Dec 31, 2016

Saturday, Dec 31st, 2016, Patti Varol & Doug Peterson

Theme: PV & DP

Words: 70 (missing K,Q)

Blocks: 30

Our third installment from this duo to close out 2016, and this time Patti gets 'top billing'.  A smattering of fills on my first pass, a few gaffes, a few WAGs, and I called it done - but no ta-DA~!  So I had to go back and check where I went wrong, though I was fairly certain it was in the spanner at 34a.; turned out I had another mistake at the proper name for 42a.   Oh well.  Finished within my personal allotted time, and now I am freezing as I compose the write-up; see 31a.  One 15-letter spanner, one 15-letter climber, two 12-letter fills, and paired 10s in the down corners;

34. First volume of a Beverly Cleary series : BEEZUS AND RAMONA - I recognized the author's name, but only the "Ramona" part from any titles

8. "You're skating on thin ice" : DON'T EVEN GO THERE - I had "eveR", since I had no idea about the 15-letter spanner crossing here

23. They're hard to put down : PAGE TURNERS - nailed it.  The last Page Turner I read was "The Racketeer" from John Grisham - now I am on to "The Broker".  I was reluctant to read his stuff because I knew the books revolved around lawyers (and frequently jails/prisons, too) the way Crichton's revolves around genetics, Patterson & Kellerman around murder mystery, etc. - but I am glad I started with "The Litigators", which was quite humorous

43. Comedy team staples : STRAIGHT MEN - I have heard this phrase, but couldn't think of an example - and then I read the list here at the Wiki, and I see quite a few I recognize - which includes James May from the British Top Gear series



1. Not much : JUST A TAD

9. "__ Weeks": classic Van Morrison album : ASTRAL

15. Caravaggio masterpiece that pictures Pontius Pilate with Jesus : ECCE HOMO - the painting

16. Raise : PARENT

17. Iconic building with "point" offices : FLATIRON - dah~! Not PENTAGON, tho I realize there would need to be the phrase "with THE" in the clue

18. Market array : BRANDS

19. What stars have : FAME - I tried EGOS

20. Specialty docs : ENTs

22. In order : TIDY

26. Dauntless : STOUT

29. Spray holder : VASE - ah - I forgot that a "spray" is kind of floral arrangement

30. Site of monkey business : ZOO

31. Get a winter coat? : ICE UP - I am afraid my apartment will ICE UP this weekend - we lost the furnace, which includes the hot water, and won't get repaired until Tuesday.  Always on a holiday weekend....

32. Part of an inheritance : GENE - ah, that kind of inheritance

33. River to the Severn : AVON - another good WAG

37. Cornerstone word : ANNO - I figured EST'D was not going to last

38. Hauls : LUGS - I had TOWS to start

39. 2009 A.L. MVP Joe : MAUER - filled via perps

40. Spectrum band : RED

41. 1969-'70 Broadway musical that ends with a fashion show : COCO

42. Brandt of "Breaking Bad" : BETSY - beSsy seemed just as likely - I have not watched a single episode of this show, but I got a Firestick for Christmas from my landlord, so I can watch everything now - but first I am making my way through "Burn Notice"

46. Benjamin portrayer : HAWN - Goldie, as in Private Benjamin; I was thinking BRAD or PITT, for Benjamin Button

47. Cries of surprise : O-HOs - oops, went with A-HAs

48. John follower : ACTS - Bible chapters

52. Fleet destroyed by the Protestant Wind : ARMADA

54. Ovid, for one : EPIC POET

56. More expensive : DEARER - started as DEEPER

57. Bought back : REDEEMED - Blue Öyster Cult song, too


58. Joshua tree habitat : DESERT - as for what got filled in first, I WILL NOT EVEN GO THERE

59. Tests using Snellen charts : EYE EXAMS

I can read line 7


1. Bridges of Los Angeles County : JEFF - once I changed my "building", this actor's name (and not a structure) occurred to me

2. Home of the Herb Alpert Sch. of Music : UCLA - I had the U and A

3. Hustle : SCAM - ah, the noun, not the verb

4. Head of the Sorbonne? : TÊTE - Frawnche

5. Sushi choice : AHI - made my PENTAGON wrong

6. Eagerly unwrapped : TORE AT - Not even a week ago - I got a Millennium Falcon Bluetooth music player

7. In with : AMONG

9. SFPD alert : APB

10. "Nausea" novelist : SARTRE - I recognize the name, but not much else - the Wiki

11. Express, say : TRAIN

12. Orbital maneuver : RENDEZVOUS - learned this word from reading the 'adapted' novel of The Empire Strikes Back - but I was about 9, and read it literally as ren-dez-vows

13. "Years of Minutes" author : ANDY ROONEY - good WAG with the "OO" in place

14. SFPD ranks : LTs

21. Resolute policies : STANDS

23. __ platter : PU PU

24. One working on keys : USER - computer keys

25. Wreck locator : SONAR - shipwrecks

26. When, in Act IV, Juliet drinks the potion : SCENE THREE

27. "The O.C." and "Gossip Girl" : TEEN DRAMAS - never watched any of them

28. Taverna liqueur : OUZO

31. Structural pieces : I-BARS

32. Riata twirler : GAUCHO

33. Basic Latin word : AMAT - ah.  I had AMAS

35. Rough going : SLOG - popular Saturday Crossword descriptor

36. "Yes!" : AMEN

41. __ block : CINDER

42. Next to : BESIDE - the blue-eyed girl from some time back sat BESIDE me yesterday - my heart was galloping in my chest....

44. Clued in : AWARE

45. Glum : MOPEY

48. Crown : APEX

49. Food __: after-eating drowsiness : COMA - did not suffer this on either holiday this year

50. Come down hard : TEEM - like rain

51. FDA output : STDs - Tried RDAs first

52. Throw into the mix : ADD

53. "The lie that enables us to realize the truth": Picasso : ART - I think I just read this in a book on novel writing

Cubism, get it~?

55. Volcano center? : CEE - VolCano


Dec 30, 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016, Jeffrey Wechsler

Title: We play the game to WIN!

Returning to the perch he ruled in 2016, is JW with a superb reveal. With two grid spanners and two 13 letter fill, he packs 56 letters in the theme answers, each of which has WIN inside twice. This would be a somewhat pedestrian theme for a wit like JW, but for the perfect 15 letter reveal. In life I am tired of people trying to talk me into WIN WIN situations but the puzzle was great. There is so much nice fill such as INNARDS,  EGOTIST, DISRAELI,  ESTONIAN,  SCARED OF,  THE PRADO, IS IT ENOUGH,  I WON'T DANCE.  Let's solve this puppy!

17A. Its B-side was "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" : BLOW'IN IN THE WIND (15). I really lucked out here as I was a big Bob Dylan fan when this came out. I saw the WIN WIN right away. I used sing Don't Think Twice, It's All Right to myself in my Junior year in high school. LISTEN.

25A. Portable ventilation option : TWIN WINDOW FAN (13). I was not positive THIS existed, but it had win/win, so....

43A. Repair shop vehicle features : TOWINWINCHES (13). Then we see this DEVICE.
The reveal!

57A. Mediator's goal ... and what's found in three puzzle answers : WIN WIN SITUATION (15).


1. British prime minister before and after Gladstone : DISRAELI. If you like history this was quite a RIVALRY.

9. Fifth-century conqueror : ATTILA. He is extremely popular in the Xword world.

15. Baltic native : ESTONIAN. Across the sea from Finland sits this COUNTRY.

16. A quarter of the time? : SEASON. Really fun clue and fill; one of the four seasons.

19. Flower part : SEPAL.

20. Actor Daniel __ Kim : DAE. From LOST to the reboot of Hawaii 5-0, he works. LINK.

21. Bony opening : OSTEO.

22. Arising from : BORN OF.

24. Miss, say : ERR.

31. 1976 African uprising site : SOWETO. This HISTORY is too political to discuss here, but....

32. Longtime NBC hit : SNL. Saturday Night Live.

33. Flip-flop revelations : TOES. What a cute way to clue feet and toes.

36. Armada leaders? : PROWS. They stick out in front as they are the portion of a ship's bow above water

37. Bewilder : STUMP.

38. Email status : SENT.

39. Sallie __ : MAE. Student loan debt.

42. Bad mark : STIGMA.

46. Criterion: Abbr. : STD. Standard.

48. Cast components : ACTORS.

49. Overflowing (with) : AWASH.

51. Suffix indicating residency : ITE.

52. "Just like me" : AS AM I.

60. Los Angeles region bordering Tarzana : ENCINO.

61. Fearing : SCARED OF.

62. Judged : DEEMED. A favorite word in Orders.

63. Where to see Velázquez's "Las Meninas" : THE PRADO. The MUSEUM for art in Spain.


1. Aristocratic newcomers : DEBS. Debutantes.

2. Key : ISLE. A gimme for any Floridian.

3. Block : STOP.

4. Seats by the orchestra pit : ROW A. This took an extra second to parse.

5. Blue dye : ANIL.

6. A, in Augsburg : EIN.

7. Applied, as stucco : LAID ON.

8. Working parts : INNARDS. Does not sound like a real word but it IS.

9. Etna ejection : ASH. Volcanic by nature.

10. Irk : TEE OFF .3. Slang To make angry or disgusted: The impertinent remarks teed the speaker off.

11. Shooting marbles : TAWS. plural noun: taws, a large marble. Nope, not me.

12. "Can we do more?" : IS IT ENOUGH. Perps all the way.

13. Hardly a bon vivant : LONER. One who loves life is seldom alone.

14. Words with a slash : AND/OR.

18. Mortise partner : TENON. You want know HOW?

22. CV section : BIO. The CurriculumVitae has education, work and biographic information.

23. Symbol of wisdom : OWL. I see a mini-theme. The modern West generally associates owls with wisdom. This link goes back at least as far as Ancient Greece, where Athens, noted for art and scholarship, and Athena, Athens' patron goddess and the goddess of wisdom, had the owl as a symbol. Add this to 30D. Story of Greek origin : ATTIC. This was a nice twist to force us to recall that in ancient Athens where the dialect of Greek used and the chief literary form of classical Greek was Attic.

25. Kitchen amts. : TSPS.

26. Modeled : WORE.

27. Jerome Kern title lyric preceding "don't ask me" : I WON' T DANCE. Nit. The music was written by Mr. Kern but not the lyrics. There were two sets of lyrics with the one sung by Fred Astaire in the movie Roberta, the one that became famous. Sinatra also covered the song.

28. Never before experienced by : NEW TO.

29. Oz. and lb. : WTS. Weights.

34. Soaps actress Rylan : EMME. We had her in September. Anyone remember?

35. Luxuriating locales : SPAS.

37. RR map dot : STN. Station.

39. __ drop : MIC. Filled by perps but it is POPULAR.

40. They're against it : ANTIS.

41. Tough person to bargain with : EGOTIST. You think it was accidental this clue is next to...

42. Kim, to Khloé : SIS.

44. "Hawaii Five-0" extra, perhaps : WAHINE.  All of our past corner Hawaii people know this is a Polynesian woman or wife.

45. Unfortunate sort : WRETCH.

46. Cut : SAWED.

47. It's often found in a ball : TWINE. Cute.

50. Part of an exercise regimen : SWIM.

52. Marketer of Medigap insurance plans : AARP.

53. Dump annex? : STER. Dumpster.

54. Opera set in Egypt : AIDA.

55. Disposition : MOOD.

56. It may be classified, briefly : INFO.

58. Okay : NOD.

59. Home of the Burj Kalifa: Abbr. : UAE. United Arab Emirate. There are SEVEN emirates. The Burj is the 163 story tallest structure at the moment.

Well we have done it again, and for last time in 2016. Thank you all for riding with us most Fridays; thank you Jeffrey for providing so many great Friday puzzles, and of course thank you C.C. for this blog and for being who you are. Lemonade out

Dec 29, 2016

Thursday, December 29th 2016 Roland Huget

Theme: Whaddya know? Synonyms in the Circles, as the reveal tells us:

55A. Privileged information demonstrated by this puzzle's circles : INSIDE KNOWLEDGE

17A. Producer of lavish revues : FLORENZ ZIEGFELD (LORE). The Ziegfeld Follies. I never knew the first name until today. When it appeared, I was surprised as I thought the impresario was a guy, so I went to look and ... "Flo" and behold, he was a guy.

25A. Where everything turns out all right : STORYBOOK ENDING. (KEN) Depends on what kind of story you're reading.

42A. New Orleans spectacle : MARDI GRAS PARADE. (GRASP) Here's a part of one on St. Charles:

Thursday already? And three more days until the New Year? Tempus fugit, for sure. Nice clean puzzle from Roland today, four grid-spanning theme entries and a tidy grid. Let's see what else jumps out.


1. Little bit of progress : DENT. STEP went in, then came out to be replaced by INCH. Not a clean start for me today.

5. Mike supports : BOOMS. Had me wondering what on earth another name for a STAND could be.

10. Capitol cap : DOME

14. Zeno's home : ELEA. Crosses all the way. Zeno of Elea, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. I never studied philosophy.

15. Great-grandfather of Noah : ENOCH. Nailed it. Learned from crosswords.

16. Struck (out) : EX'ED. Now then, you constructors and editors, pay attention. You can have X'ED or you can have EX'ED, but you can't have both. Pick one or the other. Thank you.

20. Catch some rays : TAN

21. Chop __ : SUEY. Food! Chinese-American cuisine, and the title of a song from alternative metal band System of a Down. Raucous Music Advisory.

22. More than enough : PLENTY

23. Pollutant concentration meas. : P.P.M. Parts Per Million

24. Splint site : SHIN

33. Part of Great Britain : WALES. The bit on the left across from Ireland. The place names can be baffling if you don't know the Welsh language. Try "Pwllheli" or "Pencaennewydd" before tackling "Llanfairpwllgwyngyll".

34. Jersey, for one : SHIRT. Because "Channel Island" doesn't fit. I've got quite a collection of soccer jerseys; both from games I've seen around the world and bought the home team's jersey as a souvenir, and quite a few of my own team, Chelsea FC.

35. "The Purloined Letter" writer : POE

36. British tennis star Murray : ANDY. He's a good sport - he sold ice cream at a tournament in Cincinnati last year.

37. Internet greeting : E-CARD

38. Lawyer's job : CASE

39. Ham may be seen on it : RYE. It's funny, but thinking about it, I'd never put ham on rye. Wheat would be my choice.

40. "What I dream of is __ of balance ... ": Matisse : AN ART. He goes on to say "... of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter - a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue." Sounds nice.

41. Track divisions : LANES. Athletics tracks.

45. Spring bloom : IRIS

46. Recede : EBB

47. International economic bloc : G-SEVEN. Quickly - name them off! (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA.)

50. Sheltered at sea : ALEE

52. Epitome of slipperiness : EEL

58. Advance : LOAN

59. Start of a kid's rhyme : EENIE

60. Boil over : RAGE

61. Irish Rose's guy : ABIE. Thank you crosses, no clue. I discover that he is from an Anne Nichols play first performed in 1922.

62. Bring up : RAISE

63. Out of control : AMOK. I can't think of ever seeing this word used without being paired with the verb "to run".


1. Like a magician's hands : DEFT

2. "__ and Louis": 1956 jazz album : ELLA

3. Element #10 : NEON. This chap: [He] 2s22p6

4. Smelly sealant : TAR. I love the smell of fresh tar. I remember as a kid being bewitched by the road crew laying fresh blacktop on our street.

5. Render senseless : BENUMB

6. Number after dix : ONZE

7. Seeping slowly : OOZY. Oozy? OK, I'll let this one go.

8. Old Sprint rival : MCI. Part of Verizon now.

9. One often seen with a crook : SHEPHERD. It never ceases to amaze me how many dog owners have a German Shepherd, but don't know how to spell it.

10. Stand up for : DEFEND

11. Ground-breaking team, at times : OXEN. Enjoyed this clue.

12. Lunch order : MELT

13. Drain swirl : EDDY

18. Best Championship Performance and Best Team : ESPYS. The annual ESPY sports awards on ESPN.

19. Sparkle : GLINT

23. Carnivore's target : PREY

24. Goes around : SKIRTS

25. Buzzing cloud : SWARM

26. Self-named 2002 country album : TANYA. Thank you, crosses.

27. From an earlier time : OLDER

28. Statuettes that were made of painted plaster during WWII : OSCARS. That's a learning moment. I didn't hesitate to put it straight in though.

29. 1939 Leigh role : O'HARA

30. Bucky Beaver's toothpaste : IPANA. What happened to this stuff? It looks like it's still sold in Turkey: "Healthier and Brighter Teeth from the First Day"

31. Edged (out) : NOSED

32. Former goslings : GEESE

37. Mastermind : ENGINEER. The verb, not the noun. Nice clue/answer combo.

38. Certain dieter's concern : CARB-ohydrate

40. Made public : AIRED

41. Shop tag : LABEL

43. Godlike : DIVINE

44. Hall of Famer Reese : PEEWEE

47. Coolidge Dam's river : GILA. I really need to remember this, I was almost Natick'ed at GILA/ABIE.

48. Highbrow, perhaps : SNOB

49. Morales of "NYPD Blue" : ESAI

50. Years in Rome : ANNI

51. "Family Guy" mom : LOIS

52. Dutch export : EDAM. They do make other cheeses, but Edam always gets top billing.

53. French Toaster Sticks brand : EGGO

54. One of 33-Across' national emblems : LEEK. "Ydych chi eisiau benthyg fy cennin?" (Do you want to borrow my leek?)

56. Mauna __ : KEA. It's a big bugger too, 13,802 feet, the highest point in the state.

57. Starter's stat : E.R.A. The baseball pitcher's Earned Run Average. Lower is better.

I think that's my journey done for the day. Let's make sure I've got everything - keys, wallet, passport ... oh wait, the grid. Here it is:


Dec 28, 2016

Wednesday December 28, 2016 C.C. Burnikel

Theme: STRINGS ATTACHED (61A. Proposal conditions ... and what the first parts of the answers to starred clues all can have)  - The first word in each answer has a string attached.

17A. *Reasons for refinancing : BALLOON PAYMENTS

23A. *Inconsistent nutrition plan : YO-YO DIETING

38. *With 41-Across, "How to Get Away With Murder" Emmy winner : VIOLA. And DAVIS (41. *See 38-Across). Her full name has 10 letters. You can't put a 10 in the middle.

51A. *Marshall Islands nuclear test site : BIKINI ATOLL.

Boomer here. Wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2017! This puzzle is written by my best friend,  Zhouqin "C.C." Burnikel, who also happens to be my wife.  Hope you enjoyed it.


1. Specially formed : AD HOC.  I am sure this is Latin for something.

6. Circle components : ARCS. Arc the Herald Angels sing ...

10. Set in stone, say : ETCH. If you have a scretch - etch it.

14. Hiking map line : TRAIL.  My generation remembers Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing "Happy Trails to you".

15. Western wine region : NAPA. North of San Francisco.  I've been there. The grapes in the fields are the size of baseballs

16. Melancholic : DOUR. Words like this are why I never seem to complete crossword puzzles.

20. Top card : ACE.  Also can be a perfecto in sports or a WWII flying expert.

21. Iris layer : UVEA. Another one of those words.

22. Syst. with a Buffalo campus : SUNY (State University of New York)

26. Spanish bear : OSO . Another one of those words.

29. "Top Gun" org. : USN. Finally beaten by Army after 14 straight wins.

30. Iditarod racer : DOG SLED. We have these races in Minnesota.  All you need is snow, a sled, and a few Huskies.

32. Colo. setting : MST.  I think John Denver kept his watch set to this time no matter where he was. I wonder if he fell in love with Colorado because of his last name, or if he changed to that name like some personalities do.  Did you know he got his start with the Chad Mitchell Trio?

34. Scat legend, familiarly : ELLA. Also my paternal grandmothers name.

37. Crème de la crème : ELITE
40. "That feels amazing" : AAH

42. Waits in traffic : IDLES. They say not to idle your car to warm it up in cold weather.

43. Support during exercise : SPOT. I may have clued Dick and Jane's doggie.

45. Give no stars to : PAN

46. Asian noodle dish : PAD THAI. I will take C.C.'s word for this

48. One step __ time : AT A

50. Govt. aid for the disabled : SSI. Okay, but I am not disabled but I get a few bucks every month just for being old.

57. Arab bigwig : EMIR - Sounds like the freshman U of Minn basketball star Mr. Coffey who you will hear about as time goes on and the Big 10 (+4) gets going.

59. Wild speech : RANT

60. GM's Mary Barra, for one : CEO

65. It comes before one : NOON

66. Big name in beauty products : ULTA. Ulta also describes your thought when you see the price.

67. Demi of "A Few Good Men" : MOORE. She could handle the truth.

68. Give for a while : LEND. Sometimes $$$, sometimes just your ears

69. December number : NOEL. Maybe someone already constructed a Christmas puzzle with words that do not contain the letter "L".

70. "None for me, thanks" : I PASS. "What do you do when the driver in the car in front of you is texting and going too slow?


1. On the defensive : AT BAY

2. Harsh Athenian lawmaker : DRACO

3. "Roots" writer : HALEY. Alex - a tremendous story and TV series that kept folks captivated for weeks in the seventies.

4. It may be crude : OIL. Great for most of us, the price has dropped to reasonable. Problems for North Dakota for profits from the sand.

5. Sun blockers : CLOUDS. Cloudy, the sky is gray and white and Cloudy. Sometimes I think its hanging down on me.  (Simon and Garfunkel)

6. A year in Provence : ANNEE, Another one of those words.

7. Knock on : RAP AT

8. Busy pro in tax season : CPA. Not looking forward to tax time.

9. Doesn't go along : SAYS NO. Two words I get it, but could also be a name of a video game some day.

10. Steinbeck's "East of __" : EDEN. Why not Genie "Barbara"

11. Twins legend who was the first DH to hit a home run : TONY OLIVA. My words to the bridge of the famous song "Talkin' Baseball" by Terry Cashman. - "Now my old friend Brandy, he loved to watch the Killer clout them out. And my pals from the alley, would go to see Versalles, and me, I always lived Tony O. Where did they go?"  My parody version was titles "Zoilo, Tony and the Brew".

Boomer and Oliva
12. Director's shout : CUT. Speaking of Mr. Oliva, this could also be the catcher's shout on his throw coming in from right field.

13. Appt. book slots : HRs. Or a baseball stat for Tony.  I think he hit a couple hundred in his career.

18. Like a lamb : OVINE

19. Made faces : MUGGED

24. Juice provider : OUTLET. Tricky C.C.  Orange is also six letters beginning with "O".

25. Home of most of Sawtooth National Forest : IDAHO. Also huge potato farms.  Funny how states get a reputation for vegetables. All Minnesota gets a rep for is lakes and frozen tundra.

27. Become established : SET IN

28. Some flowery works : ODES

31. Try to hit, as a mosquito : SLAP AT. Speaking of a rep for Minnesota - how about a Hockey puck? Paul Newman was great in "Slapshot" and the Hansons were actually the Carlson brothers from the land of 10,000 lakes.

32. King who turned his daughter into gold : MIDAS. They made their name with mufflers but the prices are a little high.

33. Persevere : SOLDIER ON

35. Vision-correcting surgery : LASIK

36. Computer support? : LAP. Tablet computer.

38. Big shots : VIPs

39. Rubbish holder : ASH BIN. Also known as a Dumpster.  But we'll call the one behind the White House a Trumpster

44. Contaminate : TAINT. Hillbillies also may use this as slang for "That A'int".

47. BB shooter : AIR GUN. Subject of this year's "A Christmas Story" movie shown 142 times on 36 different cable channels.  Whatever happened to "Miracle on 34th Street"?

49. Teahouse mat : TATAMI

52. Hot under the collar : IRATE. Or I rate this puzzle 97 out of 100 !

53. Birth-related : NATAL. Remember Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta "Pirates of Penzance" when the man's natal day was February 29th so although he was an adult, he sang he was a little boy of five.  It was a paradox.  

54. Former #1 LPGA golfer Lorena : OCHOA. One of my favorites. We saw her at the Women's US Open at Interlachen Country Club a few years ago.

55. Wolfish stares : LEERS

56. Veinlike deposits : LODES

58. Look after : MIND. When sometimes we were snoopy kids the retort was "Mind your own business".

61. Show with "Weekend Update" skits, initially : SNL

62. Tip of a wingtip : TOE

63. Pavement warning : SLO

64. Booking agent? : COP


Dec 27, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016 Bruce Haight

Theme: L&N - Ellen(el and en).

16A . Shellfish dish in a cream sauce: LOBSTER NEWBERG

24A . Drivers' ID figures: LICENSE NUMBERS

41A. Chemical used for quick freezing: LIQUID NITROGEN

54A. The Times in Los Angeles, e.g.: LOCAL NEWSPAPER

62A. Popular afternoon talk show, familiarly, and a homophonic hint to this puzzle's four longest answers: ELLEN

Argyle here but instead of Ellen, I'm here with Sarah, plain and tall. To tell the truth, I didn't notice the puzzle was 14 wide and 16 tall until I went to print it out. So all the grid spanners are only 14 letters. Still a fine puzzle despite starting with HAJJI.


1. Pilgrim to Mecca: HAJJI

6. Give and take: SWAP

10. Bay Area airport letters: SFO. San Francisco International Airport

13. Hang trimmings on: ADORN. When does your tree come down?

14. Folded Mexican fare: TACO

15. Head, slangily: NOB. 1690-1700; perhaps variant of knob.

19. WWII spy gp.: OSS. (Office of Strategic Services)

20. Feature of some sweatshirts: HOOD

21. Poetic tribute: ELEGY

22. Subtle facial signal: WINK

23. Ready for ice skating: FROZEN. The first ice shanties are appearing on the lakes. Some day I intend to take a trip eastward and find the line where an ice shanty becomes a bobhouse.

28. Convention clip-on: ID TAG

29. Genetic material: DNA

30. Fringe benefit: PERK

31. Swiss currency: FRANC

33. Clotheshorse: FOP

36. "My gal" of song: SAL. The nearest we'll get to Erie today.

37. Visibly nervous: QUAKY

38. Exhort: URGE

39. Prefix with cycle: UNI

40. Irritant "in your side": THORN

47. Stores, as ashes: INURNS. Yes, we've had it before.

48. Ark builder: NOAH

49. Rub off the board: ERASE

50. "Will you let me?": "MAY I?"

51. Texter's "Wow!": [OMG]

57. Acorn tree: OAK

58. Moon goddess: LUNA

59. Eastern guru: SWAMI

60. Part of wpm: Abbr.: WDS. (words)

61. Capp of comics: ANDY. You may find him in the snack aisle.


1. Saintly glow: HALO

2. Big fusses: ADOs

3. Steve who co-founded Apple: JOBS

4. Some sons: Abbr.: JRs

5. Latest fad: IN THING

6. Scoring unit, in golf: STROKE

7. Tool needed at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: WAND

8. Expert: ACE

9. Apple computer discontinued in 2006: POWER MAC

10. Hay fever symptom: SNEEZE

11. Painter of fakes: FORGER

12. MDs that bring out the kid in you?: OBGYNs. (Obstetrician/Gynecologist)

17. Ages: EONS

18. Oozy gunk: BLOB

22. Watered down: WEAK

23. __ bone (no laughing matter, really): FUNNY

24. ChapStick targets: LIPS. Not chop sticks, eh?

25. Creative process output: IDEA

26. PC key: CTRL

27. Minn. neighbor: N. DAK

31. "Slush" moneys: FUNDS

32. Word with drop or fall: RAIN

33. Kissable fairy tale figure: FROG

34. Less kissable fairy tale figure: OGRE. Cute pairing.

35. State founder William: PENN

37. Exacta relative: QUINELLA. A bet in which the first two places in a race must be predicted, but not necessarily in the correct order. The exacta must be predicted in the correct order.

38. "I was afraid of this": "UH OH!"

40. Walk aimlessly: TRAIPSE

41. Stay under the radar: LIE LOW

42. Bit of progress: INROAD

43. Duck calls: QUACKS

44. __ Major: Big Dipper constellation: URSA. The Big Bear.

45. More or less: IN A WAY

46. Mattel specialty: TOYS

50. Fix: MEND

51. October birthstone: OPAL

52. Viral internet phenomenon: MEME. Yes, we've had it before.

53. Put on a happy face: GRIN

55. Religious sister: NUN

56. Leatherwork tool: AWL


Notes from C.C.:

1) Here is a great article about our constructor Bruce Haight. Bruce was rejected 38 times in a row and he never gave up. 38 puzzles are the result of hundreds of ideas (often only one puzzle is made after 10 or more idea brainstorming, Cruciverb checking, etc). Now Bruce is one of the top constructors in the business, constantly striving for originality and innovation.

2) Happy Birthday to Dudley, who's been with the blog for over six years. Dudley has his own plane and can fly anywhere on a whim. Dudley started the "Rabbit, Rabbit" tradition on our blog. It's said at the start of each month for good luck. This picture was taken during Montana's visit to Northeast in September, 2013.
Left to right: Marti, Dudley, Hondo & Montana

Dec 26, 2016

Monday, December 26, 2016 Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke

Theme: No Reveal Monday - Four synonymous words.

20A. Fabric with a slight sheen: POLISHED COTTON

25A. Sophisticated-sounding hair treatment product: SUAVE SHAMPOO

46A. Coffee sweetener: REFINED SUGAR

55A. Plowed ground for crop-raising: CULTIVATED LAND

Argyle here. POLISHED, SUAVE, REFINED, CULTIVATED; so are we all.


1. Furtive summons: [PSST!]

5. Closes with force: SLAMS

10. See 13-Down: BABA. 13-Down. With 10-Across, "Open sesame" sayer: ALI

14. "It's __ you": "Your call": UP TO

15. Sultan's group: HAREM

16. Carrier to Tel Aviv: EL AL

17. React to a bad pun, perhaps: MOAN

18. BP merger partner: AMOCO

19. Longfellow's "The Bell of __": ATRI. "And this shall make, in every Christian clime, The Bell of Atri famous for all time."

23. Clay pigeon sport: SKEET

24. Tee shots into the hole: ACES

32. Slacks holder-upper: BELT

35. Baker's verb: MIX

36. Like old apples: MEALY

37. "Norma __": RAE

38. Fills with dismay: APPALLS

41. Word in a bride's bio: NÉE

42. The three monkeys' taboos: EVILS. Nikkō Tōshō-gū Shinto shrine.

44. Guernsey greeting: MOO!

45. Completely, after "from": A TO Z

50. Apple or pear: POME

51. "Spider-Man" actor Willem: DAFOE. Green Goblin.

60. Classic clown: BOZO

61. African country whose name is contained in the name of its southern neighbor: NIGER

62. Internet destination: SITE

63. It's a long story: EPIC

64. Porthole view: OCEAN

65. Flair: ELAN

66. Cubicle furnishing: DESK

67. Smells awful: REEKS

68. Once-sacred snakes: ASPs


1. Tire inflators: PUMPS

2. Frighten, as a horse: SPOOK

3. Like old bread: STALE

4. Most stylish: TONIEST

5. Former Iranian despot: SHAH

6. Unconvincing, excuse-wise: LAME

7. Ex-slugger and Fox Sports analyst, familiarly: A-ROD. (Alex Rodriguez)

8. Major tourist draws: MECCAs

9. Kiss: SMOOCH

10. "I have no clue": "BEATS ME"

11. Voice above tenor: ALTO

12. Rural building with big doors: BARN

21. Early Beatle Sutcliffe: STU

22. Bears and Grizzlies: TEAMS

26. Sound system part: AMP

27. Bigwig: VIP. (very important person)

28. Tests of knowledge: EXAMS

29. Huff and puff: PANT

30. Butterlike spread: OLEO

31. Command from a bailiff: "OYEZ!"

32. Uncle Remus rabbit's title: BR'ER

33. Nesting site, perhaps: EAVE. Nesting site for icicles.

34. Mariner Ericson: LEIF

38. Often ___: about half the time: AS NOT

39. Singer Rawls: LOU

40. Nautical journal: LOG

43. Long kiss: LIP LOCK

45. Shrinking Asian lake: ARAL SEA

47. Key with one sharp: E MINOR

48. Plot mechanism: DEVICE

49. Say further: ADD

52. Totally tanks: FAILS

53. Ready in the keg: ON TAP

54. Blissful regions: EDENS

55. Deal with adversity: COPE

56. Commando weapons: UZIs

57. "A Death in the Family" author James: AGEE

58. Tropical hardwood: TEAK

59. Sea eagles: ERNs

60. Crib or cot: BED


Dec 25, 2016

Sunday December 25, 2016, Nora Pearlstone

Theme: "Holiday Doings" - A Christmas tree is formed by a series of black squares. On the very top, the circled letters spell out STAR.

24A. His personal Canadian postal code is H0 H0 H0 : SANTA CLAUS. Also 22. Bagfuls for 24-Across : LETTERS. Also 85A. Team for 24-Across : REINDEER

26A. With 71-Across, holiday classic : A CHRISTMAS. And 71. See 26-Across : CAROL

55A. Seasonal hangings : ORNAMENTS

89A. Things to open : PRESENTS. This is symmetrical partner of REINDEER. 

108A. Sets on tracks : MODEL TRAINS. Nicely placed at the bottom of the tree.

3D. Classic 71-Across : O TANNENBAUM

13D. Attend to a holiday symbol : TRIM THE TREE. There is a note in Across Lit. It says "Certain squares in this puzzle can't be viewed properly in Across Lite format. Those squares outline an appropriate image, which can be seen at If you prefer to figure it out for yourself, use the hints provided by the circled squares, 55-Across, and 108-Across." Rich couldn't mention the specific image as he had both CHRISTMAS or TREE in the grid.

49D. Holiday mailing : GREETING CARD. Each of the four Down theme entries intersects another Across theme entry. Just brilliant. This is why Rich is still the 4th most published NYT constructor despite the fact that he has not sent any puzzle there since 2008.

53D. Title annual holiday character since 1965 : CHARLIE BROWN

Nora Pearlstone is the alias name of our editor Rich Norris. It's an anagram of "Not a Real Person". You can see Rich's full alias names here. Rich normally uses Nora for Sunday puzzles or tricky Thursday/Friday puzzles. He uses Lila Cherry ("Really Rich") for early week puzzles.

Notice the R puzzle that forms STAR is unchecked, e.g., it's the only one-letter fill in this puzzle. The grid also has a left to right symmetry, which is a lot trickier than a normal grid.

Rich in the Middle
1. WWII investment : E BOND

6. Sri Lankan language : TAMIL. Also the official language of Singapore.

11. It may be seen to the left of venous : INTRA. I did not know the meaning of "venous".

16. Quashed : VETOED

18. Psyched : FIRED UP

20. Frightened : SCARED. And 21. Frightens : ALARMS. Rich is very good at clue echoes. 

23. Poet Levertov : DENISE. Unknown figure to me.

28. Kiss and caress, in Kent : SNOG

29. Cousin of the Vulcan mind meld : ESP

31. It's bonded in bales : HAY. Also 92. __ bonding : MALE

32. Etta of old comics : KETT

33. Word before and after "is" : ENOUGH

35. Concert shirt : TEE

37. Indiana county or its seat : WABASH. This stumped me last time.

39. L.A.'s __ Center : AON

41. Shine, in ads : GLO

42. Do-it-yourself mover : U-HAUL

44. Columnist Hentoff : NAT

45. UV index monitor : EPA

48. Prepared with mixed vegetables, in Chinese cooking : SUBGUM. I never heard of the term until I came to the US.

50. Ivy support : TRELLIS

52. Parish leader : RECTOR

54. Wide-eyed look : STARE
57. It might accompany a "meh" : SHRUG

58. Hot-and-cold fits : AGUE

59. Cartoon shopkeeper : APU. "The Simpsons".

60. Old map abbr. : SSR

61. Monthly payment that's often more than the prin. : INT.  Like new mortgage.

63. Sleek, in car talk : AERO

64. Capitol feature : DOME

65. Meat department buy : BEEF

67. Song from Carmen : ARIA

68. Last ones to deal with : REST.  Oh, like the rest.

69. Impact sound : THUD

75. Longtime rival of Tiger : PHIL(Mickelson). Phil is such a gentleman.

77. Longhorn rivals : AGGIES. Rival clue echo.

80. Climber's target : CLIFF

81. Futile : OTIOSE. Not a word I use.
88. Sharable PC file : PDF

91. Fort near Fayetteville : BRAGG. Boomer went to Fort Campbell. How about you, D-Otto/TTP? Argyle probably went to  Camp Pendleton.

94. Tan relative : ECRU

96. Descriptively named support : H BEAM

97. From that time : SINCE

98. They often include ages : BIOs

99. Maneuverability : ROOM

100. Speak : ORATE

101. Embellishes : ADORNS

103. UPS carton phrase : SHIP TO

105. "Bearing gifts, we traverse __" : AFAR
112. Prettify with paper : WRAP. Bonus fill. 

116. Sweet-scented flower : GARDENIA. My grandma's name is Lan Xiang, literally "blue and fragrant flower". Lots of girls in her generation had flower names.

118. Cry of revelation : AHA

119. Resonant barbershop sound : BASS NOTE. Also 56. Barbershop sound : SNIP

121. __ out a living : EKE

122. Bank deposit : SILT. Nailed it.

123. Type of garden : ZEN. Nice and quiet.

124. __-bitty : ITTY

125. Trouble : WOE

126. Narc's employer : DEA. And 127. Narc's assignment : CASE

128. To this time : YET

129. Julia's "Ocean's Twelve" role : TESS

130. Rev (up) : AMP


1. Spacewalks, briefly : EVAS. EVA = Extravehicular Activity. Rich avoided plural [Longoria and Mendes] style clue because he had BELAS (2. Lugosi and Karolyi) next to it.

4. Popular virus remedy : NORTON. Ah, I was thinking of flu.

5. Rabble-rouser : DEMAGOGUE. What a great entry.

6. Jam on the road : TIE UP

7. Dance and drama : ARTS

8. Got together : MET

9. Concept : IDEA

10. Sudden move : LURCH

11. Winter pastime gear : ICE SKATES. The snow continues to melt in our neighborhood.

12. City on the Loire : NANTES. Birthplace of Jules Verne.

14. Found a new table for : RESAT

15. Picnic drinks : ADES

17. U.S. Army medal : DSC. My Dad was in the Chinese Army for a long time. I don't remember any medals. Just lots lots of Mao's stuff. He remembered every word in this red book.

18. Instant : FLASH

19. "Nonsense!" : PSHAW

20. Star Wars initials : SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative)

25. Small construction piece : LEGO

27. NFL coach Rex : RYAN

30. Bailiwicks : REALMS

34. German university city : ULM. Know as Einstein's birthplace.

35. A.L. West team, familiarly : THE A's

36. "Elements of Algebra" author : EULER

38. Prevent : BAR

39. Syrian leader : ASSAD

40. Expenses : OUTGO

42. Caterer's vessel : URN

43. Author Yutang : LIN. Same character as the Lim in our constructor Julian Lim, who's from Singapore. In Hong Kong, it's spelled as Lam.

46. Really comes down : POURS

47. One may end in "ese" : ARGOT. Like legalese.
50. Indisputable : TRUE

51. Slowly emerge from sleep : STIR

55. Slanted page? : OP-ED

59. Mistreatment : ABUSE

62. Sierra Nevada vacation mecca : TAHOE

66. TV monitor : FCC

67. E.T. from Melmac : ALF

70. Equivocated : HEDGED

72. Suisse peaks : ALPES

73. Relieved : RID

74. Bid : OFFER

76. "Whew!" : IT'S HOT

77. Some Wall St. traders : ARBs (Arbitragers)

78. English singer Halliwell : GERI. I was more into Cantopop in those days when Spice Girls were popular.

79. Composer __ Carlo Menotti : GIAN

82. Draft category : ONE A. We also have ROW A (113. Where no one can sit in front of you). 

83. "Right now!" : STAT

84. Salinger title choir singer : ESME

86. Gets mixed up in : EMBROILS

87. Outdoor event contingency : RAIN DATE. Nice pair of stacked 8's in this area.

89. Outlaw : PROHIBIT

90. Ponder : RUMINATE

93. Drop in the stadium : LOSE.  Got via crosses. Tricky clue.

95. Toledo thing : COSA. Spanish or Italian for "thing".

102. __ vincit amor : OMNIA

104. Classroom exchanges : PSSTs

105. Allowed to ripen, as cheddar : AGED

106. Art expert's discovery : FAKE. I was once very good at IDing fake luxury bags. IP investigation was risky but fun.

107. Bailiwick : AREA

109. Likely to loaf : LAZY

110. What you once were? : THEE

111. Carry on : RANT

114. Tiny bit : ATOM

115. Single animal-shaped candy? : PEEP

117. PC backup key : ESC

120. Mac OS part: Abbr. : SYS

1) Happy Birthday to dear Kathy (Yellowrocks), whose positive attitude and fighting spirit continue to inspire me. I'm so happy that you're here for us, Kathy!

Yellowrocks and son David, Sept 2016

2) Happy Birthday also to Lorraine (Fermatprime), who's been with the blog for a long time. Lorraine is an accomplished math professor and does more puzzles every day than most of us.

Thanksgiving, 2015