Showing posts with label Brad Wilber. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brad Wilber. Show all posts

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.

Mar 28, 2020

Saturday, March 28, 2020, Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber

Themeless Saturday by Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber

Today we have a tag team offering from Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber. This picture is from the NYT puzzle site about another of their collaborations.

The gentlemen left several very "gettable" Easter eggs around the grid which greatly facilitated solving and I managed to get through quite nicely. The NW and SE corners were full before I knew it. O HOLY NIGHT was a freebie but was counterbalanced by my complete ignorance of its neighbors of LANA DELREY and SLADE. Constructors giveth and constructors taketh away.

Off we go:


1. "Play it cool": ACT NATURAL - Ringo gets a chance on this cover of the Buck Owens ear worm

11. A cup's 48: Abbr.: TSPS.

15. One of a set of faddish toys that at its peak made up 10% of all eBay sales: BEANIE BABY 

16. D-Day code name: UTAH - My bride's Uncle landed at UTAH Beach on D-Day+2

17. Staple of many Oktoberfest costumes: LEDERHOSEN - What my cousin in Eastern Switzerland had this to say about this apparel (his English is way better than my Deutsch): Lederhosen are not traditionally worn, LEDERHOSEN belong to the Bavarian costume. From time to time she sees with us at local Oktoberfests, which were looked at and copied by businessmen from the Bavarians. I have no Lederhosen. These are very expensive and cost about 400 to 500 $. My son Fabian owns one, because he goes to such festivals. I am not a fan of drinking a lot of beer and the music played there.
18. Casual gait: LOPE.

19. Superhero uniform symbol: ESS - I literally wore mine until it fell apart! Sometime I will tell you the story about wearing it while I was up on a roof...

20. Pipe section: TRAP.

21. Investigations with strange features: X-FILES Mulder and Scully

23. Ferrari's former parent: FIAT - Both are now looking into making ventilators for Italy

24. Tuna __: Betty Crocker brand: HELPER.

25. Portico support: COLUMN - Here we are in front of COLUMNS that are part of a famous North Portico 

28. "Prince of Motown": GAYE Four minutes of social comment and "that voice"

29. Subj. of some 2015 WikiLeaks content: NSA Here 'ya go

31. United hub: O'HARE - United Airlines hubs

32. Honeycomb holder: CEREAL BOX - Cute!

34. One-track: MONO - Even in MONO, the Everly Brothers sounded great 

35. Declined: WANED.

36. Drip site: EAVE.

37. Fearmongers: ALARMISTS 

39. Swiss city with suburbs in Germany and France: BASEL - BASEL sprawls out across both sides of the Rhine from Schwiez into Deutschland and 

40. Qantas baggage tag abbr.: SYD.

41. Greek war god: ARES.

42. Repair request recipients: SUPERS - Do you remember the name of this TV SUPERintendent?

43. Like many stored measuring cups: NESTED.

45. Dispatched: SENT.

46. Military lodging: BILLET - It used to not be optional

47. Breathing space?: LUNG - A real area of concern with COVID-19 

48. Degree for a CFO: MBA.

51. Tourist mecca with a mausoleum: AGRA Eight secrets of the Taj Mahal

52. Napoleon is a dictator in it: ANIMAL FARM - ...all are equal except some are more equal than others

55. Rid oneself of: SHED.

56. Main menace: PIRATE SHIP 

57. Ocular inflammation: STYE.

58. Aids in coping with pressure?: SPACE SUITS - SPACE SUITS dealt with the LACK of pressure in the vacuum on the Moon (YES! WE WENT TO THE MOON!)


1. Proficient: ABLE.

2. The limits of chic?: CEES ChiC

3. Wee ones: TADS.

4. Peoria-to-Green Bay dir.: NNE 

5. Exposure, to a deejay: AIR TIME - Paul Simon gives credit to a Florida DJ for giving Sound Of Silence a lot of AIR TIME after many requests from kids and giving him and Art Garfunkel a big boost

6. World capital in 1979-'80 headlines: TEHRAN - The 52 hostages held in TEHRAN for 444 days were one factor that cost Jimmy Carter a second term

7. Lusitania sinker: U-BOAT A fascinating, detailed story of America's delayed reaction 

8. Gravelly utterance: RASP - RASPY-voiced Joe Cocker TV theme song

9. Japanese host of the 2019 G20 summit: ABE - Shinzo ABE will not host the Olympics for at least a year. The G20? Don't know.

10. Sharp-sighted: LYNX-EYED They were forced into the open, easy prey for the first LYNX-EYED Mercutian. "Slaves of Mercury" by Nat Schachner. A variation of eagle-eyed that is new to me

11. Lily family flower: TULIP.

12. Theft not involving money or merchandise: STOLEN BASE - This baseball fan took too long to get this one

13. Explains too glibly: PAPERS OVER - A favorite of mine!

14. "__ Like the Wind": "Dirty Dancing" tune: SHE'S - Patrick Swayze sings the song and, uh, engages in Dirty Dancing

22. Circus hopper: FLEA - You really want to see one?

23. Public outcry: FUROR.

24. Leveret raisers: HARES - Leveret and mom HARE

25. Deep sleeps: COMAS.

26. Christmas song containing "a thrill of hope": O HOLY NIGHT 

27. "Summertime Sadness" hitmaker: LANA DELREY Here 'ya go!

28. Restroom label: GENTS - or...

30. Rink acrobatics: AXELS - A triple AXEL in a roller rink and 
33. Did 30-Down: LEAPT.

32. Studied for a job?: CASED - Prepped for a bank job (robbery)

35. Bugs: WIRETAPS 

38. Second sock: MATE.

39. Butchers: BUNGLES 

42. 100-member group: SENATE - Rather than a 100-member group it can often be a 53/47 unit

44. Glam rock band: SLADE Their top ten hits. 
Uh, I didn't know many (any)

45. Rash cause, maybe: SUMAC.

46. Sarastro in "The Magic Flute," e.g.: BASS - Franz Xavier Gerl sang this BASS role at the September 20, 1791 Vienna premiere under the direction of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

47. Italian bread that's no longer tender: LIRA - Italian LIRA ceased to be legal tender in Italy as of February, 28, 2002

48. Half a seafood dinner?: MAHI.

49. Liverpudlian, e.g.: BRIT - This house at 251 Menlove Ave. in Liverpool, England was where BRIT John Lennon was raised by his Aunt Mimi and her husband George Smith. His three band mates were also Liverpudlians

50. Bandstand boosters: AMPS.

53. Obedience school no-no: NIP - No, Fido, no!

54. Sch. with five Orange Bowl victories: FSU - When Husker Byron Bennett missed this FG in the 1994 Orange Bowl, FSU won 18 - 16 and the Husker lost a National Championship, sigh...

Comments for Doug and Brad?

Nov 23, 2019

Saturday, November 23, 2019, Kevin Christian and Brad Wilber

Themeless Saturday by Kevin Christian and Brad Wilber

Today we have a worthy Saturday challenge from two veterans of the crossword wars - Kevin Christian and Brad Wilber.

Kevin Christian interview with C.C.

Brad Wilber interview with C.C.

The SW corner was a real struggle for me with TRIGRAM, MAZIER and RAGAS in one area but I just had to

1. "Dust yourself off and hang tough!": COWBOY UP  and get through it. Good advice to all puzzle solvers!

Let's see what else these two masters have concocted:


9. Ford muscle cars, familiarly: STANGS - Hmmm... Do I really need the 700+ HP in this street-legal 2019 MUSTANG?

15. Reluctant acquiescence: OKAY SURE - "Look, we can get by with a Ford Probe"

16. Walk-off hit situation, perhaps: TWO OUT - A walk-off occurs when the home team ends the game by taking the lead in the bottom of the last inning irrespective of the number of OUTS at the time

17. Note-taking aid: LEGAL PAD.

18. Country by the River Shribble: NARNIA - It's on the northern border of this literary country

19. "Hands off!" in an ad slogan: L'EGGO - A natural tie-in

20. "Hamburger Hill" setting, briefly: NAM.

22. Clue room: STUDY - "Professor Plum in the STUDY with a revolver?"

23. For __: not gratis: A FEE - I swear my lawyer would want a FEE to tell me the time of day

24. Had to miss school, perhaps: AILED - After many kids were missing school thursday, my school canceled for Friday

26. All over: ANEW - We Husker fans have been waiting for 20 years to start ANEW

27. Rare color: RED - I'm a medium kind of guy and would gladly send it back if the meat is brown all the way through

28. Bismarck's realm: PRUSSIA 

30. Sworn statement: I DO.

31. Fit: TRIM.

32. Having memorized the script, in theater lingo: OFF BOOK - Brando could not go OFF BOOK as he did not memorize his lines. Here you see Robert Duvall holding the lines for Marlon in The Godfather

34. "Funky Monkeys" musical: THE WIZ - The Funky Monkeys in the original Broadway production of THE WIZ. 

37. Pipe edge: FLANGE - Six FLANGES bolted together

38. Was unmanageable: RAN AMOK - Black Friday norm

40. Schnitzel meat: VEAL.

41. "__ seen better": I'VE.

42. Ready: ON ALERT.

44. __ pocket: HIP - Al Capone had many police officials and politicians in his HIP pocket

47. Start of something: GERM and 24. Brand that sells Arnold Palmers: ARIZONA - "Hey, somebody put lemonade in my iced tea! Wait a minute..."

49. More than fishy: AMISS.

50. Traje de __: Seville swimsuit: BANO - Spanish to English translation - bathing suit, swimming suit, bathing shorts, swim suit, swimming costume... including a 61. Small suit maker: SPEEDO 

51. Indian improvisations: RAGAS Here ya go

53. __-country: music genre: ALT - Somewhere between Hank Williams and Brittney Spears

54. Boston and Chicago, but not San Francisco: BANDS.

55. Negative feeling: ANIMUS - Speaking of politics...

57. Triumphant GIF phrase: KILLIN' IT - She seems to think she's all that and a bag 'o chips

59. More intricate: MAZIER - One of my COWBOY UP moments

60. "Hate to run, but ... ": I GOTTA GO.

62. Suit seller: MEN'S SHOP.


1. Priesthood symbol: COLLAR.

2. Michael of "Caddyshack": O'KEEFE - Michael getting advice from Chevy Chase

3. Went back and forth: WAGGED Dikembe Mutombo wagged his finger back and forth when he blocked a shot implying, "Don't try that against me!"

4. How a sommelier might sort wine: BY AGE.

5. Peace Prize city: OSLO.

6. "You betcha!": YUP.

7. Heaviest naturally occurring element: URANIUM.

8. They often get depressed: PEDALS - Ford's Model A had a lot of them

9. Stop on a line: Abbr.: STN - On 81 days/baseball season, the Addison St. STN on the Red Line in Chicago gets a lot of activity

10. "__ wondrous pitiful": "Othello": TWAS The full quote

11. Vital supply line: AORTA.

12. Unorganized, in a way: NON-UNION - When Hormel's went NON-UNION in our town, wages dropped precipitously

13. Unticketed plane passenger: GUIDE DOG - This one got to visit the cockpit

14. Be sensitive to social injustice, in slang: STAY WOKE.

21. Middle: Pref.: MESO.

25. Holds another view: DIFFERS.

28. Top-drawer: PRIMO.

29. Key of Chopin's first Opus 25 ├ętude: A-FLAT Winter Wind!!

31. Flier for 71 years: TWA More if you're interested

33. Acct. amount: BAL(ance)

34. Most phone button groupings: TRIGRAMS - Groups of three consecutive letters, numbers or symbols. I had to COWBOY UP HERE too but it makes sense

35. Drop off midday, say: HAVE A NAP 

36. Fill with life: ENERGIZE.

39. Hindu god of desire: KAMA - KAMA Sutra, hmmm...

40. Trace: VESTIGE - You know that tail bone that you have...

43. Notorious B.I.G. discovered her in 1994: L'IL KIM - I googled her lyrics and,  yes, she can be as profane and violent as the male rappers.

44. Storm on ESPN: HANNAH.

45. Purplish blue: INDIGO - Listening to Duke Ellington's Mood INDIGO will be a welcome addition to your day

46. After surg.: POST OP.

48. Bess, __, Jackie ...: MAMIE - One of these women had an unquestionably faithful husband

50. Pushes the buttons of: BAITS - Nobody did it better!

52. Started an action: SUED.

54. Layered lunches: BLTS - You had me at Bacon

56. Sign of being packed?: SRO - Standing Room Only tickets for the Washington Nationals World Series Games last month cost hundreds of dollars

58. Actor Chaney: LON - The man of a thousand faces

Now COWBOY UP and share your thoughts with us: