Jul 11, 2020

Saturday, July 11, 2020, by John-Clark Levin

John-Clark and Alex Trebek
His appearance aired in October of 2012
Themeless Saturday puzzle by John-Clark Levin

Today is the first John-Clark Levin Saturday LA Times puzzle. This was John-Clark's gracious reply for info on him and his puzzle:

Hi Gary,

A few words of introduction to readers of the blog... I am a native of Ojai, California, and currently a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge in the UK. My research focuses on how governments can do a better job of anticipating the impacts of artificial intelligence. I also work as an author and journalist at the intersection of technology, politics, and security. Among more lighthearted pursuits, I’ve been known to perform stage magic, and will take even the flimsiest excuse to sing Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements.” (This is linked below the grid and highly recommended! - hg)

For seed entries, I was glad to debut ITS A MATCH, the Tinder notification transformed dating for my generation—and sparked unions whose precocious offspring are in some cases just a few years away from becoming crossword puzzle fans themselves. SUGAR RUSH has less social relevance, but is just the kind of evocative phrase that I love to see livening up a grid. But my favorite entry is NOT THE ONION. There's been so much absurd news over the past few years that people in my newsfeed have to constantly use that as a preface!

Rich Norris suggested some edits to the fill, and I'm much happier with the way the final version turned out, although I wish I could have avoided a few somewhat awkward entries like CRIER and TBILLS. I love the clues Rich added for ISLANDS, ITEM, ACH. So big thanks to him, Patti Varol, and the rest of the editorial team both for the acceptance and improvements. They're a pleasure to work with.

I love seeing so many lovely comments from solvers—getting to entertain and challenge so many amazing people on a Saturday morning is a genuine privilege. I hope you enjoyed today's puzzle!

All the best,


I managed to move right along in this puzzle and admired the word sights along the way. BTW, John-Clark assured me there is no intrigue to his hyphenated first name and that he enjoys its uniqueness. He added, "And let's just say nobody calls me "John" if they want an answer!"


1. Author Allende: ISABEL - A Chilean author of "magical realism"

7. Counter proposals?: ISLANDS - Hey, they're not just in kitchens! 
14. Still ahead: TO COME.

15. 2003 disaster movie about a mission to Earth's center: THE CORE.

16. Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe is one: SALOON - A chance to take a break, sit down in a/c, get a cool drink and see a show at The Magic Kingdom

17. Mr. Rogers catchword: NEIGHBOR 

18. Car loan figs.: APRS 

19. Leaf pore: STOMA - A highly magnified open STOMA on a rose leaf

21. Tolkien being: ELF.

22. Champagne with a diaeresis - 
MOËT - the diaeresis is the punctuation mark over the E that tells the vowels are pronounced separately not as one. Z
OË rhymes with snowy not snow

23. Lion, say: CAT 

24. Govt. securities: T-BILLS - Here's a million dollar one

27. Handy program: APP.

28. Suggests to the palate: TASTES OF - Does bad wine TASTE OF vinegar?

30. Join forces: TEAM UP.

32. Help a vacationing friend, maybe: HOUSE SIT - We paid our granddaughter big bucks to HOUSE/KITTY SIT for us

36. Old news source: CRIER.

37. No WNBA players: MEN - Hence the W

38. Clam or lobster: SAUCE.

39. Crunchy cantina fare: HARD TACO - My shell preference 

41. Became one company: MERGED and 37. 2006 Verizon acquisition: MCI.

42. Rockford's home: ILLINOIS - JFK visiting Rockford, Illinois in 1960. Life magazine called Rockford 
 "as nearly typical of the U.S. as any city can be."

44. Include in the mix: ADD - We enjoy Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and are sometimes amazed at what ingredients chefs ADD to their creations 

45. Court rival of Roger: RAFAEL - Recent numbers 

48. Iraq War danger: Abbr.: IED - A horrible abbreviation we all have learned 

49. Hub near de Gaulle: ORLY - A 34-min. drive

50. Broadway's Burrows: ABE His IMDB

51. Crystal-lined rock: GEODE - For $16.95 you can break open your own

53. Chesapeake delicacy: CRAB - Home of the Maryland/Chesapeake Blue Crab 

54. Pull out all the stops: GO TO TOWN.

57. Perspicacious: ASTUTE - A person can be called "
sesquipedalian" if they choose words that are way bigger than necessary

59. Prince of Darkness: EVIL ONE.

60. Midday nap: SIESTA.

61. Trips taken mostly in the dark: RED EYES - We took a RED EYE flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles on New Year's Eve in 1986

62. Leash: TETHER.


1. Tinder notice: IT'S A MATCH - Gotta be better than, "Hey, what's your sign?"

2. Show labeled for its early sponsors: SOAP OPERA.

3. Fix for an injured knee: ACL REPAIR - Doctor to an athlete with an Injured Anterior Cruciate Ligament: 26. Lead-in to bad news: "I FEAR your career may be over"

4. Increase: BOOST.

5. Broody rock genre: EMO Here's an example entitled Miserable At Best

6. Blank photo cause: LENS CAP - Oops!

7. Couple of People: ITEM.

8. Massage technique: SHIATSU - I can choose SHIATSU or Rolling massage 

9. Race stage: LEG.

10. Hamburger beef?: ACH - Love this clue. This Hamburger is a resident of the German city and the beef is a complaint. ACH du lieber! is what you might say if you 58. "Sprechen __ Deutsch?": SIE.

11. Prize founder: NOBEL.

12. Like some humor: DROLL 20 of Steven Wright's best jokes

13. Russia's Alexander II emancipated them in 1861: SERFS.

17. Disclaimer for sounds-absurd-but-it's-real news content: NOT THE ONION - THE ONION is a famous satirical site. NOT THE ONION is said of a real story that seems like it could only be satire like you see here

20. Many Ph.D. candidates: TA'S - Teaching Assistants

25. Supervisors: BOSSES.

28. Symbol of slowness: TURTLE.

29. Ages and ages: EON.

31. Press and such: MEDIA.

33. Consequence of too much sweetness?: SUGAR RUSH - John-Clark's evocative entry

34. Refreshing coffeehouse order: ICED LATTE - $3.95 and 130 calories for a grande at Starbucks®

35. Focus of a former Florida museum that featured a Hug Club: TEDDY BEAR Now closed after being bought by the Naples, FL. YMCA

40. Expended: ALL GONE.

41. Region of long-frustrated peace efforts: MIDEAST - It seems like EONS

43. Its Jan. 2018 additions include "hangry" and "mansplain": OED.

What could possibly go wrong?
45. Abandoned party: RAGER - U.S. - A student party where large amounts of alcohol are consumed and riotous behavior occurs. Throwing a RAGER in an abandoned house leaves no one to press charges - USA Today (John-Clark told me this was Rich's clue)

46. Where the stars are: ABOVE.

47. Rank: FETID - A line from a song in the play 1776 You see, we piddle, twiddle, and resolve, Not one damn thing do we solve. Piddle, twiddle, and resolve, Nothing's ever solved in Foul, FETID, fuming, foggy, filthy Philadephia!

49. G7, before Russia's suspension: OCTET.

52. Farm girls: EWES.

55. La Liga cheer: OLE - The League of soccer teams in Spain

56. Yorkie's group designation: TOY - dog

For further insight into John-Clark, listen to his rendition of The Elements from the 2014 from the Harvard Kennedy School Talent Show. What a hoot!

Comments for John-Clark:


PK said...

Hi Y'all! Thank you, John-Clark for an interesting and mind-expanding 31:21 minutes. I am impressed by your learning, young man. Thank you, Gary! You also impress me.

I was not impressed by my knowledge for this puzzle at first. I confidently plugged in ISABEL then just read clues without entering anything else on the top tier. Finally, a few synapses snapped and I got going with fills. I confess to several red-letter runs to get started in places.

Court rival of Roger = Rafael. I spent too long mulling over guys on a basketball court. Oh, tennis!

Sprecken "der", "zee", before perped in SIE. Groan!

IT'S A MATCH! Okay, times have sure changed.

Abandoned party - RAGER. ESP These may be responsible for a number of fires in local abandoned houses. No, kids, you can't control a bonfire on a wood floor even if it warms up the party.

AnonPVX: FLN Old oil in a cola bottle! Not a smooth move? Yuk!

Lemonade714 said...

Thank you, Gary and John-Clark. A very doable Saturday from an interesting young man. Nothing jumps out beyond what HG has already said, though I did not know NOT THE ONION or the use of RAGER having heard only of RAGES.

Happy weekend all and thanks for the thoughts on yesterday's puzzle.

LEO III said...

FIW --- but not as wrong as yesterday, and I think I did pretty well for a Saturday. Took me the better part of three hours, but I was able to slog through it. Both the puzzle and the expo were great!

Completely messed up ISLANDS/DROLL, for goodness sake. With this one being a Saturday puzzle, I entered a T instead of a D, and wrote it off as some new way the kids these days categorize differing opinions and humor. Definitely a case of overthinking!

Also missed STOMA, even though I took a botany class way back in college (to avoid having to cut up dead animals in biology). Both of my daughters loved biology! Go figure! One got a degree in it; the other chose forensic science. Neither is in the either business now.

Also managed to mess up the TASTESOF/IFEAR crossing. Originally wanted TASTESOK, which I couldn’t make fit the cross, so I settled for IHEAR for the bad news and disregarded the resulting non-fit. Duh!

I prefer the soft tacos, but that doesn’t mean that I turn down the hard ones. Tacos are one of the major food groups for me.

desper-otto said...

Good morning!

Got through this one in short order. Waited for the perps to decide if it'd be ENT or ELF. Got NOT THE ONION, but didn't get it -- it's way too hip for d-o. Thought long and hard before accepting ISLANDS as "Counter proposals." Guess I've gotta watch more HGTV. Thanx for the challenge John-Clark, and for the expo, Husker. (I couldn't get to the elements song, The link doesn't "behave" like a normal link. That's the song that Sheldon performed before an august audience. He capped the performance by mooning the audience, or was he "planeting?")

ILLINOIS: I've driven through Rockford many times. It's the largest city in Illinois away from the Chicago metro area. But when it comes to "typical of the US as any city can be," that honor should go to Peoria. "Will it play in Peoria?"

Time to pedal our bicycles before it's too hot to ride. We're expecting three 100° days in a row.

TTP said...

Good morning. Thank you, John-Clark, and thank you, Husker Gary.

For those keeping score at home, 18:27 with no help. My winning streak is now officially at two days.

Loved the puzzle today. Great clues and some learning moments along the way.

Not too many type overs today. One major exception was TnoteS to TBondS to TBILLS

Did not know of the phrase "NOT THE ONION", but it filled in fairly easily and the meaning of the expression was easily deduced.

RAGER - familiar because of reading news stories and watching TV CSI-type programs. From what I gather, it's not just alcohol. There's a drug called ecstasy that fuels many of those rage parties.

LEO III, me too. Hard tacos, soft tacos, fajitas, burritos, quesadillas and enchiladas. Love 'em all. My wife could never get used to me eating small soft tacos for breakfast.

HG, what D-O said. Your link for the Elements song looks to have been truncated:
http://Harvard Kennedy School Talent Show 2014

Gotta get outside and get things done before it starts getting hot.

See all y'all later n'at !

jfromvt said...

This was an outstanding puzzle. Great clues and interesting answers. Think I liked NOTHEONION the best. Nice start to what looks like a rainy Saturday around here, but as they say, we need the rain.

Yellowrocks said...

FIR, no peeking. John-Clark, loved this puzzle. Ran through this one much faster than yesterday with a slight pause in the 4x4 NW corner. Then I remembered ISABEL and had the perps to finish. I puzzled over _____PAIR (for one knee?) Oh, repair.
The origin of both stoma and stomach is from the Greek stoma, mouth.
No new-to-me vocabulary or names in either the clues or fill, but needed a few perps to dredge up some of the answers. Yay! I see just two names, but I may have missed one.
The phrase, NOT THE ONION, is terrific, my favorite. I haven't heard the phrase, but know the Onion, so I needed only a few perps to get it.
Yummy. Crab, clam, lobster, sauce. With Champagne to wash it down.
Gary, as always, an entertaining, informative blog.
It's a beautiful, sunny morning here, but it is going to be another very hot day and week.

Hungry Mother said...

FIR, with two write-overs: MOET 4 bruT and SUGARRUSH 4 SUGARHIGH. Another consequence that I found out the hard way is sugar rebound. I took the family to an ice cream shop in Somerville, MA on a steamy summer night in 1980. I had a huge creation of multiple scoops, hot fudge, and nuts. The next day I couldn’t move during a handball match. Ever since then I’ve eschewed dessert the day before a race. I used to love REDEYES during vacation travel because they didn’t eat up valuable time. I’m not sure I’ll ever fly again. During a four month stay in Spain in 2003, I discovered the sleepless SIESTA.

Anonymous said...

I assumed the Rockford clue must have something to do with the "Rockford Files" or the character Jim Rockford. I am sitting in Rockford, IL right now doing the cw puzzle. I finally got the answer.

inanehiker said...

Well this was pretty quick for a Saturday but still a challenge for waking up the brain cells! Like HM I had SUGAR HIGH that had to change to RUSH. I also had crab/lobster SALAD had to change to SAUCE.
I got RAGER - but I took the clue "abandoned" to be the behavior of the attendees rather than the location in an abandoned house (a learning moment)...
On another note, there are all sorts of substances that can not only make people high but also adversely have them rage which makes them very difficult to handle in ERs as well as the havoc that can ensue if they have a firearm.
I was glad to give up RED EYES on domestic flights - I felt so awful the next day it often wasted a day of vacation. Of course overseas flights in an eastern direction are almost always overnight - when you can just sleep and work to getting on the right time zone!

Thanks HG for the fun blog I couldn't get John-Clark's link for his song to connect. Those class shows are usually fun parodies with lots of IRONY definitely ONION material- they were some of the highlights of my medical school years!

Spitzboov said...

Good morning everyone.

Thanks Gary for your detailed 'visual' lead-in; and the communication with John-Clark.

Solved it all correctly without aid. Helpful perps were positioned optimally. CSO to the ILLINOIS crowd. Had T-bonds before T-BILLS., the only white-out. Liked the cluing for ISLANDS and ITEM, and that they crossed at the 'I'. Also liked the FETID clue. SIE, ACH and the unique MOËT helped make solving a bit easier. Very entertaining cluing overall.
NEIGHBOR - German Nachbar; L. Ger. Nobar (or Nover)

Sei gesund.

Anonymous said...

I guess I was just in sync with John-Clark, because I got this one done much faster than my usual Saturday. Sometimes, the puzzle just falls into place, and sometimes, it just doesn't.

Lormil said...

Am I getting smarter or have the puzzles been easier lately?

Husker Gary said...

-Just back from golf – Left here at 6:30 am, played 18 from 7:00 to 9:00 am and home by 9:30 am.
-I have no idea why the link to John-Clark’s song The Elements didn’t work but I have “relinked” and hope you can see it now.

Bob Lee said...

I was really happy to see ELF instead of ORC which everyone always uses.

I did not get RAGER at all even after filling it in. I think Wild Party would have been a better clue. I didn't understand abandoned as part of the clue - ugh. I'm so old!

Upper left came last since I Had BRUT instead of MOET at first and ANABEL instead of ISABEL. I couldn't figure out ---DTACO until it came to me to get MATCH going down to get H--DTACO.

I loved CRIER for Old News Source, and proud of myself at getting it only from ---ER

Overall a great puzzle with interesting fills.

Spitzboov said...

Welcome aboard to Lormil. I'm guessing you're getting smarter (already).

Thanks, Gary, for posting The Elements. I shared it with my college-age grandkids. Very talented guy.

oc4beach said...

Truly a Saturday level puzzle from John-Clark. Interesting. I needed Red Letters and a couple of look-ups to fill it in, so a DNF. Gary added a lot to the fun with his prose and visuals.

Since I'm not in the market for female companionship (DW would be upset) I didn't know the Tinder phrase ITS A MATCH. I also didn't know NOT THE ONION, ISABEL, RAFAEL and THE CORE.

I remembered STOMA and GEODE from high school science class.

I wanted ORC before ELF, T-NOTES before T-BILLS, THEM before ITEM (I guess I don't watch enough Entertainment TONIGHT) and GTE before MCI. Ultimately perps helped.

Well, on to Sunday.

Be safe and wear your masks.

Malodorous Manatee said...

FIR 13:16. Personally, I'd open with The Great Lobachevsky.

Shankers said...

Saturday puzzles evoke a certain degree of trepidation and today was no exception. Isabel didn't come quickly so I ended up working this one from bottom to top. Lots of unknowns that had to be peeped, but it all came together in good time for a satisfying FIR. Only 115-116° in Phoenix today and tomorrow, but remember it's a dry heat. And for those of you, especially back East, also remember that you can't shovel heat. It's a scientific fact.

Shankers said...

Sorry, perped, no peeped.

Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

This was a very enjoyable solve with oodles of lively fill and clever cluing. I finished w/o help in 24:14, but sputtered mightily in that NW quadrant. I had Isabel but Saloon, It’s a match, and Soap Opera were slow to appear. My w/os were Ent/Elf and Brut/Moët. I liked IED crossing OED and the Add/App and Sie/Ach duos. We were also treated to a mini menagerie of Crab, Bear, Turtle, Ewes, Cat, and Toy (Yorkie). Big CSO to the Illinois contingent. My favorite entry was the Teddy Bear museum because I, too, am a TB aficionado and have fond memories of visiting the museum when we lived in Naples.

Thanks, John-Clark, for a delightful way to start the day and congrats on your Saturday LA Times debut and thanks, also, for sharing your wit and your musical and mental talents with us. A great big thank you to our Saturday Sherpa, HG, for another outstanding presentation laden with all sorts of fun and interesting links and visuals.

The enjoyment and satisfaction that John-Clark and HG provided takes some of the sting out of finding that my car battery is D E A D. Recuperating from the fall precluded any driving and my car was the last thing I was concerned with. Oh well, my mechanic will be available on Monday to bring it back to life. (I hope!)

I never thought of Prince Harry as a bullying, bossy boor, but he was just that in last night’s dream while he and I were involved in a decorating project! Does anyone else have such wild dreams?

Have a great day.

LEO III said...

desper-otto: Before I forget AGAIN…. I’ve been meaning to ask you if you have noticed that our beloved Comical FINALLY addressed your complaint and fixed the eNewspaper link? I got in a hurry a couple of weeks ago, and I forgot to click in the upper corner first and just clicked down at the bottom of the page. BINGO!t It worked. All of your phone calls finally got some action. Better late than never. I imagine with all the staffing cuts they’ve had there over the years, their 16-year-old website guru only shows up every two or three months.

TTP: Same here, except for quesadillas! I don’t see any reason for their existence. What’s amazing to me is how Mexican food is different, depending on the locale. The stuff we have here is different from what we get in San Antonio or Midland or El Paso or New Mexico or Arizona or Las Vegas (all of which I’ve had the pleasure of eating). When I stop and think about it, I guess it’s the same with American food, as one travels around the country.

Anonymous: I had the same convoluted thinking for ILLINOIS. I’ve been to Rockford, know where it is, and all that stuff, but when I first saw the clue, all I thought of was “The Rockford Files” and James Garner. I never watched the show, so I didn’t know he was based in LA (what show isn’t?), and I was hoping to eventually figure out what city. When the perps started leading to ILLINOIS, I went with it, figuring out Jim was based in Chicago. WRONG --- but RIGHT! Still didn’t put two and two together to figure out the clue meant Rockford, IL. Rather be lucky than good sometimes.

Lormil: Don’t know about you, but to me they seem to be getting easier, because I surely ain’t getting any smarter. I will admit that now that I’m paying closer attention and trying harder (since actually signing up here and trying not to embarrass myself), and I seem to be doing better. In the past, I would have just thrown in the towel earlier and come here for the expo. Now I find that the longer I stare at it, the more that actually falls into place. YMMV.

Anonymous said...

Would be interesting to see what the original clue was for "counter proposals?"

Yellowrocks said...

Google says, abandoned - unrestrained; uninhibited.
"a wild, abandoned dance"
Another nice porch visit with Alan this morning.

Tinbeni said...

Husker Gary: I am always amazed by your write-ups. 24 links is impressive.

Well it was raining ... so I solved a Saturday puzzle. This one was FUN.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

I will "Toast" y'all at Sunset.


desper-otto said...

Leo, I hadn't noticed that they'd fixed it. I changed the URL in my password manager to: That takes me directly to the login page for the eedition. Can't manage my subscription there, but who cares?

Husker, yes that link works now. Not bad, but if I were John-Clark I'd keep my day job.

Big Easy said...

Fairly smooth for a Saturday puzzle. I'd never heard the term DROLL humor but my knowledge of geology let me correctly guess THE CORE (never heard of the movie). From about 60 years ago I remember the movie "Journey to the Center of the Earth" with Pat Boone. I remember them riding out on a volcano.

Another unknown was completing NOT THE ONION. I'd originally filled OED for both 43D & 48A before I noticed 'ONOON' was not a real word. Sloppy penmanship (non-ASTUTE) and inattention almost made it a DNF. RAGER- perps' never heard of that either.

D-otto, either ENT, ORC, or ELF. SERFS too care of it.
I was buying a fountain drink at a convenience store and they were sell old DVDs for $3.00. On top was the complete 2nd season of THE ROCKFORD FILES.

HungryM-as for the Sugar Rush, when I do a serious 25-30 mile bicycle ride I usually drink about 48 ounces of liquid, usually Gatorade an hour before I start. No Rush for me.

Agnes- even if you don't drive you need to start and run the car a few minutes to keep the battery charged. Or better yet, get a neighbor with some jumper cables and save some money.

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

FIR with many inkovers but in 30 min!, a great time for a Saturday though I wasn't racing. Alas took too many chances with fill without perp checking first so lots of inkovers....irony/drole/DROLL, ent/ELF, sugarhigh/RUSH (diabetes wouldnt fit), cryer/CRIER, msrp/APRS.

Got held up in the SW corner with blanks but then realized the Nadal ending in "AEL" was me! in Spanish RAFAEL (Raphael) and the rest fell into place.

Couldn't get diuretic out of my mind for diaeresis though too much MOËT champaigne will probably make you pee a lot. Big word for two dots.

My Aunt Anna (Dad affectionately called her "Antenna") never missed her stories ...what she and our local ladies called the SOAP OPERAS. Gram who hardly spoke English never missed "Love of Life" or "Search for Tomorrow" in the 50's

And so to tide overto Monday:

Scarlet tints....REDEYES.

Get up _____ so you don't miss your flight!...ORLY.

Composer Berstein's hat....LENSCAP

Sudden escape of RECTAL wind....ASTUTE. 🤭

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Misty said...

Well, Saturdays are always toughies for me, but I got the entire east, both top and bottom on this one, and sections of the west before I needed a bit of help.

It was an absolute delight to start out with ISABEL, and then to go right on with NOBEL and SERFS, which gave me Mr. Rogers's NEIGHBOR. Liked getting HOUSE SIT, which in turn, gave me SUGAR RUSH and the cute TEDDY BEAR, even without a visit to the museum. My German also came in handy with ACH (when I realized this Hamburger wasn't food) and SIE, since I do speak Deutsch.

So, many thanks for a fun puzzle, John-Clark, and for checking in with us. And always enjoy your helpful commentaries, Gary.

Sorry to hear about the dead battery, Irish Miss. Since I rarely leave the house these days, I remind a helper to run it around the block once every couple weeks.

Have a great sunny weekend, everybody.

Wilbur Charles said...

I thought the consensus would be "difficult". Getting popular names and terms can be a big help fe. ISABEL and the Tinder , RAGER stuff. It wasn't EAT THE ONION.

This was a very typical Saturday for me which I solved last Wednesda(Thursday?).

Don't know why SOAP for OPERA took so long. I wanted *Horse".

IM, I was wrong. I thought some of the obscurity and outre stuff would give you and others more trouble. Goes to show there's no figuring.


Irish Miss said...

BigEasy @ 11:39 ~ I realize that I have to start the car and let it run for awhile, but after the fall, I was in no physical condition to do this. I did have my niece run it but that was over two weeks ago and this morning was the first it entered my mind, but I was too late. This has happened to me before because I drive so infrequently, yet I also forget to start it on a timely basis. I can’t ask any neighbors to jump it as it is nose-in in the garage. Besides, all my neighbors are widowed ladies of a “certain age”, just like me. My mechanic will probably jump it and then take it to the garage for an extended charge. His prompt and personalized service and honesty over the last 16 years is worth whatever the charges are. I’ll just have to be more vigilant about starting it up more often, as Misty mentions.

Wendybird said...

Reading comments from others that the puzzles are getting easier messes with my self-esteem because I struggled yesterday and today. Still, I enjoyed wrestling with them both.

FLN, thank you Anon T at 1:35 for the Gary Larson info. We have missed him and are delighted we can once again enjoy his wacky, unique humor.

SwampCat, nice to “meet” another Duke grad.
Maybe things have chabged, but when I was there, UNC was 12 miles away in Chapel Hill, and NC State was in Raleigh.

I was able to get John-Clark’s performance and hooted. Nice job!

Wendybird said...

Sorry for the typo - changed

Lucina said...


Late to the party today! The NW took me longer than usual to finish though the rest of the puzzle filled in pretty fast. SOAP OPERA went in quickly but I didn't know SALOON and had MOEN instead of MOET. That caused problems which had to be unraveled.

I like ISABEL Allende's books and recently read The Long Petal of the Sea. She is a good story teller. Thank you for the photos, Picard. I had never seen her picture.

NOT THE ONION evaded me until reading Gary's narrative. I had NOT THE ONE ON which didn't make any sense but didn't even think about The Onion.

HARD TACOs are the only way I like them. The crunch makes all the difference.

Also I had no idea about the Florida museum or the TEDDY BEAR Hug Club but it perped easily.

Thank you, John-Clark and Gary!

I hope your day is superb, everyone! Our plus 100 degree weather is here to stay.

Lucina said...

I enjoyed John-Clark's performance and it reminded me of a similar one I saw in London many years ago. The performer went through all of Shakespeare's plays in a similar fashion. It was hilarious and very entertaining.

Yellowrocks said...

Picard, abandoned is an adjective here. An unrestrained, uninhibiteed party is an abandoned party, a rager. Googles' example @ 10:50 was a wild abandoned dance.

A man frequently, condescendingly over explained the obvious to this ignorant little woman. When I called it manslaining he went ballistic and became the highly insulted party, not me.

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

Irish M. There are less complicated ways of jump starting a dead battery not requiring racing another car engine. My DW bought me a portable lithium battery device that doesn't require another easy to use and maybe safer. Tried to link on here but didn't work. Just a suggestion

portable car starter

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

Guess it did work? Once published?..not promoting this item just an example

Bill G said...

Hey Irish Miss. I'm sorry about your car's dead battery. I assume you don't have AAA. One of their services involve a guy who shows up in a small truck and will test your battery, charge it or install a new one if necessary. We got AAA a number of years back for their less-expensive car insurance. I've used their dead-battery service several times. I wouldn't be without them now.

Wheels42 said...

Was fortunate to finish this one correctly with no outside assistance in 9:14. I must've been on John-Clark's wavelength. It helps that I used to live in ILLINOIS, used to use Tinder before meeting my wife IRL (though most of the times I was told ITSAMATCH, the "woman" on the other side was a bot), enjoy NOTTHEONION posts on Reddit, etc. Have a great weekend, everybody! I know we have some golfers on this blog. It's 100 degrees in Dallas today and I'm still flirting with squeezing in a round this afternoon. Far from ideal but, as has been said, you can't shovel heat!

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

Actually Bill G has a good point since your car is in the garage in town. We've used the portable starter at our camp in the ADK and other locations where AAA takes quite a while to arrive

Yellowrocks said...

I believe that we have more days when the temp tops 90 than days when it snows. I hire out the shoveling and plowing paid through condo fees. I think I prefer being here. I could not endure more heat. The first 6-8 weeks of snow are lovely and the bonus is moderate springs and autumns and the variety of the changing seasons.

Ol' Man Keith said...

Had the hardest time with the NW corner. All because I insist on spelling it CRYER.
Just an ol' fashioned boy at heart.

Otherwise, this was a surprisingly do-able Sat pzl. Thank you, Mr. Levin!

Yes, like others, I had BRUT before MOËT.
And like others I assumed "Rockford" referred to the old TV show. I never watched it, but my Mom was a religious follower (or addict?) of the re-runs in her later years.
Turns out my wife confesses to having watched it, so she was trying to help me with the fill.
Neither "Malibu" nor "mobile home" would fit, so frustration was building in our home until--
Perps solved it, and we were both disappointed!!

And amused.
Also frustrated because it's another day WITHOUT a diagonal! Grrr.

Ol' Man Keith said...

I also had DADDY DEAR before TEDDY BEAR.
(My imagination was running wild.)

Chairman Moe said...

Puzzling thoughts:

This was way beyond my pay grade. Had to look up ISABEL; ITS A MATCH; ASTUTE; THE CORE


Maybe the heat out here in the desert is messing with my mind

Or maybe my mind works better, later in the evening

The solve for 6 down, and 56 down brought to mind an old haiku:

Masseuse coined a new
Procedure for dogs. Calls it:

SwampCat said...

Hi Wendybird! Go big Blue.

You are right about the mileage of course. I messed up several things in that post in my haste to say UNC is not in Charlotte.

Did you ever notice that the sign outside Durham said Chapel Hill 12 miles, and the sign outside Chapel Hill said Durham 8 miles? Much was made of that in insulting UNC. I’m sure they insulted Duke also. The real explanation is not as much fun. One sign is closer to the city limits than the other.

I got more of this delightful puzzle than I should have. Perps were kind. Thanks John-Clark. HG, thanks for the fun.

SwampCat said...

Shankers @10:29, autocorrect did not want to let me say PERPS either. I wrastled it to the ground, as you must have.

Irish Miss said...

Ray - O and Bill G ~ Thanks for your suggestions but my mechanic is right down the street and, when I call on Monday, will be at my front door within 5 minutes. For someone who has an almost-nineteen year old car with a tad over 25,000 miles on it, and who has driven maybe 2 or 3 times, at most, in the last 5/6 months, I don’t think I need AAA. I’m not sure I need a car! 🙃

Anonymous T said...


Almost (also counts in small tactical nuclear weapons) but no cigar. Needed a nudge from HG's grid for ITS @1d (already inked MATCH on a hunch].
Also, I had unused ink in SW corner w/ ABE parsing Beelzebub as ___LONE(?).
Oh, eviL ONE. //didn't help that I kept thinking 'orphan' for Abandoned party.

Fun grid John-Clark. Fun Elements song. And sounds like a fun PhD //master's thesis was AI / Machine Vision.

HG - I know you're not a drinker but I thought of you at the Disneyland's SALOON. Thanks for getting us yet another backstory on a puzzle.

WOs: MSRP b/f APRS, put GOTO one row below, SUGAR higH //you know, I like RUSH better :-)
ESPs: yes.
Fav: NOT THE ONION. Leapt to mind quickly after CED's post FLN.
CRIERS clue was cute too (Hi BobLee)

Wendybird - They're easier 'cuz we're getting smarter [read: have done more puzzles]. Don't get down on yourself.

LEO3 - and flour tortillas at that. But, yeah, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I'll eat most any TACO. [Trevor Noah]

YR - I too noted all the food. I thought a) too bad this isn't a Thursday for Steve; b) Is this guy [J-C] hungry or what?

Loving you back at The Corner Moe. Enjoyed FLN & today's mokus.

Guys! Guys! Guys [Big E, Leo3, @8:41, OMK], there might be kids reading...
Throw them a bone: Rockford Files [theme] :-)
I loved watching that show with Pop. Also, it was fun to ink my home-state.

Cheers, -T

PK said...

Picard: Enjoyed the pictures of ISABEL. I like her books. Might mention that some teenage dances are called RAGEs & the participants would be RAGERS. Don't know why this is. Don't care. Don't want my grandkids to go to them.

IM: my 2017 model car has in my garage on a battery charger since it was last driven in February by my son. He gave me the charger for birthday or Mother's Day a few years ago. I haven't driven it since last Oct. I am proud that I finally learned how to hook up the charger on my own. My daughter wants to buy the car. Might be smart to let her have it to cut out insurance & tags-taxes expense. Hate to let it go.

CrossEyedDave said...

Tough puzzle today BNF...
(Bugger, not finished...)

(actually the above comment works with, or without the comma...)

(just a typo really...)

Re: Car Starters,
I have wanted to get one for Florida,
but thought they would not allow it on the plane
(Lithium Bomb)
but it turns out they might...

100Wh? what the heck is that?
(& sounds a lot less than the 1500 Amps
car starters put out...)

Anywho, I am concerned that if you buy a cheap one
the dang thingie could explode...

Re: Last Nite:
Hate to sound like a broken record,
but I am seriously hoping people would respond
to my Xword theme questions last nite.
(Tx Anonymous-T)
Google has been of little help.
So far, this is all I have found...

Adele said...

Ok... maybe this is showing my age but hard tack just stuck in my head. My brother (who is 70) loved the stuff and for some reason taco never occurred to me! And because I’ve never heard of “not the onion” I was stuck....the k just wasn’t working. After I looked up “crier” I was able to get the rest up there. So, actually, from the way I started out, which was a LOT of white..I didn’t do so bad. Anybody else ever eat hard tack?? Just sayin...

Chairman Moe said...

CED @ 5:12 —> have you conferred privately with C.C.? She might be a good sounding board for your Crossword idea.
Also, you can download an x-word puzzle template/software to play around with your theme on a live grid.

I actually like your theme ... (TH) INKOUTSIDETHEBOX would fit a 16x15 (like today’s grid). Or you could just use OUTSIDE THE BOX (13 letters) as the theme, and separate the word THINK in three or four other solves. Try using this website to come up with words or phrases:

Yellowrocks said...

CE Dave, I am amazed at the plagiarism scandal in crosswords.
I am so disappointed.

Plagiarism is rampant in college papers. Students can buy papers on line. Teachers and profs have software to try to detect this copying. It works sometimes, but not always. I had what I thought was an original idea in college which I found wonderful. I received a B instead of an A for glomming onto someone else's work. I am amazed to this day. I had no idea it was not original. I abhor plagiarism.
An elementary teacher colleague wrote a term paper which she circulated among several of her college age kids and their friends. No one ever got caught. She was a very strict teacher. It does not add up.

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

I suppose there has to be a limit on how similar two crosswords look before one can claim plagiarism. Who is going to decide?

In college a buddy and I always studied Organic Chem together. Especially for one exam. So we got close to the same grade as we made the same errors. We also sat together as buds. The prof accused us of cheating. Took a while to convince him of why our answers were similar.

Jayce said...

I liked this puzzle but made a number of stumbles. Had ISOBEL Allende and didn't notice anything wrong with OCL instead of ACL, so was not perspicacious (heh heh) enough to get the Ta-da and stop the clock. Also, having -A-OON I thought the Golden Horseshoe was a LAGOON. Those two missteps prevented me from (correctly) solving that NW area. On top of that, after over-quickly filling EBONDS, I learned from SHIATSU that the E should be a T, and finally NOBEL opened my non-RED EYES that it was TBILLS. Another stumble was putting in TER (for Yorkshire Terrier) instead of TOY. And last but not least, although I had filled the answers correctly, I didn't understand ISLANDS and RAGER until reading Gary's terrific (as usual) 'splanation. Well, at least I got MOËT right, knowing what a diaeresis is. I have always know I am more BOOK SMART than STREET SMART.

Absolute favorite clue is "Hamburger beef" for ACH. Right up there in the top ten.

I used to work with a guy named John Clark (no hyphen). He went by the name of Clark and would not answer to John, which is just as well because that is my name. Only one head (mine) would turn if somebody called out "John!" His initials are the same as mine since our middle names both begin with C and our last names both begin with D.

Good wishes to you all.

Malodorous Manatee said...

I liked the Hamburger Beef clue, also. I did not much care for RAGER. NOT THE ONION was something that I had not heard before but I am familiar with The Onion so it was not too much of a stretch.

Ray O Sunshine, I had a similar experience. I studied for the GMAT exam with a friend I had known since the second grade. We were roommates my sophomore year at Cal. We got identical aggregate scores. He went on to Tuck (Dartmouth) and I to UCLA at what is now called The Anderson School. Unfortunately, my friend died soon after his 40th birthday of thymoma. I had not heard of that before, either.

WikWak said...


RE: Rockford: when I was teaching IL geography back in the middle ages the top five cities in population never changed. Chicago (natch) was largest, Rockford 2nd largest (including the Chicago suburban area), Peoria 3rd, and Springfield and Decatur traded 4th and 5th place back and forth. Now the top 5 in order are Chicago, Aurora, Naperville, Joliet, Rockford. Springfield is #6 and Peoria is #8. Decatur is #17. My how things change. (Golden Eagle isn’t even in the top 500. The last time I checked, its population was 3.) FWIW.

I’ve spent the day wrestling with (and cursing at) plumbing under the kitchen sink. Break time is over; time to get the BIG hammer and see if I can beat it into submission.

Stay well.

Wilbur Charles said...

C-Moe, great SHIATSU 'Ku. Helped having an LMT* in the house. Also…
I see the pop-cul slowed you down too. Getting ISABEL, "NOT", RAGER etal is probably what reduced this xword to med-easy for many. RAFAEL was the only sports answer and "Roger"** is obviously tennis the way NEIGHBOR is for Mr R.

We picked up a portable charger at HSN which can jump off the cigarette lighter and then recharge the same way.


*Licensed Massage Therapist never masseuse.
** Since Clemens is passe.

Wilbur Charles said...

This is what I was referring to re. Plug in car chargee portable car charger

The beauty is after the car starts you then recharge the device for future use.
Stores in glove box.


Yellowrocks said...

Rager is definitely a reality. It is in the language these days.

Bobbi said...

Well, after a week-long absence due to household chores, I took up this puzzle (?) At about 4:30 and caved in at 6:45. Absolutely DETESTED this slog. Just a few examples: (1) ACH is the German equivalent of OH in English. It's what follows that is "the beef" - this I know because my German Granny would cover my ears when Grandpa yelled out "ACH ..." ( Though Kevin made up for this syntax error by including "Sprechen sie Deutch" ... which I do. (2) HARD TACOs are never served in a "cantina" which is really a bar and both hard taco shells an flour tortillas are AMERICAN inventions!!(3) Do you suppose that the teenagers that play their band so loud in their garage 'til 3 AM EVIL ONES or just little devil's?(3)Please explain what ama DIAERIST might be?. A thoroughly tedious slog today. Hope tomorrow brings a respite.

Anonymous T said...

WC - I always wondered who purchased stuff from Sharper Image.

DW's school has a plagiarism detector. For her eager students she counsels them relentlessly. For others: F-

CED - A little birdie told me about Cruciverb. Looks like they want a bit of a donation to get to the database.

Jayce - Gramps, Pop, & I all have the same 1st name. When someone yelled, "-T" we'd all whip our heads to find out who was in trouble.

WikWak - Did the bigger hammer work?
//you know?... Pipes aren't nails. Right? :-)

Cheers, -T

Alice said...

I liked this puzzle, not too hard but some interesting solves. It took awhile for ISLANDS to emerge, and Broadway's Burrows never did. Not the Onion was one of my last solves. But, most were easy enough to provide adequate perps for the ones I didn't immediately know. Everyone knows Allende; Movie about a mission to the earth's center? --So easy. Midday nap? --- not a Saturday fill.

I loved John-Clark's irrepressible fun singing "The Elements". He reminds me of this blog -- irrepressible funny, cute comments from nice, smart people.

Have a nice weekend!

WikWak said...

Dash T— they’re not? And yes, the BIG hammer (and the odd assortment of wrenches, pliers, flame axe, etc didn’t hurt) did finally work. Every time I tackle a plumbing job I swear to myself (and out loud) that I will never do this again. I wish I would just LISTEN to me once in a while...

PK said...

WIkWak: your hammer plumbing reminded me of my brother-in-law. The only tool he carried in his farm pickup was a short handled sledge hammer. When anything went wrong with a machine, he'd grab that hammer and whack away with it. Then my husband, who was an excellent mechanic, would open his big toolbox, get the right tool and patiently fix whatever it was -- if the hammer hadn't ruined it. I saw this once and asked hubby why he didn't take that sledge away from his brother. He said, "Because if I do, I might beat him to death with it." Very sensible man. The boys who worked for them joked about the brother's Wham Bam School of Mechanics behind his back.