, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: January 2016


Jan 31, 2016

Sunday Jan 31, 2016 Mark Bickham

Theme: Misaligned 

In Mark's lovely Sunday offering (Sunday? Offering?), he revealed the theme with 

121. Misaligned...or, literally, a perfectly aligned aspect of seven answers in this puzzle: OFF CENTER - as you see below in this mint mistake. 

The twist of course is the fact that Marks's fun theme fill has the word "OFF" in the geometric CENTER of some common phrases. So the theme is OFF CENTER (Misaligned) but the fill consists of the word OFF in the  CENTER of common phrases. Run that around your brain box a few times!

I found the triple stacks of 11 particularly impressive and here are Mark's fun theme fills

21. Place of business : THE OFFICE - Here's the cast from the original UK TV show THE OFFICE starring Ricky Gervais before Steve Carell, et al made it a hit here

23. Powerful display : SHOW OF FORCE - A joint US/South Korea Air Force SHOW OF FORCE intended for a certain party north of the 38th parallel  

39. Recidivists : REPEAT OFFENDERS - The NHTSA says the REPEAT OFFENDER rate for DUI is about 25%. 

48. Olive branch: PEACE OFFERING - After being accused of a horrible crime, Kobe Bryant gave his wife Vanessa a $4M purple diamond ring as a PEACE OFFERING which sports reporters called "The Apology Ring". She initiated divorce proceedings and then called them off eight years later

102. Clique : CIRCLE OF FRIENDS - Some thought it odd that this CIRCLE OF FRIENDS could not find a minority member in NYC for their clique. 

119. Vivien Leigh's last film : SHIP OF FOOLS - 36 years twixt Scarlett O'Hara and Mary Treadwell

93. Red Label spirits : SMIRNOFF VODKA - They get the Bronze Medal in this "Rate The Vodka" poll that was taken of the World's 50 Best Bars. However, it is the top seller world-wide by a large margin.


1. Time to hang on? : A SEC 

5. Dinner __ : DATE

9. Trunk hardware : HASP

13. Future flowers : BUDS

17. Sheltered area : COVE

18. Declare frankly : AVOW

19. NFL Titan, before 1999 : OILER - Earl Campbell running for the Houston OILER team 15 years before they became the alliterative Tennessee Titans. Tony?

20. "But I could be wrong" : OR NOT

25. 49-Down counterpart: Abbr. : SOR

26. "Assuming that's true ... " : IF SO

27. Heap : TON

28. Sics on : LETS AT - I said "Good Night!"

29. Like some guitar music : TWANGY

31. Comic Jay : MOHR - MOHR, you're in for LENO

34. Not nice at all : SNIDE

36. U.S. govt. broadcaster : VOA

38. Mandlikova of '80s tennis : HANA

42. Louise __, National Book Award winner for "The Round House" : ERDRICH - an Ojibwe writer of novels, poetry, and children's books featuring Native American characters and settings

45. Empire with provinces called suyu : INCA - If you remember any of these after you scroll by... 

46. Superman nemesis Luthor : LEX

47. Hebrew for "skyward" : EL AL - Profiling is part of their security procedures

51. Still being tested, as software : IN BETA

53. Objectivism advocate Rand : AYN - Isn't there a 3-letter woman's LAST name we see often here hmmm...

54. Stadium shaker : ROAR

55. "There __ darkness but ignorance": "Twelfth Night" : IS NO

56. Undefined number : ANY - Give this A SEC

57. Thieves' room? : DEN

58. Cheat : ROOK

60. Wound covering : SCAB

62. __ center : MED

63. Sweater sizes: Abbr. : LGES

65. Ancient Roman garment : TUNIC - "Quod tunica spectat ridiculam super te , Caesar" (That TUNIC does look funny on you, Caesar!)  "Et tu, Brute" 

67. Camaro option : T-TOP

69. Where shakes may be seen : ROOF - Shake shingles

71. Udder parts : TEATS - "Quit that snickering or there'll be no recess!"

75. Quarterback Tony : ROMO

77. It receives many returns: Abbr. : IRS - I mail mine (don't trust electronic filing) on April 14th as late as I can. Grrrr....

79. Become less hostile : THAW - We've just had our January THAW this week with temps well into the 40's. Blizzard on Tuesday!

 81. Frigate front : PROW - The other end is called the what?


82. Meas. reduced by fog : VIS - VISiblity abbr. indicated

85. Major conflict : WAR

86. Country singer McCann : LILA

88. Picnic side : SLAW

90. Place for a nail : TOE

91. Van Cleef & __: French jeweler/perfumer : ARPELS - What's that S doing there?

96. Crisis team acronym : SWAT

97. Letters before F? : TGI - Everyday is Friday for me

100. Mr. Knightley's wife, in the novel of the same name : EMMA - Our EMMA at our house

101. Leaning : AT A TILT

106. Olympic hawk : ARES - I suppose a God Of War would be a hawk

107. Teen's opening number? : ONE - 13, 14...

108. Actress Ryan : IRENE - Her most famous role is on her tombstone

109. Close : NEAR

110. Common rejoinder in one-upmanship : OH YEAH -Not exactly pithy

112. "Full House" actor : STAMOS

114. Forest female : DOE

116. Rhein tributary : AARE

118. MLX ÷ X : CVI - We have 
1,060 and tunics are 10 apiece which means we can buy 106 of them

123. Farm girls : MARES and 8 Down. Farm girl : EWE - Some rural girls 

124. Polonius hid behind one : ARRAS - I first saw this in the January 22 puzzle this year

125. Razor brand : ATRA

126. Source : ROOT

127. Blown away : AWED - Even Simon

128. Reddish horse : ROAN

129. General __ chicken : TSO'S

130. Shelter sounds : ARFS


1. Does as expected : ACTS THE PART

2. "But enough about me" follower : SO HOW ARE YOU - We all know people who never utter these words

3. Occasionally : EVER AND ANON - "And EVER AND ANON they made a doubt" - Loves Labours Lost

4. Board VIP : CEO

5. Black toon duck : DAFFY - None of my H.S. Juniors knew him

6. Alamo competitor : AVIS

7. In the future : TO COME

9. Greeting from Kermit : HI HO

10. King in "The Tempest" : ALONSO

11. Put in stitches : SEW

12. Hot-button political platform term : PRO-LIFE

13. Warner __ : BROS - For whom the Black Toon Duck worked

14. Came apart : UNRAVELED

15. High degree : DOCTORATE - At least get one that's worth something 

16. Fr. holy woman : STE

19. Exclusion : OSTRACISM - Heartbreaking to watch on the playground 

20. Quite a bit : OFTEN

22. Fruit often dried : FIG

24. Shipping overnight, perhaps : FEDEXING - The old "noun to a verb" trick

30. Certain undercover cop : NARC

32. Andy's son : OPIE

33. Painter Rousseau : HENRI - Post impressionist (looked it up) and this is cool

35. 32-team gp. : NFL

37. "The Lord of the whole wood," per Mr. Beaver : ASLAN

39. Blood typing concern : RH FACTOR - 85% of white people and 93% of black people are RH+

40. Worker with hides : TANNER

41. Ball girl : DEB - Front of utante? :-) 

43. Suffix with front : IER

44. Sweet talk : COOS

49. Rites group : FRAT

50. Titular character with no lines : GODOT - I think they're still waiting for him

52. "My eye!" in Minsk : NYET

56. "__ Aunt": Little Rascals short : ALFALFA'S - I don't know about his Aunt but the consensus was that Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) was a jerk. He eventually died of a gunshot wound

59. Cassis aperitif : KIR - A French cocktail made with a measure of Crème de Cassis mixed with dry, white wine

61. Starts to bubble, maybe : BOILS - Not if you're watching it

64. NFL season opening mo. : SEP - Next Sunday it's the Super Bowl and then a long wait

66. Monastery garb : COWL

68. Easy read : PRIMER - Just the sight of this PRIMER brings back great memories

70. Extremely : OH SO

72. Production design team member : ART DIRECTOR

73. Said farewell to : TOOK LEAVE OF - Aren't we more familiar with TOOK LEAVE OF his/her senses?

74. Resort area souvenirs : SWEATSHIRTS

76. With "a," eminently skilled at, as disguise : MASTER OF

78. Severe disrepute : SLIMINESS

80. Be carried gently : WAFT

82. Explorer __ da Gama : VASCO - First European to sail around Africa to India. He left 5 yrs. after Columbus went the other way

83. "The Young Lions" novelist : IRWIN SHAW

84. External Jeep attachment : SPARE TIRE - Famously carried on the back of the vehicle

87. Napoleon's légion : ARMEE - French dogfaces 

89. Mountain State: Abbr. : W VA - In the words of John Denver

92. List-limiting letters : ETC

94. Gram : NANA

95. Our Gang assent : OTAY - Unlike Carl Switzer, Billie Thomas below, was a real gentleman who found work as a Technicolor film technician when the Rascals filming stopped
98. Makes it big : GOES FAR

99. Dogpatch conditional : IF'N

103. Rides to the prom : LIMOS

104. Sinatra trademark : FEDORA

105. They may be rough : DRAFTS - Written in the White House on Presidential stationary not on the back of an envelope while on a train. Lincoln edited it the night before and added the tenth and final sentence. Yup, only ten.

110. Black-and-white swimmers : ORCAS

111. Bit of a chuckle : HEE

113. Mimicked : APED

115. "The Good Earth" wife : OLAN

117. Hendrix hairdo : AFRO - Buckwheat?

119. Wee : SMA - A 1909 Sadie Wendell Mitchell poster of scandalous behavior!

120. Granada gold : ORO

121. Meal opener : OAT - Mom used to say OATMEAL will "stick to your ribs"

122. Food service trade org. : NRA - Maybe someone with a potato gun could belong to both this and the other NRA

I'm sure Mark is happy with a very fine puzzle and does not require a BURNT OFFERING and so let's see if there are any "OFF CENTER" remarks to follow. Anyone posting such a comment would probably not be a FIRST OFFENDER

Jan 30, 2016

Saturday, January 30, 2016 Doug Peterson & Patti Varol

Theme: None (90° Turn~?)

Words: 70 (missing J,Q,X)

Blocks: 30

Phew~!  I feel I've not been doing so well lately with my regularly scheduled puzzles, and when my first pass through this one remained about as white as the ground around these parts last week, I figured I was in for another orthorunic beating.  Ironically, it was a Frawnche word (and a sports car) in the Down that helped me gain some traction, and despite a grid with one too many (OK, more like 7 too many) proper names*, I was able to wrap it up - alright, so I cheated on ONE....One 15-letter spanner crossing a 15-letter climber, and some brutal 8- and 6- letter corners - but I have to say, some clever non-fun-sponge cluing;

8. Acted insubordinately : TALKED OUT OF TURN - Once I filled the SE corner, I had enough to suss the "-ED OUT OF..." phrase, and guessed that the 'verb' was TALK

37. Mating setting : CHESS TOURNAMENT - and since we had TURN and "TOURN", I imagine it could make for a "theme"

I found some fascinating chess sets when I went looking for this image; I have always wanted to build my own set, and something original - both indoors and OUT.



1. Entry level? : AGE LIMIT - OK, a little 'meh' on the first clue; I was looking for something a little more clever, like "Ground Floor"

9*. "Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges" co-author : SCALIA

15. Big picture : PANORAMA - I finally saw Star Wars VII - in IMAX 3-D, so that was my thought on 'big picture'

16. Fly-fishing gear : WADERS

17. Wet blanket : BUZZKILL

18. Surfaces : ARISES - dah~!  I was trying to think of a synonym for a horizontal plane, but we're talking verb here

19. Purplish fruit : SLOE

20*. Robert Southey, notably : LAKE POET - my one Google; I had LAKE----, and I suppose if I wasn't feeling a personal urge to get this puzzle solved, I could have put some thought in, and maybe even tried a WAG

22. Got comfy : NESTED

24. Outlying areas : 'BURBS - I was thinking "URBS", yet (su)BURBS did not pop into my mind

27. Juanita's pal : AMIGA - ah.  I had a final "O", but then again, I should have seen it was not Juan but his sister....

30. Leg up : EDGE - legs~?  See 43A.

32. Carrying a grudge : SORE

33. Some trainees : CADETS

35. Fodder bit : OAT

36*. "O Were My Love __ Lilac Fair": Burns : YON

41. Lisbon greeting : OLA - good guess on my part

42. Invoice abbr. : AMounT

43. Forward, in Firenze : AVANTI - oops, had a final "E", and this is why;

LevantE pantyhose

44. Dump, perhaps : SELL - the last time "dump" was in the clues, it messed me up

46*. Michelle of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" : YEOH - the "Y" was my last fill

48*. Zollverein Industrial Complex city : ESSEN - Saturday crossword cluing for a common crossword answer - and I should have WAGed it right away

49. Set of closely related notes : TRIAD - very familiar with this "chord" formation; OK, my guitar cronies, get out your axes and tell my what song this intro, predominantly triads, is from

51. Measure of concern for aerobatic pilots : G-FORCE - waiting for the day this is clued as the good guys from the cartoon "Battle of the Planets"

53. Starbucks order : SOY LATTE

55. Beyond gross : RANK

59. __ call : CATTLE

61*. "Respect for Acting" writer : UTA HAGEN - this one I did get with just --HAG--, but then again, the name makes enough crosswords....

63. Bro : PAISAN

64. Empathize with : RELATE TO

65. Get promoted : ASCEND - pondered something like "RISE UP", but the "P" was not user-friendly

66. Tops in malice : NASTIEST


1. BOLO equivalents : APBs - Be On the Look Out, All-Points Bulletin

2. Caesarean section? : GAUL - har-har

3*. Footwear designer Angiolini : ENZO

4. Pharmacy buys : LOZENGES

5. Exasperate : IRK

6. Submits : MAILS - and a clecho; 26D. Submitted : SENT IN

7. "Gotta run!" : "I'M LATE~!"

9. __ meet : SWAP

10. Evergreen with edible pods : CAROB - ah, similar to cocoa - did not know they were 'evergreens'; I was thinking "what can you eat on a pine, spruce, cedar or yew~?"

11. Parting words : ADIEUs - more Frawnche; see 39D.

12*. Berlioz opera based on the "Aeneid" : LES TROYENS - more more Frawnche; "The Trojans"

13. Land where hurling reportedly originated: Abbr. : IREland - oh, uh, this kind of hurling.  I'm more familiar with the drunken stupor kind....

14. Beast in some fables : ASS

21*. Catherine's husband in "Wuthering Heights" : EDGAR - I know this Edgar

23. "Good __": Alton Brown show : EATS

25*. "Wuthering Heights" author : BRONTË - oops, went with ALCOTT

27. Buttonhole : ACCOST

28*. Composer of an incomplete Tenth Symphony : MAHLER

29. Romantic : IDEALISTIC - ah, not the "intimate" kind of romantic; I was trying to find a link to associate the two clue terms, but it was a little more convoluted than I expected

31. Site of Vulcan's workshop : ETNA - makes sense, but I went looking for a specific reference - found one here

34. Order in the court : STAY

38. 007's watch since 1995 : OMEGA - I'm annoyed that I missed "Spectre" in theatres; gratuitous image for C.C.

39. With, on le menu : AVEC

40. Car with a trident emblem : MASERATI

45*. "Tao Te Ching" sage : LAO TSE

47. Spot in the afternoon : HOT TEA - I got the TEA part; the HOT part was not obvious

50*. Subject of the Robert Shelton biography "No Direction Home" : DYLAN

52. Rational and irrational numbers : REALS

54. Generate interest, in a way : LEND

56*. Miracle Mets star : AGEE - a good WAG

57. Has to spend : NETS - tough to grasp the clue's concept at first, but the answer ties it all in

58. Stomach trouble : KNOT - not ACHE - 100% 100% wrong

59. Pro with schedules : CPA

60. Wireless keyboard inserts : AAs

62. Outline in the Arby's logo : HAT


Jan 29, 2016

Friday, January 29, 2016, Jeffrey Wechsler

Theme: January 29, St. Agnes Eve, Demonstrably!

Our Friday fellow, Jeffrey Wechsler brings us a puzzle with a TOUCH OF EVIL. EVIL is inserted into the theme phrases to create new and evocative phrases. Since we have Satan injected into the grid, I must wonder if Jeffrey knows that today is a Satanic Holiday known by the name of my theme. It appears somehow this Catholic SAINT , the protector of virgins,  has been incorporated into certain Pagan liturgy. I would guess the puzzle grew from realizing that DISH NETWORK plus EVIL would be a grid spanner. Finding (or rather creating) REVILED SNAPPERS was impressive. Of course it may all be just JW continuing his admiration for Orson Welles, for whom he did an NYT tribute puzzle last year containing the same movie.  I could not find much on the subject of Satanic stuff, which is just as well since we do not talk religion  here. We have tons of interesting long fill like CIRCLET, GENERAL,  SILENT G,  SLANTED, JAPANESE,  MEANTIME, AUTOMOBILE, EXONERATES,  SNAKE RIVER,  VA VA VA VOOM.  Maybe JW will tell us his inspiration, in the meantime let us solve.

17A. Threat to the queen's cotton? : ROYAL WEEVIL(11).  We were amused by a clue with this INSECT. Isn't amazing how soon after the blog discussed the "royal we"  it shows up as part of theme.

27A. Satan's broadcaster? : DEVILISH NETWORK (15). DISH network

43A. Really unpopular fish? : REVILED SNAPPERS (15). Red snapper is very popular in SoFla.

57A. 1958 Orson Welles film noir ... and a hint to 17-, 27- and 43-Across : TOUCH OF EVIL (11).
Having a revealer is what made this puzzle doable. Time to work our way through the mine field of tough clues/fill.


1. "If I may interject ... " : AHEM. As she cleared her throat dramatically...then she

5. Stops to smell the roses : PAUSES. Sorry but your cigar is almost gone and the...

11. Briquette's fate : ASH. is falling on my carpet. I want you...

14. Passed : GONE.

15. Potassium hydroxide, e.g. : ALKALI. Ok, back to the puzzle, this took the perps to let me know where the clue was going.

16. Siete menos seis : UNO. Subtraction in Spanish.

19. Water source : TAP. How simple.

20. Hersey's "A Bell for __" : ADANO.

21. Wind dir. : SSE. this familiar Friday fodder?

22. Call forth : EVOKE.

24. Help for a sad BFF : TLCTender Loving Care.

26. Subject of the first picture in Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" : GNOME. Not familiar with this composer or the artist (Viktor Hartmann), and he did not design the Travelocity Gnome.
34. Physical, e.g. : EXAM. Not easy until filled.

35. On the move : ROVING. I had trouble with this clue/fill as the word is in my memory banks associated with 'roving eye' which is not the same as clued here.

36. Plane compartment : BIN. Overhead.

37. Told, as an elaborate tale : WOVE. Rhymes with....

38. Repeating rhythmic pattern used in Cuban music : CLAVE. What?  It does not rhyme with save. Time to LEARN. (3:13)

39. Balderdash : JIVE. According to the online etymology dictionary: 1928, "to deceive playfully," also "empty, misleading talk" (n.) and "a style of fast, lively jazz and dance music," American English, from African-American vernacular, probably of African origin (compare Wolof jev, jeu "talk about someone absent, especially in a disparaging manner"). Related: Jived; jiving. Used from 1938 for "New York City African-American slang."

40. 39-Down carrier : ANA. Wow, we are pulling out all our Friday stuff. This AIRLINE.

41. Deli equipment : SLICER.

42. Protected at sea : ALEE.

46. Rushed : RAN AT. Again simple only after filled by perps.

47. Mauna __ : LOA. Along with KEA, Hawaii volcanic mountains.

48. Expert : MAVEN.

49. "__ Kapital" : DAS. The Karl Marx TOME about economics and society. Read and discuss somewhere but not here.

52. Make whole : UNITE.

56. First woman to land a triple axel in competition : ITO. An amazing skater and a reminder of our dear friend Clear Ayes.

60. Revival prefix : NEO.

61. Overshoot : EXCEED. Expectations.

62. Bear's cry : SELL. Appropriate reference to the stock market now.

63. Philosophy : ISM. Hence Marxism.

64. Trinket : DOODAD. Last week doodah...

65. Town near Padua : ESTE. More fill completely unknown. But I guess I can LEARN.


1. Indian district with three World Heritage Sites : AGRA. Only ONE of which is the Taj Mahal. A young lawyer and his wife toured there but I did not remember the details.

2. Rain protection : HOOD.

3. Irish musician with four Grammys : ENYA. Four letter singer, I did not go with Bono.
4. Transitional period : MEANTIME.

5. Hand analog : PAW. Give me your paw.

6. Pub array : ALES.

7. Oahu entertainers : UKES.

8. Keep : SAVE.

9. Manning taking a hike : ELI. Love the humor here, though despite two Super Bowls many do not love Eli any more. Peyton will try for his 2nd again.

10. 26-Across feature : SILENT-G. Cross reference, hmm there are more.

11. Lot occupant : AUTOMOBILE. I nailed it. It really got me going in solving.

12. Part of Oregon's border : SNAKE RIVER. In this map it is in yellow, Columbia purple. Can you find where CED's camera trip was yesterday? Hell's Canyon would fit the theme today.
13. Last thing in Pandora's box : HOPE. What a fun STORY. He name is from the Greek, the pan meaning "all" like in a pangram and the dora meaning gift.

18. Relax : LOLL.

23. "Cross my heart," e.g. : VOW.

25. Round ornament : CIRCLET. Not really up on this jewelry; seems like a tiara to me.

26. Vague : GENERAL.

27. John of Scotch fame : DEWAR. Do they make any good scotch? Tin?
28. Clears : EXONERATES. What a great word.

29. Ed Norton catchphrase on "The Honeymooners" : VAVAVAVOOM.
30. Firm : SOLID.

31. Climate control systs. : HVACSHeating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

32. Jewel thief portrayer in "The Pink Panther" : NIVEN.
33. They're often bent : KNEES.

39. About 125 million people : JAPANESE.  What a random clue.

41. Not objective : SLANTED.  So many political comments come to mind....

44. Halogen suffix : INE. Can you name the five? Is there a 6th waiting to be discovered?

45. High hair style : POUF.

48. Revealing apparel : MINI.
49. Household glue brand : DUCO.
50. Served very well : ACED. Tennis, anyone.

51. __ butter : SHEA. Also a stadium at one time.

53. "Variations on 'America'" composer : IVES. A wonderful composer (or so I am told) though I only know James Merritt Ives.  LISTEN.

54. List : TILT. If your ship is listing, I hope you swim.

55. How she looks in Paris? : ELLE. Cute clue.

58. Good Grips kitchenware brand : OXO. We get this brand often.

59. "They say there is divinity in __ numbers": Falstaff : ODD. We end with our Friday Shakespeare, this time from the third and final appearance of Falstaff. It is said the play was written at the behest of Queen Elizabeth I.

One last St. Agnes fact; it is a very famous poem by Keats, a poet whose work JW had in his 1/15/16 effort. Coincidence? Okay I talk to myself too much, but now I can talk to you all. Enjoy. Thanks Jeffrey and all who read. Lemonade out.