spaces, as well -- deleting one of the central 15s would make it a 15x15 72-worder).  The North and South fell quickly except the Southeast because DACHA was invisible to me.  The middle went:  SGTS, FIRST-HAND, IS SO (Short retort), then IS SO erased to put in TOASTMISTRESSES for "Women seen standing at tables," a totally legit answer that I think Mr. Steinberg intentionally ambiguously clued.  Also, with TOASTMISTRESSES in, the "Fictional captain" at 33-Down could be crossword favorite AHAB, and I was trying to work out what the short retort was, eventually erasing all but "--------TRESSES," slipping in SINO-, IN OT, and STARTED UP, and I put in AEROSOL (Skylight insulation material, perhaps) for a moment, even though I knew it didn't make sense, I had AERO--L.  I erased it when I saws STOOD ON ONE'S TOES (Stretched, in a way).  With that in place, I could put in NEMO for the Fictional captain, replaced IS SO for Short retort, and that gave me enough for ONE-STOP SHOPPING.  but I replaced it when I saw COMPETES AGAINST (Attempts to best).  I believe from there, I got DINER WAITRESSES for "Women seen standing at tables," and the rest should have fallen into place, but I was stuck at QB's stat (AT?) and Italian article (UN?) crossing Provencal spreads (?APEN?DES).  The answers ended up being ATT, UNA, and TAPENADES.  Looking up TAPENADE, I see its Wikipedia entry immediately describes it as a Provencal dish consisting of pureed or finely chopped olives, capers, anchovies, and olive oil.

Words I needed all crosses for:
27A QB's stat:  ATT, short for "attempts," but that last letter could be anything to me.  I tried ATS and ATB first (maybe more).  ATT is not a suggested answer on OneAcross; they suggest INT (interceptions), TDS (touchdowns), YDS (yards), as well as RBI and ERA (baseball stats).  It has been clued in this way before, also as the communications giant (AT&T) and an abbreviation for attorney.
50A Georgia retreat:  DACHA, which is apparently a generic Russian word for a person's "second home," whether seasonal or year-round.  Georgia is a former Soviet Socialist Republic, and 9% still speak Russian as their first language, so I suppose this term can apply to retreats in Georgia as well (One clue in the DB is "Home in Georgia").  In the past, almost every clue references either Russia, a city, place, or person in Russia, or the Black Sea.
4D The duck in Disney's "Peter and the Wolf":  SONIA, along with Sasha the bird and Ivan the cat, with the hunters named Misha, Yasha, and Vladimir.  I was fully expecting this to be the name of an instrument, as I've seen clued before.  This version of Sergei Profokiev's musical composition came out in 1946.  The most usual SONIAs in crosswords are actress Sonia Braga of "Kiss of the Spider-Woman," Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (who I think is a more interesting, if less difficult, Sonia), and Sonia Gandhi, widow of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
25D Skylight insulation material, perhaps:  AEROGEL, a synthetic, ultralight, porous material, in which the liquid material of the gel has been replaced by a gas.  I've never heard of it, but all of the crosses were gettable, so no complaints, and now I've learned something new.
29D Provencal spreads:  TAPENADES, however, I had not heard of and I didn't know two of the crosses, making this one less fun.
30D JAMA readers:  DOCS, because JAMA is apparently the Journal of the American Medical Association.
34D Hockey Hall of Fame nickname:  ESPO, referring to Phil Esposito, who played 18 seasons and is considered to be one of the best in the NHL's history.  I only know Gretzky and Orr.
38D Bay State motto starter:  ENSE, because the Bay State is Massachusetts (also the Old Colony State and the Codfish State), and Massachusetts' motto is "Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem" ("By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty").  ENSE is Latin for "sword," and is almost always clued as part of that motto.
61D Dancer Charisse:  CYD -- that's Cyd Charisse, who was in a scene of Singin' in the Rain (1952) and co-starred with Fred Astaire in Silk Stockings (1957), but stopped dancing in films in the late 1950s.  Of the 87 times CYD has been clued, all of them refer to Cyd Charisse except one that refers to children's book author CYD Moore (of the best-selling I Love You, Stinky Face series).

Good clues:
5A Peter Pan rival: JIF.  It's unfortunate HOOK and SMEE are four letters, so there's no real trickery; this was my first entry.
14A Picked locks: AFRO.  Not the first time it's been used, but it's the first time I can remember seeing it.  "Locks" referring to hair is a crossword favorite trick, and this one works very nicely.
19D From the horse's mouth: FIRST-HAND.  It's a lively way to clue the phrase.
26D Words from one about to take over:  STEP ASIDE.  I like cluing this as a spoken sentence, rather than the verb phrase.
28D Black and blue, say: TWO-TONE.  Classic misleading clue, and bonus points because BRUISED fits, as well as likely some other answers that could account for the addition of the word "say," (since BRUISED wouldn't have that in the clue).
45D Needing a lift, say:  SAGGY.  Again, misleading, and in a way that you know there's a pun involved, but which lift is the constructor talking about?  Hard to say without some crosses.

Anyway, not all of my entries will be this long, but I'd like to get back in the habit of noting something about each puzzle.

June: Month in Review

Runner-up for favorite Monday/Tuesday:  06/07/10, by Lynn Lempel.  It's OK with ME ... e.g., COOKING TIME
Favorite Monday/Tuesday:
  06/28/10, by Joel Fagliano.  xAxA???? ... e.g., PAPA BEAR

Runner-up for favorite Wednesday/Thursday:  06/16/10, by Joe Krozel.  Letter-word Letter-word ... e.g., V-NECK T-SHIRT
Favorite Wednesday/Thursday:  06/10/10, by Mike Nothnagel.  BLANK + CHECK, CHECK + POINT, POINT + BLANK defined.

Runner-up for favorite Friday/Saturday:  06/12/10, by Joe DiPietro.  BEEFEATERS/EXXONMOBIL/etc.
Favorite Friday/Saturday:  06/18/10, by Samuel A. Donaldson.  CRAPSTABLE/HOLYPERSON/etc.

Runner-up for favorite Sunday:  06/06/10, Typecasting, by Daniel A. Finan.  Clues are written in different fonts, and the answer deals with that.  ... e.g., Couple-swapping => STRUCK OUT SWINGING.
Favorite Sunday:  06/13/10, Flag Day, by Francis Heaney.  Ambitious rebus theme in which, in six across entries, there are three consecutive color-rebus squares.  In the respective down entries, they are to be treated as color-rebus squares, but in the across entries, they are to be taken as the name of the country whose flag is made up of those colors. ... e.g., PY[BLUE][YELLOW][RED]CS is to be read PYROMANIACS.

06/23/10-06/30/10, Making Up for Missing Dates

I got behind on updating this blog, so this is one big catch-up entry.

06/23/10, Wednesday. 
Constructor:  Alex Boisvert 
Time:  Correct in 6:54, a new Wednesday record!  It might have been shorter if I hadn't wasted time trying to skim the convoluted note that accompanied it.  I found out afterward what the theme was.
Theme:  In the print version, there are dotted lines under certain sections of the theme answers, and, when filled in, these underline signs of the zodiac (as in EVA MARIE SAULT).  This, plus the revealer "SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE."
Favorite entry:  L'CHAIM!
Crosswordese of the Day:  AXILLA is a bit of high-end crosswordese, great in that it begins and ends with a vowel, and better because it sneaks an X into an otherwise 1-point-Scrabble-tiled word.  It's the anatomical name for the armpit, and of the 11 times it has appeared, the word Armpit or Underarm, with or without "anatomically," was the clue 10 times.  The other was "Secret area of anatomy?"

06/24/10, Thursday.
Constructor:  John Farmer
Time:  Correct in 13:07, which, though it's my slowest time for a Thursday, it's the only one done correctly, so a new Thursday record!
Theme:  TAKING A STEEP / NOSE / DIVE.  Three answers start going across, go down when the word NOSE appears, and then level out again, like DIAGN (at the N, going down) NOSE (at the E going across) ETHEPROBLEM.
Favorite entry:  FANNIE MAE was an attractive entry, as well as the colloquial SCARE UP.
Crosswordese of the Day:  ANSA has appeared 20 times.  It is the latin word for handle, and it's also the term used in archaeology for a looped handle, or a jug handle, or a vase handle.  As if this weren't obscure enough (to me anyway), a Friday puzzle clued it as Novelist Tina McElroy ___, and a Saturday puzzle clued it as an Italian news agency.  Wikipedia also tells me it can refer to a moth genus (that is the worst kind of clue, just about), and an 8th century queen-- ANSA, Queen of the Lombards.

06/25/10, Friday.
Constructor:  Byron Walden and Robin Schulman
Time:  Incorrect, after 42:25.
Theme:  IDO rebus plus (and I didn't know this until afterward), the first letters of each of the Across clues spell out "BYRON AND ROBIN TODAY WILL BE SAYING I DO."
The aha moment came relatively early, because I knew there were more letters in DIDGERIDOOS.  Not familiar with the ABBA song, but determined it after getting ?IDOIDOIDO?.  NE dropped the most easily, then SE, then stare-stare-stare at the SW.  Everything was so slow to fall, though I put in CHILIDOG with astonishing confidence.  Eventually that fell, but the NW was not going to be so nice.  I knew there was another IDO somewhere, and somehow, staring long enough, I managed to get TVIDOL to reveal itself, along with LIBIDOS, and I wanted SUAVE for the sloganeer until I finally saw REBUT, and was able to put PARTV, ALEVE, and LIBIDOS (all correctly).  However, after all that hacking away, I put PALMS (Bug detection devices?)  / MAULSON (Geithner's predecessor at Treasury) instead of PALPS and PAULSON, as well as IPERITANI (parse that however you wish) and TRESS instead of the unknowns I PURITANI and TRUSS.
Favorite entry:  I love that they were able to get MA[IDO]FHONOR in there, tying in with the wedding PLUS the IDO rebus; that was easily one of my favorite parts of the puzzle.  Favorite word in the puzzle, though, is the DIDGERIDOOS.  More fun with analyzing the puzzle:  Fully 20/70 words in this puzzle are unique to it, and that doesn't even include IDOIDOIDOIDOIDO.
Crosswordese of the Day:  SONO has appeared 5 times, with four different definitions.  "I am," in Italy.  Mozart's "Dove ___".  Prefix with -gram or -meter.  "Ronzoni ___ buoni" (old ad slogan).  It has never appeared before Friday. 

06/26/10, Saturday.
Constructor:  Robert H. Wolfe
Time:  Gave up at 42:12 after the NE chunk would not budge.  Tried SOMETHING STINKS, SOMETHING'S WRONG, and a few others.  Couldn't recall the big name in college guides, and even given a list of choices like:  FISKE, LUSKE, BURKE, etc., I couldn't have picked it out, so I was stuck with ???KE, probably ??SKE.  I couldn't get Take over from ???EST, though I tried ARREST more than its fair share.  Colliery access meant nothing to me.  After staring at "A hook might give it a hook" long enough, I thought it would be an amusing clue to give the answer ANYTHING.  COHN is an unknown name to me, and I wanted Green attachment? to be ECO soooo badly.  Enclosed I wanted to make UNOPEN, or UN something at least, because ?USKE looked right for the college guide, but nothing would fit.  I also didn't know the pet rock guy, or the word octavalent, and the Roll/PEAL connection is shaky to me at best, so that whole area was unstable, but not unstable enough for me not to believe the fifteen began with SOMETHING??????.
Favorite entry:  ARE YOU KIDDING ME and TEMP AGENCY, probably.  TEAR GAS GUN had the best clue, though:  Folks may cry after its shot.  I had ??A??ASGUN, and kept thinking "Whose gun could it be?  This is going to be sad...," expecting it to be the hunter in Bambi's gun, or something.  Apparently not in the right mindset.
Crosswordese of the Day:  NERI has appeared 5 times.  St. Philip ___ of Rome, or Italian Saint Philip ___, who founded the Congregation of the Oratory during the Renaissance.  Also, the first Mexican astronaut was named Rodolfo NERI. 

06/27/10, Sunday.
Constructor:  Michael J. Doran
Time:  Incorrect after 22:19.  Off the bottom, as an anchor (ATRIP), and Roadside bomb:  Abbr. (IED) crossing Miro museum architect Jose Luis SERT killed me.  I'll get a Sunday correct someday.
Theme:  Theme answers have as their clues words beginning with the letter I, and for the answer to fit, need to be parsed as the pronoun I along with the rest as a verb (e.g., Islander => I slander. => TABLOID WRITER).  I didn't care for all of the theme answers, ELECTION LOSER seems too specific, CASINO WORKER seems too general, PONZI SCHEMER sounds made up, but it's a cute theme and a good puzzle, except for maybe that little section that tripped me up.  :)
I threw down SKOPJE (Macedonian capital) with no crosses; I had just looked up the European capitals earlier that week and was happy to put that to use.  I had OSIER for Basketry fiber and didn't want to change it until I absolutely had to.
Favorite entry:  ART MAJORS (Drawers in some college dorm rooms?)
Crosswordese of the Day:  There are two important SERTs to know, the 28 times the name has appeared.  A Spanish muralist named Jose Maria SERT, who among other things, painted Rockefeller Center, the GE Building, and the Palais des Nations.  Then there is Jose Luis SERT, the Spanish architect, who is responsible for the Miro Museum (as we saw in this puzzle), and the Harvard Science Center.

06/28/10, Monday.
Constructor:  Joel Fagliano
Time:  Correct in 4:00 flat, breaking the old record, done twice, of 4:05.
Theme:  xAxA???? words, where x represents the same letter.  PAPABEAR, for example.  There are 6 total entries.
This is Joel Fagliano's second puzzle in the NYT.  Fantastically Scrabbly and lots of lively entries besides.
Favorite entry:  JEWFRO (Curly ethnic hairstyle, colloquially).  Nice.
Crosswordese of the Day:  GAEL has appeared 31 times.  Usually it refers to a Scottish person / Celt / Highlander.  There is also a food critic named GAEL Greene.  The also crossword-friendly IONA College's team is the GAELs, as well.

06/29/10, Tuesday.
Constructor:  Peter A. Collins
Time:  WRONG after 6:55.  After breaking my Monday record the previous day, I was ready to take on Tuesday and maybe break the five minute mark, but not THIS Tuesday.  If I had paid more attention to the placement of the theme entries, I would've at least finished correctly, but Equus quagga meant nothing to me (or rather, it meant Horse - nothing), I didn't know the French city in 1944 fighting, even with MET?, I didn't know the singer India ARIE, and I didn't know the heroine of Verdi's "Il Travatore," even with LEONOR?.  I settled on SABRA after giving up, though I knew that was wrong, and could've deduced further since METS and ARIA can both be clued much better.  At the almost-seven-minute point, though, I was just concerned with ending it.
Theme:  Black-and-white animals.  There are five of them.  Two eleven-lettered (SNOW LEOPARD, KILLER WHALE), three five-lettered (PANDA crossing the AND in BLACK / AND / WHITE, plus SKUNK and ZEBRA).
Favorite entry:  SO WHAT ("Who cares?")  ... That's the spirit.
Crosswordese of the Day:  ARIE has appeared 29 times, and 28 times it refers to one of two people:  Singer India.___, or Indy 500 champ Luyendyk.  The other time, Cathy Millhauser just decided to mess with us and clued it as German opera part.  Yeesh.

06/30/10, Wednesday.
Constructor:  Kristian House
Time:  Correct in 5:46.  Another new Wednesday record!  Every Wednesday has been a new Wednesday record so far, but 5:46 is quick; I don't know if I'm going to beat that.
Theme:  One-named singers in punny phrases, e.g. HARBORSEAL (Protect the "Kiss from a Rose" singer from the cops?)
Pretty straightforward, and everything was at least a little familiar.  All of my guesses were right, pretty much.
Crosswordese of the Day:  This puzzle had some classic crosswordese, but I'm going to go with the one I needed all crosses on:  CRI.  CRI has appeared 47 times.  Most often it is clued as Dernier ___ (the latest thing, or the latest fashion).  Sometimes it is clued as ___ de coeur, which is a pained shout.  For the most difficult puzzles, it is clued merely as a French shout.

06/22/10, Barry C. Silk

Day:  Tuesday
Time:  5:12.  Would've been sooner but I wanted to go through the alphabet, being sure of neither GLUT or JUTE.  One second shy of my record.
Correct:  Yes.
Theme:  Four theme entries begin with a word that can come after the word Ghost.

All right, pretty straightforward theme, four words that come after Ghost.  Buster has to be my favorite, though if I made this puzzle, I would've inclued "World," despite being relatively unknown, just because I am on a mission to let as many people know abot that movie/graphic novel as possible.  Two of the crosswords I have made myself have incorporated that theme:  Enid/Rebecca/Enid & Rebecca, and in a Halloween theme, GHOSTWORLD
Well put together, an obvious complaint at TENOF / ALOTOF at the O in both OFs, but other than that, all right.

Things I didn't know:
SELA (Ward of "The Fugitive," 1973) ... Though I should know it by now, and I did know it at SEL?, otherwise I would've been stuck at...
MEHTA (Conductor Zubin) ... Another name I'm sure I've run across, and who shares his name with the A in SELA.
CAREW (Rod with seven batting championships) ... I mostly knew, though I didn't know how to spell it or anything; just from the Beastie Boys lyric, "And I've got mad hits like I was Rod Carew."
JUTE (Rope fiber) ... This might be familiar from Scrabble...

Favorite entries:
BUSTERBROWN (Old comics boy with the dog Tige) ... I didn't exactly know this either, but I know this as an addition to a snippy sentence:  "Where do you think you're going, Buster Brown?", e.g.
SIDEDOOR (Delivery entrance, maybe)
BANDITOS (South-of-the-border outlaws) ... Adding a little bit of flavor to the puzzle

Favorite clues:
Female TV dog played by males (LASSIE) ... I knew this from this strange fact
Move like a moth (FLIT)
Occasionally punted comics canine (ODIE) ... More dogs, nice.

Crosswordese of the Day: 
Another puzzle with almost none, so today I'm going to do a special on that elusive combination, ETE.
Today is its 200th WSE NYT puzzle appearance!  That's a big deal, right?
Clues that don't mention summer specifically:
Time off from l'école, When Paris is burning?, Valéry's vacation time, Joan Miro's "L'___", Quebec's Festival d'___,  When Nancy bakes?, Cannes heat?
The list goes on.

06/21/10, Fred Piscop

Day:  Monday
Time:  4:05
Correct:  Yes.
Theme:  Five answers are clued "It ain't hard!"

Pretty straightforward, and I tied my old Monday record.  This is Fred Piscop's 100th WSE NYT puzzle!

Favorite entries:
APROPOS (Pertinent)
ZENITH (Nadir's opposite)
DUCK / SOUP ("It ain't hard!")

Favorite clues:
Chop-chop (RAPIDLY)
Drag queen's wrap (BOA)
Uses a Kindle, e.g. (READS) ... Later in the week, I would imagine this would drop the ", e.g."

This puzzle is very attractively filled, with almost no "crosswordese," so I will choose the word arbitrarily.

Crosswordese of the Day:
CLIO has appeared 37 times, either as the Muse (whose domain is history), or as the advertising/commercial/Madison Avenue award.

06/20/10, Todd Gross & Ashish Vengsarkar, "Publishing Trade"

Day:  Sunday
Time:  37:47 wrong, 38:10 correct
Correct:  No.
Theme:  Titles of novels switch two adjacent letters and are clued to reference this switch (e.g., A FAREWELL TO ARMS => A FAREWELL TO RAMS, clued:  "Football team leaves L.A."? [Ernest Hemingway]

Names I didn't know:
C.I.A. director LEON Panetta
New Hampshire's KEENE State College
Ralph Vaughn William's "A SEA Symphony"
2006 Andrea Bocelli album AMORE (though I guessed it off of ???RE)
ATTILA was a Verdi opera.  I wanted to put OTELLO, but was pretty sure Start to freeze? was ANTI
ENNA is a central Sicily city
Former Swedish P.M. OLOF Palme
ALANA-Dale, the 1902 Kentucky Derby winner
Film director Pier PAOLO Pasolini
YVONNE Craig, who played Batgirl
Tom HAGEN, Vito's adopted son and consigliere in "The Godfather"
ESPN's OREL Hershiser
Astrologer JEANE Dixon
Record exec IRV Gotti

More things I didn't know:
ANIS is a Spanish liqueur
VOLS is a Knoxville team, to fans
MISE en place (putting in place:  Fr.)
VSO is Brandy letters
GARE is a French rail station
RYA is a Scandinavian rug
ACRE is a port in the eastern Mediterranean ... Why they clued it this way, I have no idea
NAOH is a caustic soda, to a chemist.  Even ??OH left it open, and I had no idea anyway.
ASONIA is tone-deafness
Ross taught at NYU on Friends, though that was my first guess, I needed at least YU to get it.

And those are just answers, there's more to be said about clues containing words I don't know, but I'm ready to be done with this puzzle.  The theme is straightforward (though I didn't know all of the original books used, namely A PERFECT (PREFECT) SPY and INFINITE JETS (I'm guessing JEST).

There were three 1x1 or 1x2 chunks I simply did not know:
HA?EN x ?ARE (Tom ___, Vito's adopted son and consigliere in "The Godfather"), (French rail station) ... Though I guessed G correctly
ASO??A x A?IS, M?SE (Tone deafness), (Spanish liqueur), (___ en place (putting in place: Fr.)) ... though again I guessed NI correctly, based on -SON-
BRIB??LE x ?CRE, ?OIL (Venal), (Port in the eastern Mediterranean), (Swelter) ... Venal I simply don't know, I wanted ?CRE to be anything *but* ACRE, and I thought TOIL worked better for Swelter than ROIL, which it might, but the answer was BRIBABLE, ACRE, and BOIL.

Not to be difficult, but not much stood out to me as sparkling fill in this puzzle.  I guess the 6x4 chunks in the NW and SE were supposed to make up for it.
Favorite entries:
BIKINI TOP (Two-piece part)
FRESH AIR (You might step out to get some)
SOBERED UP (Came down)
HONEST ABE (White House nickname)

Favorite clues:
Writer who wrote "A bear, however hard he tries, / Grows tubby without exercise" (AA MILNE) ... No crosses
Company whose logo contains its name crossing itself (BAYER) ... That's how it looks on the pill, anyway
Start of many a rap moniker (LIL)

By the way, OLETA appeared for the first time Friday, clued as the river, and appeared for the second time today (two days later), as the singer.

Crosswordese of the Day:
Because there's just so much of it going on today, I'm going to triple it today, too.
ANIS has appeared 18 times, either as a Spanish liqueur, a French cordial flavoring, or as (Black) cuckoos.
ENNA has appeared 18 times, on days other than Friday and Saturday they'll include the word Sicilian, but on those days they'll either leave it generically Italian or give other reference points.
MISE has appeared 6 times, and the other five times it has been clued instead as ___ en scène, which is a stage setting.

06/18/10, Samuel A. Donaldson

Day:  Saturday
Time:  34:40

First of all, for the most part, I really like this puzzle.  Quad-stacks all the way around are pretty nice, and how could I say no to the debut of JONATHAN (I had ?O???H?? when I looked at the clue, "Swift, e.g.", and knew it instantly).
I was right in tune for the first part, and had only a few letters in the middle and the entire NE section left at the 13:00 mark.
Instant throwdowns included:
ARTI (Class in which some basic strokes are learned)
RECONSIDER (Think again)
ODON (Use excessively, briefly)
JONATHAN (Swift, e.g.)
KTWO (Peak on the Pakistani-Chinese border)
ODOREATER (Something good for the sole?)
HOLESINONE (Drives directly to the final destination?)
NEEDLENOSE (Kind of pliers)
ETAL (Indexing abbr.)
TENSER (Less easygoing)
LONER (One not mixing well)
ELSE (Instead)
NEED (Triage consideration)

And the rest were pretty straightforward, or gettable from crosses, though I put PILOT for Traffic guide, and was sure enough of it that I kept HOLIPERSON, thinking it was some strange compound word I was unfamiliar with.
Until the NE corner.
First, I had ATIE for "Have ___ (be connected)," and I throw down an S at the end of "Attends," thinking there's no way they could fit an -S verb plus a preposition in four letters.  Words said with a look of innocence, I thought, probably was of the form ??ME, and since the E crossed the second-to-last letter of a past tense (Added to the database), and the last letter of Added to the database was the last letter of another past-tense (Took back), I had in that corner
for the longest time.
So, for "Added to the database," I had ?ES???ED, and when I figured out SUSTAINED, and Have AN IN, ?NS??DED.  Likely didn't begin with an I, based on the top word, so ENS???DED, and then ENS?R?DED when I felt pretty confident about RUSTLER.
After recognizing the first D, I considered it could be ENTEREDIN, even though I didn't know how "Attends" could end in a T.  I got NOT I from there, and REWON, though I had to put that down before convincing myself it made sense for (Took back).  SELENE, WAISTLINE, ONSALENOW, and ISAT (Attends...) finally fell, then WOVE, leaving
SA?E and VIA?ENETO.  VIAVENETO sounds right, and I guess a SAVE could be a closer's triumph... but in actuality the name place was not recognizable to me, and I thought about what a "closer" was; it's someone who makes a sale.  So I put SALE and VIALENETO instead... my first answer was right.
Finally the little bit of unattractiveness in the middle.  Unknown figure skater + Unknown German word (that I recognized from crosswords, but only really remembered the form vowel-S-vowel-consonant) + No mere jaunt, TR??, which sounded enough like a pace to me for me to decide on TROT, TULIK, and OSEL, instead of TREK, KULIK, and ESEL.

Samuel A. Donaldson is officially the first double-tagged constructor in my crossword blog!  I thought I would have to wait until next month for that.  Two puzzles of his published two weeks apart.

Favorite entries:
JONATHAN (Swift, e.g.) ... What can I say, I'm an egotist.
KTWO (Peak on the Pakistani-Chinese border) ... Also making its debut
THENATURAL (Moniker for a ballplayer with a bat named Wonderboy)
ASSEENONTV (Start of some pitches)
ONSALENOW (End of some pitches) ... The same type of pitches!
POPUPMENU (Result of some hovering) ... Great clue, too
CRAPSTABLE (Place to use a rake) ... I like this clue, also.

Favorite clues:
See people (POPES) ... Fantastic trickery.
Drives directly to the final destination? (HOLESINONE) ... Got it with no crosses; I guess the drive-golf connection is emblazoned into my mind.
Class in which some basic strokes are learned (ARTI) ... Got this one with just a likely I in the last spot.  SWIMMINGI?  Doesn't fit.  Must be ARTI.
It often grows in winter (WAISTLINE) ... I wanted to make this about snow, and then I almost resorted to making it MISTLETOE or something.
Plus the ones above.

Also of note, this puzzle only has two three-letter words, and one of them is tied with another entry (SEA URCHIN).  FIS is the other one, and it's clue, Hi-___ leaves it nice and ambiguous as to whether it's FIS or RES (though when I got to that clue, I had already entered PORTFOLIO, and had F??).

Crosswordese of the Day:
Let's do another triple-play of Saturday crosswordese, since, while they are relatively common letters and are not as in the language (especially the German one...), they don't appear individually very often, but they're important to know.  There, I feel justified now.
ESEL has appeared 5 times, as German donkey, or, when the cluer wants to be cute, Düsseldorf donkey.
MALA has appeared 13 times, 12 times clued as ___ fide, and on days before Friday, with the added hint (in bad faith).  On Fridays and Saturdays, this hint was left off, leaving people like me to think the first A is wrong, because clearly this is supposed to be BONA fide.  The other time it was clued as Actress Powers of "Cyrano de Bergerac."  What a ... bad... name.
IRENEE has appeared 3 times, always as part of E.I. du Pont (Eleuthère Irénée du Pont), of the American chemical company DuPont.

06/18/10, Karen M. Tracey

Day:  Friday
Time:  37:04
Correct:  No, could not get the ESE section (or the end of RETICENT, which I tried to make RETICULE), and didn't know ?E?BOLT, so went with TEEBOLT, rather than HEXBOLT, and HAL instead of CAL for the twin, plus POSE (Front)/QUIPELLA (Track betting option) instead of NOSE/QUINELLA.  Yikes.

When done correctly, this puzzle has two Z's, two Q's, an X, and a J.  I started the puzzle while still a little intoxicated, stopping at the 14:15 mark with not too much filled in except the NE section, QUICKDRAWMCGRAW (which I put down almost instantly, I think off of the C in SNOCONE, which I also put down instantly based on the S from 23-Across's supposed plural), and UNROLLED/ICESKATE/UNCOLA/IRENE/POSE/ELK.
When I came back to it, I caught FUELTANK, and then, based on the U's position, arbitrarily decided to see if a Q could go above it, which is when AQUAFINA revealed itself to me, and ZAFTIG/ZEPPELIN were not far behind.  NAK??ASA??????? gave me NAKEDASAJAYBIRD, but a lot of this puzzle was waiting until vaguely familiar words came to mind that would fit.
Example, PUENTE (Spanish bridge) I know only as TITO. 
BAOBAB I only know from crosswords; mostly constructing and it appeared in a Stanley Newman puzzle, as well
I've never heard of Poland Spring, and wanted to make it a soap more than a bottled water
I had R?ATA for LIANA (Bushrope) (Allowing the ? to be I or E), I'm still not familiar with LIANA.
Labyrinth as a clue for INNER EAR, I still don't get.
I've heard of ROSCOE the name, but I didn't know it as a gangster's piece
Longtime drink nickname, with "the," I had five letters of UNCOLA before putting it in; I thought that was a brief nickname in the late '90s or so.
CAL, complete unknown, I went with HAL.
JAMAL, complete unknown, though I guessed right (though FOCAL for Middle was just enough out of my comfort zone, I was willing to consider a JAMU? name)
HEXBOLT is maybe familiar
LEGER, I am not familiar with, nor French caricaturist HONORE Daumier
I pulled the name ROYKO out of who knows where.
I had never heard of crias, so I just waited for ?LA??S to become a plural animal
Pearl Harbor code word, apparently TORA.  Good to know.
I don't know the meaning of the word garrulous, or RETICENT for that matter.  RETICENT is quiet and reserved, which is what I would've guessed.
I didn't know ADEPT could be a noun, and I waited a while to finally put that down.
I still don't get PAL for Alter ego, either
Or BORER for Uninvited cornfield guest, it's too generic, I guess.
I'd never heard of the soprano Christiane EDA-Pierre, though that'll be the word for the day.
QUINELLA  (Track betting option), I had wrong too.  I'm not familiar with that term.  (I had QUIPELLA)
For "Front" I put POSE, though I considered NOSE, I figured POSE was better.
COX, Stroking coordinator (Butt-head:  heh heh) ... Anyway, not familiar with this either.
Because I wanted RETICULE instead of RETICENT, and because from an attempt to construct a days-of-the-week rebus I know all the words with the sequence TUE, I tried to make "It might hide a dimple" STATUE (As in, the sculptor might choose not to include it?), and VIRTUE (Dimple meaning flaw in one's character), though I was relatively sure PAL, overseas had to be AMI.
ERMINE is a regal trim.  Didn't know this either.
Nor did I know John RAITT, and no amount of staring at ??IT?S was going to show it to me (especially ??ITES from the RETICULE).
I had EASES for Lulls for a while, before finally changing it to RESTS, which seems just off enough for me to want to change it.
OLETA, complete unknown to me, and apparently this is its debut.
The opposite of bas is HAUT, but I don't know either of these words.  Looking it up, it seems HAUT means high, so I guess BAS means low.
In general, I didn't feel sure of most of the answers I put in, and coupled with a lot that I simply didn't know, this puzzle was difficult for me.

Favorite entries:
ZEPPELIN (Early 20th-century mode of transportation) ... But that's my less favorite meaning
QUICKDRAWMCGRAW (Baba Looey was his deputy) ... Not his debut, but a fun answer
ZAFTIG (Well-proportioned)
NAKEDASAJAYBIRD (Like all new deliveries?) ... such a quaint expression.

Favorite clues:
One who's never asked for a hand?  (BACHELOR) ... in... MARRIAGE! (- Robot Devil)
Devil's wear?  (ICESKATE) ... I had just earlier in the day clued TAIL as "Part of a devil costume"
Not fast (EAT) ... I also like that I got this pretty quickly

Crosswordese of the Day:
EDA has appeared 42 times, as of today, and 37 of the first 38 times, it was clued as the author LeShan.  EDA LeShan.  The other time it as Department of Commerce div.
Twice it was clued as it was today, Soprano/Coloratura Christiane ___-Pierre
The one other clue for it was ___ Reiss Merin, babysitter player in "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead".

I'm also going to make a note that this is the debut of OLETA, clued as "River that drains the Everglades into Biscayne Bay."  The state park named for it is the largest urban park in Florida.

I think better known is OLETA Adams, the American jazz/soul singer.  She collaborated with Tears for Fears first, and her cover of Brenda Russell's "Get Here" was nominated for a Grammy.  She also has a 2006 album called "Christmas Time with OLETA," the sort of first-name recognition (even if it was self-decided) that crossword puzzles can use.

06/17/10, Corey Rubin

Day:  Thursday
Time:  13:00
Correct:  No.  Had INHAND instead of ONHAND, and didn't check Cutesy-___ to know it wasn't PIO but POO.
Theme:  JOY appears in six squares, along with the bonus answer ODE TO JOY, whih references the 15-letter answer across the middle, BEETHOVEN'S NINTH.

I do enjoy a good rebus, my "Aha!" moment came when I saw "Dubliners" author was supposed to be 3 letters.  I immediately threw down [JOY][C][E] and then checked the crosses, which eventually worked out.
Unfortunately, though there are a few instances where the JOY works (ALMOND JOY, ODE TO JOY, JOY LUCK CLUB, JOYSTICK, JOYNER), a lot of the rest felt forced.  JOYRIDING instead of JOYRIDE was just because of the symmetry, NO JOY + FOR JOY + ENJOYABLE + OVERJOYED is a drag.
Everything about the fill was pretty shaky for me.  BIBB lettuce was the first thing to go in, and I thought Chris ISAAK spelled his name with a Z, whch made me put EZRA instead of ESAU.  I had INHERE before INHAND, and NAY instead of NAE.  EMB and HOD (the two ends of the big answer) are pretty much unknowns to me (EMB I'm guessing is short for Embroidery something, or Embroiderer, or...?).  I had MISS instead of ALPS, too.  The last thing I entered was the N in the E?ES (Hydrocarbon suffixes)/O?NA (Tony-nominated choreographer White) cross, where I went through the alphabet trying to decide what best fit.

Favorite entries:
SKYLAB (1973 NASA launch) ... It's just a cool name.
JOYSTICK (Gamer's device) ... Being a bit of an old-school gamer myself, you see...
ALMOND JOY (Hershey's brand) ... Sometimes you feel like a nut...

Favorite clues:
Hit 2006 film banned in every Arab country except Lebanon (BORAT) ... Neat, and very believeable
Sophocle skill (IRONY) ... OK, maybe I just like the word
Blue (BAWDY) ... Tricky.  I almost put BAWLY just because I wanted Blue to mean Sad.

Needed all crosses:
I LOVE / A PIANO (An Irving Berlin song) ... Which I just now parsed, thinking APIANO was the name of a place.
EMB (Attaché's place:  Abbr.) ... Like I said, I don't know what EMB is standing for here.
HOD (Container on a pole) ... Sounds like fishing, so I wanted it to be ROD at first
JOYNER (Al ___, 1984 gold medalist in the triple jump) ... Symmetry and the JOY LUCK CLUB gave me the first half of his name.
UNES (Quelques-___ (Some: Fr.)) ... Foreign-language partials, that's a last-ditch.

Crosswordese of the Day:
So much to choose from, really, but I'm going to go with the crosswordy-looking ONNA, who has been clued exclusively as the choreographer White of "Oliver!" and "The Music Man," all four times she has appeared.  She had been nominated for a Tony eight times, but never won, and she died in 2005.  I see the name ONNA and think of the Japanese for "woman."
Since that's only appeared 4 times (the last time almost 12 years ago), I'll throw in UNES, too, which has appeared 8 times, and has used the clue from today, or the even less attractive way to clue it, as "French articles" (or "Articles in Arles").  I wouldn't want to see ANS or THES, UNES is even worse.

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