, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: December 2021


Dec 31, 2021

Friday, December 31, 2021, Joe Deeney


Puzzling thoughts:

Frequent contributor Joe Deeney is our constructor on this 365th day of 2021. Joe ushers out the year with a clever quintet of Magazine names - some popular and well-known; a couple not so much - that are found in somewhat common phrases.

I (8-Across: Focus[ed] on winning a contest?) STARE[D] at the blank grid for quite awhile before getting a foothold, but I didn't cheat (even though I had all of the answers). I FIR with several w/o's as will be explained in the recap below. Here then are the five themer's:

17-Across. Magazine article?: TIME PIECE. TIME magazine has been around forever (actually, since March 3, 1923), and annually honors their "Person of the Year". The 2021 recipient is Elon Musk. And as my theme suggests, with this honor, Musk is certainly a mag(azine) "wheel". As a single word, TIMEPIECE might refer to a watch or clock

24-Across. Magazine employee?: PEOPLE PERSON. Probably my favorite of Joe's quips, as folks with whom I'm acquainted would call me a "PEOPLE PERSON"

PEOPLE Magazine first appeared on March 4, 1974, with Mia Farrow as the cover girl pitching her upcoming movie "Gatsby". Some of the other "mag wheels" that were featured in the first issue included: William Peter Blatty, Gloria Vanderbilt, Richard Petty, and Jim Croce

37-Across. Magazine revenue?: WIRED MONEY. Joe shifts gears on us by placing the Magazine name second in this well-known phrase. Wiring MONEY has become so much easier now with the advent of on-line banking. I prefer to use PayPal. MONEY Magazine first appeared on the newsstands in October, 1972. There was no specific "mag wheel" featured on the first issue's cover; instead a list of three articles.

Unlike TIME and PEOPLE (which are weekly's), MONEY is published monthly. TIME, Inc was its first publisher.

52-Across. Magazine ad?: CRICKET PITCH. OK, now it gets a bit tricky . . . did Joe throw us a curve ball or is Moe over-thinking this one? CRICKET is an illustrated literary magazine for children published in the United States, founded in September 1973. It was meant to be "The New Yorker for kids". I never heard of it. PITCH magazine has several references when Googled. Maybe if Joe stops by he can elaborate for us

Nevertheless, a CRICKET PITCH in real life looks something like this:

61-Across. Magazine founders?: "O" PIONEERS!. "O", The Oprah Magazine has been a newsstand staple since its debut in April, 2000, but the last print issue was in 2020; it's digital now. The magazine is usually abbreviated to just "O" as seen here on one of its cover photos. Camille Cosby graced the cover of the premier issue, and is thus, the "mag wheel" for "O".

Per Wikipedia: O Pioneers! is a 1913 novel by American author Willa Cather, written while she was living in New York. It was her second published novel. The title is a reference to a poem by Walt Whitman entitled "Pioneers! O Pioneers!" from Leaves of Grass

Here is the grid, with the magazine names highlighted in red:

1. Feel compassion (for): ACHE. Empathy is a trait of many PEOPLE PERSON(s) who feel compassion, or ACHE for another

5. Uncomfortable spot: ZIT. Odd clue; other synonyms for ZIT(s):

13. Arctic trout: CHAR. Note the trout-like mouth

14. Word with rock or rain: ACID. I needed a few perps; I knew that FRAGGLE couldn't fit - too many letters!

16. "The Thunder Dragon Kingdom": BHUTAN. Most of what you want to know about BHUTAN

19. Pitching in: AIDING. First of my w/o's; I had ADDING

20. Egyptian leader before Sadat: NASSER. Gamal Abdel NASSER Hussein: an Egyptian politician who served as the second president of Egypt from 1954 until his death in 1970. Nasser led the 1952 overthrow of the monarchy and introduced far-reaching land reforms the following year. Wikipedia

21. Hockey trophy namesake: ART ROSS. Second of my w/o's; I had (Lord) STANLEY first. The ART ROSS Trophy is given to the NHL player who has the highest point total (goals + assists) during the regular season. Been an award since the late 1940's. Wayne Gretzky won the trophy an NHL-record 10 times, including seven in a row from 1980-81 through 1986-87. Gordie Howe and Mario Lemieux are next with six each

23. Go (for): OPT. VIE also fit

28. Fail to hold it together: WEEP. One of my favorite covers of this Billie Holiday classic

30. Iris part: PETAL. PUPIL fit, but technically that is a part of the EYE, not the IRIS

31. Japanese national sport: SUMO. Learning moment.The Grand SUMO Tournament begins in about 10 days. A throw-back haiku:
Japanese wrestler
Named Maurice was served. Someone
Wanted to SUMO

32. Enter noisily: TROMP IN. Exit noisily: TRUMP OUT

35. Swear: ATTEST. I ATTEST, this is just a test

40. Submit: ACCEDE.

43. FBI director before Comey: MUELLER. MUELLER reflects on his 12 year run as FBI director

46. Atomic theory pioneer: BOHR. Niels Henrik David BOHR was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr was also a philosopher and a promoter of scientific research. Wikipedia

47. Blues and Jazz, e.g.: TEAMS. St Louis BLUES and the Utah JAZZ are TEAMS in the NHL and NBA, respectively

50. Days of anticipation: EVES. How timely! Tonight is one of those

56. "__ had enough!": I'VE. How many of you thought of Earth, Wind, and Fire? This wasn't one of their bigger hits, but it made YouTube! The 1970's rocked!

57. Supreme Court appointee between Stevens and Scalia: O'CONNOR. Sandra Day O'CONNOR is an American retired attorney and politician who served as the first female associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 to 2006. She was the first woman nominated and, subsequently, the first woman confirmed. Wikipedia

58. Firm up: HARDEN. If Joe had stayed with the NBA in clueing this, we'd have had this dude:

60. Captures: SNARES. As a percussionist, my son-in-law plays these:

64. See to: HANDLE. It's my job to HANDLE this blog twice a month

65. Shaving mishap: NICK. No shaving mishap for this NICK:

66. Chip in?: ANTE. Moe-ku:

Dispensary has
A poker room. You ANTE,
And hope to win pot

67. Baker's starter component: YEAST. Said baker was having problems getting baked goods to market. A reporter asked him if it was due to the recent shortage of flour. His response was, "That's the YEAST of my worries . . ."

68. Look at intently: EYE. EYE seems less invasive than OGLE; a word we often see for this clue

69. Certain survivor's malady, for short: PTSD. According to the National Institute of Health: "Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it"

1. Commercial imperative: ACT NOW. This is the perfect ad for this phrase:

2. Growing fad?: CHIA PET. Oddly enough I got this play-on-words clue straight away. ACT NOW and you can buy one of these!

3. Pet with cheek pouches: HAMSTER. Was there a CHIA PET version of this lovable little guy?

4. "__ Tu": 1974 hit: ERES. ERES tu is Spanish for Is it You

5. Democratic Republic of the Congo, once: ZAIRE. I knew it was ZAIRE but ZIT didn't look right, initially, in the across position

6. __ the kicker: call a time-out moments before a field goal attempt: ICE. 63-Down. Not very welcoming: ICY. Tinbeni, not pleased!

7. Facial spasm: TIC. I wonder if this spasm is what causes a 65-Across??

8. Overseas county: SHIRE. Oxford Dictionary defines it as: "a county, especially in England". Used in reference to parts of England regarded as strongholds of traditional rural culture, especially the rural Midlands. Was referred to in the Lord of the Rings trilogy

9. Like Leeds Castle, architecturally: TUDOR STYLE. Staying with England, the next clue describes this:

10. Contested: AT ISSUE. What would a crossword puzzle about magazines be without the word "ISSUE"??!

11. Coerced payments: RANSOMS. Here is another way to clue "RANSOMS" - it's a wild garlic. Much nicer than a coerced payment methinks . . .

12. Lang. of Belize: ENG. When a colony, it was known as British Hondurus. One of the many places that Moe has visited outside the U.S. Here are a couple of pictures taken at the Xunantunich Archaeological Reserve which is on the border of Belize and Guatemala. It's a Mayan ruin that dates back to the period of approx. 700-1000, A.D. The second pic is of me at its apex. It was quite a hike to the top!

15. Passed out: DEALT. Once again, I initially had DEALT in this spot, but it didn't fit with STANLEY in 21-Across. Once ART ROSS emerged, DEALT was DEALT back in

16. Sight in the skies above Gotham: BAT PLANE. Gotham (Bruce Wayne's home town) should have given it away for me, but this was one of my last entries to the grid. I knew of the BAT MOBILE but not a BAT PLANE. I was more of a Marvel Comics fan as a kid; not DC

18. Cheerleading asset: PEP. Sure, let's go with PEP! A CSO to our Houston area puzzlers

22. Blues-rocker Chris: REA. I'm sure most of y'all have heard this song before

25. Role for Ronny: OPIE. Actor/Director/Producer Ron Howard

26. Remain undecided: PEND. I usually think of the word PENDing; not PEND. But Your Dictionary dot com uses PEND in a sentence thusly: "To PEND is to await or depend upon a decision occurring in the future. When your future is hinging upon the results of a courtroom trial, this is an example of a time when your future will PEND on the trial.

27. "I was being sarcastic!": NOT. Great clue, eh Moe? "NOT"!

29. Sources of juice: POWER CORDS. Moe-ku:

Wood-burning stoves are
Fueled by logs stacked 4' by 4'
Are these (called) POWER CORDS?

33. Fielder prefix: MID. A MIDfielder is a position in soccer (football). In the well-oiled soccer team machine, MIDfielders are the gears that keep the defensive and offensive lines connected and moving smoothly. This key role often sees the most action and moves the most during a game. Midfielders play both defensive and offensive roles and must be accurate passers. According to one source, this guy is the best MIDfielder in the world right now

34. False purpose: PRETENSE. Dictionary dot com says: "a claim, especially a false or ambitious one". Spot on

36. __ Aviv: TEL. We recently had some photos appear on this blog of Picard pedaling along the Mediterranean whilst in TEL Aviv. Moe was there - for a business trip - back in 2008

38. First year of the next millennium: MMMI. Hmmm (note the 3 m's). Spoiler alert: none of who are reading this will be alive in the year 3001

39. Get rid of: OUST. I usually think of the word OUST to mean something more forceful than "get rid of". As in, "the bouncer OUSTed the drunk from the bar"; or, "the rebel forces OUSTed the Prime Minister from power"

40. Robin Roberts' network: ABC. Robin René Roberts is an American television broadcaster. Roberts is the anchor of ABC's Good Morning America. She formerly worked at ESPN as both a reporter and sportscaster. Now, for those who are baseball fans, check out THIS Robin Roberts

41. Solar eclipse phenomena: CORONAE. Unlike several Mexican beers; you would call those CORONAS

42. Certain Mexican-American: CHICANA. CHICANO could've fit, too. Interesting find from Huffpost dot com: "Originally wealthier Mexican-Americans used the term CHICANO/CHICANA as a pejorative, a way to describe Mexican-Americans of lower social standing (likely with some racial overtones). But it wasn't until the outbreak of the civil rights movement in the 1960s that the term “Chicano” became popular"

44. Clear: EVIDENT. This is EVIDENT as the driven snow - to paraphrase!

45. Goes back: REVERTS. One of the 12 7-letter entries that Joe used today. This word's origin: "from Old French revertir or Latin revertere ‘turn back’. Early senses included ‘recover consciousness’ and ‘return to a position'

48. WWII command: ETO. European Theater of Operations - this abbr. is becoming a bit too "crosswordese" for my liking, as many of the new generation of puzzle solvers are unfamiliar with this term, outside of crosswords. In looking at the puzzle, Joe might have used ETE (French word for summer) and O'CONNER (Fictional character Brian in Fast and Furious) instead, but I'm not an editor . . . and probably for good reason!!

49. Protective garment: APRON.

51. Intuited: SENSED. How many of you have SENSED that this recap has run its course?!

53. Prepared to speak to a tot, maybe: KNELT. Having just returned from a trip to visit my 19-month old grandson, I knew this clue/answer immediately

54. Fail in the clutch: CHOKE. This is a clever clue, for me at least. I saw the word "clutch" in the clue and immediately thought of this

55. Chewie's pal: HAN. Not sure why Joe chose "Chewie's pal" as opposed to "Chewbacca's pal" for the clue. HAN is not a nickname for the character in Star Wars

59. Gather: REAP. Again, a word used a lot in crossword puzzles due to its versatile combination of vowels and consonants

60. Short: SHY. When I first saw this clue I was thinking "height". As I am 5'6", I know all about being short; "vertically challenged" is one of the few PC terms I've embraced!! ;^) But in this clueing of the word, I thought Joe was referring to short as "not having enough money". As in, "I can't leave a tip for you because I am a bit SHY right now."

62. Treat on March 14: PIE. The word PIE - a homophone for the word PI - is a celebratory treat served on March 14. Why? Because March 14 can also be written numerically as "3-14". Pi (a mathematical constant, approximately equal to 3.14159, is defined in Euclidean geometry as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter) as a number is usually abbreviated 3.14

And with that, we are done. It's been a slice! I hope you all have an enjoyable celebration tonight of the passing of 2021 to 2022. See you next Friday . . .

Dec 30, 2021

Thursday, December 30, 2021, August Miller


Okay, so it is one day early.  The sentiment still holds.  Happy New Year, Cruciverbalists!  

Malodorous Manatee here with today's recap.  I am back from the mountains (where the temperature dipped to minus 15°F one morning).  

A scientific journal once wrote, "The challenge to using manatees as experimental animals is not their ability to learn but the fact that they are difficult to motivate and move quite slowly."  I just might be an anomaly.  The empirical evidence seems to suggest that I can be properly motivated and can move quickly (when required) but, sometimes, seem not to learn from experience.  Therefore, in a few days it will be back to the type of cold weather that my parents, and millions of their closest friends, moved to SoCal to escape.  Of course, with vistas such as this who cares?

Teocali Mountain, Colorado - Photo by MM

Be that as it may ...


In 1983, an experimental non-narrative film was released that was called Koyaanisqatsi which is a Hopi (a few visited us yesterday) word meaning Life Out of Balance.  Today, our puzzle constructor,  August Miller, presents his take on that theme.  In four places within the grid (17, 23, 37 and 47 Across - each clue being marked with an *), the letters of the word BALANCE can be found jumbled (and adjacent to each other) within the longer answers.  If your source used them, there are circles to indicate the location of the jumbled letters.  Here is how this looks in the completed puzzle:

The unifier comes at:

58 Across:  Create instability . . . or a hint to each set of circles: UPSET THE BALANCE.

For those who are interested, here is the trailer for the film:

As there are no themed answers (merely letters located within otherwise unrelated answers), let's dive right in


1. Spanish gal pal: CHICA.  This marine mammal first tried AMIGA . . . and both the I and the A worked out.  The rest did not.

6. Bygone dictator: TSAR .  . . making frequent appearances in crossword puzzles.

10. "__ Guy": 2019 Billie Eilish #1 hit: BAD.  I checked out the video on YouTube so you don't have to.  Not my style.  Apologies to any Eilish fans here.

13. Winter warmer: COCOA.   I prefer a good single malt (yeah, I know that it actually constricts the blood vessels).

14. Troll, at times: HATER.   Troll as in internet troll.

16. Summer cooler: ADE.  LemonADE (a CSO), LimeADE, OrangeADE, etc.  Sometimes FAN.

17. 1971 road movie co-starring James Taylor: TWO LANE BLACKTOP.  The first of the locations.

20. Peddle: VEND.  SELL would have fit and the E would have worked.

21. Creator of the former messaging software AIM: AOLAOL Instant Messenger.  I confess to still having an AOL account.  I try to direct all of my "commercial" email (read: Junk) there.  Remember picking up these disks at various places around town?

22. Arab League headquarters city: CAIRO.  Egypt, not Illinois.

23. Astronaut's insulator: SPACE BLANKET.  I often carried one with me in my backpacking days.  The second answer with jumbles.

Photo Not By MM - And Not of MM

27. Suffering: IN PAIN.

30. Like crab apples: TART.  Sour.  The dictionary lists three additional definitions for TART:  (1)  A pastry shell with shallow sides and no top crust. (2) A pie.  (3) A harlot.

31. Hit the __: BOOKS.  Study, or read

32. "That was close!": PHEW.  We've seen this spelled other ways in other puzzles.

34. "Nova" airer: PBS.

37. Part ways for good: MAKE A CLEAN BREAK.  The third site.

41. Reserved: SHY.

42. Soccer legend Mia: HAMM.  Love that double M.

Mia Hamm

43. Wee, facetiously: EENSY.  Neither ITSY, BITSY, TEENY nor WEENY.  Apologies for the ear worm.

44. Flimsy: THIN.

46. Expressionless: GLASSY.  As in GLASSY Eyed

47.  * "Key Largo" co-star: LAUREN BACALL.  The fourth set of circles.

52. Ed of "Up": ASNER.  "Up" was a 2009 animated motion picture.  AKA Lou Grant.  "Up"also featured Dug the talking dog.  Crosses AS PER

53. Turn sharply: ZAG.  ZIG?

54. Dash gauge: TACH.  TACHometer.  Do you prefer analog or digital?

62. Barely passing: DEE.  We were graded on the curve a couple of weeks ago, too.

63. Last critter in a kindergarten reader, maybe: ZEBRA.

64. Revise: ALTER.

65. Act like a human?: ERR.  To ERR is human.  To forgive is against company policy.

66. Ember: COAL.  As we were driving down the road "Sweet Caroline" came on the radio.  I said to Valerie, "Did you know that Neil Diamond used to be called Neil COAL"?  "Then the pressure got to him."

67. Loses one's grip, in a way: SKIDS.


1. Surveillance system, for short: CCTV.  Closed Circuit TeleVision

2. Suffragist Julia Ward __: HOWE.  She is, perhaps, better known for writing "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic".

Glory, Glory Harry Lewis

3. App symbol: ICON.

4. Chilled Japanese brew: COLD SAKE.  SAKE is made by fermenting rice that has been polished to remove the bran.
The Lucky Sake Cat

5. Energizer size: AAA.

The Energizer Bunny

6. 2000s Fox drama set in Newport Beach: THE OC.  As in Orange County, California.

7. Weasel family member known for its fur: SABLE.

8. Ga. airport: ATL.  Code for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

9. LGBT activist __ Carey: REA.  (Born 22 December 1966)

10. It's a dyeing art: BATIK.  It was more popular in the 60's but it's not a dying art.  Oh, dye-ing art!

11. Really dig: ADORE.  The clue is from an earlier time.

12. Where to get off: DEPOT.

Grand Central Station

15. Miniature vehicle with a remote, briefly: RC CAR.  Radio Controlled CAR

18. Tandoori bread: NAAN.  Smoking or Naan?

19. "Critique of Pure Reason" writer: KANT.  He visited us last Friday.  Apparently, he just KANT stay away.

24. City with a notable tower: PISA.

Photo By MM

25. Backup group: B-TEAM.  Not The A-Team

26. Many a home front: LAWN.  Brick? Aluminum Siding?  Not the Eastern Front.

27. Models for old clones: IBMS.  IBM PC Clones

28. Biblical boater: NOAH.

Noah's Ark

29. Slow: POKY.

32. Fallback: PLAN B.  Is the B-Team called upon to execute PLAN B?

33. Something to take up with your tailor?: HEM.  Two rival tailors had a contest to see who could cut and perfectly hem a six-foot long piece of fabric.  The result was a tie.

34. Uni-ball products: PENS.

35. Low pitch pro: BASS.

36. American vodka brand: SKYY.  Actually, SKYY is now owned by Gruppo Campari of Italy.
38. __ music: small talk: CHIN.

39. Male pseudonym used by all three Brontë sisters: BELL.  For me, a learning moment.

40. Heart-to-heart: REAL TALK.  As in "Let's have a ...."

44. Genealogy chart: TREE.

45. Frequency unit: HERTZ.  Not the car rental company.

46. Madly in love: GAGA.  Do a web search o GAGA and it returns all sorts of other pop culture stuff.

47. Magna cum __: LAUDE.  With High Honors

48. According to: AS PER.  Crosses AS NER

49. Indy 500 family name: UNSER.  In 2015, five members of the UNSER family raced at the same time on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track.

Robby, Bobby, Al Sr.,  Al Jr., and Johnny

50. Hyundai sedan: AZERA.  Another automotive reference.

51. Plotting group: CABAL.

55. Not a fan of: ANTI.  Opposed

56. Looped in, on Gmail: CC'ED.  Remember Carbon Copies?

57. Towel term: HERS.

59. Many a noir hero: TEC.  Gritty film genre slang for DeTECtive

60. "Big Little Lies" network: HBO.

61. __ Cruces: LAS.  The Crosses.

. . . and with that geography lesson, it is time, now, to go work on my balance on a pair of skis.  I shall try not to cross my tips . . .