Showing posts with label Bruce Haight. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bruce Haight. Show all posts

May 28, 2020

Thursday, May 28th 2020 Bruce Haight

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

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

Seems clear enough! Let's go find them:

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the recipe for Primodial Soup:


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


1. Barely enough to notice: A TINGE

7. Defib expert: EMT

10. Monopolizes: HOGS

14. Like a side view: LATERAL

16. __ cross: TAU

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

20. Partnership for Peace org.: NATO.

21. "On the Waterfront" director Kazan: ELIA

22. Radio tuner: AM DIAL

28. Open a crack: AJAR

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

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

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

36. Bagged leaves?: TEA

42. __-mo: SLO

43. One-named supermodel: EMME

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

45. Put forward with confidence: ASSERT

47. General vibe: AURA

54. Chew out: REBUKE

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

56. Pianist Gilels: EMIL

64. Fit figure: SIZE

65. Semi-important part?: CAB

67. "Now!": STAT!

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

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


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

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

3. Skater Midori: ITO

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

5. Playful criticism: GRIEF

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

7. Extras on many Syfy shows: ET'S

8. Chinese chairman: MAO

9. Ahi serving: TUNA STEAK

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

11. Studio sign: ON AIR

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

13. Took badly?: STOLE. Nice clue.

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

19. Fun time: LARK

23. Spotted pattern: MOTTLE

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

25. Once, once: ERST

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

27. Pork cuts: LOINS

28. Emer. alerts: APB'S

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

32. Makes a decent living: DOES OK

33. Close proximity: ARM'S REACH

34. Played charades: MIMED

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

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

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

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

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

45. Talisman: AMULET

46. Australian isl. state: TASM.

48. Media attention: PRESS

49. Pay: REMIT

50. Spanish resort island: IBIZA

51. Green spaces: LEAS

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

53. Get-go: ONSET

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

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

60. Crew aid: OAR

61. Mod or nod ending: ULE

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

63. __ Pérignon: DOM. Cheers!

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

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


May 14, 2020

Thursday, May 14th 2020 Bruce Haight


36A. Like the start of four long answers, vis-à-vis its answer?: NOT FIT FOR THE JOB

17A. Make one's spirits last?: NURSE A DRINK. To our wonderful hospital staff:

49A. Use the airbrush, say: DOCTOR A PHOTO

23A. What a karaoke performer may do: BUTCHER A SONG

58A. Work out specific strategy: TAILOR A PLAN

Well, I have to confess I was a little confused by the theme. I see the occupations which were fun in context, but "Not fit for the job?". I think a butcher would be a perfect occupation for someone to ruin a song in a Karaoke bar. And a tailor can't work out a strategy? I can see a nurse not drinking on duty, but a Doctor isn't good at Photoshop? I think I'm missing something here. Bruce often drops in here, so I'd like to hear his take.

Good puzzle though, the theme-confusion aside. A nicely-constructed grid is one of Bruce's trademarks and he definitely doesn't overload with stale fill. Let's go find some nuggets.


1. Pub customer's usual, say: ORDER

6. Floor: AMAZE

11. One-liner: GAG. Mercifully, some are one-liners. The worst are the ones which go on for ages and when you get to the punch-line you wondered why you just wasted ten minutes of your life.

14. Wasteland: HEATH. I'm not sure a wasteland. Look at photographs of London's heaths and I'm sure you wouldn't describe them as wastelands. This is just part of Hampstead Heath in North London.

15. Hospital, often: DONEE. What? That's a real stretch.

16. Tribute in stanzas: ODE

19. Hawthorne Heights music genre: EMO. The band are also categorized as "post-hardcore" and "screamo". Whatever those mean, and I'm a music afficianado.

20. Choose: OPT

21. Short cut?: SNIP. I just got my first lockdown haircut today, I was starting to look like a rabid sheep. Jill watched a YouTube "how to" video last night and got the scissors out a couple of hours ago. I was trusting, nervous and eventually very pleased with the results! It appears that you can learn anything from YouTube.

22. __ interface: USER 

27. Takes public transport, slangily: BUSES IT

30. Comedian Marc who interviewed President Obama on his podcast: MARON. Obscure clue. Thank you, crosses.

31. Foil relative: EPÉE. Not parchment paper, then?

32. __ Hayes, "The Mod Squad" role: LINC. Crosses to the rescue.

33. Canine care org.?: ADA. The canine teeth just behind your incisors. I was due a cleaning back in March but still no sign of re=opening at my dentist.

41. Musician Brian: ENO

42. "My Heart Will Go On" singer: DION. The Titanic movie. I'd link the song, but Celine makes such "chewing the scenery" and "emoting" mouth movements I can't stand to look at her. In crosswordland, she's a ham.

43. More than a glance: GAZE

44. More elegant: FINER

46. Caught: SNAGGED

52. Munch Museum city: OSLO

53. Instrument in the intro to the Carpenters' "For All We Know": OBOE. At least we get a different clue from the orchestra tuning staple, but this is another obscure reference. I'll take obscure.

54. Maven: PRO

57. 2019 Coll. Football Playoffs champs: LSU. The Louisiana State University Tigers. Questions are being asked why college football coaches are still drawing their full salaries (not inconsiderable) while their schools are virtual and they can't travel to recruit or coach. Fair question?

62. Ad-__: LIB

63. Gang leader on "The Wire": MARLO. Crosses again, thank you.

64. Impertinent: SAUCY

65. "By all means": YES!

66. Wide divide: CHASM

67. County in four Northeastern states: ESSEX. More name-stealing from the UK. I lived in the original county of Essex, north-east of London. My house was 500 years old, thatched, and built from the oak timbers of a ship which sank in the river near Colchester. You couldn't drill into those timbers they were so hard. This is the village pond photographed in 1976. It hasn't changed a bit. I fell into it once, but that's another story. The pub responsible is right behind me.


1. "Here comes trouble": OH NO!

2. Enlist again: RE-UP

3. Sticker at a bar?: DART

4. Ewoks, e.g.: E.T.'S

5. Monkey named for a mythical Greek king: RHESUS. Gives us the R+ or R- designation on our blood types. I didn't know the Greek connection though. King Rhesus appeared in Book X of the "Iliad". I don't think I read that far, much like I abandoned "Game of Thrones" during Season Two.

6. Aficionado: ADDICT

7. Transform: MORPH

8. What April has that no other month does: AN "I". Nice trivia.

9. __ garden: ZEN

10. "Yikes!": EEK!

11. Cries and cries, say: GOES ON A JAG. I cried a lot when I had my two Jaguars, those Jags were in the shop more often than they were on the road. The old saw "Why do you need two Jags? One to drive while the other is in the shop" was never more fitting.

12. Madison Ave. guys: AD MEN

13. Conductor Solti: GEORG. This is a fun clip. For a Hungarian-British guy, his German is immaculate. I'm always impressed by multi-linguists, our own C.C amongst them.

18. Naysaying: ANTI

22. Gp. for the troops: U.S.O. 

23. Strengthen, with "up": BEEF

24. Mideast mogul: EMIR

25. Blog harangue: RANT. I'm glad we don't see too many rants here. This blog is a relatively peaceful and respectful place. You might think that crossword solvers wouldn't be angry people, but I have been called some rather eyebrow-raising things in my time. I just laugh.

26. Part of a foot: ARCH

27. Nota __: BENE. Better known as "N.B." or "note well".

28. Informed about: UP ON

29. Course load?: SET OF CLUBS. Golf. My set of clubs sits unused at the moment.

32. Chaney of horror: LON

34. Nod off: DOZE

35. Nodding off, maybe: ABED

37. Fig. on a badge: I.D. NO. Abbreviations galore.

38. Big piece of cake?: TIER. Yeah, that's a big piece. My sister-in-law has a small cake business in the UK. She's a decorating genius. Here's one of her tiered wedding cakes. Check out more at "The Dotti Cake Company" named for her mom. You'll be knocked out by her creativity, I swear.

39. Fit-king link: FOR A

40. Breakfast brand: EGGO. I learned last week from another crossword, in a universe far, far away, that you are instructed to microwave the cousin Pop-Tart for just three seconds. What the hell is in those things?

45. "How was __ know?": I TO

46. 1954 #1 hit for the Crew-Cuts: SH'BOOM. Totally unknown, but solved by the crosses. Will I remember it next time? Highly doubtful. I now realize I knew it as "Life Could be a Dream".

47. Queen dowager of Jordan: NOOR

48. Relaxed: AT EASE

49. Movie studio roller: DOLLY. Did you ever wonder what a "grip" or a "key grip" does when you watch the movie credits? It's got a lot to do with dollies.

50. Davis of "Grumpy Old Men": OSSIE

51. Matters of opinion: POLLS

54. Grade refinement: PLUS. Not "smooth out the lumpy ground" then?

55. Political contest: RACE

56. Cameo stone: ONYX

58. HBO rival: TMC. The Movie Channel. I think I had it once as an incentive with my cable package, but I never watched it. That probably tells me all I need to know.

59. "That's the spot!": AAH!

60. Golden yrs. fund: I.R.A.

61. Faux __: PAS. We've all been there.

And so we find ourselves at the end of the quest. Here's the grid, and continue to stay safe, all y'all.


Apr 29, 2020

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 Bruce Haight

Theme: Behind in the Movies. Each theme answer has a movie title in it's last four letters

18. Hot cereal brand since 1893: CREAM OF WHEAT.  I haven't had this since not liking it as a kid.  I have developed a fondness for oatmeal, though.  HEAT is a 1995 taut psychological drama about an obsessive detective and a brilliant thief whose fates are linked in the aftermath of a high-stakes securities heist.

26. Hard-won struggle reminders: BATTLE SCARS.  Marks left on the body from healed wounds.  CARS is a 2006 Disney-Pixar animation whose characters are anthropomorphic vehicles with very humanoid personalities.  This is the original.  There are two sequals.

38. Page on a novelist's website: ABOUT THE AUTHOR.  Where the author introduces him/her self, work and persona.  Here are some tips.  THOR is a Marvel super-hero fantasy movie from 2011.

52. Military sanction: ARMS EMBARGO.  A restriction or a set of sanctions that applies solely to weaponry, and may also apply to "dual-use technology".  ARGO  Is a Warner Bros. Pictures' and GK Films' dramatic thriller.  Based on true events, "Argo" chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis--the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades.

61. Preview ... and what the ending letters of the four other longest answers comprise?: MOVIE TRAILER.  This clue could have been more specific and that would have helped  - a lot.  Don't feel bad if you didn't suss it.  I had to call for help. [Thanks C. C.]  Specifically, the last FOUR letters of each theme clue is a movie title at the end of - and therefore trailing - the theme fill.  That's rather a lot to unpack.

Hi gang - JazzBumpa here to unpack the rest of the puzzle.  Let's get to work


1. Top banana: MR. BIG.  Somebody in a position of power - especially in the criminal world.

6. Egg size: JUMBO. Bigger than large eggs weighing 2.5 each.

11. Wrap with feathers: BOA. A long, thin, decorative scarf.

14. Like some close ball games: ONE RUN.  A baseball game [I vaguely remember such things] won by a single run.

16. Ancient market: AGORA.  In ancient Greece, an open public place for gatherings or markets.

17. Objective: AIM.  Desired outcome.

20. "Baby Cobra" stand-up comedian Wong: ALI.

21. Fish that may attach itself to a 68-Across: REMORA. Also called sharksucker or suckerfish, any of eight species of marine fishes of the family Echeneidae (order Perciformes) noted for attaching themselves to, and riding about on, sharks, other large marine animals, and oceangoing ships. Remoras adhere by means of a flat, oval sucking disk on top of the head.

22. Implant: EMBED.  Attach to the inside of something, Frex: into a blog post, like a picture or MOVIE TRAILOR.  Are these terms really equivalant?

24. Sit-up targets: ABS.  The ABdomnal muscles.

30. Got another opinion from: RAN PAST. I RAN my symptoms PAST another doctor.

33. Subway critter: RAT.  Underground rodent.

34. Sail support: MAST.  On an appropriately equipped ship.

35. Scandinavian coastal feature: FJORD.  A long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, as in Norway and Iceland, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley.  Which, I suppose explains why they aren't found in the tropics.

36. Patio-brewed drink: SUN TEA.  A beverage made by steeping the leaves in water under direct sunlight instead of boiling water.

43. Took a curious look: PEERED.  To look keenly or with difficulty at somebody or some thing.  I'm peering at the word "curious" in the clue.

44. Birthstone after opal: TOPAZ.  A gemstone that is an orthorhombic crystalline form of aluminum silicate, found in a variety of colors.

46. Most-traded Latin American currency: PESO.

49. Part of a cage: RIB. In human or animal torsos.

50. Venezuelan herder: LLANERO.  A South American herder. The name is taken from the Llanos grasslands occupying western-central Venezuela and eastern Colombia. The Llanero were originally part Spanish and Indian and have a strong culture including a distinctive form of music.

55. Word between surnames: NEE.  In marriage announcements.

56. Mean: CRUEL. Willfully causing pain or suffering.

57. Motor-assisted rides: E-BIKES. Electric powered bicycles.

60. Women's History Mo.: MAR.  In late April, it is now history.

67. DOJ bureau: ATFAlcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

68. 21-Across carrier: SHARK.  Vide supra.

69. Dress like a judge: ENROBE.

70. Rapper Lil __ X: NAS.  Any "iRapper" who came to prominence during the "iGeneration" of Gen Z that lack traditional musical talent. Typically these people gained fame on SoundCloud thru younger Gen Z'ers and are considered entertainment clowns by those born before 1986.

Yeah - I had to look it up.

Evidently also a specific person.  This is getting confusing.

71. Handy bags: TOTES.

72. Manage: GET BY.  Do OK, under the circumstances.  Relatable.


1. Soft shoe: MOC.  Short for moccasin: a soft leather slipper or shoe, strictly one without a separate heel, having the sole turned up on all sides and sewn to the upper in a simple gathered seam, in a style originating among North American Indians.

2. Mil. time off: RNR. Rest and Relaxation.

3. Smug brew "expert": BEER SNOB.  Someone who considers themselves to be superior to non-craft and quite a few craft drinker due to the beers he chooses consume. He or she also loves to flaunt his or her knowledge of the beverage despite evidence otherwise.

I'll note that I scored a 6 pack of Smithwick's Red ale at Trader Joe's last week.  It's complex - hoppy but not too much so with a rich malt finish.

4. "Dies __": hymn: IRAE.  The Day of Wrath, a 13th century [possibly much older] liturgical chant of uncertain origin, based on a latin poem about the last judgement.

5. Garland, at birth: GUMM.  Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress, singer, and dancer known as Judy Garland. During a career that spanned 45 years, she attained international stardom as an actress in both musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist, and on the concert stage.

6. Talk endlessly to: JAW AT.  Blah, blah, blah.

7. "I hate it": UGH.  Expression of disgust.

8. One of the Pep Boys: MOE.  The others are Manny and Jack.

9. Half a bikini: BRA. A garment worn to conceal and/or support the bosom.

10. Hall partner: OATES.  Music duo I never liked very much.  IIRC, Sting, of the Police, did, though, so YMMV.

11. "__, black sheep ... ": BAA BAA.  Have you any wool?

12. Mideast fleet: OILERS.  Ships loaded with a product whose value has declined rather disastrously.

13. In the center of: AMIDST.

15. Gaming rookies: NOOBS.  Derived from Newbie - a greenhorn or tyro.

19. __ party: FRAT.  College fraternity shindig.

23. Carson's sidekick: MCMAHON. Ed [1923-2009] was an announcer, game show host, comedian, actor and singer.

24. Yelp alternative: ARF. Canine commentary.

25. Westernmost Mexican state, familiarly: BAJA. California, to make it complete.

27. Made level, with "up": TRUED.  As in carpentry or construction.

28. "Big Eyes" singer Del Rey: LANA.

29. Dramatic final question: ET TU?  And you? Julius Caesar to his assassin, Brutus.

31. Request a hand?: PROPOSE.  Ask for one's hand in marriage.  Other body parts come at no extra charge.

32. For two, in music: A DUE.  French, maybe?

36. Biblical queendom: SHEBA.   The history is not clear.

37. Bluesy James: ETTA.  I had her last time, too.

39. Stretch in office: TERM.

40. Salt Lake daily, familiarly: TRIB. Tribune more formally.

41. Available schedule hour: OPEN SLOT.

42. Burger order: RARE.  True - I don't order one very often.

45. Kravitz of "Big Little Lies": ZOE. [b 1988] She is the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet.

46. Video game with a maze: PACMAN.

47. List of slips: ERRATA. Mistake catalog.

48. Gargamel foes: SMURFS. Small blue humanoids.

50. Rainbow flag letters: LGBT.  Lesbian, Gay, Bi-, Trans-  . . .   There are some more symbols now, to be more inclusive, but I don't remember what they are

51. Tours can be found on it: LOIRE.  French city on a river.

53. Horror film loc.: ELM ST.  Nightmares there.

54. Gives a strong impression (of): REEKS.  Not in a pleasant way.

58. __ the Conqueror, Marvel supervillain: KANG.  A mysterious time-traveling villain with alternate versions in various story lines.

59. Celt's land: EIRE. The Emerald Isle.

62. "Now I get it!": OHO. Eye opening exclamation.

63. Chocolate factory fixture: VAT.  A big, open container.  Caution is advised.

64. Anger: IRE.  The island of anger is Ire Land.

65. Recede: EBB.  As tides or hair lines.

66. King of Spain: REY. Literal.

That wraps up another Wednesday in the year of the great plague.  Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy.

Cool regards!

Notes from C.C.:

Hahtoolah (Susan) and I made today's USA Today puzzle, edited by the genius Erik Agard. You can solve it here.  Congrats, Susan! Thank you for the idea. Thanks for making it happen.

Apr 9, 2020

Thursday, April 9th 2010 Bruce Haight

Theme Partial Periodic - four of the elements are name-checked in the theme entries:

17A. Getting on in years: GROWING OLD. It beats the alternative.

25A. Gets plastered: TIES ONE ON

38A. Owns part of: HAS AN INTEREST IN

47A. Classified item: FOR SALE AD It took me a little while to figure this one out, I was looking for something "secret" at first.

and the reveal tells us what to look for:

59A. Holmes' comment about the ends of the four other longest Across answers?: ELEMENTARY. Did you know Conan Doyle's Holmes never said "Elementary, my dear Watson"?

A neat theme from Bruce and some tidy construction - those stacked nines in the down entries are nicely done and there's some sparkle in the fill which is always good to see. The two nines, two tens and a grid-spanner for the theme entries account for a satisfyingly weighty contribution to the acrosses.

Let's take the tour:


1. Mind: OBEY

5. Old lemon: EDSEL

10. What's under a beret: TÊTE. I think I'd have liked more of a nod to a French word in clue, but no harm done.

14. Oxford tightener: LACE It's the lace that defines the style; they have "shoelace eyelet tabs that are attached under the vamp". So now we know, I thought it was a plain shoe with a toecap.

15. Pledge drive gifts: TOTES. Here's one from the folks at our favorite online encyclopedia:

16. YouTube journal: VLOG. From "video log". They can get quite addictive - there's one that I follow by a chap who lives aboard a narrow boat on the UK canal system. He's oddly entertaining.

19. Lobed organ: LUNG. Nor EARR then.

20. Web pioneer: AOL. Trying to cram Tim Berners-Lee in there didn't work too well, so I cast around for alternatives.

21. Polish place: NAIL. Polish or polish?

22. Couldn't help it: HAD TO

23. Document feature with size options: FONT

28. "See You on the Radio" essayist Charles: OSGOOD. Also the host of CBS News Sunday Morning. I heard him say once that he imagined he was just talking to his sister when he broadcast.

30. Dull sound: THUD

31. Transplanting need: SOIL. Nice cluing today. Potting compost didn't fit, so soil it had to be.

32. Some allergy symptoms: RASHES. I don't really have any allergies, but any I do manifest in sneezing fits. There is a specific combination of some kind of chili pepper together with cumin that sets me off. I've never figured out exactly what the magic formula is that sets me off.

35. "So that's what's going on here!": AHA!

41. Well-suited: APT

42. With enthusiasm: AVIDLY

43. Ronnie in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: LOTT

44. Rtes. often numbered: AVES

45. Pack animals: LLAMAS

52. "Let's do it!": I'M IN

53. European toast: SKOAL. I tried SKOLL first, but that didn't work that well with the china. I associate "Skoal" most with the snuff, not the Swedish toast.

54. Chucklehead: BOZO

56. Atlanta-based health agcy.: CDC. Somewhat in the news at the moment.

58. Document settings: TABS

62. "Return to Mayberry" grown-up: OPIE

63. Frost-resistant flower: ASTER

64. Golfo contents: AGUA

65. Ice cream buy: PINT. Tried "cone", was wrong.

66. __-Japanese War: RUSSO. My first thought was SINO, came up a little short on the letter count.

67. One of the Ivies: PENN


1. "Quantum of Solace" actress Kurylenko: OLGA. Thank you, crosses.

2. Cake on a dish: BAR OF SOAP. 

3. EPA scientist: ECOLOGIST. Let's give a little sympathy to the EPA scientists in the light of the recent government decisions to roll back a lot of the protections. Say no more.

4. Longbow wood: YEW. A longbow is as tall as the archer, that's one hell of a big bow. You can make a longbow from a single piece of wood, or from laminate. The English got pretty good at archery due to the on-again off-again fight with the French over eight hundred years or so. There is still a law in England that you have to practice your archery every Sunday or be fined three pence. The "two-fingered salute" hails from those times.

5. Italian smoker: ETNA. Here's my favorite Italian smoker - Sophia Loren.

6. Slack off: DOG IT

7. Skyy shelfmate, familiarly: STOLI. I don't buy either, but I'm familiar with the brands.

8. __ sauce: sushi condiment: EEL. So not SOY.

9. Trippy '60s drug: LSD

10. Cable network with classic sitcoms: TV LAND. I'm sure more viewers over the past few weeks as people delve into the archives whilst "working from home"!

11. Get past: ELUDE

12. Jay Silverheels role: TONTO. Heigh-o Silver!

13. Prod: EGG ON

18. "What have I gotten myself __?": INTO

22. __ cat: HOUSE

24. Mardi Gras acronym: NOLA

26. Musical star Merman: ETHEL

27. Grammy winner Crow: SHERYL. She got into a little argument for her "Tuesday Night Music Club" album which was a collaboration with other artists. However, the first single from the album is nothing if not catchy!

28. Hazmat monitor: OSHA

29. Rot: DRIVEL

33. Sambuca flavoring: ANISE. I once set my face alight with flaming Sambuca, that's a story for another day.

34. Avg.: STD.

35. Period spawned by the Manhattan Project: ATOMIC AGE. Lovely clue/entry. I wanted "nuclear era" at first, then saw the space I had to work with and the crosses.

36. Baseball strategy for a contact hitter: HIT AND RUN. Bothered by "hitter" in the clue, I held off filling in the entry until it was apparent that was the correct response. Maybe "contact batter" would have worrked better?

37. Little marchers: ANTS

39. Maritime: NAVAL

40. Bridge feat: SLAM. A grand slam, to be perfectly correct. All 13 tricks. EUCHRE! is my midwest shout. I was taught to play by a friend from Ohio. He was bummed when I figured it out.

44. How china is sold: AS A SET. My last fill, complicated by not-smart decisions on the crosses.

46. Fuzzy film coward: LION

47. Shooter's setting: F-STOP. Wide for depth of field. Narrow for sharp focus. Or was it the other way around? Hello automatic camera.

48. Congo critter with striped legs: OKAPI. Funny, I thought this was the plural. I guess there's no Okapo. Nor Okape.

49. Dick Grayson's alter ego: ROBIN. Batman buddy. I always loved the sight of them walking up the side of a building on a rope. Holy vertical drop, Batman!

50. Does some fencing, maybe: ABETS. Great clue. In my memory, you can't aid or abet singularly, you are always nabbed for "aiding and abetting". A two-fer when the magistrate hands down the sentence.

51. Stadium toppers: DOMES. No, the sky tops my favorite stadia.

55. Terrible test score: ZERO

57. Ink cartridge color: CYAN. Did anyone know cyan or magenta were even colors before inkjet printers? "OK, we need four colors - black, yellow, that's easy - then we need ummmm wait, cyan, there we go and what else? Oh! Magenta! Stupid us!"

59. Corn serving: EAR. Not COB then. Goof.

60. 2020 NCAA FBS champs: LSU. Lousinana State U. It almost seems odd that a sporting event was played out in front of a full crowd. Our perspectives have changed.

61. Touch-screen touch: TAP. When a tap doesn't seem to cut it, try a prod or a poke. A stab sometimes is more effective. In extremis, a reboot generally sets things right.

I think that's me done.  Here's the grid, thanks again to Bruce, please all be vigilant and keep safe.

I saw a gaggle of cyclists yesterday ride past my house, no masks, "sponsored" jerseys, pretending they were all riding the Tour de France or some nonsense. You might be fit, healthy and 30, but you're not immune, nor are the people you come into contact with.

Wake up.

On the plus side, I had a great conversation with one of our blog readers who lives not too far away from me and reached out for a chat. If this goes on, then let's think about a group "puzzle solve" happy hour on Zoom.

Be safe!


Mar 31, 2020

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 Kevin Christian and Bruce Haight

What are Little Girls Made of?   Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice.

16-Across. Sweetened, as something harsh to hear: SUGAR-COATED.

24-Across. Variety, idiomatically, with "the": SPICE OF LIFE.

38-Across. Loaded bakery item: EVERYTHING BAGEL.  Yummers!  My favorite kind of Bagel; especially good with cream cheese and lox.

47-Across. "Don't make any sudden moves": NICE AND EASY.

And the Unifier:

59-Across. What the starts of 16-, 24-, 38- and 47-Across make?: LITTLE GIRLS.

And, just so the boys don't feel left out:

1. Fords and Chevys: AUTOS.  Because Cars was too short.

6. Trick: FOOL.

10. Electric guitarist's need: AMP.  A crossword staple.

13. "When __ we three meet again": "Macbeth" opening line: SHALL.

14. Baseball card transaction: TRADE.

15. "You think I did it?!": MOI?  Here's workout video to do at home, since we can't go to the gym.  My trainer prepared several nice videos for me to do at home until the fitness center opens again.  Her video is a bit more strenous than Miss Piggy's.

18. Had a bite: ATE.

19. Culturally pretentious: ARTY.

20. Coffee container: URN.  John Keats wrote an Ode on a Grecian one.

21. __ nerve: OPTIC.

23. Daisy __: Li'l Abner's wife: MAE.

27. Amazes: AWES.

29. "A," in pilot shorthand: ALFA.

30. Bulova competitor: TIMEX.  Both are watches.  I think of Bulova is being a bit more upscale than the Timex watch, however ...

32. Give a hoot: CARE.

34. Credit in a footnote: CITE.

41. Surrender, as land: CEDE.

42. "Star __: The Rise of Skywalker": WARS.  I stopped watching the Star Wars films decades ago.

43. Molecule parts: ATOMS.  Chemistry 101.

44. Recipe instruction: STIR.

46. Aid in crime: ABET.  A crossword staple.

52. "No more sharing," briefly: TMI.  Textspeak for Too Much Information.

55. Island in "Jaws": AMITY.

56. Bethesda research org.: NIH.  As in the National Institutes of Health, where you can get the latest information on Covid-19.

57. Mythical man-goat: FAUN.  Roman mythology.  A Satyr is it's Greek counterpart.

58. Cacophony: DIN.

63. Ltd., across the pond: INC.  Clever!  Going East to West, instead of the usual West to East across the pond.

64. Sooner State natives: OKIES.  An Okie is a resident of Oklahoma, but is also a somewhat derogatory term used to describe migrant workers during the Great Depression during the 1930s.  Here's the reason why Oklahoma is nicknamed the Sooner State.

65. Jump for joy: EXULT.

66. In the past: AGO.

67. Rump: REAR.

68. Brainy bunch: MENSA.

1. Black tea from India: ASSAM.  Assam is a state in northeastern India and is known for its tea plantations.

2. "Star Trek" lieutenant: UHURA.

3. Worked closely with a partner on a task: TAG TEAMED.

4. Skin care brand: OLAY.  A crossword staple.

5. Camera initials: SLR.  As in Single Lens Reflex camera.  We see this a lot in the puzzles, but what does it really mean?  I'll let the the Britannica explain.

6. Old Paris coin: FRANC.  I lived in France before the Euro.  We went to Switzerland and had to exchange our French Francs for Swiss Francs.  Before returning to France, we went into a Swiss chocolate shop and plopped the remainder of our Swiss Francs on the counter and asked to purchase as much chocolate as our money could buy.

7. Horse morsel: OAT.

8. Shelley's "__ to the West Wind": ODE.

9. Batted first: LED OFF.

10. Stradivari's tutor: AMATI.  Antonio Stradivari (1644 ~ Dec. 18, 1737) was an Italian stringed instrument maker.  He is best known for his violins.  He is believed to have crafted over 950 violins, of which approximately half that number are known to have survived through the centuries.  Nicolò Amati (Dec. 3, 1596 ~ Apr. 12, 1684) came from a family of violin makers.  He is known for adopting the form of the violin to give it a greater power of tone.  He is said to have taught Stradivari, however, this may or may not have been correct.  Stradivari is said to have begun an appreticeship at age 12 under the guidance of the aged Amati.  A Brief History of Amati and Stradivari.

11. Central idea: MOTIF.  I was so sure that Theme was the correct answer.

12. Cake serving: PIECE.  I wanted a Slice of cake.

14. Singer Amos: TORI.  Tori Amos (née Myra Ellen Amos; b. Aug. 22, 1963) won a full scholarship to the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University at age 5.  She was expelled 6 years later, at age 11, for musical insubordination.

17. Pair in a pint: CUPS.

22. Appease: PLACATE.

24. Hot: SEXY.

25. Makes on the job: EARNS.

26. Cassini of fashion: OLEG.  Oleg Cassini (né Oleg Aleksandrovich Cassini Loiewski; Apr. 11, 1913 ~ Mar. 17, 2006) was an American fashion designer with an interesting ancestry.  He was born in Paris, France to an Italian Countess and a Russian diplomat.  He ultimately made his way to the United States and became a naturalized citizen.  He designed costumes for Hollywood, but is probably best known for his White House connection.  In 1961, he became Jackie Kennedy's exclusive couturier.
28. "No more for us": WE'RE SET.

30. Noir sleuth: TEC.

31. "__ been wrong before": I'VE.

32. Zin cousin: CHARD.  Think of the Red and White wines of Zinfandel and Chardonnay.

33. Broadcast: AIR.

35. "Time for me to split": I GOTTA RUN.

36. President pro __: TEM.  Pro tem. is short for Pro Tempore.  Article One, Section Three, Paragraph 5 of the United States Consitution reads:  "The Senate shall chuse (sic) their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States."  The President pro tempore is the second highest ranking officer in the Senate.  The current President pro tem is Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa.  End of civic lesson.

37. Hallelujah trio?: ELs.  As in the letter "L".  I wasn't fooled by this clue.

39. Bed size: TWIN.

40. Life-changing household arrival: BABY.

45. Pop star Swift: TAYLOR.  Taylor Allison Swift (b. Dec. 13, 1989) is only 30 years old, but she seems to have been around forever.

46. Tennis great Arthur: ASHE.  Our good friend Arthur Robert Ashe (July 10, 1943 ~ Feb. 6, 1993) makes another guest appearance in the crossword puzzle.

47. First name in 1970s gymnastics: NADIA.  As in Nadia Comăneci (b. Nov. 12, 1961).  In 1976, at just the age of 14, she was the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect 10 at Olympic Games.

48. Cyberchatting: IMING.  As in Instant Messaging.

49. __ de Mayo: CINCO.  A brief history of Cinco de Mayo.

50. Oversized keyboard key: ENTER.

51. Feels poorly: AILS.

53. Thinks (over): MULLS.

54. Photo-sharing website, familiarly: INSTA.

57. Prix __ menu: FIXE.  Today's French lesson.  The phrase means Fixed Price.

60. '50s presidential nickname: IKE.

61. Aunt in Acapulco: TIA.  Today's Spanish lesson.

62. Great fielding play, say: GEM.

Here's the Grid:

QOD:  It’s not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.  ~  René Descartes (Mar. 31, 1596 ~ Feb. 11, 1650), French philosopher

Stay safe everyone and please mind the stay-at-home orders.  This is serious, folks. My sister is a nurse in a hot-spot area.  She said she has never been more scared in all her 30 + years of nursing.  She is tapped to work on the frontline.  After working all day, she has to go home and make masks for her staff!  She said that the hospital is having to use trucks to haul out the bodies.  Please mind the orders and stay the requisite distance from others.  We need you all to come back to continue this crossword community.  Maria from The Sound of Music reminds us to Stay at Home.