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


fermatprime said...


Thanks, Mark and Gary!

Fun puzzle! Great theme!

ERDRITCH was perped. Otherwise, with a little patience, everything filled in.

Have a piece of walnut stuck in a tooth. Any suggestions as to how to remove it? (Have tried all sorts of toothpicks and broken a few fingernails!)


George Barany said...

What a delightful theme by @Mark Bickham, and an entertaining description by @Husker Gary.

I wrote previously, but would like to reiterate now, about our metapuzzle contest called Eliminating the Competition that ends on February 8. Winners at either of two levels (Master, Open) are then eligible for some fun prizes. I hope that many of you can give it a shot!

I also want to tell you about a wonderful tribute puzzle by @John Child, called Steppin' Out, which honors an important person in crossword puzzle history, on an auspicious anniversary this month (January 2016). I hope that you like that one, too.

Barry G. said...

Morning, all!

Hmmmm... I thought there was something a little OFF with this puzzle... ^_^

Mostly smooth going, but I ended up crashing and burning a bit in the NW. I had COTE instead of COVE and had no idea about ERDRICH, so I was left staring at ETERAN_ANON for the longest time wondering here I had gone wrong. I finally played "Guess a Letter" until I got ETERANDANON, which I was finally able to parse as ETER AND ANON. Still didn't make any sense to me, but I the light bulb finally went on and I made the switch to EVER AND ANON. Not a phrase I'm particularly familiar with, but I have heard it before. Just couldn't think of it for awhile.

Elsewhere, I was sure ROOF had to be wrong since it didn't fit the clue. After the solve, but before I came here, I figured out it referred to occasions where people leave their milk shakes on the roof of their car and drive off with the shake still there. I've never heard of a shake shingle before, so I'm sticking with my interpretation...

desper-otto said...

Good morning!

This one had an old-timey feel about it with expressions like "took leave of," "ever and anon" and "lets at." Nicely done, Mark and Husker. Hand up for LENO. Also went with VFR before VIS showed up.

Husker, what's so special about the 7 of diamonds. I don't get that one.

DW's got a spare tire on the back of her CRV. I've got one just above my belt.

I'm one who's in that RH-negative minority. The Navy got it wrong and put A+ on my dog tags.

It seems to me that the NFL season runs from March thru February. OR NOT.

WVA -- watched Mine Wars on PBS this past week. Interesting. I was not aware of that chapter in American History.

Lemonade714 said...

Like the rest I did not know ERDRICH. I did like the grid and all the Shakespeare. Jay Mohr now hosts a sports talk show on the radio so his name was close by when LENO was wrong.

The dev n of diamonds trick was cool.

Barry, here in SoFla CEDAR SHAKES are very common roofing material.

Do we have football fans who will watch the new and improved pro bowl?

Mark always delivers and thanks Gary for all your work

Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

This was a lot of fun with no major hang-ups. Leno before Mohr but I knew Erdrich right off the bat. Her husband was a writer, also, but I can't remember his name.

Thanks, Mark, for a nice Sunday stroll and, thanks, Gary, for guiding us along and pinch-hitting for CC.

Have a great day.

Lucina said...

Hello, friends!
Some friends were encountered in this puzzle, too, such as Louis ERDRICH though, Irish Miss, I thought her husband Michael was the better writer and was sad when he committed suicide presumably over accusations of molesting his children.

Didn't know MOHR but OPIE forced LENO out and had no idea about LILA McCann or EMMA but they perped nicely.

It was a slow slog but with concentration I finished all except IRWIN as I couldn't get rid of STAT. Drat DFI.

Have a beautiful Sunday, everyone! Later.

maripro said...

Great puzzle and write-up. Thanks Mark and Husker Gary.
I messed up when I guessed elah instead of el al. Silly mistake, although in my defense I've never heard of Aslan.
I did the whole puzzle without realizing that the offs were centered.
Have a lovely day everyone.

Anonymous said...

MARES and EWES are not "farm girls"; those would be FILLIES and LAMBS, respectively. Cf. COWS and HEIFERS.

A CEO might be a "board VIP," but not necessarily: He might not even own any stock.

"Occasionally" = EVER AND ANON? I don't think so. . . .

C6D6 Peg said...

Nice "offering" from Mark, and easily solved, with help from perps.

Very nice write-up, HG, and loved the Seven of Diamonds. Wasn't that the card that showed up in the movie "Now You See Me"? Great movie, BTW.

Dudley said...

Hello Puzzlers -

Impressive grid today - as usual, I'm amazed that somebody could think up enough symmetrical theme answers, and then weave 'em into a complex puzzle like this. Nicely done, Mark!

Howdy Husker, I thought I recognized your style today!

Lemonade714 said...

maripro, ASLAN is the lion in The Chronicles of Narnia the C.S. Lewis fantasy books. It may be the Mr. Beaver is not too well known.

It is reassuring that there is always someone in our group who know the things I do not know. Thanks Lucinda, the information about her husband may very well make ERDRICH stick in my mind.

Big Easy said...

Well I see 'see see' took a day of and HG picked up the slack. I noticed the OFFs early but as usual I couldn't put two and two together to make the puzzle easier. By the time I filled OFF CENTER, all the theme filled were dont. I had a few unknowns that were solved by perps- Jay MOHR, ERDRICH, STAMOS, ASLAN, and three unknowns that kept me from completing the puzzle-LILA, EMMA, and ARRAS. I tried ERMA and LITA/LISA but couldn't work SLIMINESS into the puzzle so a late DNF.

I had to laugh because TGIF, aka T.G.I. Friday's, was the restaurant that we ate at Friday night between the two performances by Dr. John.

D-O-- you're not the only one with a spare tire. Two ways to lose it-exercise more and eat less OR wear bigger pants and use suspenders. Unfortunately I won't use any of my suggestions.
ANON@11:17 'ever and ____' used to be in a puzzle every week 30 years ago.
LUCINA- at least you got SLIMINESS out without knowing LILA or EMMA- I couldn't. So with that remark, I'll TAKE LEAVE OF the fellow SHIP OF FOOLS, remove my SWEATSHIRT(s) and go to a Mardi Gras parade. D-O; to help remove my 'spare tire' I'll have a diet of fried chicken, king cake, and wash it down with beer. The 'Band Perry' is playing tonight-FREE.

Argyle said...

So Food service trade can mean a restaurant, eh?

Lucina said...

Yes, that's one of the truly wonderful things about this Blog: we share and benefit from the knowledge of others. I'm always grateful for that.

I envy you your diet. It's obvious you don't suffer from diabetes!

PK said...

Hi Y'all! Wow, what a lot of stuff in this puzzle, Mark, good one! I kept moving around getting letters or words here and there until it filled. Had noted a lot of OFFs so wasn't surprised at the reveal. However, I kept looking for a pun, of which there were nun. Was way OFF about that.

Cassis aperitif = KIR? two out of three words were unknown and the other, I was not sure of the meaning.

Meal opener = OAT? Real misdirect here. Took A SEC to suss that.

Lots of multiple word fillers. A few red-letter vowel runs didn't help at all.

Dinner DATE, not bell or time. Haven't had a DATE in so long, never thought of that.

High degree = DOCTORATE. My child with the most education makes the least money. Has not had a full-time job in years and now is juggling four part-time jobs to stay afloat.

Didn't know ERDRICH, all perps. Got IRWIN from perps then waited and waited....but not for GODOT.

Knew ASLAN only because my granddaughter played Mrs. Beaver in a school production.

Thanks, Gary, thought it was you. Hope C.C. is well.

Paul in Montebello said...

Easy, about like Tuesday difficulty.

Misty said...

Not too easy, not too hard for a Sunday puzzle--thanks, Mark. I had to cheat a little, but not too much, and enjoyed the theme, which helped a lot. Thanks for the write-up, Husker.

Hi C.C., hope all is well with you.

I have a friend from Vermont visiting this weekend and was looking forward to showing off our sunny beaches and the like. Instead, we're having a miserable raining and windy Saturday and Sunday making it almost impossible to go out and do things. Bad luck on this one, after a beautiful sunny week.

Have a great day, everybody!

inanehiker said...

Slow and steady - but finally finished. Wonderful, creative theme which made the theme answers easier than the fill for me. ERDRICH came out of the temporal lobes - we read her book The Round House for book cluba few years ago. Just finished "A Man called Ove" by Fredrick Backman for this month's book club, really entertaining quick read. The main character reminds me of the Norwegian bachelor farmers on A Prairie Home Companion.

Thanks Mark and HG- I'm with Dudley - as I was reading I thought - this doesn't sound like CC but more like Gary! Our beautiful warm weekend is slipping away fast - big storms are supposed to come Tues/Wed - so stay safe to those affected.

CrossEyedDave said...

This puzzle was right up my baliwick...

CrossEyedDave said...

Um, er, Bailiwick...

Lucina said...

Oh, my goodness! I was in such a rush this morning that didn't even notice Gary's byline! I apologize and thank you for your efforts. I also hope C.C. is all right.

Lemonade and Dudley:
I apologize to both of you for mistaken identities and wrongly attributing Lemonade's remarks to Dudley. Oh, my, I'm a mess today.

I agree that EVER AND ANON was often used in puzzles for many years. Lately, not much.

It may be too late as I only now saw your question about the stuck walnut. Do you have dental floss? I find that effective when anything gets lodged between my teeth.

Jayce said...

This puzzle was really fun, I thought. After I got the reveal entry I looked back at THEOFFICE and took 5 minutes to finally realize the OFF was NOT off center. Very imaginative, Mr. Bickham!
Sometimes several of us don't know the same things, such as ERDRICH, LILA, and EMMA as clued. Yes, I know, many of you DID know those.
CrossEyedDave, those engineering "fails" cracked me up. I have made my share of goofs, of course. One of the more spectacular ones was when I shorted out the power and ground traces on a circuit board; there were some serious sparks and the copper trace on the board heated up and melted when it was turned on. Then there was stinkiest, most smelly error I made, which is a surprisingly common and easy-to-make mistake: I mounted a tantalum capacitor backwards and when the circuit was turned on the capacitor literally smoked. The thing is, those suckers stink like hell when that happens; it took quite a while to air out the lab.
Speaking of dental floss, at a Chinese restaurant that my wife and I were dining at, our waiter, who was Chinese, a confessed stand-up comic wannabe, asked us, as a joke, what a Chinese person uses as a blindfold. You already know the answer. You had to be there, because the way he told it was truly funny.
Best wishes to you all.

Jayce said...

Oh, and Gary, terrific write-up today. Your time and effort are greatly appreciated.

PK said...

But Jayce, I DO NOT know the answer to "what a Chinese person uses as a blindfold."

Anonymous T said...

Sunday Lurker says...

HG - Great writeup. Thanks. I leaned a thing or two today sans puzzle play.

CED - re: second to final fail: Who let you in our data center? [It was that bad once]. Did you ever get your vectors to match? Also, if you watch the Yale class, you'd see at ~20m why your base amp picked up CB radio.

Jayce - In my early EE labs I too learned that electronics run on smoke - let out the smoke and it no workie no more :-)

Along those lines, burnt electronics has a very particular smell. I had an oven that blew something on the board. I took out the board and sniffed it. DW looked at me as if I was nuts (or worried I needed a cheep high). I found the burnt relay and replaced it. [note to self afterwards - never use the self-cleaning feature.]

I'll share one of my big fails - remotely changing firewall rules w/o a time-based fail-back. I was doing modifications at 2a and committed changes that locked me (and all other traffic across it) out. Calling at 2:30a to get building/console access does not make for a happy client.

Big E - Friday I'll be joining y'all in NOLA for Mardi Gras. Save me some King Cake!

Cheers, -T

Anonymous T said...

HG - Re: card trick. Of course, I was one of the millions that "did it wrong." For those who don't get it - there's a 1 in 52 chance of someone thinking "7-diamonds". If you did, your mind was blown 'cuz that's your card! I did it right on my second go ;-)

PK - you posted while I was too... Jayce's story is of a joke playing on the stereotype that Asian's eyes are "squinty." Hence, dental-floss is sufficient to blindfold 1bn people. It's a joke. And funnier since an Asian dude at a Chinese restaurant said it rather than a "round-eye" (what Mr. Dia would call us) like me. :-)

Personally, I love this kind of breaking-down-stereotype humor. In my ute, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy started chipin' away at it and, through humour, sent the message that people is just people and we can all laugh at the barriers in our thinking we once had.

I hope that didn't get to political. I'll let Argyle judge...

Cheers, -T

Jayce said...

"What does a Chinese person use as a blindfold?"
"Dental floss."

Argyle said...

If you have the time, Lucas Replacement Smoke Kit.

Avg Joe said...

Credit where due. 62 Rampy first brought the Lucas replacement smoke article to our attention. It is CLASSIC!

Fun puzzle today. Didn't see the O in the double F entries until the reveal. But it became evident. Thanks for the write up Gary.

Bracing for serious winter here in the plains. Batten down and take care all of you affected.

CrossEyedDave said...

Anonymous T @ 5:01

Still trying to understand the vectors, I was watching another introductory
lecture before I could get to your Yale lecture, (which helped a little.)

I just finished watching the entire Yale lecture, & as far as the math goes,
I was lost at "I twiddle." (how does a twiddle change anything?)But I stuck with it.

Very interesting!

I thought my Bass Booster picked up CB radio due to poor shielding.
But now I see my capacitance values must have been off.
Fun thinking about those old variable capacitors. ( Do they ever use them anymore?)
The longer I watched the more sense I could make of it.

One thing that Professor taught me though,
is that I should be studying Quantum Mechanics...
(No one understands it!)

PK said...

Jayce & AnonT, Thanks for the answer. Since dental floss was mentioned before the joke, I thought that must be it, but I couldn't figure out why. Duh!

Anonymous T said...

Argyle - LOL! I need some of that Lucas for my Alfa Spider. They said the British smoke was just as good as the Italian for insulation. Fingers crossed...

For dinner I did the course-ground mustard, mushroom & cream sauce again for salmon. I'm getting better, but I over-cooked the poor fish. No one but me noticed. Tomorrow is leftover salmon or...

Steve - I've got a 24h sous-vide roast going ala a take on this recipe. I'll let you know.

CED - Yeah, the Yale twiddle-I lost me too; I guess that's why I went to State... I did study a bit of quantum theory in school while simultaneously I didn't.

Cheers, -T

Anonymous said...

like most of these new ones too too cutsy you all are so so smart

Bill G. said...

As an owner of an old MG, I loved the Lucas spoof. Thanks.

Yes, I am too too cutesy and so smart...

Anonymous said...

Oh how I miss Merl.