May 31, 2020

Sunday May 31, 2020 MaryEllen Uthlaut

Theme: "I Had a Bad Day" - Each verbal phrase is humorously clued as if it's a failed action of the subject in the clue.

23. My crayon __: DREW A BLANK.

28. My ruler __: FAILED TO MEASURE UP.

56. My needle __: DIDN'T COME THROUGH.


93. My cake __: FELL DOWN ON THE JOB.

117. My knife __: COULDN'T MAKE THE CUT.

128. And my champagne __: FIZZLED OUT. Love how this entry ends the theme set.

It's good to see MaryEllen Uthlaut back. I always associate her name with Sunday puzzles, probably because the first few puzzles she made for the LA Times were all Sunday grids.

Great title! Husker Gary-eque!

1. Swahili boss: BWANA. Literally 'boss" in Swahili.

6. Canasta combination: MELD.

10. Cockatoo feature: CREST.

15. Boring tools: AWLS.

19. Many a surfer: AOLER. Rich is one.

20. Others, in Latin: ALII. ALIA also.

21. Vigor: OOMPH.

22. Acquire, as an advantage: GAIN.

25. Pay television: CABLE

26. Designated space: AREA. The chaos have spilled into our area. Quite a few stores are vandalized. Targets and Walmarts are all closed right now. Curfew in place the past two nights. 

27. Four-wheeler, briefly: ATV.

31. Step on it when you need to step on it: THE GAS.

33. Carnival city: RIO.

34. Applies henna to, say: DYES. Amazing work.

35. Mink cousin: OTTER.

38. Sack lead-in: KNAP. Knapsack.

41. Mount north of Redding, California: SHASTA.

46. Golf course rental: CART. Boomer needs it for his Monday morning 9-hole round.

49. Blunted sword: EPEE.

51. Text sent with x's and o's: I LUV U. And 65. Spanish 51-Across: TE AMO.

54. Cultural character: ETHOS.

55. Felt remorse for: RUED.

59. Quacked company name: AFLAC.

61. Computer instructions: CODE. Anon-T's forte.

62. Courtyard: PATIO.

63. Dramatic offering: PLAY.

64. Mediterranean capital: BEIRUT.

66. Tats: INK.

68. One of this puzzle's 144: CLUE. Maximum entries allowed for a Sunday is 144.

79. Ground cover: TARP.

80. "Yess!": YAY.

81. Empower: ENABLE.

82. What may come to mind: IDEA.

86. Native New Zealander: MAORI.

89. Fix, as a toy: SPAY.

92. Sleep disorder: APNEA.

97. Shut (up): PENT.

98. South Pacific island group: SAMOA.

99. Parasite: LEECH.

100. Benefit: SAKE. Nice with sashimi.

101. Cookie with a Red Velvet variety: OREO. This red looks so artificial.

102. Attacks: ONSETS.

104. Climb, in a way: SHIN.

106. Direct attention: REFER.

108. Soften: EASE.

111. As we speak: NOW.

113. Beefy soup ingredient: OXTAIL. Thick. Almost stew.

125. Genetic material: DNA.

126. "Need anything __?": ELSE.

127. Fluffy-eared marsupial: KOALA.

130. Crossword-solving Simpson: LISA.

131. Celtic language: IRISH.

132. Trac II cousin: ATRA.

133. Walt Whitman volunteered as one during the Civil War: NURSE.

134. Title for fictional detective Peter Wimsey: LORD. Read more here.

135. Parachute fabric: NYLON.

136. Help grow up: REAR.

137. Printer cartridge contents: TONER.


1. Lacking talent for: BAD AT.

2. Deserving of: WORTH.

3. "All Day Strong" brand: ALEVE.

4. Not seen before: NEW.

5. Longtime PLO chairman: ARAFAT.

6. Mauritania neighbor: MALI.

7. Airline to Israel: EL AL.

8. Hard-hit batted ball: LINER.

9. Small antelope with an echoic name: DIK DIK. Look at her eyes!

10. First name in design: COCO.

11. Wander aimlessly: ROAM.

12. Reporter at the front: EMBED.

13. Spread outward: SPLAY.

14. Academic research papers: THESES.

15. Jellylike alga extract: AGAR. Essential for Fruit Jelly. Can't wait for the lychee season.

16. Goods suffix: WARE.

17. Stead: LIEU.

18. Start of a football play: SNAP.

24. Poured juices over: BASTED.

29. Bar mixer: TONIC.

30. Director in the theater?: USHER. Nice clue.

32. Approached nightfall: GOT DARK.

36. "Iliad," for one: EPIC.

37. Second chance: REDO.

39. Leaning to one side: ALOP. Have not seen this word for sometime.

40. Reebok rival: PUMA.

42. Resting upon: ATOP.

43. Jewish assembly site: SHUL.

44. Roman garment: TOGA.

45. Grayish: ASHY.

46. 19th-century diarist Henry __ Robinson: CRABB. Unfamiliar to me.

47. Pot-__: "on the fire" French stew: AU-FEU.  Partial. I'll talk more about it later.

48. Thing of the past: RELIC.

50. Lead to: END IN. 103. Finally registered: SANK IN. 115. Occupied: IN USE.

52. Twining plant: VETCH. Learned from doing crosswords. So pretty. Alas, D-Otto can't see the delicate colors.

53. Functional: UTILE.

57. Look after: TEND.

58. Legislative body: HOUSE.

60. Snake worshippers, e.g.: CULT. Never heard of snake worship.

67. Tab, say: KEY.

69. European erupter: ETNA.

71. Slow way of speaking: DRAWL.

72. Barely ahead: UP ONE.

73. Reckless: RASH.

74. Personality categories: TYPES.

75. Bond that promotes easy communication: RAPPORT.

76. Baseball's Doubleday: ABNER.

77. __ Woods, original voice of Disney's Cinderella: ILENE. Also new to me. Has a Norma Jean look.

78. "Groovy!": NEATO.

82. In that case: IF SO.

83. Basketball Hall of Fame coach Smith: DEAN. Wiki says he "coached for 36 years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Smith coached from 1961 to 1997 and retired with 879 victories".

84. Stately trees: ELMS.

85. Cream additive: ALOE. Skin cream.

87. Small deer: ROES.

88. Move bit by bit: INCH.

90. "When it's __": answer to a classic riddle: A JAR.

91. Symbol of bondage: YOKE.

94. So last year: DATED.

95. "To __ own self be true": "Hamlet": THINE.

96. Soil: BEFOUL. Not a word I use. Those rioters befoul our state. We're not "Minnesota Nice" any more.  

105. A stone's throw: NOT FAR. Our governor said 80% of the rioters are from other states.

107. Degree: EXTENT.

109. Apartment building unit: STORY.

110. Web message: EMAIL.

112. Harmless, as a lie: WHITE.

114. Add splendor to: ADORN.

116. "See ya": LATER.

117. Honeycomb compartment: CELL.

118. Miscellany: OLIO.

119. Cold War initials: USSR.

120. Play the first card: LEAD.

121. Besides that: ALSO.

122. Madeline of "Blazing Saddles": KAHN.

123. Poet Pound: EZRA.

124. Old Russian autocrat: CZAR.

129. Sonny and Cher, for one: DUO.

I wrote a short post on partials a while ago. You can read it here.

Suppose I have a ARA? slot and I can only use letter M or T. I normally choose T, so I'll have A RAT partial. It's easy to clue and easy for solvers. ARAM is not a common name and can stump some solvers.

Partials are not bad. Every editors allow them. Just make sure you don't have more than two for a 15*15 grid and your partials don't have more than 5-letters like A PLANT.


May 30, 2020

Saturday, May 30, 2020, Brian E. Paquin

Themeless Saturday by Brian E. Paquin 

Our retired computer systems developer, and now crossword constructor from Kingston, Ontario returns today with a lovely little puzzle. The long fills greatly aided me although SEARCH HIGH AND LOW and ROUGH ESTIMATES soon knew the fury of my delete key.

Brian wrote to me and gave fabulous insight into his construction process that uses a program he wrote himself. It is so detailed I decided to post it at the bottom of write-up and I can't recommend it highly enough!

Let's see what Brian has for us on this penultimate day in May.


1. Cowboys, at times: ROPERS - Not the sitcom landlords

7. Can really bring it: HAS GAME - When playing golf with strangers, you can soon see who "HAS GAME"

14. Modern book case?: E-READER - My MacBook Pro fills in

16. Poirot portrayer in "Death on the Nile": USTINOV - Real Agatha Christie fans will pick him out in this lineup

17. Mondale's 1984 running mate: FERRARO - Her addition to the ticket did not keep him from a huge landslide loss 

18. Newborn: NEONATE - A baby four weeks old or younger

19. Fightin': AGIN - "If'n yer fer it, ahm AGIN it!"

20. Fenders, e.g.: GUITARS - Bryan Adams FENDER Stratocaster that is signed by 19 rock artists brought $2.7M at auction. 10 most expensive guitars

22. Mil. rank in Clue: COL - Mustard

23. Emergency: PINCH - The last word that finishes this old five-word adage

24. Flowering desert plant: YUCCA.

28. Go after: ENSUE.

30. Orator's stage: DAIS.

32. Sweetie pie: HON - Beats the heck out of BAE

33. What an inspiration may do: SPRING TO MIND - Dr. Percy Spencer felt a candy bar melt in his shirt pocket while standing next to this radar magnetron which emitted microwave radiation. He then put down popcorn kernels and watched them pop. Hmmm...

37. Makes big bucks: RAKES IN THE MONEY.

40. Standing up to criticism: HOLDING WATER - Does the defenses case HOLD WATER?

41. Compass dir.: ENE - The red runway below is designated 01/19. It is runway 01 when going ENE (10 degrees dropping the 0) and runway 19 (190 degrees dropping the 0) when going WSW

42. Campus leader: DEAN.

43. Tree houses: NESTS - People make them as well

47. Abounds: TEEMS.

50. Uber offerings: RIDES - It was a $20 UBER RIDE from our hotel to Arlington National Cemetery

52. Limit: CAP - Unlike cabs, that Uber rate has a CAP

53. Spook: STARTLE.

55. Ear part: LOBE.

56. Like the L.A. Times Building: ART DECO - July, 4, 1942

59. Early name in aviation: ORVILLE - The brothers 61. Reworked: DID OVER the flight surfaces on Dec. 17 until they got 852' which is the last marker in this picture

62. Brandished: WIELDED.

63. Enter into and control: POSSESS.

64. Is: EXISTS.


1. Spruce up, as a building front: REFACE - An HGTV "fixer upper" result

2. Home of Silicon Forest: OREGON - Analogous to California's Silicon Valley

3. Risks: PERILS.

4. Merit: EARN.

5. Old food label abbr.: RDA.

6. Two-time 1990s French Open champ __ Bruguera: SERGI - Before Nadal became unbeatable on the clay surface in Paris

7. Look everywhere: HUNT HIGH AND LOW.

8. Headed for Europe, maybe: ASEA - A voyage on the Queen Mary 2 is on my bucket list

9. Account: STORY - There's always two sides

10. Infomercial kitchen brand: GINSU - How often do you need to slice a tin can?

11. Santa __: ANA.

12. Wit bit: MOT.

13. Time of anticipation: EVE - I try to catch all my blogging errors on Friday night which is Saturday Puzzle EVE but... 

15. Inaccuracies usually considered acceptable: ROUNDING ERRORS - The basis for the movie Office Space

21. Cry of anticipatory excitement: I CAN'T WAIT - Husker FB and VB

23. Side in a decades-long war: PEPSI.

25. Gym exercise: CHIN - Brian clued it as "Dimple location"

26. Road repair sight: CONE.

27. Comedian Samberg: ANDYHis IMDB

29. Put in the lineup: USED - Rumor has it that the designated hitter will be USED in both leagues when MLB starts up again

31. Manuscript mark: STET - You know what? Leave it as it was.

34. Peeled-off item: RIND.

35. Eclipses and comets, to some: OMENS - We were right under the Moon's shadow when it passed over Eastern Nebraska in 2017

36. Added: MORE.

37. Orator's prowess: Abbr.: RHET - RHETORIC - My granddaughter's future husband was a National Champion debater for UNL

38. Top-drawer: A-ONE.

39. "Fish Magic" painter: KLEE I wonder what that looks like

44. Tells off: SCOLDS.

45. Laptop alternative: TABLET 

46. Barrels or bolts: SPEEDS.

48. Windows forerunner: MS DOS - MS-DOS was replaced by GUI (Graphic User Interface) Window interface

MS-DOS                                                Windows OS
49. Jobs in the tech industry: STEVE - A fun clue, Brian! Also an alternative to Windows!

Steve Jobs
51. Macabre: EERIE - That's another Steve(n) King!

54. Breezes through: ACES.

55. Taylor of "Six Feet Under": LILI - If you know the show, you know who she is in this picture

56. Payroll service initials: ADP - Automatic Data Processing

57. Feeder of un lago: RIO El RIO Detroit desemboca en el lago Erie

58. NFL stats: TDS.

60. Bug: VEX - It sounded like a Shakespearean word and so I searched and found this line that came at the death of the title character. Act 5, Scene 3 dialogue in modern English as well

Let's hear what you have to say about Brian's puzzle after you take a look behind his construction curtain below. Thanks again for being so generous, Brian!

Hi Gary,

For this puzzle, I used a type of grid which is one of my 'lazy' grids: it does take time to fill it, and there can be stretches of tedious trial and error, but it doesn't take a lot of  creative effort or hard work.   The laziness partly springs from the fact that there are three longish Across entries passing through the center, and three such Down entries doing the same.  That can actually simplify the process.
1.  To start things off, I highlight the 3 long Across entries and tell my program to produce (maybe) 200 fills of just those entries.   Then I do something else entirely, like take a nap.   Some time later, I scroll through the results, and save the half dozen or so results that I like the most.  'Liking' a grid not only involves liking the three entries that I see, but also liking the number of potential crossing entries that exist, and what they are.  (There will be at least one possibility for each crosser, otherwise my program won't keep that fill).
2.  Starting with my first choice of fills, I repeat the process with just the three central Down entries.   The choices are of course restricted by the three existing Across entries, and the program might not come up with a long list of possibilities.  (But I still might sleep again while it's producing that list).
3.  I now have one or more grids that have the six long entries filled in.  I again scroll through the list and save the grids where I decide that the three Down entries look appealing, and the four independent corners look like they can be filled.   At this point, I might well decide that I've hit a dead end, and I will try my next choice from the grids produced in Step 1.
4.  When I get this far, I have one or more grids where only four small and independent corners need to be filled.  (And much of the work might have been done while I was sawing off zeds, which are Canadian zees). Typically, one or maybe two of those corners will look (and be) hard to fill, and the others will look (and be) easy to fill in various ways.   Note that up to now, I have been working only with my own cleanest dictionaries, which I have built up brick by brick over time.   
In order to deal with the difficult corner/s, I might try moving a black square, or adding a cheater square, or turning a seven-letter entry into 2 three letter entries.  But I will probably start including word lists that have entries that I don't care for much.  (I don't really want the name of a darts champion in my grid, or the title of a dime novel.  On the other hand, I don't think that one or two stinker entries should spoil a puzzle, especially not a Saturday puzzle).  And sometime soon, I will be done.

In defense of my laziness, I wrote my own grid-filling software, and I have put a fair bit of work and (I hope) creativity into improving it.   I wrote the first version in Oct 1998.
As well, I have put a lot of effort into creating clean word lists.   I only use entries like AREA, ARENA, EEK, ELS, ONO, etc.  when there doesn't appear to be another choice.
I have left out quite a bit of detail, but that's all for now!

May 29, 2020

Friday, March 29, 2020, Alan Massengill and Jeff Chen

Title: Follow the circles from end to end.

We have another new collaboration featuring regular constructor Jeff Chen and noob (newbie?) Alan Massengill who already has two solo Universal puzzles published. Jeff has about 70 puzzles in the LAT of which I think 27 are collaborations. He also has 111 NYT publications, of which 70 are joint efforts. That qualifies him as HOF mentor. This primarily a visual puzzle, which once you see one of the theme answers, fills fairly easily for a Friday. Not much in the way in new fill, E-FILED, being the only introductory word. There some sparkles in the fill like AWESOME, DESSERT (this time) LOAN OUT, PARTIAL (a CWD nono) PETALED, SWISHED, FAULKNER and  HINT HINT. I hope Jeff or Alan will stop by to tell us more about this puzzle and constructor.

On to the theme:

17A. Feeling upon being stretched thinUTTER EXHAUSTIO(15). THIN is stretched from the second letter to the last.

26A. Earth-shattering realization: THE AWFUL TRUTH (13).
EARTH is broken up.

44A. Cutting-edge fashion icon: COUTURE DESIGNE(13). Designers create their fashions by cutting up cloth.

59A. Exhibit widespread political appeal: WIN BY A LANDSLIDE (15). WI and DE = WIDE which are spread far apart.



1. OTC drug overseer: FDAFood and Drug Administration.

4. Like a honeymoon couple's bed, perhaps: PETALED. Or this...

11. It may be brown or blonde: ALEASH was my first thought. That was a seed planted by Monday's puzzle.

14. Realty unit: LOT. I like this better than "acre."

15. "Killer, dude!": AWESOME. Surfer talk.

16. Proponent's preposition: FOR. This and the next are just definitions.

20. Ill-suited: INAPT.

21. Two-time Seth MacFarlane title character: TED. Why not.

22. Browses: SURFS. The other surfer,

23. Duplicity: DECEIT. No comment, too political.

25. Charges: SETS AT.

30. Actor-for-actor movie studio exchange: LOAN OUT.  READ and discuss.

31. Closest buds, for short: BFFsBest Friends Forever. The "s" is like an appendix in the human body. Followed by...

35. Open parenthesis, in some emoticons: FROWN. ಠ╭╮ಠ is what is listed in Unicode Emoticons. Also, 6D. Row of emoji, perhaps: TEXT.

36. Spiced tea: CHAI. This is generally a blend of black tea, ginger, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon. There are variations throughout the world.

40. Cook in fat in a closed pot: BRAISE. This is to fry lightly and then stew it slowly in a closed container. Braising is used with larger or whole pieces of meat and very little liquid.

42. Cary Grant's chin dimple et al.: TRAITS. Our Charlotte has a chin dimple. Do you find them attractive or awful?

48. Zeppelin leader?: LED. Musical interlude? No Stairway today.

49. Spare tire makeup: FAT. A little deception, but men of our age do fight the battle of the bulge.

50. Hoops hanger: NET. They hang at each end of the court. Also, they make the sound in 53A. Sank perfectly, as a jump shot: SWISHED.

51. Jan. honoree: MLKMartin Luther King, Jr.

56. Top 40 song, e.g.: HIT.

62. Taiwanese tech giant: ACER.

63. Surprises in bottles: GENII. Back again.

64. Tip jar deposits: ONES. These days I see mostly quarters.

65. Tijuana Brass leader Alpert: HERB. Musical interlude. Hell yeah.

66. Fiat: EDICT. Not a car but from the Latin for "let it be done," the word fiat is a binding edict issued by a person in command. It can gain an almost Biblical aura of authority, like a movie Pharaoh saying, "So let it be written, so let it be done." Or Picard,  "make it so."

67. ASAP in the ER: STAT. It is more compelling the As Soon As Possible. It comes from the Latin and is an abbreviation of the word statim, which has the meaning "instantly/immediately."


1. Word with gender or lighter: FLUID. I knew lighter fluid but had not run across gender fluid which is a gender identity. A gender fluid person may feel male on some days, female on others, both male and female, or neither. A gender fluid person might also identify as genderqueer.

2. ISP suffix: DOT NET. Many of these mixed answer spelling out punctuation.

3. Stick on: ATTACH.

4. Not all there: PARTIAL. The dreaded crossword faux pas.

5. Farm female: EWE. Only you...

7. ESPY Courage Award namesake: ASHE. Arthur has had a great career in puzzles. His hair was neither ash brown nor blonde.

8. Unit to be washed: LOAD. Sunday was a wash day for us.

9. Layer of dark green eggs: EMU. An Emu egg is the equivalent of approximately 10 chicken eggs. The shell has a beautiful teal color (sometimes darker in color) and is prized as a decorative piece. We recommend using a chisel and hammer or dremel-type tool to get into the egg. Emu eggs make an incredible omelet or frittata. Also, irritating commercials if you ask some.

10. Napoléon, for one: DESSERT. This was not a tribute dessert but the cake initially named mille-feuille (which means a "thousand layers" in French) was brought to Russia in the early 19th century and was widely cooked during the festivities after the victory against the French army of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1812.

11. Something never done before: A FIRST. This collaboration for example.

12. Exfoliating sponge: LOOFAH. Loofahs — sometimes spelled luffas — are popular shower accessories used for cleaning and exfoliating your skin. No relation to sea sponges;  natural loofahs are made from a gourd in the cucumber family.

13. Bond villain Blofeld: ERNST. He has appeared, played by many actors, in SEVEN Bond films. Can you name them?

18. Dueling sword: EPEE.

19. Fantasia hippo's outfit: TUTU.


25. Evel doings?: STUNTS. Knievel- take that Robbie.

27. Not even close: FAR. Literal again and in a logical place.

28. Card game whose name is spoken during play: UNO. My maternal grandmother, may she rest in peace, traveled with a deck in her purse.

29. Dirty: LOW. Down rat!

31. English channel: BBC.

32. To and __: FRO.

33. Only Mississippi-born Literature Nobelist: FAULKNER.

34. Browsing target: SITE.

36. Animal house: CAGE.

37. Comment with a wink and an elbow: HINT HINT.

38. Consumed: ATE.

39. Med. country: ISRael.

41. Like bubble baths: SUDSY. And generally covering bouncy boobies. Unlike...

43. Cantaloupe coverings: RINDSNutrition but then boobies can be melons.

45. Submitted returns online: E-FILED.

46. Water brand: DASANI. For some reason, my least favorite of the bottle brands.

47. Cultural, as cuisine: ETHNIC.

51. [Blown kiss]: MWAH.

52. Causes of some head-scratching: LICE. Very literal.

54. Minimum __: WAGE. The new reality.

55. Revise: EDIT.

57. A light bulb may symbolize one: IDEA.

58. Sample: TEST.

60. "Hang on a sec," in texts: BRBBRight Back.

61. __ Alamos, NM: LOS. We finish with Los Alamos and its  National Laboratory (LANL) is probably the most famous federal government laboratory. Synonymous with both clandestine and well-known paradigm-shifting research, it is most recognized as serving as the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

I am outta here after another week having fun and with a new twist on an old concept. Thank you, Alan and Jeff,

May 28, 2020

Thursday, May 28th 2020 Bruce Haight

Theme: Not only but ... As the reveal tells us what to look for:

66A. Cross-reference indicator ... and directions to the link among the five longest puzzle answers: SEE ALSO

Seems clear enough! Let's go find them:

18A. Wayward one in Luke: PRODIGAL SON. If you are of a certain age, you will not be able to see "wayward son" without hearing this. You can't un-see the hair or the beard either.

24A. Origin of new business, perhaps: REFERRAL SOURCE

39A. Oscar category: BEST ORIGINAL SONG. I've used my music link for the day, but no matter. If "Kansas" isn't your thing, the wonderful Audrey Hepburn certainly should be, the song won the Oscar in 1961.

48A. Hypothetical evolutionary starting point: PRIMORDIAL SOUP. Food! Recipe to follow.

57A. Click or cluck: ANIMAL SOUND "Animal Noise" led me astray a little, but soon corrected.

Here's the recipe for Primodial Soup:


1 ocean (tropical oceans have the best flavor and a lower sodium content than inland seas).
1 active volcano spewing lava (these are available on your local Hawai'ian island, or substitute an Icelandic Eyjafjallajökull or similar).
2 tbsp concentrated amino acids
1 tablet of Alchemy
1 16oz bottle of captured lightning


Pour molten lava into ocean. When the ocean boils, reduce to a simmer and add amino acids. Leave to steep for millenia until a green bloom is apparent. Activate the alchemy tablet with a few drops of ocean until it is foaming. Add to the soup and immediately uncork the lightning and flash onto the surface of the mixture. When small sea creatures are observed crawling onto the rim of the pot and developing lungs and legs, the soup is ready. Salt to taste, garnish with kelp and serve. Keeps, refrigerated, for ice ages.

Warning: Prepared in an environment which may include traces of Big Bang.

Right, that flight of fancy over, let's get back to the puzzle. 

The theme entries are nicely consistent - the AL-SO breaks across two words in each instance. Bruce is a dab hand at the long entries across for the themers, and he generally throws in a couple of extended down entries, in this case two of those long downs tie three theme entries together, that's a nice touch.

There's a lot of shorter fill, but that need not be a bad thing as long as the abbreviations are held at arm's length and there's some humor to the cluing, and that's what we see here. Good job.

Let's hop the tour bus. No need to tip the driver.


1. Barely enough to notice: A TINGE

7. Defib expert: EMT

10. Monopolizes: HOGS

14. Like a side view: LATERAL

16. __ cross: TAU

17. Playing a fifth qtr., say: IN O.T.

20. Partnership for Peace org.: NATO.

21. "On the Waterfront" director Kazan: ELIA

22. Radio tuner: AM DIAL

28. Open a crack: AJAR

30. California agricultural farm name: KNOTT'S. You can still get the fried chicken and boysenberry pies that started the whole thing off when Mrs. Knott started serving meals on the berry farm. The food is pretty good.

31. City near Berlin: POTSDAM. Site of the Potsdam Conference in 1945 when Stalin, Churchill and Truman carved up post-WWII Europe. Not sure quite how well that turned out.

35. Exercise regimen complement: DIET. Exercise regimen compliment: Looking good!

36. Bagged leaves?: TEA

42. __-mo: SLO

43. One-named supermodel: EMME

44. Flying biter, informally: SKEETER. This was new to me. As kids, we used to build "Super Skeeter" balsa wood airplanes like this one (although it looks like the tail fin is missing!)

45. Put forward with confidence: ASSERT

47. General vibe: AURA

54. Chew out: REBUKE

55. "Beautiful Girls" singer Kingston: SEAN. This song passed me by in the early 2000's, but it's got more than 500m hits on YouTube so someone's been playing it.

56. Pianist Gilels: EMIL

64. Fit figure: SIZE

65. Semi-important part?: CAB

67. "Now!": STAT!

68. "That's odd ... ": HMM

69. Binge-watch, perhaps: STREAM. There's been a lot of that going on recently. I'm surprised that the Amazon and Netflix tech infrastructure has been able to keep up with the demand, that's pretty impressive.


1. Skiing spot: ALP. It's funny, I never really thought of alps in the singular until I came across them in crosswords. You wouldn't say that Mt. Everest is a himalaya, but there's no arguing that Alp d'Huez isn't an alp. English is a funny language, as we all know. Is Mont Blanc an alp, or a peak in the alps? Troubling times.

2. La Brea goo: TAR. I love the smell of hot tar.

3. Skater Midori: ITO

4. Composer Rorem: NED. Known from crosswords past. I had absolutely no idea what his music is like. Here's a snippet of his Pulizer Prize-winning composition "Air Music".

5. Playful criticism: GRIEF

6. Birdie topper: EAGLE. Golf, two under par for an eagle, one under for a birdie. Did you watch the Mickleson/Woods Tom Brady/Peyton Manning charity event at the weekend? I was sceptical but it was a lot of fun, and together they raised more than $20m. That's a good afternoon's work.

7. Extras on many Syfy shows: ET'S

8. Chinese chairman: MAO

9. Ahi serving: TUNA STEAK

10. Bhagavad Gita believers: HINDUS. The best-known of the Hundu scriptures.

11. Studio sign: ON AIR

12. Did so-so in class: GOT A "C"

13. Took badly?: STOLE. Nice clue.

15. Place for a long winter's nap: LAIR

19. Fun time: LARK

23. Spotted pattern: MOTTLE

24. "Midnight Cowboy" hustler: RATSO. Not the most attractive of characters, I think it's fair to say. Great performance by Dustin Hoffman though.

25. Once, once: ERST

26. "... __ quote:": AND I

27. Pork cuts: LOINS

28. Emer. alerts: APB'S

29. One of the Minor Prophets: JOEL. What makes a "minor" prophet? Prophetic output? Accuracy? If I make two prophecies and I'm spot-on does that make me less minor than a prolific prophet with a 50% hit rate? We should be told.

32. Makes a decent living: DOES OK

33. Close proximity: ARM'S REACH

34. Played charades: MIMED

36. Add: TOT UP. Is this English English? I'm not sure I've heard the phrase in the USA.

37. Part of DOE: Abbr.: ENER. I get "Environment" and "Energy" mixed up.

38. Tourist city about 110 miles from New Delhi: AGRA. Site of the Taj Mahal. I was going to visit the last time I was in Delhi, but the pollution was so bad that I didn't want to go outside. I was told that the round trip would take around eight hours by car, so I skipped it. I still came down with bronchitis so bad that I tore rib cartilages coughing so hard.

40. "Deadwood" actress Jewell: GERI. Thank you, crosses.

41. 12-time NFL Pro Bowler Junior: SEAU. A  great player, and a tragic victim of brain trauma which led to his suicide. 

45. Talisman: AMULET

46. Australian isl. state: TASM.

48. Media attention: PRESS

49. Pay: REMIT

50. Spanish resort island: IBIZA

51. Green spaces: LEAS

52. Retail statistic: SALES. It doesn't take a prophet, even a minor one, to tell you retail sales will be down this year.

53. Get-go: ONSET

58. Setting for some war movies, familiarly: 'NAM

59. "THINK" sloganeer: IBM. My PC laptop is a ThinkPad, named for the slogan, before IBM sold their PC business to Lenovo.

60. Crew aid: OAR

61. Mod or nod ending: ULE

62. Intel-gathering gp.: N.S.A.

63. __ Pérignon: DOM. Cheers!

My company just gave me a Macbook Air, so now I've got my Chromebook, the aforementioned Lenovo laptop and a snazzy new Mac. To say I don't know whether to scroll down for up, up for down, whether to command- or ctrl-, use a left mouse button or not and "confused" is an understatement. Plus all the keyboards are just a little different regarding spacing. All good fun. Getting a screen grab of the grid and coloring in the "ALSO" squares was a good (!!!!) learning experience. Except I missed one. Doh!

Here it is, in all its Chromebook/PC/Mac glory, and thanks again to Bruce for the fun.