Showing posts with label Malodorous Manatee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Malodorous Manatee. Show all posts

Jan 14, 2021

Thursday, January 14, 2021, MaryEllen Uthlaut


Happy Thursday, cruciverbalists!  While it is not yet time for us to poke our heads out, I hope that 2021 has gotten off to a good start with everyone staying safe and healthy.

If you were scratching your head over the theme of today's puzzle it is safe to assume that you had plenty of (socially distanced) company.  Prison breaks are, by nature, difficult to discover.  These were.  Even after solving the "tell", this moronic marine mammal had to stare at the completed grid for several minutes before the theme answers slowly revealed themselves.

I tried looking backwards and forwards within each of the long answers. Nothing.  Puns?  Homophones? Anagrams?  Still stumped.  MaryEllen had purposely used "puzzle rows" and not "answers" in her hint to the theme so, perhaps, I should look at entire rows.  The hint also contained the word "break" so something had likely been broken apart.  Even with these insights I then wasted time looking for some form of symmetry of which there was, well, none.  Finally, it dawned on me. 

Simply put, on four rows of the puzzle, synonyms for PRISON have been broken apart and wait patiently for us to reassemble them.  Of course, once the theme had been figured out, and the letters involved had been identified, everything appeared to be obvious.

Let's start with the reveal at 65 Across:  "The Shawshank Redemption" event, and what's hidden in four puzzle rows: PRISON BREAK.

At 17 Across we have - Angry reaction: HORNETS NEST followed at 19 Across by - "This American Life" host Glass: IRA

The end of the first answer combines with the start of the second to from STIR, a slangy word for prison.

At 27 Across we are asked to solve for - Indian noble: RAJA followed by 31 Across - Surly: ILLNATURED

As above, parts of these answers combine to yield JAIL.

..and so on,

38 Across - It went down in history: TITANIand 40 Across - Connects with: LINKSTO.  

CLINK is another slang term for prison

47 Across - Stable cleaner: SADDLE SOAand 51 Across - Tolkien tree creatures: ENTS.

PEN is, well, we get it, we get it.

Here is what this all looks like in the grid:

Now that we have successfully escaped the confines of our puzzle penitentiary let's take a look at the rest of today's challenge:


1. Bobbleheads, e. g.: DOLLS.  Do they have to represent 

6. Jury decision: AWARD.  Verdict was the first impulse but, of course, did not fit in the allotted space.

11. Pair of Grammys?: EMS.  We have seen this type of clue and answer many times previously...and you know that this MM appreciates EMS.

14. "It's __ time!": ABOUT.  A straightforward fill-in-the-blank clue.  The seven-letter modifier is implicit.

15. Old photo tint: SEPIA.


16. Dwarf who mixes up his words: DOC.  He's the one with the eyeglasses.


20. Meeting goal often not achieved: LENGTH.

21. Nuclear energy device: REACTOR.  You can build your own.

23. Lip: SASS.  Impudence by any name.

26. Firefighter's tool: HOSE.

35. Soft palate projection: UVULA.

37. Not what one would expect: IRONIC.


44. Mexican bread: DINERO.  Bread, of course, being slang for money.

46. Single-master: SLOOP.  This version of "The Sloop John B" involves both The Beach Boys and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra:


52. Palm tree superfood: ACAI.  A current-day crossword, and for some folks dietary, staple.  ACAI was found in yesterday's puzzle.  Manatees rarely eat ACAI berries.

53. Ancient home: EDEN.  If the stories are to be believed, the most ancient of all.


55. Predator with a heart-shaped face: BARN OWL.

59. Card game with trumps: EUCHRE.  Not Bridge.  Not Whist.

64. Hurricane season mo.: OCT.  The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially runs from June 1st through November 30th.

68. Cravat or ascot: TIE.  Not to be confused with 18 Down.  Two weeks ago the puzzle demanded No TIE.

69. Like Caspar Milquetoast: TIMID.  Caspar Milquetoast is a comic strip character created for the strip "Timid Soul" that launched in 1925.


70. Give a false idea of: BELIE.

71. Low: SAD.

72. Deposit in the attic, say: STORE.

73. Cheerleaders' assortment: YELLS.



1. "James and the Giant Peach" author: DAHL.  Roald DAHL was a spy, a fighter pilot and a medical inventor as well as an author.  In addition to the clue's referenced work, he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda.

2. Wind heard in Dion's "Abraham, Martin and John": OBOE.  Although oboes, of course, are heard frequently in our puzzles this is one of the best clues yet.

Dion DiMucci

3. Desolate: LORN.  LORN means lonely and abandoned.  We more often see forlorn. 

4. Organ in a chest: LUNG.

5. Decides to leave alone: STETS.  STET is a proofreader's mark for Let It Stand.  Rarely, though, do we see it used as a verb.

6. Biblical mount: ASS.


7. Harmless cyst: WEN.  This week's "I'll pass on the graphics" moment.

8. Imitator: APER.  Outside of puzzles one rarely sees, or hears, APER or Aped.  Within puzzles we commonly see them both.

9. Slope: RISE.

SLOPE INTERCEPT (y = mx + b) 

10. It may be crunched: DATA.

11. Spell-checker, say: EDITOR.  Literally true but I'd bet that most of us first thought of something word-processing-related

12. Lacking in joy: MOROSE.  Our second ASS of the day (if one chooses not to count Peter Griffin):


13. Rustled (up): SCARED.  Colloquialisms.  SCARED up something to eat, Rustled up some grub.

18. Bangkok native: THAI.  There is nothing else quite like a tuk-tuk ride through the streets of Bangkok, THAIland.

22. Private laugh: CHUCKLE.  Chuckles are laughs that are quiet, inward or suppressed

24. Golfing mishaps: SLICES.

25. Camera type, briefly: SLR.  A Single Lens Reflex camera uses a mirror and prism to allow the photographer to see exactly what will be captured on the film or digitally.

27. Rural road feature: RUT.

28. Prefix with fauna: AVI.  A reference to the birds of a particular region.  I am most familiar with these:

29. Stick (out): JUT.

30. 2019 Mena Massoud title role: ALADDIN.

32. Free of commissions, as a mutual fund: NO LOAD.

33. Young Darth: ANI.  A "Star Wars" reference and a "diminutive" name to boot.


34. Cookie containers: TINS.

36. Indigo plant: ANIL.  I only know this from crossword puzzles...and the perps helped to recall it.

39. Having four sharps: IN E.  This answer obviously assumes that the clue was talking about a Major musical key.  The relative minor of E Major is C Sharp Minor and it also has four sharps.

41. Absalom, to David: SON.  A biblical reference to a story about family dynamics.


42. "PAW Patrol" fan: TOT.  Paw Patrol is a children's television series that premiered in 2013.


43. Special ___: OPS.  Both OPTS and OPS in the same puzzle!

45.  Caviar:  ROE.  I went to a sushi bar and ordered salmon roe.  It was a spawn-taneous decision.

47. Clogs: SABOTS.  In this instance, a shoe reference.  My friend Jon's father had a small sailboat that we would sometimes take out in the marina.  It was far too small for the open sea.  The logo on the sail, and the type of boat it was, was a SABOT.

48. Thorny shrub: ACACIA.  Both ACACIA and ACAI in the same puzzle!

49. Made a sudden move: DARTED.

50. Rounded hammer part: PEEN.  Usually, we hear ball peen hammer.

54. Lumpy, as a knit fabric: NUBBY.  This type of fabric is rarely seen in crossword puzzles but it has been seen before.

56. Comes down on one side of something: OPTS.  An intentionally somewhat obtuse clue?  Not incorrect, merely less straightforward than it needed to be.  Oh, wait, it's a crossword puzzle.  They do that all the time.

57. Court order: WRIT.

58. Ride to the prom: LIMO.  Perhaps riding in a LIMO is now commonplace but it sure wasn't when this manatee was in High School.  Further, unless PROM is considered to be an abbreviation for something, there is nothing in the clue that indicates LIMO in lieu of Limousine.

60. Algonquin language: CREE.  Often, CREE is clued with a reference to the Canadian indigenous population.

61. Severe criticism: HELL.  We rarely see "semi-swear-words" in puzzles.


62. Fence crosspiece: RAIL.


63. Manages to get, with "out": EKES.  We see this one a lot.  I sometimes get confused between EKES and EEKS.

66. Military address: SIR.  A bit of misdirection as APO (Army Post Office) is commonly seen as an answer to similar clues.

67. "To Autumn," for one: ODE.  What would a puzzle be without ODE somewhere in the grid?



Notes from C.C.:
1) Wendybird, hope you and Jack make a full recovery soon!
2) Happy Birthday to dear JD, who also enjoys traveling the world like Hahtoolah. The second picture was taken from the same trip but on a cruise ship, I think.

JD and Bob, Switzerland, 2017

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.