Dec 31, 2020

Thursday, December 31, 2020, Richard Shlakman & Brad Wilber


Happy New Year's Eve, cruciverbalists!  In what has been a trying year, our final puzzle seemed, fittingly, to be a bit trying for a Thursday.  Perhaps it was just the fatigue factor but it appeared to this solver as if this puzzle had more than its  fair share of "forced" fill (word fragments, abbreviations and the like) and these required some time to work through.  

Fortunately, the theme was fairly easy to identify and that helped out.  In other words:

That Part Made Cents

First, the unifier: 

67 Across: Items that can circulate or be tossed ... as illustrated in this puzzle's six sets of circles:  COINS. 

At six places within the grid, in both Across and Down answers, the word COIN can be formed by unscrambling adjacent circled letters.

17 Across:  Birder's gear: BINOCULARS

Watch The Birdie

30 Across:  California county where Fort Bragg is: MENDOCINO

The Sir Douglas Quintet - Mendocino

47 Across:  Barrier-breaking report: SONIC BOOM  A loud noise is sometimes called a "report" and the clue also refers to the sound barrier.

Chuck Yeager  -  B: 13 February 1923  D: 07 December 2020

63 Across:  State capital about 100 miles from Sacramento: CARSON CITY  By automobile, the state capital of Nevada, Carson City, is roughly 135 miles from Sacramento,  the state capital of California.

10 Down:  Chance to plead one's case: DAY IN COURT.

29 Down:  Tip of a toy arrow, often: SUCTION CUP.

Well, those are the themed answers.  Now, let's take a look at the rest of the puzzle:


1. Potential fodder in a libel lawsuit, briefly: BAD PR.  At the risk of being served with a libel lawsuit, I thought that BADPR (BAD Public Relations) was, to coin a phrase, a bad way to get the ball rolling.

6. Sackcloth material: HEMP.  The reference is often to "sackcloth and ashes" with the sackcloth traditionally being made from goat hair.

10. Reduces, as glare: DIMS.

14. Lexus competitor: ACURA.  An automobile reference.

15. Avocado shape: OVAL.  Avocados are, however, three dimensional and an oval is two dimensional.   Obovate would, perhaps, have been a more precise answer but it would have necessitated other changes.  Fruit Shapes

16. "Stress cannot exist in the presence of __": Mamet: A PIE.  The quote begins:  "We must have a pie."  I have no familiarity with this quote.  I have no difficulty embracing the philosophical stance.

19. Afghan constitution?: YARN.  A bit of misdirection in that the first impulse might be to assume that the clue was referring to the laws of the country that lies at the crossroads of Central and South Asia.  Instead, the clue refers to the composition of an eponymous knitted blanket.


20. Newspaper VIPs: EDS.  EDITORS  Being a writer is enjoyable but being an EDITOR is more rewording.

21. Possessed by Shakespeare?: HADST.  When we see constructors fall back on Elizabethan English may we assume that they got stuck?

22. Bathroom fixture: BIDET.  This is the first time that I recall seeing this particular bathroom fixture in a crossword puzzle.  A BIDET is a sensible idea if borderline inappropriate for a crossword puzzle.  If you do not know what one is then you might want to ask Mr. Hankey to explain.

23. Overwhelm: AWE.

24. "Young Sheldon" star Armitage: IAIN.  While I enjoy "The Big Bang Theory," I am far less familiar with the "Young Sheldon" spin-off and I was previously unaware of anyone named IAIN.  Still, I suppose it would be good to remember this constructor-friendly (four letters, three vowels) name. 

26. Laundry cycle: RINSE.

35. Nonalcoholic beer brand: O'DOUL'S.

37. Crimson, e.g.: RED.  There are many shades of red represented in the English language.

38. What the nose knows: ODOR.   The clue is nice play on words.  I once tried to buy perfume from a vending machine but it was out of ODOR.

39. Soft mineral: TALC.  What did the Moh's Scale say when it was feeling down?  "I don't want to TALC about it." 

40. Mortar and pestle stone: AGATE.

42. Sports org. whose name once included "Lawn": USTA. The United States (Lawn) Tennis Association

43. Shoot the breeze: CHAT.  CHAT is also French (masculine) for cat.

44. Bon __: MOT.  A Bon MOT is a witty remark.

45. Upset, as a plan: DERAIL.

50. Eye sores: STYES.  It seems like a good idea to eschew the graphics for this one.

51. Scandinavian royal name: OLAF.  We often have to wait a bit to determine if the answer is going to be OLAF or Olav.

52. Apr. addressee: IRS.  Our good friends at the Internal Revenue Service.

54. Fogg's creator: VERNE.  Phileas Fogg was a character featured in Jules VERNE's "Around The World In Eighty Days".  He also made an appearance in an episode  of "Have Gun Will Travel" (season 4, episode 12) .

57. Count with a band: BASIE.    ... and a one, and a two, and hit it ...

Count Basie - Blazing Saddles

59. "That __ close!": WAS.

62. Lindros in the Hockey Hall of Fame: ERIC.

Eric Lindros

65. Prego alternative: RAGU.  Very often, one of these brands of sauce is clued by referring to the other.

66. Polar chunk: FLOE.

68. "Don't dawdle!": ASAP.  ASoon APossible

69. Bygone GM line: OLDS.  We often see Ransom Eli OLDS in puzzles.  It usually has something to do with, or the answer is, REO.

70. Ryegrass fungus: ERGOT.


1. Innocent: BABE.

That'll Do Pig.  That'll Do.

2. Prilosec target: ACID.  Oh, stomach ACID.  This could have been clued Orange Sunshine or Window Pane.

3. Hassles for payment: DUNS.

4. In favor of: 

5. Ray who hosts the Yum-o! virtual cooking camp: RACHAEL.  We often see RACHAEL Ray's pet name for extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO, in crossword puzzles.

6. Poker variety: HOLD EM.

7. Mendes and Gabor: EVAS.

The Gabor Sisters

8. Taskmaster: MARTINET.  This is not a word that we often see, or hear, but it seems like a good addition to our crossword vocabulary.

9. Letters from a polite texter: PLS.  Texting "shorthand" has provided a great many possibilities for constructors but, PLS, enough already, with this sort of thing.

11. Tablet at a Genius Bar: IPAD.  To solve this, it helped to know that the tech support station at an Apple Store is called The Genius Bar.  Most people do.  If not, the perps likely filled it in.

12. Boggy area: MIRE.  Fen has too few letters and Swamp has too many.  Moor might have seemed to work out for a while.

13. Posted: SENT.


18. Assembly line gp.: UAW.  The United Auto Workers Union

22. Prefix with mass: BIO.  The combined BIOmass of bacteria on Earth is more than a thousand times that of  the combined BIOmass of all humans.

25. Went on to say: ADDED.  Sometimes, too much is ADDED.

Joe Jones - 1960

26. University mil. programs: ROTCS.  Has anyone before seen the plural of Reserve Officer Train Corps ?


27. Twin Falls' state: IDAHO.

28. "Dunkirk" director Christopher: NOLAN.  One might have clued this answer with a reference to this gentleman:

Nolan Ryan

31. Muse of poetry: ERATO.  We often see one, or more, of the Nine Muses in crossword puzzles with ERATO being the most commonly spotted.

32. "My guess is ... ": ID SAY

33. Casual remark?: NO TIE.  This must be a reference to Casual Fridays.

34. Intense exams: ORALS.  An academia reference.  This clue really tees it up but this manatee shall, reluctantly, pass.
36. Latin steps: SAMBA.  A dance reference.  Both Tango and Rumba would have fit but neither would have worked out.

41. Cut-up: GOOFBALL.  Not a cooking reference.  Both the clue and the answer are synonyms for a silly person.

46. Bottom line: ESSENCE.  A bit of a stretch in the cluing but not completely goofy.

48. The Cavs, on ESPN crawls: CLE.  The CLEveland Cavaliers are a professional basketball team.

49. Air balls, e.g.: MISSES.  In basketball jargon, a shot that MISSES everything, and hits neither the backboard nor the rim, is called an Air Ball.

53. __ Grande: RIO.  I first thought of TACO Grande by Weird Al.

54. __ Bradley bags: VERA.  VERA Bradley bags are well known in some circles.

55. Named stretches: ERAS.

56. Latvian seaport: RIGA.

58. J.Lo's partner: AROD.  Alex RODriguez played twenty-two seasons of major league baseball but he might be even more famous for his relationship with Jennifer Lopez.

59. Kristen of 2016's "Ghostbusters": WIIG.

Kristen Wiig Ghostbusters Vignette

60. 8 for O, e.g.: AT NO.  At no time would my first guess have been that this was a reference to the ATomic Number (NO) of Oxygen.  However, by the third or fourth guess it became clear.

61. Betting aid: Abbr.: SYST.  As with PLS, above, I did not care much for this abbrvtn.

63. Fiscal exec: CFO.  Chief Financial Officer

64. __ anglais: English horn: COR.  By definition.   The COR Anglais originated in neither England nor France but, rather, in Silesia circa 1720.


That completes the work on our puzzle, and completes our puzzle work for the year, leaving one more question:



Notes from C.C.:
I'm very sad to inform you that Gail Grabowski, our regular L.A. Times crossword constructor passed away on Christmas eve.  See here for her obit.  Thanks for the link, TTP.  In addition to her many solos, Gail collaborated many puzzles with Bruce Venzke over the years.


OwenKL said...

Rabbit, rabbit, may your eyes
Be this year, free of STYES.
Else have a CHAT
With a positive chap,
Patron of good wishes, ST. YES!

The old year ends, a new one starts,
Let's hope not a GOOFBALL, full of farts.
His replacement is of another sort.
The masks will continue thru the year,
Even tho immunity's needle is here.
Will police CARS ON CITY streets.
See kinder, gentler cops on beat?
Will Black Lives Matter still survive?
Will immigrants, in ESSENCE, thrive?
Let BAD P.R. not feed our fears,
But fingers crossed, greet New Years!

OwenKL said...

{B, A-.}

Some real groaners there, MM, but one I didn't get was "Oh, stomach ACID. This could have been clued Orange Sunshine or Window Pane."

Wilbur Charles said...

FLN, yep AGLET. We'll see it some day.
MENDOCINO had to be perped together. I recalled the song.

NA beer dictum: cheaper is better. Genesee is $6-7.00 per 12 pack. Now Bud has joined Heineken in 0.0 beer. O'DOULS? Pop beer.

Are any tennis tournaments on grass? Longwood in Brookline,MA had the US Doubles where I saw Arthur Ashe

How I dredged up VERNE is a mystery in itself. Out of the fog I was in. In fact, out of my early morning fog,eg. An hour ago, ERGOT finally popped and saved an FIW. I had a TRURO* in the SE with WIIG and COR as unknowns

Then there was Gary NOLAN of 70s Reds dynasty.

I had SAlsA but MOT cleared that up. But I'd MISSED grok'ing Air balls as b-ball clue.


Owen I assume that sb St Ives (or is it Yves?)

We'll miss Gail Graboski RiP. She and Bruce created great xwords

* Like Natick an obscure Massachusetts town

OwenKL said...

I was thinking Saint Yves or Ayes (a synonym of Yes) or maybe not rhyming at all (AABBC). Having just one pronunciation in mind is so gauche.

desper-otto said...

Good morning!

This was a nice romp to finish out 2020. (I saw a cute cartoon yesterday -- "The ten best things of 2020." The image was a clock showing ten seconds to midnight.) Had the circles and noticed the flipped coins -- hey, I'm gettin' good at this. That's two days in a row. Thanx, Richard, Brad, and MalMan. (I liked the picture of the penguins goin' with the floe.)

Owen, those are two other names for LSD -- ACID.

ROTCS -- Back in the early '60s ROTC "orientation" was mandatory for all male university students. Each military service got a captive audience so they could present their sales pitch. Except, they didn't get to present it. After about twenty minutes of hootin', hollerin', and stompin' they would usually just give up and tell us to get the hell outta there.

R.I.P., Gail. We're gonna miss you.

ATLGranny said...

Ending the year with yet another FIW. Sigh! And the extra annoyance was that I had it right and decided to change it. NO TIE to NO LIE! I never thought of casual Friday, obviously, but was thinking of casual language instead. Oh well, the theme popped out immediately. No problem seeing it. Otherwise the puzzle moved along well and only IAIN was iffy looking but had solid perps. Thanks, Richard and Brad for an interesting puzzle today. And many thanks to MalMan for a super review full of smiles.

Thanks C.C. for linking Gail's interesting obit. We will miss her puzzles. Thanks OwenKL for year end puzzles today. Hope everyone has a good start to the new year. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about Ms. Gaboski's passing. I am aware she was prolific at constructing.

9:19 to finish off the last puzzle of the year. Didn't see the "coins," and didn't know the CA county or cor. Bad PR took awhile to emerge. Eric Lindros was a fantastic talent.

Happy 2021!

Anonymous said...

The theme helped with this one.
I, too, reacted to the avocado shape being the 2-D oval, instead of the 3-D OVOID.
Favorite clue was Afghan constitution/YARN.
We have rented a cottage at Twin Falls State Park, WV, several times.
I got IAIN, but doubted it. I knew Martinet and so kept that I.
I also kept NOTIE, but couldn't parse it.
Alan used to drink ODOULS because taking so many meds meant no alcohol. Occasionally we would give him a spritzer with a tsp. of red wine in a glass of seltzer.
ERGOT and the Salem Witches:
I liked ESSENCE/ BOTTOM LINE. Both can mean the essential or salient point or crux.
RIP, Gail. Her contribution to crosswords is greatly appreciated.

Tinbeni said...

RIP Gail ... tears ...

DNF ... not ever clos
I guess that is the way to end 2020 ... 2021 will be better.

Well I have already "Toasted" 3 New Years Eve Celebrations.

Wondering if I will make it to Midnight tonight?


Shankers said...

As has been noted, this was a worthy test to finish a most arduous year. A few areas filled slowly like the NE with badpr, the NE with bidet and Iain. I thought the clue for yarn was clever as well. So, can 2021 be any more trying on our weary bodies and souls? Let's all hope and pray that relief comes soon and brings calm and serenity that we so desperately seek. Stay safe, healthy and masked everyone. And, Happy New Year!

Lucina said...


R.I.P. Gail G. I surely will miss her challenging puzzles.

COIN became obvious inside the circles but I appreciated them when I could complete a cell with one of the letters from COIN.

Just last September I was in the small town of MENDOCINO. Ah, those carefree days of travel. However, I've never been to CARSON CITY, only two brief visits to Las Vegas and Reno.

I've had a good share of A PIE every day in the past week. Enough of that! Time to start dieting.

The only time I recall seeing IAIN spelled that way is the actor IAIN Glen. I don't watch Young Sheldon. Iain Glen is currently in the PBS show, Mrs. Wilson. And I don't recall that MARTINET meant taskmaster so learned that today.

Have a great day, everyone and if you go out to celebrate, please be safe!

Spitzboov said...

Good morning everyone.

Got it all w/o strikethroughs, or searches. FIR. The reveal @ CARSON CITY steered me away from 'icon' and locked in COIN. Great cluing job on the puzzle.
COIN - French for 'corner' or 'nook'.
RPI had ROTC'S from all three services.
FLOEs are not uncommon on the Great Lakes in Winter. L. Erie, a shallow lake, freezes over to 95% coverage during an average winter.
BIDET - - I think I've seen it once or twice in the last few years.

Sorry about Gail's loss. Sympathies to her family.

Lucina said...

I don't know how that Q ended up at the end of hola. It should be !

I believe that is you posting as anonymous. Right?

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

IDSAY this was a bit easier than a typical Thursday challenge...

Kept doing an alphabet run on MARTINET because I couldn't believe a name like IAIN existed..wha? (UAW?). Finally bit the bullet figuring I'd FIW 😒..but was AWEd to discover I FIR 😃. It's variant of IAN, (hate variants). LIU...quite a few IAINs

"COIN..COIN the theme time for change?

Really didn't get how BADPR (public relations) is libel fodder

"Post" rather than mail for SENT sounds veddy British

Liked "Afghan constitution." My Aunt Anna used to knit tons of 'em. Hadda change pear-shaped (looks like a pear to me ..🥑🍐) avocado to OVAL 🥚? Plus we seem to be ODing on them lately. Enough guac!

ODOULS opposite ODOR. IDAHO..IDSAY......SONIC BOOMS used to shake our classroom windows in grade school. Never hear 'em anymore. ?

Do not the rules of poker require a Texan to HOLDEM?

Can you smoke sackcloth? Isn't that where the hemp ashes come from ... and O(I forgot to)LAF today.

PLS and ty but text initials are endless. Hope we don't go down the E"noun" road with them.

Speaking of GOOFBALL...

Progressive girl...FLOE
Story behind that cashmir sweater....YARN

Sorry about Gail. Condolences to the family.

inanehiker said...

Clever theme and construction with the COINS both going up and circulating in different orders in the horizontals!

Owen's second poem for the New Year was so apt!

Thanks MalMan for the blog and Richard & Brad for the puzzle!

Sad to hear about Gail - I always knew her puzzles or collaborations with Bruce would be good!

Thanks for the words of concern earlier in the week for my great Nephew - saw the Orthopedic yesterday and his elbow fracture will need surgical repair - which is scheduled for next Tueday at 1 pm CST- appreciate your thoughts and prayers as he is 25 but he is Autistic and it could be a challenge for all the pre and post op care.

Yellowrocks said...

inanehiker, thoughts and prayers for your great nephew.
I also posted at 9:17. I am on my Kindle now.

Husker Gary said...

-A hard-earned “got ‘er done” in this wonderful puzzle with a gimmick that stood out like the cardinals (no BINOCULARS needed) on our winter bird feeders
-SAC’s SONIC BOOMS over my hometown got stopped by cattleman
-BAD PR for OJ sticks no matter what happened IN COURT
-It has been NO TIE day in schools for decades. Meh…
-Language barrier - Dishwasher helpline gentleman kept saying “You need a REENSE agent”
-“That WAS close” – A golf ball flew by my nose and hit my hand last year
-I get 10 seconds to change my mind after hitting SEND for emails but Instant Messages are gone, uh, instantly
-A-ROD admitted steroid use and was welcomed back to baseball as an announcer. Our cwd friend Sammy SOSA won’t and isn’t.
-Ghostbusters 2016 lost $30M. Some movies don’t need to be remade

Bob Lee said...

Wow...I got everything eventually, even though I had a lot of blanks on initial fill.

Once I figured out COIN was jumbled in a few of the circles, it helped me a lot once I filled in the others.

OK, admit it. How many of us licked the suction cups on the arrow ends to make them stick better (esp. on glass like the TV set--but that wouldn't work today!).

Chairman Moe said...

Puzzling thoughts:

First, condolences to the Grabowski family; as others said, Gail’s xword puzzles will be missed, though I’m sure she has a few yet to be published

Second, I couldn’t make heads or tails of this one at first; and slowly but Shirley the COINS emerged and I sorta got the gist. But WIIG and COR? No clue. As our illustrious Sea Cow said, in his recap full of Bon MOTS, some of the fill seemed forced. WIIG looks like it should be either a texting acronym or the call letters for a radio station that attracts bald people ...

BAD PR? In the first word across? That gives BAD PR to crossword puzzles

Ok, I’m done ranting ... I’m beginning to sound like Rex Parker and that’s not who I am!

Happy New Years Eve Cornerites. Providing I’ve no hangover I’ll see yuns (that’s Pittsburgh-ese for y’all) bright and early manaña (that’s Phoenix-ese for tomorrow!)

Your resident class clown,

Anonymous T said...

Hi All!

FIW - ERcOT crossing a name.

Thanks Richard & Brad for the puzzle. Theme was cute (as COINS was 'invent a word' yesterday) and really helped by 'process of elimination' to get enough letters for the themers to come into view.

Fun expo MManatee. Didn't know you were a Weird Al fan too.

WOs: started MARsh b/f MIRE, I was going to end Taskmaster with ER until AGATE fixed it.
ESPs: BADPR & NOTIE (aha! it's in how you parse it :-)) A PIE, IAIN, NOLAN, ERIC, COR, WIIc [sic]
Fav: Michael Palin plans his Phineas Fogg adventure
Runner-up: YARN's clue was cute.

{B, A}

FLN - Thanks Lucina!

So sad to see that Gail has passed. Condolences to the Grabowski's and to her collaborator Bruce.

Inanehiker - sending positive wishes to your great-Nephew.

BobLee - wasn't arrows but dart-guns that we'd lick the SUCTION CUPs on.

Enjoyed reading you GOOF BALLs today (you know which ones you are :-))

Cheers, -T

NaomiZ said...

I enjoyed today's puzzle. I am bad at unscrambling words, so was glad to see the revealing clue at 67 Across; up to that point I could only see my S-I-L's name, Nico.

Ray-O, I think BAD PR is fodder in a libel lawsuit because if you publish nasty things about someone, they may sue!

MalMan, a terrific review. Your comments on 20 Across (rewording) and 38 Across (out of ODOR) gave me giggles.

C.C., thanks for the link to Gail's obit. We owe a debt of gratitude to all the puzzle constructors.

Feliz año nuevo desde Los Ángeles.

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

Anon T @ 4:52..


Got the first Pfizer shot last week, next one due Jan 13. Staff and population appropriately stratified. 100s received their first dose at our hospital system in upstate NY.. no side effects during the mandatory 1/2 hour post inoculation observation period.

Apalled by the cruel way the governor of state of Florida is handling vaccine distribution. First come first serve?

People lined up overnight for whatever doses are available. Those who are too ill or disabled to wait over night or in a long line, the very people who should be first treated, are out of luck.

Typical example of the way the handling of the pandemic has been bungled from the beginning.

End of rant

Yuman said...

I’m with Owen at 4:32, stomach acid, Orange Sunshine or Window Pane?
MM loved your “Being a writer is enjoyable but being an EDITOR is more rewording.”
Yes, Gail will be missed.

TTP said...

Good late morning. R.I.P., Gail.

I solved in the middle of the night, with just the light of the laptop screen, and had about 5 typos that lengthened the solve.

Thank you, Richard, and Brad. Thank you, Malodorous Manatee. Enjoyed your quips. Fun stuff all the way around.

That "Mendocino" song didn't make the classic rock station's A to Z countdown. The station is about halfway though through the alphabet, having just played "New World Man" by Rush.

NO TIE - Remember the casual Friday fad and the causal restaurant/bars (Bennigan's, TGIF's or Houlihan's ? - I don't recall ) where they would snip off your tie with a pair of scissors ? When reading about paczki the other day, I learned that this has been a long time tradition in one of the Nordic countries if you wear a TIE on Fat Thursday. Maybe that's how the tie snipping got here. We know one thing, more likely than not. They never got Desper-otto. More likely that he snipped all of his own ties the day after he retired.

Wilbur, I finally started and solved the WaPo Sunday the 27th crossword by Evan Birnholz. Took about the normal time to solve the puzzle, but I spent an hour and a half or so trying to figure out the Meta. Never got it. Finally gave up and decided to search for the solution. That's when I saw Evan's tweet about Gail.

Nat Geo is having a Food Factory marathon on today, and they just had a segment on about Mallo Cups. Do you remember Mallo Cups and the Mallo Cup Coins ? Appropriate that I was watching that segment while reading the review that was written up by the blogger that some here refer to as "Malo Man."

Moe, I grew up hearing yuns, yinz and y'all. Then when I got into grade school...

Yesterday, I finally got to use my snowblower for the first time this winter. My driveway was done far too soon, so I did the widowed lady's drive, and then the new neighbor's drive. For good measure and because I hadn't had enough, I did the edge of the two roads that border my property. Somewhere along the way, I got nylon cord and a wire mesh form for what must've been a Christmas decoration wrapped around the impeller. No good deed goes unpunished ?

Yuman, see Desper-Otto's comments at 6:45.

Acesaroundagain said...

Shocked to hear about Gail. I will miss her brilliant puzzles.

desper-otto said...

TTP, I retired in 2010, but my former employer ditched the necktie rule in the late '90s. I haven't worn a noose around my neck for more than 20 years. Dw claims she's stashed one somewhere, but I don't know where. I have no plans to go looking for it.

Anon said...

Liked the theme. Hated the 8 for O clue.

another MM said...

another clever one with words I did not know!!! Imagine that. The peerless MM continues to delight!

Irish Miss said...

Hi Everyone:

I was very saddened to hear of Gail’s passing. She was one of my favorite constructors, both solo and with Bruce. I don’t think I have ever been disappointed in any of her puzzles. RIP, Gail, you will be greatly missed. Condolences to the family and to Bruce, as well.

Late to the dance as I was helping my cleaning lady putting things back in order after taking down the Christmas decorations.

Today’s offering was an easy Thursday solve but with an unusual type of theme and reveal. My favorite C/A was Casual remark=No Tie, which took a minute or two to understand. Iain was easy as I watch Young Sheldon, plus he was also in Big Little Lies. I really enjoy the chemistry between the actors who play his mom and dad and, also, the antics of Annie Potts, who plays Meemaw. I liked the Evas/Eras/Erato trio.

Thanks, Richard and Brad, for a fun romp and thanks, MalMan, for some much needed and much appreciated humor. Enjoyed your musings immensely.

Have a great day and a safe and sane New Year’s Eve. I’ll probably see the ball drop as I’m a night owl every night. ��

Irish Miss said...

The ?? = 🦉Google is goofy!

AnonDon said...

The Fort Bragg clue left this North Carolina boy completely confused.

Spitzboov said...

AnonDon @ 1228 - Fort Bragg left me confused, too, as I've driven thru the large base in N. Carolina. But Mendocino dropped in nicely from partially crossed perps, and I took the editor at his word. Checked later with a Map app and Fort Bragg, CA, was prominently shown. Clever misdirection in a sense, but CA was clearly stated. I guess that helps make it a Thursday level.

Misty said...

What sad news about losing Gail G. I too always loved her and Bruce's puzzles. Condolences to her family and friends.

Fun COIN puzzle, Richard and Brad--many thanks. And great pictures, MalMan. I especially enjoyed seeing all those MUSES.

I loved EVA Gabor on "Green Acres" over all those years. Still watch it occasionally. The Shakespearean HADST cracked me up. Well, of course, the nose knows ODOR--what else would it know. STYES show up in puzzles a lot, it seems.

Have a wonderful New Year's Eve, everybody. Stay sober, and have a much better 2021 than what we've been through.

Alice said...

I enjoyed this puzzle very much - fun and fairly easy. That said, I needed MM’s explanation for YARN, since I cynically thought it described a fabrication for a document in Afghanistan, like it didn’t exist but was said to exist. Or something...

I know of O’Douls but never tasted it. Is it a good substitute?

Ray of Sunshine, you’re the first person I’ve heard say they’ve been inoculated — good for you! I’m hoping it’s my turn soon.

Happy New Year to all! May it be your best year ever!

AnonymousPVX said...

That Blazing Saddles scene is one of my favorites.

I wouldn’t be letting anyone in my house until I’m double vaxxed, and even then I’d be careful. So close to the end of this, not the time to ease one's vigilance.

This last grid of the year had some chunk to it.

I actually bought a bidet seat months ago...the one good thing that’s come from COVID. Once you spray, you’ll stay.

Gee...EVERYTHING is white in that tennis poster.

And a Happy New Year to one and all. 2021 HAS to be better....right?

Ol' Man Keith said...

Very sorry to read of the death of Gail Grabowski, a true, highly talented cruciverbalist.

Great coverge today from MalMan!

I enjoyed today's pzl, but was surprised to see no reference to the old year or the new. I suppose we have all become just so jaded...
Surely tomorrow we may expect a celebratory greeting!

In anticipation, may I extend my best wishes to all for a smart, sober New Year's Eve, and a safe & healthy New Year!
. We have a 3-way on the far end today.
AND a real goodie in the main diagonal's anagram.
Some background: Many years ago, as a young actor, I was encouraged by teachers to choose an "energy center" from teachers who practiced Michael Chekhov's centering technique. I was to select (a) that part of my anatomy in which my latent energy resided and (b) a metaphoric image of what that energy felt and looked like.
I chose (a) my chest and (b) a glowing shard of black obsidian--the glassy rock formed atop volcanic ash.
To me this suggested willfulness and an energy of clean, clear, sharpness. Excellent imagery for a then-young man.
So how does all this relate to today's anagram?
Well, I haven't been thinking of my old center all these years, but I suppose at some subconscious level it has been morphing on its own, and it has floated downwards as inactivity has enveloped these old bones.
TODAY, my energy has come back to haunt t me in a 12-letter anagram, as my...
my "Obsidian Hipbones"!!

Again, Happy New Year!

Pat said...

I got off to a rocky start today when my first three answers were all wrong! Had to peek at the grid just to get going. Most of the rest of it was doable. Thanks, Richard S. and Brad W., for the work-out, and Thanks, MManantee, for the write-up.

My condolences to Gail's family and friends. I always enjoy her puzzles and she will be missed.

FIW with the crossing of USdA/NOdIE. Wasn't sure about the first answer and parsed No die as short for No Dice.

After dinner tonight I'll sit in the Family Room and watch TV until about 10 pm, then go to bed. DH will spend his time downstairs watching football until the games are over. Such an eventful evening!

A bragging moment for me and Java Mama: we got an email today telling us that, even with the pandemic shut-down for over a month, the shelter adopted out 1025 cats and dogs, and volunteers put in 43,000 hours! I don't know how many people it took to get that number of hours, but it was a lot!

Happy New Year! Hope it's much better for us all!

Terry said...

Nice catch as Rex, but you would have to go a long, long way to get even close 😉

Hungry Mother said...

FIR and finished the year with a challenge well met. Gaped a bit at IAIN, but I was solid with the crosses. When I quit drinking in 1989, I used to drink ODOULS at dinners out, since non-alcoholic martinis were never available. I did once ask a waiter for a non-alcoholic Irish coffee, but I was just kidding around. I also spent some months drinking gin and tonics without the gin, but I was OK with iced tea before long. Thanks to the bloggers and commenters; I try to get here most days at the end of my solving sequence: SB (always Genius), NYT Mini, NYT, LAT.

Wilbur Charles said...

I didn't get the "Editor" joke until yuman posted (eg sent). And Fort Bragg never registered but I drove by there on trips from LeJeune to Jersey.

Went by a town with a big sign out front: This is a Ku Klux Klan town! 1968


Anonymous T said...

OMK - That DR was a long walk :-)
//But worth it

Pat & Java Mama - wonderful job taking care of all those animals as they wait for adoption. Impressive numbers for the year.

Alice - I don't like O'Doul's but then I don't like Budweiser or the ilk; I like IPAs. The best NA beer I've found is Clausthaler. I'll take a 6-pack to a dinner party if I'm expected to drive afterwards and get my IPA later.

First time I encountered a bidet was in Maadi, Egypt. I was going through the flat with my co-workers (it was a company owned flat for us to crash after work) and noticed an extra knob next to the odd-looking commode. Being a good engineer, I say "What does this do?" as I twist the knob.

My buddy, who was also wondering what that knob did, got hit with a fountain of water!
//other buddy who'd been with the company longer (and thus been to Egypt a few times) laughed his butt of.

Cheers, -T

Jayce said...

So sad about Gail Grabowski.

Puzzle had some stuff I liked (YARN) and some stuff I didn't (BADPR).

IAIN is a good example of how unpredictable the spelling of a person's name can be (Ian, Ewan, Iain, etc. Eric, Erik, Erich, etc. Olaf, Olav, etc. Rachael, Rachel, Raquel, etc.) If ya know it ya know it; if ya don't ya can't guess.

I bet HeartRx could construct a Gawd-awful crossname puzzle in 30 minutes.

Keep vigilantly staying safe, everybody.

Malodorous Manatee said...

Thanks to all of you for your kind comments. Happy New Year to all Cornerites. It has been a genuine pleasure getting to know each of you over this past year.

Anonymous T @ 10:54 - I have been a Weird Al fan since I first heard "Eat It" on the Dr. Demento Show many moons ago (Wikipedia says 1984). One of these weeks I will find a way to work "Nature Trail To Hell (In 3D)" into a puzzle recap.

SwampCat said...

R.I.P. Gail. You gave us so much pleasure. Thanks!

Interesting puzzle. I got most of it. Liked all of it . Thanks, Richard and Brad. I loved YARN, as did many of us here. I’ve used VERA Bradley bags for years because they are cloth and not heavy. (The old ones are best, but her PR people wouldn’t want me to say that)

I didnt understand NO TIE. But I don’t have to understand.

I’ve had O DOULS. Not bad, but I can see that if you are a real beer drinker... well it’s not real beer!

Owen... well... just thanks!!!

Happy new year to us all!!

Yellowrocks said...

In Japan many average Joes have bidet toilets in their homes and so do restaurants. On tour there my American roommate sat on one with all the bells and whistles, temp control, spray front, spray back, dry, etc. She sat on one unaware and pressed the buttons. When she got squirted she screamed and stood up wile it sprayed all over. What a mess!I
OTOH, some very fancy hotels have this type of bidet along with the ancient hole in the floor kind. When I asked why I was told the olden type are for women with kimono which are difficult to maneuver for the modern kind. (No s in Japanese plurals.)
I may not be awake to see the ball drop. Last night I stayed up until after 3:00 AM to finish my third novel this week and am on the fourth one now.

SwampCat said...

MM, did I forget to say thanks!!!

SwampCat said...

YR, I’m so glad you seem to be settled in your new digs!

TTP said...

Well.. just because, and seemingly befitting as minor symbolism of everything else that has gone wrong this year, my shrimp scampi was just this side of inedible. Way, way too much lemon. DW said that it was good, but suggested that I taste as I add the lemon. She's probably right. OK, she's right. There, I said it. I think it would have helped that when I divided the recipe ingredients in half... that I would have also cut the amount of lemon in half.

I'd like to wish the very best to all for the new year. Glad this one is all but behind us.

LEO III said...

Thanks Richard and Brad and Mal Man!

Well, I thought I was going to be able to get by with only a DNF. When I started reading through the clues and saw Fort Bragg, CA, I just KNEW we had caught the editors in a major gaff. “Whom do you think you’re kidding?” he asked himself rhetorically. Rather than waiting it out, I googled Fort Bragg and found that there is one in California. In the process, I didn’t avert my eyes well enough, and I saw the county name. Boo!

Once again, the other long clues were relatively obvious, except for SUCTIONCUP, which took a while to show itself. The unifier was easy.

Even so, I managed to completely mangle the NE corner, so seeing MENDOCINO when I did didn’t make any difference, because of my wrong answers elsewhere.

Loved the 8 for O clue --- once I finally figured it out.

Our office went full-time corporate casual in the early ‘90s. One of our managers just couldn’t get with the program. Finally, the BIG boss came to him one day and ‘splained to him that he was never to wear a suit to work again (unless he was going out to formally meet a customer), and none of his customers was in Houston. He got the message!

One more: Three of us drove over to Austin to meet with one of our vendors. The day before we were to go over there, I asked myself, “Self! I wonder if the vendor realizes that we don’t wear suits these days? We certainly don’t want to dress up to drive three hours each way.” So, I called the vendor and asked if they would mind if we came corporate casual. “No problem!” On the way out the door after our meeting, our escort explained how the three of us actually DO walk on water. She explained that whenever their customers came to visit, EVERYBODY in their office (probably about 50 people, all on one floor) had to dress up like the good old bad old days. They were SO happy that they didn’t have to dress up for us, and we would have been SO embarrassed if they had.

So sorry to hear about Gail Grabowski. I was always delighted to see Bruce’s and her puzzles. Not only were they fun puzzles, they were usually early in the week, so I knew I stood a fighting chance trying to solve them.

Michael said...

AnonDon @ 12:28:

"The Fort Bragg clue left this North Carolina boy completely confused."

That's because the same Braxton Bragg was well thought of after his actions as an artillery officer in the Mexican-American War. From Wiki: "In the summer of 1857, 1st Lt. Horatio G. Gibson, then serving at the Presidio of San Francisco, established a military post on the reservation, approximately a mile and a half north of the Noyo River, and named it for his former commanding officer Capt. Braxton Bragg, who later became a General in the Army of the Confederacy."

waseeley said...

OwenKL @4:32 AM These were "brand names" for batches of LSD. I recall one called "Chocolate Drop".

waseeley said...

70A is a clecho with 2D, as the ERGOT fungus is one of the sources for Lysergic ACID Diethylamide.

Lucina said...

Happy new year, everyone! May 2021 be spectacularly successful in every way for each one of us! I look forward to puzzling with for another year.

Lemonade714 said...

I guess Joe and I had the most misspent youth, as Window Pane and Orange Sunshine were very familiar terms to me along with Purple Osleys and many others. Window Pane remains a very popular mix- I am told.

I was very saddened by the death of Gail Grabowski, a wonderfully prolific talent, and another person born after me to shuffle off this mortal coil. RIP Gail, you will be remembered for generations.

Happy healthy new year to all