Showing posts with label Mark McClain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark McClain. Show all posts

Dec 24, 2019

Tuesday December 24, 2019 Mark McClain

You Can Bank On It.  The word Bank can follow the first word of each theme answer to give us a new concept.

17-Across. *   Nutrition guide: FOOD PYRAMID.  A Food Bank is generally a non-profit, charitable organization that distributes food to those in need.

24-Across. *  Comprehensive personal philosophy: WORLD VIEW.  The World Bank is an international financial institution whose mission is to end extreme poverty and to promote prosperity in a shared way.

34-Across. *   Horse breeder's concern: BLOOD LINE.  The first Blood Bank in the United States was established in 1936.

46-Across. *   Figuratively, whence some unexpected ideas: LEFT FIELD.  The Left Bank,  or La Rive Gauche, is a district of Paris.

And the unifier:
53-Across. 9:00 AM weekday event, typically ... and what the first word in the answers to starred clues can be: BANK OPENING.

1. Drains of energy: SAPS.

5. Pay with a credit card: CHARGE.

11. FDR's successor: HST.  Harry S Truman (May 8, 1884 ~ Dec. 26, 1972) became 33rd President of the United States following the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Jan. 30, 1882 ~ Apr. 12, 1945).

14. Gillette razor: ATRA.

15. Alabama's cross-state rival: AUBURN.  On November 30, 2019, the Alabama Crimson Tide played against the Auburn Tigers in football.  Auburn beat Alabama with a final score of 48 to 45.

16. Par-three eagle: ACE.  The obligatory golfing clue and answer.

19. Big coffee holder: URN.

20. Battery terminals: ANODES.  The Anode is the negative electrode of the battery.

21. Chant for Real Madrid: ¡OLÉ!  ¡OLÉ!   Today's Spanish lesson.

23. Send (to) for treatment: REFER.

27. Disney CEO Robert: IGER.  Roger Allen Iger (b. Feb. 10, 1951) was the President of ABC Television before moving over to Disney.

Mr. Iger is on the left.

28. Cross-shaped Greek letters: TAUs.  I liked how this crossed with 28-Down: New Mexico art colony: TAOS.  The two words differ by only 1 letter.  But that one letter makes a world of difference!


29. Yardstick unit: INCH.  // And 44-Across: Yardstick units: FEET.

30. Grass farm roll: SOD.

31. Truth: FACT.

32. Small boat: DINGHY.  The word Dinghy comes from the Bengali word ḍiṅgi.  It seems to be a generic word that can describe a plethora of small boats.  I'll leave it to our resident seafarer, Spitzboov, provide us with his expertise on all things related to ships and boats.

36. Covent Garden productions: OPERAs.  The Royal Opera House in London is sometimes referred to as Covent Garden, although  Covent Garden  is so much more.

39. Driver's one-eighties: UIEs.
40. Gave birth to: HAD.

43. CBS legal drama "The Good __": WIFE.  I never watched this show, which ran for 7 seasons, from 2009 until 2016.

45. Novelist Caleb: CARR.  Caleb Carr (b. Aug. 2, 1955) appears with some frequency in the crossword puzzles.  He is best known for his novel The Alienist, which I read about 20 years ago.  It was a fascinating book and I really liked the author's style of writing.

49. Mint family herb: THYME.

50. Corkscrew pasta: ROTINI.

51. Rose impressively: SOARED.

52. Big name in ATMs: NCR.  The company formerly known as National Cash Register Company is known for producing Automatic Teller Machines.

56. To this moment: YET.

57. Lacking nothing: ENTIRE.

58. Falco of "Nurse Jackie": EDIE.  Edie Falco (née Edith Falco; b. July 5, 1963) also played Carmela Soprano on the HBO series The Sopranos.  I never watched Nurse Jackie, but did watch The Sopranos.

59. Insured investments: Abbr.: CDs.  As in Certificates of Deposit.

60. Ready for more action: RESTED.

61. Run the show: LEAD.

1. African adventures: SAFARIs.

2. In a single try: AT ONE GO.  Not a phrase I would be apt to use.

3. Checked for errors: PROOFED.

4. More glum: SADDER.

5. Little isles: CAYS.

The Tobago Cays

6. "Ben-__": Heston epic: HUR.  The movie Ben-Hur was based on the novel of the same name by Lew Wallace (Apr. 10, 1827- Feb. 15, 1905).   The story line follows the life of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince who was enslaved by the Romans at the beginning of the first century.  He later became a charioteer and converted to Christianity.

7. Org. with many judges: ABA.  As in the American Bar Association.

8. Grapevine fodder: RUMORS.  I initially tried Gossip, which fit into the spaces provided.

9. Barbecue: GRILL.

10. Came to a close: ENDED.

11. Semi activity: HAULING.

12. With 36-Down, nocturnal bird with a shrill cry: SCREECH.  //  And 36-Down: See 12-Down: OWL.

13. Down-for-the-count count: TEN.

18. Part of mph: PER.  As in Miles Per Hour.

22. Like ewe, but not me: OVINE.  Cute clue.

24. City between Austin and Dallas: WACO.  There's lots to do in Waco.  Did you know the city was the home of Dr. Pepper?

25. Best in an épée match: OUT DUEL.  //  And 44-Down. Deceptive fencing moves: FEINTS.

26. Tot's query: WHY?

31. Home of the SEC's Gators: FLA.  The University of Florida's mascot are the Gators.

32. Nutrition regimen: DIET.

33. Officeholders: INs.  Because Elected doesn't fit.

34. One of hockey's Hulls: BRETT.  The only hockey Hull I am familiar with is Bobby Hull (né Robert Marvin Hull; b. Jan. 3, 1939).  Apparently, he is the father of Brett Hull (né Brett Andrew Hull; b. Aug. 9, 1964).  Brett played professional hockey for several teams, including the Calgary Flames and the Detroit Red Wings.

35. Stretched the truth: LIED.

37. Poked a hole in: PIERCED.

See 26-Down.

38. Concerted tries: EFFORTS.

40. Fall outing in a wagon: HAYRIDE.  Are you familiar with the Louisiana Hayride?

41. Country south of Georgia: ARMENIA.  The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian is a fascinating historical novel about Armenia in 1915.

42. Made deeper, as a shipping lane: DREDGED.  Here are some Dredging Projects in Louisiana.

45. Coco of fashion: CHANEL.  Coco Chanel (née Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel; Aug. 19, 1883 ~ Jan. 10, 1971) makes frequent appearances in the crossword puzzles.

47. __ optic cable: FIBER.

48. Completely absurd: INANE.

49. Low digit: TOE.  Funny!  Nice misdirection, but I wasn't fooled this time.

51. Went quickly: SPED.

52. Home of MoMA: NYC.  The Museum of Modern Art is located in New York City.

54. Hobbyist's buy: KIT.

55. Smelter input: ORE.  Smelting is the process of applying intense heat to ore for extracting the base metal.

Here's the Grid:

I wish all who celebrate a very Merry Christmas!

QOD:  If you want to be happy for life, love what you do.  ~  Mary Higgins Clark (née Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins; b. Dec. 24, 1927), American author

Dec 5, 2019

Thursday, December 5th 2019 Mark McClain

Theme: Dog Show

17A. *Line never spoken by James Cagney: YOU DIRTY RAT! Well, "you dirty yellow-bellied rat" comes close. c.f. "Play it again, Sam".

23A. *Rock pile at a prehistoric gravesite: BURIAL CAIRN. There are some fine cairns, none prehistoric, in my neighborhood at the tree near the top of Mount Lee, better known as the "Hollywood Sign" hill. I hope there aren't bodies buried underneath. We used to picnic and play on Stonehenge before everyone got serious about the stones. Not cairns, I know, but happy memories of climbing a sarsen stone or two.

40A. *Like Juárez, vis-à-vis El Paso: ACROSS THE BORDER

50A. *Far-fetched, as a story: COCK AND BULL. There are arguments aplenty about the origin of this phrase, most involving two inns on the coaching route from the Midlands to London. However, it's difficult to argue that these lines from John Day's 1608 play Law Trickes were not the first usage - "What a tale of a cock and a bull he told my father".

Which brings us to the, quite frankly, inexplicable reveal:

64A. "__, Batman!": Robin's cry upon spotting the ends of the answers to starred clues?: HOLY TERRIER

So ... we've got four dog breeds which happen to be terriers - fair enough, so far. Now how to tie them together? How about an entry which has TERRIER in it, and has nothing to do with anything else in the puzzle, neither was the phrase ever used in the comic books, nor the TV shows nor the movie series?

I'm completely baffled by this one. I can't see a play on words with "HOLY", there's nothing to tie "YOU DIRTY", "BURIAL", "ACROSS THE" and "COCK AND" to each other. It's totally random. Honestly, this is "*Far-fetched, as a crossword theme" as you can get.

Maybe "YOU DIRTY RAT" was meant to clue us into the reveal was a line never spoken? Or was it all just COCK AND BULL?

There is plenty else to like though, I just wish Mark and/or Rich had been able to come up with a better reveal, or even go with no reveal at all and just find a substitute for that awful 64A.

That being said, let's see what else we've got, and please, if I'm missing the blindingly obvious, let me know via the comments.


1. Distillery mixture: MASH. Tried BRAN. Was wrong. Always good to get off on the wrong foot.

5. The Flyers' Gritty, e.g.: MASCOT. He's got about as much to do with Philadelphia and hockey as "HOLY TERRIERS!" Maybe this is the theme?

11. Poke fun at: RIB

14. __-inflammatory: ANTI

15. Corrida figure: EL TORO. Denizens of Southern California will remember the "El Toro Y" traffic warnings, a junction between the 5 and the 405 which every day caused alarums and excursions at rush hour.

16. Important card: ACE

19. Cutting remark: DIG

20. 4,300-mile range: ANDES

21. Novelist Waugh: ALEC. A very talented family. His brother Evelyn wrote two of my favorite novels, "Brideshead Revisted" and "Scoop!".

22. "In __ of gifts ... ": LIEU

26. Protect with a levee: EMBANK

30. Canon SLR: EOS. That's one high-end camera. I have a Canon Rebel, mostly to take pictures of my N-scale model railway - you just can't get the depth of field with the iPhone, although in some (bad modelling!) cases that's not such a bad thing!

31. Gorilla expert Fossey: DIAN

32. A pop: EACH

36. Sail (through): COAST

43. MGM part: METRO. Movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, with Sam Goldwyn's name in eye-catching italics. The consummate self-promoter that he was, as Sam Goldfish, formed "Goldwyn" as a co-partnership with Edgar and Archie Selwyn. The name was to be either "Selfish" or "Goldwyn", so not hard to figure out which was the preferred choice. Immediately after the partnership was formed, Sam legally ditched his last name, and replaced it with "Goldwyn". The rest, as they say, is history.

44. Cork's place: EIRE

45. Racing legend Earnhardt: DALE

46. Brouhaha: ADO

48. Held to account: LIABLE

56. Car rental giant: AVIS

57. "Royal" seaside bird: TERN. Here's a turn for the better:

58. Spare: EXTRA

63. GQ or EW: MAG. A magazine. "EW" is "Entertainment Weekly", and though "GQ" purports to be "Gentlemen's Quarterly", it's published monthly. I'm not sure the full name has been used since the mid 60's. and certainly not since 1970.

66. Lyft driver's ballpark fig.: E.T.A.

67. Café option: AU LAIT. Coffee with hot milk added. I'm not sure what would happen if you ordered coffee with cold milk in France, the entire world is quiet on the subject. Here's the hot version:

68. Real estate ad number: AREA

69. Anthem contraction: O'ER

70. "Hard to Stop" air conditioners: TRANES

71. Use one's outside voice: YELL


1. "The Good Place" Emmy nominee Rudolph: MAYA, Minnie Riperton's ("Loving You") daughter. Who knew? No me, I just looked her up.

2. In a trice: ANON. I'd rather go with "soon" than "in a trice". If I want something "anon", it's "soon" - not right now, but not next February, more when it's convenient for the giver. If I want something "in a trice", it's more demanding "now", "ASAP" or "STAT". Funny how the "now" words are very recent.

3. Poker choice: STUD. A variant of the gambling game. Most of what you see today is Texas Hold 'Em.

4. Keep out of sight: HIDE

5. Debussy's "La __": MER. An orchestral piece. It takes a little while to get going, so you can listen to it "anon". Actually, it's been playing for 15 minutes while i work my way down this blog, and it's never really ever got started. Not on my favorites list to this point.

6. Chancel feature: ALTAR

7. Tablet accessories: STYLI. They still exist, mostly in the electronic form to draw on your iPad or other "small, portable, electronic devices" as the airlines like to call them.

8. Chick with Grammys: COREA

9. Soothsayer: ORACLE

10. Little one: TOT

11. Circle lines: RADII. Bones, too.

12. Less approachable: ICIER

13. Started: BEGUN

18. Library ID: ISBN. What happened to the good old Dewey Decimal System? Do librarians still use it?

22. Hall of Fame Dodger manager Tommy: LA SORDA

24. Luau strings: UKES

25. Estée contemporary: COCO. Lauder. Chanel.

26. Mild cheese: EDAM. I tried BRIE first, all the time grumbling that it's not always mild. Then I was wrong, so I ungrumbled. (Degrumbled?)

27. Nursery rhyme trio: MICE. Not PIGS then. A lot of backspacing/wite-out today.

28. Frequent prank caller to Moe's Tavern: BART

29. Arctic garb: ANORAKS

33. Snacked, say: ATE

34. McBride of "Hawaii Five-0": CHI

35. Sailor's pronoun: HER. "Thar she blows!" and sundry other stuff.

37. Very little: A DAB

38. Market: SELL

39. Walnut or pecan: TREE

41. Bar mixer: SODA. Not on my bar. Tonic, please!

42. Round signal: BELL This is quite nice - the end of a round in a boxing contest, but alarm bells tend to be round too.

47. Like a band in a bus: ON TOUR. Jackson Browne's paean to his tour team, recorded across the street from where I used to live - at the BBC's Maida Vale studios. I often used to pop in on my way back from work to see what was going on, sadly I missed this session in the (very tiny) auditorium.

49. "The Sopranos" actor Robert: ILER

50. Brief appearance: CAMEO

51. Egg-shaped: OVATE. Darn, I confidently put OVOID and then backed off, letter by letter.

52. Cuban export: CIGAR

53. Street of mystery: DELLA

54. "Trumbo" Oscar nominee Cranston: BRYAN. More famous for "Breaking Bad", a title I have tried on numerous occasions to make into a crossword theme. Never got there!

55. Set free: UNTIE

59. CT scan component: X-RAY

60. Run out of gas: TIRE. People tire, cars stop. I had a Jaguar XJS which had a gas gauge that never worked (quelle surprise!) and I had to estimate when I needed to fill up based on the mileage since the last time I topped up the tank. Sure enough, I ran dry on the 134 freeway in Toluca Lake - directly on an overpass above a gas station. A quick scoot down the embankment, a gallon in a plastic can and I was on my way in about five minutes flat.

61. Traditional dance: REEL

62. Mostly depleted sea: ARAL

64. Party accessory: HAT

65. UFO passengers, supposedly: ET'S

A sad day for grammarians everywhere, the Apostrophe Protection Society has this week disbanded, saying that "ignorance and laziness have won".

D'oh! May the greengrocers' plural live forever.


Oh, sorry, here'res' the grid. I like posting grid's.

Oct 4, 2019

Friday, October 4, 2019, Mark MClain

Title:  Injured Reserve.

What a prescient title to our latest puzzle from a friend of the blog - Mark McClain. Mark is one of the many champions of those who want to create crossword puzzles, like our own C.C. and Jeff Chen. He publishes(d?) a blog discussing puzzling - Mark's Blog. As you can see he refers people to facebook collaborative group Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory I applaud this effort and all the help the community gives newcomers.

I, meanwhile, have been off the team all week as I recover from a health issue which when I finally sat down to solve and write this blog did not slow me down. As you see, the letters IR are inserted into various phrases to create new an entertaining fill (the IRs). This is not a typical Friday with no long fill outside of the theme which allowed me to complete in a very reasonable time. The sparkliest others are DAPPER, OTTAWA, PRONTO,  WEEDED, MILDEST and the fun NICE DOG. But the theme fits nicely.

20A. Deity worshiped by backyard chefs?: BARBECUE SPIRIT (13). BARBECUE SPIT. Not to be religious, but ancient cultures probably did.

36A. 7-10 split, to a bowler?: IRKING PINS (10). KING PINS. This is all Boomer and TTP.

44A. Distiller Walker's treatise about a whisky grain?: HIRAM ON RYE (10). HAM ON RYE. This may be the hardest of the theme fill as I am not sure how many know HIRAM WALKER the Massachusetts born founder of Canadian whisky brand Canadian Club and so much more. I am sure this was a gimme for Canadian Eh! and our Michigan solvers. It is also the most fun for me.

54A. Hester Prynne's trademark milk-producing farm?: RED LETTER DAIR(13). RED LETTER DAY. The heroine (?) of the SCARLET LETTER bought a dairy farm- maybe? I reread the book a few years ago, meh.
The reveal:
65D. April 15 org., or, as a plural, a hint to four long puzzle answers: IRS (3).The puzzle would have especially great on 4-15.

On to the rest...


1. Crossed the mob, in a way: SANG. Sammy "the Bull" Gravano? BETRAY

5. Insignificant points: NITS. A Crossword Shout Out to all the commenters who focus on the minutiae.

9. When repeated, Second British Invasion band: DURAN. Their most famous song...

14. Second person of old?: THOU. Cute.

15. "No problems here": I'M OK. Or at least getting there.

16. "... the __ of defeat": "Wide World of Sports" phrase: AGONY. The skier's name is Vinko Bogataj.

17. Steaming flow: LAVA. Sadly my first thought was completely inappropriate.

18. Casual eatery: CAFE. A quick reappearance.

19. One spun by a juggler: PLATE. Apparently, it is an ART.

23. July 4th show failure: DUD. The term descends from the Middle English dudde, originally meaning worn-out or ragged clothing, and is a cognate of duds (i.e., "clothing") and dowdy. Eventually dud became a general pejorative for something useless, including ammunition or firecrackers. Wiki.

24. Attach, in a way: TIE.

25. NFL scores: FGSField Goals.

28. Underground support: ROOT. Not politics, trees.

31. "ASAP!": PRONTO. Italian pronto means ready; Spanish pronto means soon.

39. Exploring toon: DORA. The Nickelodeon cartoon is now a live-action MOVIE.

40. Conceals: VEILS. Such as threats from mob bosses.

41. Support for driving and kicking: TEE. Golf and football in one clue.

42. Flying toys: KITES. Do you think of them as toys?

43. Dumbo's flying aids: EARS. Another live-action version of a famous cartoon character. LINK.

46. Home of the Senators: OTTAWA. A red-letter day for our Canadian players and a hockey reference.

48. Ruckus: STIR.

49. Double curve: ESS. Sounds like golfer Ernie...

50. Two-time U.S. Open champ: ELS.

52. Played the first card: LED.

62. So it could be heard: ALOUD.

63. Where I-90 and I-79 meet: ERIE. How many CSOs do they get?

64. Rock's Bon __: JOVI. The New Jersey band fronted by JON BON JOVI. All you need to know. LINK.

66. Fire sign: SMOKE. Where there is...

67. With 68-Across, words before "easy": EGGS. So much cutesy cross-referencing coming up.

68. See 67- or 69-Across: OVER.

69. With 68-Across, studied: PORED.

70. Army installation: POST.

71. Loch with a legend: NESS.


1. Baseball Cards: Abbr.: STL.

2. Melville captain: AHAB. Arrgh, ahoy Moby Dick is back.

3. 1960s-'80s Chevy: NOVAMYTH busted.

4. Bank employee: GUARD.

5. Words to a growler: NICE DOG. I usually make it doggie.

6. Apple on a desk: iMAC.

7. Vegan staple: TOFU. Not for me.

8. Sport with disks: SKEET. Shoot, I should have thought of that.

9. Togged out: DAPPER. So cute next to...

10. Not-cute fruit: UGLI.

11. Large chorus of cheers: ROAR. This reminds me of a very famous PLAY on words.

12. Opposition prefix: ANTI.

13. Duma "Don't think so!": NYET. This is a legislative body in the ruling assembly of Russia and of some other republics of the former Soviet Union.

21. Uses for warmth, as wood: BURNS.

22. Dainty drinks: SIPS.

25. Cops as a unit: FIVE-O. It is actually 5-0 which comes from the TV show Hawaii 5-0 which was a cop show in the 1970s brought back to life and just started its 10th season.

26. Marvelous: GREAT.

27. Get around: SKIRT.

29. Eye-related prefix: OPTI. Did I mention my recent sub-conjunctival hemorrhage?

30. Layers: TIERS.

32. Father of Thor: ODIN.

33. French possessive: NOTRE. Damn, that was easy.

34. Low cards: TREYS. Threes.

35. Relief providers: OASES. Not just Tug McGraw

37. To whom Rick says, "We'll always have Paris": ILSA. Or a lion.

38. Orderly: NEAT.

42. Divided land: KOREA.

44. Put a stop to: HALT.

45. Least spicy: MILDEST. The version Oo prepares for me. Not mild, just in comparison to the 5 alarm version she eats.

47. Tidied the garden: WEEDED. What a sweet image.

51. A lot to pay: STEEP.

53. Tangy mustard: DIJON.

54. Filing tool: RASP.

55. Dagwood neighbor: ELMO.

56. Saloon __: DOOR. This is really random, though it is a type of Door. But WHY?

57. Third of four canonical gospels: LUKE. You can read about Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John HERE but discuss them and all serious religious topics elsewhere according to the Canon of Zhouqin. Odd to see it so soon after the Coptic Gospels.

58. Thus: ERGO.

59. Fixes on the sly: RIGS. On the sly?

60. Wander: ROVE. I will not fall into the Karl trap.

61. Part of YSL: YVES. Saint-Laurent.

It is really cool to blog a puzzle by Mark as I had the pleasure of his first published PUZZLE which was exactly 5 years and one day ago. He ingratiated himself immediately with me by stopping by and telling us about himself. I always have fun and he is a good guy as well. Lemonade out.