, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: Thursday December 19th 2019 Gary Larson


Dec 19, 2019

Thursday December 19th 2019 Gary Larson

Theme B-ing - punning on the B-present participle riff:

18A. Flashy accessories for a vagabond?: BUM BLING

37A. Barn extension where pack animals sleep?: BURRO WING. This was the one that set me on the theme path.

61A. Heckle musician Gordon Sumner?: BOO STING. A lot of musical references from my youth today. Sting was a substitute teacher before the Police broke, my sister worked with him at a comprehensive school in South London.

3D. Owner of the most pubs in town?: BAR KING

45D. Warning at a spelling contest?: BEE PING. That reminds me, I must change the batteries in my smoke detectors.

When I collected the theme entries together, I just wanted a "BI-" to complete the vowel set, but it was not to be. Understandable, the only candidate I could find was replacing "BUMBLING" with "BIASSING" and I'm not sure how to clue that one. So fair enough, Gary, a good puzzle with a nice theme.

Let's tread the boards:


1. Troubleshoots, as programs: DEBUGS. Been there, done that. Back in the day, it was also known as "dump cracking" which involved going though a two-foot pile of fan-fold paper with a highlighter and a ruler looking through the memory dump of the mainframe. I got pretty good at it. Probably because I was pretty good at putting the bugs in there in the first place. The very first program I wrote had an infinite loop, but I still managed to make a career out of IT. I laughed when I first went to present at Apple HQ, their address was "One Infinite Loop", I felt they'd named the campus for me.

7. Sharp humor: WIT

10. Rain protection: TARP

14. Marked by twinkling: STARRY

15. Brian of ambient music: ENO. U2 producer of note, and elevator music king. He was a founder member of Roxy Music, here playing synth in spangly gloves with a youthful Bryan Ferry. Talented chap.

16. Diaper cream ingredient: ALOE

17. Like nickels, to dimes: LARGER. Yes, why is that? I want my currency to get heftier the more valuable it is.

20. Swedish retail giant: IKEA. I went to my local IKEA a couple of weeks ago. It's legendary that the store is impossible to find your way out of, but on the way back to my car a lady asked me how to get out of the parking lot. I tried to explain, but realized I had no idea either. I did help her figure out which of her stop lights was out though, so something good came of it.

21. Runs of luck: STREAKS. Good or bad.

22. "Moonlight" Oscar winner Mahershala: ALI. Thank you, crosses.

23. Most smooth: SUAVEST. Nice word.

25. Put to use: TAP. As "tap into".

28. Most likely to snap: TENSEST. Two "mostests" within a couple of entries.

30. One-named singer with 15 Grammys: ADELE. She helped fix my ALL-STAR/A-LISTER mess at 11D

32. "By that logic ... ": ERGO ...

33. Wrongdoing: SINS

36. Ventricular outlet: AORTA

40. Martin Van __: BUREN

43. "Heavens to Murgatroyd!": EGAD!

44. Trails off: EBBS

48. Astrologer to the rich and famous: O'MARR. Known to me only from crosswords.

49. Tasty bites: MORSELS

51. Boston's Back __: BAY

52. French chef's "Ta-da!": ET VOILA!

56. Years on end: EON

57. Potato gadgets: MASHERS. I use a ricer, a little more effort but a lot smoother result. If I want chunky mash I use the old fork technique.

59. Crunch at breakfast: CAP'N

63. Sex therapy subject: LIBIDO. Rich is getting racier in his editing.

65. Mom's sister: AUNT

66. Greek letter: ETA

67. Close soccer score: ONE NIL To the Arsenal. Last week's "Man. U." rivals reappear. If you want to know what Arsenal, One-Nil, the USSR and the Pet Shop Boys have in common, then you either have too much time on your hands, or you will Google "One-Nil to the Arsenal" as I did.

I'm usually judicious with my links, but this week there's too much good music, or weirdly awesome music, to ignore.

Producer: What effects do you want in this video?
Pet Shop Boys: Yes!

68. Calf-length skirt: MIDI

69. French film ending word: FIN

70. Packed (in): WEDGED


1. Broadband initials: DSL. Digital Subscriber Line. It seems a little old-fashioned, but I still have DSL broadband.

2. Online seller: E-TAILER

4. Impel: URGE

5. Musical set at Rydell High: GREASE. Los Angeles does have some wonderful Art Deco public buildings, this is Venice High School, one of the locations used in the movie to represent Rydell High.

This is my local power distribution station built in 1949 on Cahuenga Avenue in North Hollywood. We don't build 'em like that any more, more's the pity. I admire it every time I drive past.

6. Turk. neighbor: SYR, Syria, to Turkey.

7. Streaming services, e.g.: WEB TV

8. Accustom (to): INURE

9. Some library volumes: TOMES

10. Chitchat: TALK

11. Big-time celeb: A-LISTER. I went with "ALL STAR" first, then gradually backed off as it slowly didn't work with anything else.

12. Youngest Weasley brother: RON. I didn't know he had brothers. Not a problem, I doubt any of the siblings are well-known enough to make the crossword.

13. Mastermind game piece: PEG

19. WWII Philippine battleground: BATAAN

21. Genre with bite: SATIRE

22. Had a bite: ATE

24. KGB country: USSR. "Go West! (with the Pet Shop Boys), Go West!"

26. Bottom-row PC key: ALT

27. Samosa veggie: PEA

29. Like a designated driver: SOBER

31. Venetian magistrates of yore: DOGES. Nice living quarters, too.

34. Holiday quaff: NOG

35. Hindu masters: SWAMIS

38. Turmoil: UNREST

39. Show that launched Clay Aiken's singing career, familiarly: IDOL. The "American Idol" talent show. I'm sure that I must have heard some of Mr. Aiken's output, but I couldn't name a song from him if my life depended on it.

40. Move up and down: BOB

41. Actress Thurman: UMA. One of those entries you might as well just print in the grid and have done with it.

42. Novelist Chandler: RAYMOND

46. Deborah Harry's band: BLONDIE. I saw Blondie live at Hammersmith Odeon in 1978. I was quite taken with Ms. Harry. I think it's OK to confess at this temporal distance that I was smoking weed before the gig which might have something to do with me thinking they were the best band I'd ever seen. I was distressed to discover later that she was dating the guitarist. Oh, the innocence of youth.

47. Tax form ID: SSN

50. Wisconsin city north of Chicago: RACINE. Aren't all Wisconsin cities north of Chicago? Just wondering ... I suppose north and north-west.

53. Fence supplier: THIEF. Nice clue. A fence traffics stolen goods, hence "thief".

54. Starbucks size: VENTI. I always forget the sizes in Starbucks, or maybe never bothered to remember them. "Small", "Medium" and "Large" work just fine.

55. "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" instrument: ORGAN.

Producer: How many solos do you want on the track? 
Iron Butterfly: Yes!

58. Spot of wine?: ASTI. Nice clue for an old crossword staple.

60. Under the covers: A-BED. Best use of the word comes in the eponymous monologue in Shakespeare's "Henry V"

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

61. Collision sound: BAM

62. Arles assent: OUI

63. Almost empty: LOW

64. Ancient: OLD

And with that, I think I'll disappear down the YouTube rabbit hole for a while and re-live the 70's and 80's.

Here's the grid! Et Fin



OwenKL said...

ALISTER MacAlister, the noted WIT,
Was SUAVEST of all, he was sure of it.
But a blow to his LIBIDO
Was a HECKLING torpedo
From a feminist who'd had enough of it!

A blood-cell was in love with his inamorata,
And she with him, a classic tale, sorta.
But she was white, he was red.
To elope, out they bled
Thru a tiny nick in the AORTA!

{A-, A.}

OwenKL said...

Well, I'm batching it again. Brenda has taken off to have some cosmetic surgery done. Just the "upper", she assures me she has no interest in the "lower". She'll then be staying at a caregiver's home for 2 or 3 weeks to recuperate. I'm not really well enough to live without a caregiver myself, but I have no choice. I've asked some friends to check on me once in a while by phone. If I sometimes get a little maudlin in the next few weeks, well...

D4E4H said...

Carol and I FIR in 29:49 min.

Good morning Cornerites.

Thank you Gary Larson for your enjoyable Thursday CW.

Thank you Steve for your excellent review.


TTP said...

Good morning. Thank you, Gary. Thank you, Steve.

Wow - It seemed like I was flying through at Monday time, but in the end when I looked at the clock, it was just under an average Thursday. It just felt fast. There probably should have been more names.

I don't know what I was thinking having FeN instead of FIN. I know I filled VENTE first, but still still should have caught FIN.

That makes two LA TIMES in a row with a one letter error.

Steve, your comment about a "comprehensive school" puzzled me. First reaction was that it would be better than a "patchy school", so I looked it up. Now I understand.

Lemonade714 said...

Sorry, I missed yesterday, but I was writing a Memorandum for a Court.

I had the pleasure of meeting BARBARA STANWYCK when I was in California for a week at a conference. This legend was a very sweet rather tiny silver-haired lady. She was always friendly each day when we would see her in the hotel. It was at what was the first all-suite hotel in the US. It was easy to recall the "Y" in the adopted name of RUBY CATHERINE STEVENS .

This was a fun Gary L. puzzle; I did not see the splitting of the words for a while. There was some very good cluing. Thanks, Gary.

I really enjoy your personal perspective and sharing memories of drooling over Debbie Harry. I must comment that your Irish take is not who SYDNEY OMARR born Sidney Kimmelman, was. But it was interesting to see the "Y" again. Very few shopping days until Chanukah.

OwenKL said...

I note that while the unsplit themers were all gerunds, verbs ending in ing, none of the split words were, even tho they still ended in ing.

Hungry Mother said...

Fun while it lasted. Loved the theme, but I got through the grid too fast. Good times.

desper-otto said...

Good morning!

Yup, I tried ALLSTAR (Hi, Steve), also VENTE (Hi, TTP), and DIE before PEG filled that hole. It's another blue-moon day -- d-o got the theme. Thanx, Gary and Steve (that was my exact thought about the Wisconsin city).

DEBUGS: My loops were normally OK. It was the uninitialized pointer that ate my lunch.

Smoke Detectors: I always replace the batteries in ours when DST begins in the spring (actually winter).

IN A GADDA DA VIDA: At first I thought they were saying "in the garden of Eden" in a Louie-Louie sorta way. It was a great song to play when the DJ needed a bathroom break; it was 17 minutes long.

M-o-W this morning followed by a haircut before the kids get out of school for the Christmas break. Thursday is senior day at SuperCuts; next week'd be too late.

kazie said...

Not all verbs ending in "ING" are gerunds (verbal nouns) either. They can also be gerundives (verbal adjectives), depending on usage.
For example: The barking dog versus the dog's barking.

Jinx in Norfolk said...

FIW. I was about to enter FIN, but thought "no, Jinx, that's Italian" and changed to FeN (hi TTP). No idea about the lingo at the overpriced coffee shop. At least I didn't erase anything.

It's hard to think of DSL as broadband these days, but back in the day it was SO much faster than those 9600 baud modems. I was involved in GTE's DSL demonstration at the Byron Nelson Classic golf tournament, circa 1995.

I always think of the drum solo in In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Hand up for having a fan crush on Debbie Harry.

A Friday clue for RACINE would be "Wisconsin city north of North Lake". Abejo and I would get it easily, but Waukesha would be our first thought.

I am always the designated driver when my buddies and I go to our annual golf boondoggle in Myrtle Beach. I'm the only SOBER one of the bunch. We always go on Master's weekend, which is always held at yesterday's Augusta National. It is the only golf major that is always held on the same course.

Do non-computer nerds know that the term "BUG" came from a moth that was entangled in the backplane of an early mainframe, causing the program to malfunction?

Thanks to Gary for another terrific puzzle. And thanks to Steve for another fine tour.

TTP said...

Jinx, non-computer nerds are now scrambling to look up backplane.

Not too long after moving to Chicago, I qualified to bowl in a local tournament that was being held in Northlake, IL. I asked where Northlake was. "Drive east on North Avenue until you get to Lake Street. Another mile on the right is the bowling alley."

inanehiker said...

I enjoyed the word play of the theme and how the words were divided, as well as the person or thing was sometimes first and sometimes last (eg BOO STING).

Gotta go - looked at my schedule for today - I think everyone who couldn't come Monday due to the snow was rescheduled into today - ACK!!

Thanks Steve (that Pet Shop Boys video WAS bizarre) and Gary!

Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

I can't remember seeing this type of theme before, but I thoroughly enjoyed the solve and all the B themers, especially, Heckle musician Gordon Sumner=Boo Sting. Any unknowns were easily perped and the only w/os were Cheery/Starry and Asia/USSR. I thought the cluing was a tad too straightforward for a Thursday puzzle and I thought Et Voila was a little forced. Nice CSO to Jazz (Ron). I liked the musical mini-theme: Grease, Idol, Organ, Adele, Sting, Blondie, and Eno.

Thanks, Gary, for a fun, fresh challenge and thanks, Steve, for your always interesting and informative commentary, especially your musings on your youthful antics and your culinary practices.

Owen, A+ today. Be well and stay safe and sound.

It's bitter cold today and, unfortunately, I must brave it as I have a medical appointment. Oh well, I'll just bundle up the best I can and grin and bear it.

Have a great day.

Yellowrocks said...

Terrfic theme. I worked from the bottom up. BEEPING established the pattern, which helped greatly. FIR, but not fast. Steve, interesting b;og.
ALLSTAR at first, but it had to be ADELE, and BUMBLING gave me ASLISTER, all perps. OMARR was also new to me.
I know Heavens to Murgatroyd from the Snagglepuss cartoons. I never heard it anywhere else. I never have heard EGAD, either, except for movies and books. These days there are few minced oaths.
Peelers before mashers. My ricer makes the potatoes smooth, but it cools them down considerably, so I rarely use it.
We had an ice storm Monday night into Tuesday. By morning the roads, and especially the parking lots, were treacherous. On Wed. David came to help me put up my tree. There was snow squall just as he left my house. There were three accidents right in front of him within the first two miles. In a few more miles he called to say there was very little ice and snow the rest of the way back. Thankfully, he was safe. Here the the ice on the roads had begun to thaw from salt spreading and traffic. Then the squall quickly refroze the thawed ice from the storm and there was hidden ice under the snow.
OKL, the first one was my favorite. A+ Sorry you are alone. We can't help physically, but we are with you in spirit.
My break is over. I will return when my back screams for rest.

Sherry said...

Fairly easy for a Thursday. The clues I didn't know were filled by cross clues. Thanks for comments

Husker Gary said...

-If you called me a WIT, you’d be half right
-528 Earthlings have seen that stars do not twinkle when you are above the atmosphere
-I washed my car and then it rained. ERGO, my car washing cause it to rain. Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy
-Van Buren from Kinderhook, NY carried the nickname of OK for “Old Kinderhook” in 1840 and it took off from there
-I’m becoming INURED to “A” words like ABED
-Fun learning from BLONDIE video – 1) Who wouldn’t love her from that LIBIDO-BOOSTING performance, 2) Her version of Oh Denise is sung Oh, DENIS (De NEE) about a French boy and 3) The original Oh Denise was by one-hit-wonders Randy and The Rainbows
-The “small” popcorn at our movie theater is called “medium”

billocohoes said...

We tended to call analyzing computer memory (ours was in octal, not hexadecimal) “dump busting” while DEBUGging was for when the program ran but didn’t get satisfactory results.
When I meet sportscasters I tell them they don’t have to say NIL just because it’s a soccer score. This is ‘Murica, dammit!

Anthony Gael Moral said...

Loved the many references to pop songs.

Jinx in Norfolk, you're not alone about Deborah Harry. I particularly liked the video "Rapture." Probably the only rap song I enjoyed.

jfromvt said...

Thought this was super easy for a Thursday. Guess I was just on the same wavelength as Gary. Only early screwup was ALLSTAR, even when I got it with the fills, I never heard of an alister. It’s A-LISTER...duh...

No paper delivery again today. And I gave him what I thought was a nice Christmas tip. Will give him one more day before the dreaded call to the Gannett 800 number a thousand miles from where I live, Oh, the good old days of local customer service.

Lucina said...


Thank you, Gary Larson, for the word play! And thank you, Steve, for your insightful Blog.

Jinx: that's interesting about BUG and new to me.

The theme opened up for me at BUM BLING but almost missed BOO STING because I did not know STING's name is Gordon Sumner. I toyed around with it since RAM was obscurely clued but settled on BOO and I'm glad I did.

VENTI required five perps and I vaguely recalled OMARR from long ago.

My daughter is an avid fan of GREASE and likely knows all the words and songs.

I admire Gary Larson's WIT.

Have a splendid day, everyone!

Lucina said...

oops. That should be "since BAM was obscurely clued." RAM was one of my mental options.

Yellowrocks said...

jfromvt, thank you. I wondered about the odd spelling of ALISTER as a name. Duh! A-lister, person on the A list, the most celebrated or sought-after individuals, especially in show business. I came upstairs to find a ribbon and checked in. Yield not to temptation.

CanadianEh! said...

Terrific Thursday. Thanks for the fun, Gary and Steve.
I thought the theme was "parse the INGs" and totally missed the Bs at the start until pointed out by Steve.
This was somewhat easier for me than Tuesday or yesterday. SW corner was the last to fall; I changed Peelers to MASHERS (hello YR). Roosting made no sense for heckling Gordon (Pooh's friend?) and then a lightbulb moment and Ram changed to BAM (hello Lucina). ET VOILA, c'est la FIN!
Upset was too short and changed to UNREST; I was sure of the N from Van BUREN (yeah, I know my American presidents!)
Ends changed to EBBS, and Vente to VENTI (hi TTP,d'o,Jinx).
Another lightbulb moment with Fence supplier=THIEF.
"Put to use=TAP" was a little obscure, and required an alphabet run to give the T.
jfromvt & YR- perhaps ALISTER is another of those "A" words to which we have become INURED. LOL

Busy time of year.
Wishing you all a great day.

Jerome Gunderson said...

All the themers were good. BUMBLING is great!

Not so good- Costars of the "Road to Rio"... BOBBING

Anonymous T said...

Hi All!

Fun puzzle Gary! BAR KING tipped me off to B-ing and BUM BLING confirmed MA KING(?) aiding in some of the solve.

Wonderful expo Steve. Knew that STING was a teacher and that makes Don't Stand So Close to Me a bit creepy. //Love The Police!

WO: STREeKS (yeah, it really looks wrong typed)
ESPs: OMARR. Didn't know RAYMOND but with enough perps my Bro's name became obvious. Same with BATAAN (double A's threw me for a moment but solid perps)

Fav: THIEF's clue. I was so looking for Hurricane's competitor until V8!

{A+, A-} //Your eFriends are here from you (even if you >5 post once in a while :-))

Jinx - None other than the Grace Hopper discovered the 'BUG.'
Some of Grace's quotes

I'd add more IT nerd Words (8, 16, and 32 bits!) but I don't want to run off LL'sM again. :-)

Have a fantastic Thursday!

Cheers, -T

Yellowrocks said...

I will not TAP into my retirement funds for ordinary expenses or for a vacation. Did you ever hear someone who is short on funds point to his pocket and say,"I'm all tapped out"?
We don't allow our family to TAP into our Christmas cookie supply until Dec. 24.

I just didn't parse ALISTER correctly until jfromt separated the A from LISTER. It is not the same kind of A word as abed, although I have no nit with abed. (I rather like it,). The A in A-lister is like the A we give OKL, top notch, the best.
See my post @9:52. I quite frequently see and/or hear A-list and A-lister in the Hollywood news.


Misty said...

Fun Thursday puzzle, many thanks, Gary. And liked your giving us Shakespeare this morning, Steve. I too had ALL STAR before A LISTER. Loved having the twinkling turn out to be STARRY. Nice to see ADELE and UMA, a frequent puzzle visitor. IKEA seems to turn up a lot in puzzles these days, also. Liked your explanation about BUG, Jinx. Never heard of OMARR. Anyway, lots of neat stuff this morning.

So sorry to hear about your difficult situation, Owen. Take good care of yourself.

Stay warm on your medical trip, Irish Miss.

Have a good day, everybody.

Alice said...

Enjoyed this puzzle very much, especially BUM BLING and BOO STING. So clever.

I also enjoy the various comments and personal tidbits about solvers' lives. Good luck, Owen. Yellow Rock, I couldn't parse your comment about resisting temptation. jfromvt, good luck with the paper delivery issue. I like the actual paper newspaper too.

Spitzboov said...

Hello everyone.

Thought I was gonna DNF but then WAGged ALISTER correctly not knowing the parse to A-LISTER. Also had wite-out in the BLONDIE/……NIL cross. So: FIR. Solving was helped by the theme fills all being gerunds, so the ING's were fairly certain.
RACINE - I think it was the HQ of the J I Case Company (tractors, choppers, etc.)

Jinx in Norfolk said...

I remember seeing Admiral Hopper on TV (60 minutes?). I was wowed. My favorite was when she handed out "nanoseconds" to the audience. They were short (about a foot IIRC) pieces of wire that were cut to the distance light travels in that length of time. Provided an easy way to understand a concept that was hard to grasp, and demonstrated speed limits of the discrete-component computers of the time.

desper-otto said...

Spitz, also the home of Johnson's Wax.

Big Easy said...

I caught the B-ING at BAR -KING. A much easier than normal Thursday puzzle, with only ET VOILA & PEG (and Mastermind) as unknowns solved by perps.

Gotta Go.

Jayce said...

I liked this puzzle a lot. Been deriving great enjoyment from all your comments, too.

Didn't do the puzzle yesterday. LW and I were semi-glued to the TV all day. Gonna go and do yesterday's puzzle now.


Jayce said...

Now I understand why Lemonade mentioned Barbara Stanwyck.

Anonymous said...

My cellphone is ors de combat. This is Wilbur Charles. I'll make this brief because I'm not sure if this will publish.

I saw the theme as a substitution of the first letter: eg BUM BLING would be Fumbling. Two F's, two P's. The last? I forget.


Anonymous said...

BTW, if the above doesn't register, just exactly what was the consensus re. The ",theme"?


Lemonade714 said...

The theme is taking B-words and splitting them in two and cluing them as a two-word answer

WikWak said...

Hand up for not understanding ALISTER until I came here.

TTP, I believe you had some spelling errors in your post today. I lived in the town you mentioned for 17 years, and I can attest that the street is Nort’ Ave and the town is Nort’lake. ;)

Gary, excellent puzzle today... my favorite in a long time. Steve, I enjoyed your writeup even more than usual.

I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date (apologies to the white rabbit), so I’ll just fade away now.