Showing posts with label Thursday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thursday. Show all posts

Nov 14, 2019

Thursday, November 14th 2019 Joseph Ashear

Theme: Countdown

Be careful what you wish for! Last week I said I'd like to leave the circles out of  the puzzle and let us go theme-hunting on our own, this week was a Snark-hunting exercise of the highest order!

"'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
   If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
   And never be met with again!'"

I was bothered when I'd completed the puzzle - I saw that the theme entries were clued with a similar structure, they were all game-related, but ... what was I missing? The theme entries ran north-south and not the customary west-east, and with no real need to do so - no above/below clues, no up/down, what was I missing? I went anagram-hunting, I looked at the placement of the theme entries, I read the entries upwards and downwards - what was it? What was I missing?

Then the penny dropped, and my blog title gives an additional clue.

I think this is Joseph's debut across all the major publications, so congratulations on that. Two first-timers in a row for LAT Thursdays, here's to many more if they bring puzzles of this quality.

Let's go look at the theme entries and the fill, and if you missed the hidden unifier, I'll "reveal" at the bottom.

6D ... in a board game: CLUE WEAPONS. "Clue" murders tend towards the gruesome blunt-force trauma end of the scale. You can be shot or stabbed, but then you get wrenched, candlesticked, lead piped or - blessfully - hanged. It's all very messy. Give me murdered by anyone, in the Library (reading a book) with the revolver. I'm not keen on being beaten to death with a wrench in the hall by the cook. It just seems very - unseemly.

10D. ... in a ball game: BOWLING PINS. Boomer gets this in a heartbeat. He's not doing so well right now, a Corner shout-out to him. We're rooting for you.

24D. ... on a game mat: TWISTER DOTS. Big dots. Can you name the colors?

25D. ... on a game card: BINGO SPACES. We played Bingo in Las Vegas a couple of years ago. What a fun game! We won $160 too, so nothing not to like! I've lost that in two minutes playing Craps on the Strip. Live and learn.

Still theme-challenged? Mull it over awhile while (!) we go and look at the fill.


1. Co. with brown trucks: U.P.S. My brother is a UPS driver in the UK, he'd be getting ready for the busy Christmas period but sadly is laid up post-surgery at home this year. Get well, Bruv!

4. Fearsome Tolkien beasts: ORCS

8. Run off at the mouth: BABBLE. Testing the waters with an unruly mob who can't keep quiet? Dabbling with a babbling rabble.

14. New Deal prog.: N.R.A.

15. Guthrie genre: FOLK

16. Unprincipled: AMORAL

17. Rapper __-Z: JAY

18. Fireplace outlet: FLUE

19. Accompany: GO WITH

20. Yellowfin tuna: AHI

21. Great quantity: SLEW

22. Highest-ranking elected woman in U.S. history: PELOSI. A name in the news, a couple of these topical entries today.

23. McConaughey of "True Detective": MATTHEW

25. Nickname for Israel's Netanyahu: BIBI. New to me, thank you, crosses.

26. Sported: WORE

27. Beach in a 1964 hit song: IPANEMA. We chatted about Ipanema Beach a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure I'd get in the water there though. I've seen the outfalls.

31. Start of a Poitier film title: TO SIR, With Love. Sidney teaching at an inner-city comprehensive school in east London.

34. Author/aviator __ Morrow Lindbergh: ANNE

36. Film crew member: GRIP

37. V-formation flier: GOOSE

38. '90s game disc: POG

39. Pipe up: OPINE

40. __ the finish: IN AT

41. Snapchat's ghost, e.g.: LOGO. And here's a very famous logo ....

42. Shoes with swooshes: NIKES. There's currently an investigation by the "International Athletics something-or-other We're Here for your Benefit and our Fat Salaries Committee Federation" aimed at banning certain Nike shoes because they're "too good". Simple solution - everyone runs barefoot. There, I just saved us all millions. You're welcome.

43. Color from a bottle: FAKE TAN

45. British WWII gun: STEN. According to the people tasked with firing the weapon, more dangerous to the user than the intended target, they had a habit of blowing up. I hauled around a Bren gun as an army reservist for a while, then I got my sniper's badge and they gave me a much lighter deliverer of doom, which thankfully I never had to actually use in anger. On the range, it was pretty accurate - I think my best was an 8" grouping of six rounds at 300 yards. The range was in a rural setting in Cornwall with sheep grazing the adjacent fields. We were informed in no uncertain terms that picking off an unsuspecting future leg of lamb would NOT BE TOLERATED!

47. Magician Weasley and anchorman Burgundy: RONS. Hmmm, I think Ron Weasley might turn you into a toad or a Ford Anglia if you described him as a "magician". Harry Potter's chum is a wizard, there's a significant difference, I'd say.

48. Have: POSSESS

52. Like some wedding photos: CANDID. With the advent of camera phones, there are now many more candid photos than "official" ones.

55. Hook or Cook: Abbr.: CAPT. 

56. Quid pro __: QUO. "In the news" phrase at the moment. I'm not sure why, it just rings a bell.

57. Maryland state bird, e.g.: ORIOLE

58. Dos cubed: OCHO

59. Lines at a checkout counter?: UPC, The bar code that you scan when you (increasingly) self-check your stuff.

60. Money maker: MINTER

61. Not nice at all: MEAN

62. Bother a great deal: IRK

63. Great times: BLASTS

64. Uruguay's Punta del __: ESTE. Home of the sculpture "La Mano".

65. __ de deux: PAS. A ballet term when two dancers perform identical steps together. What's the plural? The same as the singular. I'd have gone for "pas des deuxes" and lost all my money on "Jeopardy".


1. Clear, as a printer: UNJAM.

2. Czech Republic capital, to Czechs: PRAHA. "The City of  a Hundred Spires". The much lesser-known name is the westernized "Prague". I'm not sure how many people have heard of Prague, though. The famous Athletic Club Sparta Praha play that well-known sport "Fotbal".

3. "Don't beat around the bush!": SAY IT! OK, I'll say it - "PRAHA"? Really? Worst fill of the day.

4. A bit out in the ocean: OFFSHORE

5. Painter's tool: ROLLER

7. Present in a biased way: SKEW

8. Reed instrument: BAGPIPE. Singular/plural conundrum for me. I always use the plural "a set of bagpipes" or "she plays the bagpipes". One bagpipe? "Bagpipe music". While we're on the subject, can I plead with any bagpipe band not to play "Scotland the Brave" on St. Patrick's Day? It's really annoying

9. Pond protozoan: AMOEBA. I'll give you this as I prefer it to "AMEBA", but really the OE is a dipthong, so one letter, not two.

11. Gusto: BRIO

12. Back muscles, briefly: LATS

13. K-12 appropriate: EL-HI

28. Actor Estrada: ERIK

29. "Dibs!": MINE!

30. Long-limbed beasts: APES

31. "So ready for the weekend!": TGIF!

32. Chaplin named for her grandmother: OONA

33. Relax in the hot tub: SOAK

35. Yuletide libation: NOG. Why do we (not me) only drink egg nog at Christmas? It's a pretty horrible idea in the first place, but to reserve it for an ostensibly happy period is clearly strange.

39. 14 British pounds: ONE STONE. No, 14 pounds in any country is a British stone. Unlike the fact that 16 oz is usually an imperial pint, except in Britain, where you get 20 oz to your pint. You've got to admire those pint-swilling Brits. And then they sell petrol in litres, the temperatures are now in centigrade, the weight measures are in grams, but the distances are still in miles. Someone needs to have a quiet word regarding "standardization" with that lot over there. And drive on the right, while you're about it. Honestly, some people.

41. Big name in advice: LANDERS

44. __ training: TOILET. Another jolly British word.

46. Tails partner: TOP HAT, along with a white tie.

49. Furnish with gear: EQUIP

50. Sporty Toyota until 2002: SUPRA

51. Laundry day casualties: SOCKS. I've got a singleton on my dresser right now. What is it with socks?

52. Rooster topper: COMB

53. Seed covering: ARIL

54. Jazz singer Simone: NINA. It's a little late for a music link, but no matter. Here's one of my favorites. Too good to waste.

55. Show up: COME

And now we come to the denouement.

So what is it with the theme? When bloggers quote the theme entries, the tradition is to add the "A" or "D" to the number to identify whether we're talking about the across or the down entry, as I did at the top of the page. Let's see what happens if we take the first theme entry, identify it by the number only and eliminate the ellipses:

"6 in a board game". Six Clue Weapons.

and the next:

"10 in a ball game". Ten Bowling Pins ...

... and so we go. The number of the theme entry in the grid describes the solution. There are 24 dots on a Twister mat, 25 spaces on a bingo card. Very neat!

The reason the theme entries are in the downs is because you can't cram them in the acrosses - you'd be four of them into the puzzle before you even got halfway-down the grid, and facing an impossible constructing task.

So here's the grid, hats off to Joseph, and I'll be on my way.


Nov 7, 2019

Thursday, November 7th 2019 Sean Biggins

Theme: Divided we stand - united we fall? The reveal tell us what to look for:

59A. Politically diverse ballot ... and an apt description of each set of puzzle circles: SPLIT TICKET

The tickets that we find within the circled squares are, in order, SEASON, LIFT, GOLDEN, PARKING and MEAL, all split across two entries, just as the reveal tells us. As the "ticket" entries are each on a single line and separated by only one black square, I don't think it would be impossible to find them without the help of the circles, in fact I think I'd prefer if the circles weren't there and we were left to our own treasure-hunt devices.

No matter, the puzzle was a nice smooth solve. This seems to be the LA Times debut for Sean. He first blipped the cruciberb radar in the NYT back in January of this year, so congratulations on this first appearance in the LAT.

Without more ado, let's see what else we've got to talk about:


1. Astrological Ram: ARIES

6. Cleans out badly?: ROBS

10. __-pitch softball: SLO

13. Dry up: PARCH

14. Old photo hue: SEPIA. Not just old photographs. Sepia toning is used to give monochrome photographs a warmer tone, and also to increase their shelf-life in archives - the metallic silver in the print is converted to much-more-stable silver sulphide. Sodium sulphide was traditionally used, which has the unfortunate property of smelling like rotten eggs. You have to feel sympathy for the dark-room technician.

15. Equivocate: HEM. I'd call this a partial equivocation, can you hem without hawing, or haw without hemming? We should be told.

16. International waters: THE HIGH SEAS. I like this phrase. It really is an official designation in maritime law, being the open ocean not part of the territorial waters of any nation. When I was a kid it always conjured up pictures of decks awash with stormy waters, scurvied deckhands lashing down unruly sails and piratical ne'er-do-wells scavenging for treasure ships. Quite poetical, but the legal definition ignores all this.

18. Scrabble vowel value: ONE

19. Focus of a modern crisis: OPIOIDS. I tried OPIATES first, but then relatively quickly corrected myself.

20. Branch bit: TWIG

21. "The Persistence of Memory" artist: DALI. I think most of us call this work "The Melting Clocks". It can be seen in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Dali described the clocks as "the camembert of time". I love the description. If you've ever watched a mature camembert slowly spread across the cheese board, you'll know exactly what he meant.

24. Teleflora rival: FTD. These folk popped up a couple of weeks ago.

25. Ice Capades setting: ARENA. My friend Richard Dwyer "Mr. Debonair" skated with the Ice Follies and the Ice Capades. He made his debut in 1950 when he was 14 and still skates today!

26. Word with string or sing: ALONG

28. Washington post: SENATOR. Nice clue.

31. Ulaanbaatar native: MONGOL. One of my high school friends quit her fledgling career in the Foreign Office when they tried to post her to Mongolia. She wasn't thrilled with the prospect, Paris, Milan or New York would have been more her style.

33. One concerned with bites: DENTIST

35. South of France?: SUD. I used to buy the newspaper "Sud Ouest" when I was on vacation in the south of France to improve my vocabulary. I learned a lot of sports-related words!

36. Trifling amount: SOU. More French. Originally any small coin of low denomination.

38. Former NBA exec Jackson: STU

39. "Dumbo" (2019) director Burton: TIM. This movie got terrible reviews, I don't think I'll be checking it out any time soon (ever!).

41. Off-leash play area: DOG PARK. There's a lot here in LA. One of my friends met his future wife at one when their dogs became acquainted.

44. Like many courtside interviews: IN-GAME

46. Pine detritus: NEEDLES

48. New York Harbor's __ Island: ELLIS

49. "Mad About You" daughter: MABEL

51. __ Zion Church: AME. WAG'ed this one, almost a personal natick with the crossing of KEATING, I didn't know either.

53. Actor Alan: ALDA

54. Runs: AIRS. TV shows.

55. Audit: SIT IN ON

58. Holstein sound: MOO. The holstein friesian dairy cow has the distinctive black-and-white coloring.

63. New Haven alum: ELI

64. L.L.Bean headquarters locale: MAINE

65. River in some Renoir paintings: SEINE

66. "Voices Carry" pop group __ Tuesday: TIL. Who? I YouTubed this, and of course I knew the song, I just didn't know the name of the group, the singer nor the title. Very '80's. Here's the link if you're interested.

67. Unaccompanied: STAG

68. Lauder of cosmetics: ESTÉE


1. Fitting: APT

2. Root word?: RAH. Another nice clue. Rah! Go Team!

3. Hot temper: IRE

4. Bouncing off the walls: ECHOING

5. Castaway's salvation: SHIP. Do you remember the screensaver that was all the rage in the early 90's? Johnny Castaway was never rescued.

6. Lived: RESIDED

7. Slanted page: OP-ED

8. Slant: BIAS

9. KLM rival: SAS. Scandinavian Airline System to give it its full name. Easier to remember than Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, that's for sure.

10. Locker room feature: SHOWER STALL

11. Red Square honoree: LENIN

12. Luxury watch: OMEGA

14. They're poured at bars: SHOTS

17. Many an animated Twitter pic: GIF

20. Picard's counselor: TROI. Two characters in the "Star Trek" franchise. I'd heard of Picard, not Troi, I'm not a Trekkie. Thank you, crosses.

21. Stops up: DAMS

22. Vocally: ALOUD

23. Marinated beef dish: LONDON BROIL Like our friend the English Horn last week, London Broil doesn't come from the other side of the pond.

25. Harmonize: ATTUNE

27. Grammy category: GOSPEL

29. Game console letters: N.E.S. Altogether now - Nintendo Entertainment System.

30. Member of the opposition: ANTI

32. Attachment to a car or a boat?: LOAD. Or a bus, or a coach, or a plane, or a train, or a wagon, or ... you get the idea.

34. Shy: TIMID

37. Result of Googling: URL

40. Natural table: MESA

42. Heist units: GEES. Not my favorite, this one. I'd write it as "G's", but I guess it suits the purpose here.

43. "How to Get Away With Murder" lawyer Annalise: KEATING. I learn she's a fictional character on a show that I'd never heard of. Tough cross for me with AME as I mentioned earlier.

45. Quick looks: GLANCES

47. Clobber, biblically: SMITE. Also British slang for clothing, so biblical clobber might be "Joseph's Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat". Except this isn't a British crossword, and it doesn't fit. OK, moving right along ...

49. "Glengarry Glen Ross" playwright: MAMET. My daughter handled the publicity for the 2017 London revival featuring Christan Slater. Did I get tickets comp'ed? Not a chance, it was a sell-out.

50. Garlicky spread: AÏOLI. There's a subtle difference between this and garlic mayonnaise. Aïoli uses olive oil. If you try making mayo with olive oil using a blender you'll get a nasty bitter taste, the blender breaks the olive oil down into its sour-tasting components. I've done it. Ergo, you can't make traditional aïoli using a blender.

52. Tonsillitis-treating doc: E.N.T.

55. Row: SPAT

56. Parts of hips: ILIA

57. 65-Across feeder: OISE

59. Texting format, briefly: SMS. Simple Messaging System, remember?

60. Set for assembly: KIT

61. Dallas-to-Memphis dir.: E.N.E.

62. Simple top: TEE

And here's a simple tail - the grid!


Oct 31, 2019

Thursday, October 31st 2019 David Alfred Bywaters

Theme: Tricky Treats - Five punny theme entries in keeping with tonight's scare-fest:

18A. Halloween feeling in a warren?: RABBIT FEARS. Rabbit ears. I thought these antennae had gone the way of the dodo, but recently people who are jettisoning cable TV are using digital antennae to pick up the local free-to-air stations.

24A. Halloween feeling near a water supply?: WELL DREAD. Well-read loses its hyphen for the theme entry.

39A. Halloween feeling in the office?: CLERICAL TERRORS. Clerks make clerical errors. Fire-and-brimstone-preaching priests are clerical terrors with their Sunday sermons.

54A. Halloween feeling in the yard?: LAWN SCARE. The lawns around here are scary, my neighborhood goes all-in at Hallowe'en. They're generally pretty cared-for too, so that's a two-fer for me today.

62A. Halloween feeling in the loo?: FLUSH FRIGHT. Flush right, otherwise known as right-justified, in typographic alignment terms (in case you were wondering as I was!)

Fright-night theme from David today, and he didn't scare us too badly with terrible puns (an occupational hazard as a crossword constructor!) I thought this was fun, once I tumbled to the theme it was entertaining finding the others. A quick solve for me for a Thursday, and not a lot to make me POUT. Let's find and go seek ....


1. Spot for a salt scrub: SPA ... where you will doubtless be exposed to the aroma of ...

4. Aromatic evergreen: BALSAM

10. Wind with nearly a three-octave range: OBOE. I know pretty much nothing about orchestral woodwind instruments, but it's the only four-letter one, so not a tough fill no matter how you clue it. Its cousin is the English Horn, which isn't English, and isn't a horn. Makes sense, right?

14. Fresh from the oven: HOT

15. Collection of hives: APIARY. A honey farm, if you will.

16. Sullen look: POUT

17. Track: RUT

20. Buffalo lake: ERIE

22. Like the vb. "go": IRR. Irregular. It seems like most verbs in the English language are irregular.

23. Belly laugh syllable: HAR. I don't think I belly laugh. I chuckle mostly, and I have cried laughing which mostly involves snorting when you can draw breath. I'm not sure how you spell a chuckle or a snort-laugh.

27. Valleys: DALES

31. "Take Care" Grammy winner: DRAKE.  A very melodic rapper is Drake. Here's the "Take Care" video, featuring Rihanna, from 2012. 300 million+ views on YouTube.

32. "We've waited long enough": IT'S TIME

34. Bebe's "Frasier" role: LILITH. Speaking of Grammy winners, what happened to the Lilith Fair?

38. Overlook: OMIT

44. Enjoy privileged status: RATE

45. Poise: APLOMB

46. It may get the ball rolling: INCLINE. Or the car, which is a lot less fun.

48. Trio in "To be, or not to be": IAMBS. This "Hamlet" snippet is an example of iambic trimeter, three iambs forming the line.

53. "Borstal Boy" author Brendan: BEHAN. This might be a little obscure for some; A youth member of the IRA, Behan was jailed at 16 after being arrested in possession of explosives while on a solo mission to bomb Liverpool docks. The "Borstals" were part of the system of youth detention centers in the UK. I re-read the book a few months ago after many years. The Borstal experience described seemed almost quaint compared to today.

58. Angel dust, initially: PCP. The street name for the hallucinogen phencyclidine. How do I know this? The movie "Trading Places" with Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy. Honestly, officer.

60. "You wish, laddie!": NAE!

61. Put out: EMIT

67. Summer hrs. in Denver: MDT. There's a slow-burning move to abolish Daylight Savings time here in California. Prop Seven passed in 2018 to begin the process to allow law-makers to progress the initiative.

68. Stood: ROSE

69. Paparazzo's gear: CAMERA

70. Mature: AGE. The verb form.

71. Lumberjacks' tools: AXES. Ox, Oxen. Ax (or axe!) Axes. How the heck anyone learns English as a foreign language is beyond me.

72. Gave it more gas: SPED UP

73. Finch family creator: LEE. To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper.


1. Astute: SHREWD

2. Bartender, often: POURER

3. Fifth-century conqueror: ATTILA

4. Soap unit: BAR

5. Two (of): A PAIR

6. Cuba __: LIBRE. Rum, cola and a squeeze of lime. "Free Cuba" was the slogan of the Cuban independence movement in the Spanish-American war.

7. Brand of hummus and guacamole: SABRA. There's about a billion different flavors of hummus now. When I make it, I stick to the basics - garbanzo beans (dried, not canned), garlic, lemon juice and tahini, a pinch of cumin; I serve it drizzled with some olive oil and a sprinkling of ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend. I love hummus, when I make it it nets out at about 3 lbs a batch. Here's some that I made on Sunday. The green dab is zhoug, a middle-eastern blend of cilantro, chili and spices.

OK, let's get back to the crossword!

8. Actor Millen of "Orphan Black": ARI. Thank you, crosses.

9. Folk story: MYTH

10. Wheeler-dealer: OPERATOR

11. Feathery neckwear: BOA

12. CSNY's "__ House": OUR. Cute song written by Graham Nash while he was living with Joni Mitchell and later recorded by the band.

13. Many "Guardians of the Galaxy" characters: E.T.'S. I have to confess I have no idea how to punctuate plurals of acronyms which include periods. That's my best shot above.

19. Latest things: FADS

21. Rockies bugler: ELK. I didn't know that elk bugled, a learning moment for me today. The elk mating call is termed a "bugle". Who knew? Not me.

25. Sandwich source: DELI

26. "Same here": DITTO

28. Vehicle with a partition: LIMO

29. Mideast potentate: EMIR

30. Slowly sinks from the sky: SETS. When I visited Malawi in Africa, which is very close to the equator, the sun seemed to set in about five minutes flat.

33. Those folks: THEM

35. Confident words: I CAN

36. Suit part sometimes grabbed: LAPEL. I think you have to grab them both at the same time, right?

37. Unhealthy: ILL

39. Nursery piece: CRIB

40. Narrow way: LANE. We visited the famous lane in Liverpool a couple of years ago. Every road in England is narrow, even the new ones. Driving is a heck of a lot of fun when you have to choose between sideswiping the oncoming tour bus or scraping the wall (or the pedestrians!)

41. Engrave: ETCH

42. Backslides: RELAPSES

43. Hitting stat: RBI'S. Runs Batted In, now a word in itself, not necessarily an abbreviation.

47. Advance slowly: INCH

49. Big club: ACE. Handy when playing 51D.

50. Koala, for example: MAMMAL

51. Game based on whist: BRIDGE

52. Living room piece: SETTEE. Originally, the settee, couch and sofa where quite distinct items of furniture, but nowadays they've all come to mean the same thing. It used to be an indication of social class back in the UK (less so today) which word you used.

55. Japanese art genre: ANIME

56. Carried on: WAGED

57. Big name in Indian politics: NEHRU. The first Prime Minister of India following independence from the British in 1947.

59. Some GIs: PFC'S

62. Monk's address: FRA. "Fra" is sometimes thought to be an abbreviation - it's not - it's derived from the Italian for "brother". The monk and painter of the early renaissance, Fra Angelico, translates as "the angelic brother". Like any Italian renaissance artist worth his salt, he painted on the walls of the Vatican. It must have been difficult to find elbow room in there.

63. Cured salmon: LOX

64. Employ: USE

65. 31-Across genre: RAP

66. Covert information source: TAP. With fewer and fewer landlines, the wire tap is going virtual, eavesdropping on cellphone conversations and hacking into IP networks.

And with that, I'm tapping out! Stay safe this Hallowe'en, and be careful if you're driving after dusk, the kids don't stop to think when they run across the road to the next "Trick or Treat" target house.


Oct 24, 2019

Thursday, October 24th 2019 Christoper Adams

Theme: Acronym Antics - the revealing acronym tells us what ties the theme entries together, to whit:

66A. Bottomless buffet acronym spelled out by the ends of 17-, 31-, 43- and 60-Across: A.Y.C.E.

So we go back and find:

17A. "Are we done here?": IS THAT ALL?

31A. "Tsk tsk": SHAME ON YOU

43A. "Might be able to help": I THINK I CAN

60A. "Not hungry, but not not hungry either": I COULD EAT

I'm super-conflicted about this puzzle - on the one hand, the fill was wonderful - modern cultural references, unusual but great words, fresh clues for old chestnuts - "A"'s all around. And then we get to the theme. I just thought it was a lot less than lackluster - the theme words were, well, the same as the theme words. The "ALL YOU CAN EAT" reveal has theme entries which end in the same word, with the same part of speech or definition. It was all just "meh". I'd have preferred the theme entries to end with those letters, not with that word. In fact, almost to point up the example, I COULD EAT has CAR SEAT directly above it. I'd call that out as bad anyway, but it served a purpose to make my point.

I've been binge-watching "The Great British Bake-Off" recently, so in the words of one of the judges who, while always critical, looks for the positive "Your flavors were great, but it looked terrible".

Let's trot smartly along and look at the sparkle:


1. Dermatology issue: CYST. ACNE went in, ACNE came out. What did I say about being too impulsive?

5. Sources of foreign aid?: AU PAIRS. Great clue. I fondly remember Jette, a Danish au pair I dated in London so many moons ago the moon was still young.

12. Learned: HEARD. "So I heard".

14. Sacagawea's people: SHOSHONE. Nailed it! Getting better at American history. Sure taken long enough!

16. Aquarium growth: ALGAE

19. Rio neighborhood of song: IPANEMA. I've been fortunate to visit Ipanema. I walked by the beach, and ate a snack of grilled chicken hearts with a mid-morning beer. It was the weekend, in my defense, but I do enjoy the Brazilian vibe.

21. "Me Talk Pretty One Day" writer David: SEDARIS. Great author, not to everyone's taste.

22. Takes turns?: SPINS. Spins around, turns around.

24. Coarse cloth: TWEED

25. When an early voyage may start: AT DAWN. On the morning tide.

28. Metal giant: ALCOA. Aluminum/Aluminium. Spell-check likes them both, to my delight.

33. Harsh cry: YAWP. Great fill. Could be many things, YELP disqualified because of 2D, but what a great word. This one made my Word of the Day list.

37. Light touch: PAT

38. Chocolate treat: BROWNIE. Are all brownies chocolate? A question I've never asked myself, I suppose they are.

40. Letter before sigma: RHO

41. __ song: SWAN

45. "... let's play two!" ballplayer Banks: ERNIE. The Cubs' legend was a journalist's dream for quotes, this one:

"It's a beautiful day for a baseball game, let's play two!" and this after he retired from playing a game he loved: "I've never worked a day in my life". What a great man. Banks was named to the CTA board in 1969 and said "For one thing, I want to make sure that the "E" always stops at Wrigley".

47. Set of chromosomes: GENOME

48. Avalanche: SPATE. I see a spate as a minor avalanche. From the same family though.

51. Din: NOISE

53. Traveling tot's spot: CAR SEAT

56. Sounded indignant: SNORTED. You can snort when you laugh, snort when you're indignant, or snort when you're an overpaid bond trader. We'll leave that one alone.

62. Of service: UTILE. I wish this word was "utilized" more often. It's so elegant.

63. A-ha hit that won six MTV Video Music Awards: TAKE ON ME

64. Assisted through difficulty, with "over": TIDED

65. Macy's logo feature: RED STAR. Also a Serbian soccer team with a great history. "Red Star Belgrade" in English, "FK Crvena zvezda" in their native tongue. Hard to see how to get one from the other.


1. Tazo choice: CHAI

2. App with many pans: YELP

3. "Star Wars," for one: SAGA

4. Classic Pontiac: TRANS-AM

5. Malay or Mongol: ASIAN

6. Stammering syllables: UHS. Hesitant syllables, yes, stammering? No. I stammered quite terribly as a child and a teen, I couldn't make a phone call until I was in my early 20's. I found my own answer, but watching "The King's Speech" was difficult.

7. Kettles and kitties: POTS. "Kitties" had me wondering, then - Oh! The ante in a poker game - pay into the kitty, or the pot.

8. Second African-American inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame: ASHE. Pop quiz - who was the first?*

9. "There was no other choice": I HAD TO. 

10. Disintegrate, as old wood: ROT AWAY. Fresh, nice fill.

11. Drum kit item: SNARE

13. Area that's hard to find while surfing?: DEEP WEB. You'll never find it while you're surfing. The parallel universe of the internet.

15. "A Jew Today" writer Wiesel: ELIE

18. Trip letters: LSD. Leave by Saturday Dinnertime? No, not quite.

20. Study on the side: MINOR IN. The verb, not the noun. I was a little stumped by this one. I got MINOR through crosses, then tried to see what would slot in the last two squares.

23. Pouring instruction: SAY WHEN. Don't ask me that.

25. Well of Souls threats in "Raiders of the Lost Ark": ASPS. Yay! Not a "Nile biter". Huzzah for Indiana Jones!

26. Soften: THAW

27. Info: DATA

29. Actress Anderson: LONI

30. Bringing up to speed: CUING IN. I think this is wrong. If I was bringing someone up to speed, I'd "clue them in". If I was marking their entrance, I'd "cue them in",

32. Formal "It wasn't me": NOT I

34. With the bow, in music: ARCO. Cheap gas in SoCal, that's how I remember this one.

35. "Pow!" relative: WHAM

36. Fried Dixie bread: PONE

39. Just makes: EKES OUT

42. Kimono sash ornament: NETSUKE. A lovely word. A storage purse which hung from the obi which evolved into a highly-decorative item. I know a Japanese lady who has a beautiful scrimshaw netsuke hard-carved around 150 years ago.

44. Subject of Newton's first law: INERTIA

46. Nearly fell: REELED. You reel from a punch, but don't go down.

48. Poli __: SCI. I was wondering about this the other day - what is the curriculum for Political Science? It seems to me to be more of an art form. I need to read up on it.

49. Agreement: PACT

50. Like a cheering crowd: AROAR

52. JusSimple juicer maker: OSTER. I will remember this brand until the day I day. I think I told you before, I dropped an Oster blender jug and tried to cushion the impact on my tile kitchen floor with my bare foot. The result? The jug bounced off my foot, cracked a toe and shattered anyway when it hit the floor. I was picking up shards of glass for days.

54. Foofaraws: ADOS

55. Camping gear: TENT

57. Orderly: TIDY

58. Power co. output: ELEC. Least favorite fill of the day.

59. "__ Dinah": Frankie Avalon hit: DEDE

61. Doc's org.: A.M.A.

And so to close, to sleep, to dream. Here's the grid!


Oct 17, 2019

Thursday, October 17th 2019 Susan Gelfand

Theme: Times Four - four types of journalism you might find in your local newspaper:

20A. Article about life jackets?: SAFETY FEATURE. "In the unlikely event of a water landing ...." I love the euphemistic take on the ditching in the water thing, although "Sully" did a pretty good job on the Hudson.

31A. Article about a European language?: GREEK COLUMN. Your choice of three styles - Doric, Ionic or Corinthian. Here's the famous Parthenon Temple in Athens, with Doric columns to the fore.

The facade looked a lot better before Lord Elgin hacked the marble frieze off the front and took them back to England with him. The British Museum, where they are kept, are reluctant to give them back.

41A. Article about crosswords?: PUZZLE PIECE. Blog about crosswords? Right here.

55A. Article about a dessert?: ICE-CREAM SCOOP. I use a spoon, no need for a specialized tool. I don't eat a lot of ice cream, and I don't have to serve four scoops a minute like they do in my local gelato store.

Not a pun-itive puzzle from Susan; as I've said before I'm always a little nervous when I see the "?" clues, as the puns can be awful, but these didn't cause any toe-curls. The fill has a couple of clangers in there though, there's no denying that ENHALO and ACERS should forthwith be cast into the Slough of Despond, never to be seen again.


1. Quick blows: JABS

5. In need of a massage: ACHY

9. "Back to the Future" surname: MCFLY

14. Kitchen topper: OLEO. Do you top something with margarine in the kitchen? Maybe.

15. Repeatable toy vehicle sound: CHOO. Childish pâtisserie? Choo Pastry.

16. Pine or Rock: CHRIS. Nice clue. Do I know Chris Pine? I don't watch Star Trek reboots which apparently is what he's famous for.

17. Duo in the news: ITEM. Could have been one of the theme entries if you could come up with a word to prefix "ITEM".

18. Pushed the bell: RANG

19. Fountain pen precursor: QUILL

23. Whirl, so to speak: TRY. Giving it the old college whirl. Funny how some word substitutions just don't work.

24. Brewed beverages: ALES

25. Didn't let renege on: HELD TO

28. Chi follower: PSI. Second Greek reference today.

29. Bumbler: BEE. "Bumble", according to the Shorter Oxford English dictionary means "to hum, buzz, drone, or move ineptly or flounderingly." Sounds like me on a bad day.

30. Steal from: ROB

36. Serpent suffix: -INE. The first of three suffixes in the "across" section today, I think that's a little excessive. The Serpentine (pronounced "Serpen-tine") is a lake in London's Hyde park fed originally by two now-lost rivers, the Westbourne and the Tyburn. I swam 1,000 meters in there once competing in a biathlon. It was best to try to ignore the Canada goose-poop on the banks.

37. Latest thing: RAGE. Why "all the rage" and not just "the rage?" We should be told.

38. Monet medium: OIL. Money medium: OIL. Have you seen the gas prices?

39. CBS military series: NCIS. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

40. Texter's "Yikes!": OMG!

45. Solemn assurance: VOW

46. Word ending for enzymes: -ASE

47. Deli delicacy: LOX. Can you still get genuine lox (salted salmon) in a deli any more?

48. Surround, as with a glow: ENHALO. Begone.

50. Cherokee on the road: JEEP

52. Dude: BRO

58. Choral work: MOTET. Why did I knee-jerk OCTET? I should show restraint.

60. Small addition?: -ETTE

61. Honey haven: HIVE. Nice alliteration.

62. Ward off: AVERT

63. School near Windsor: ETON. Windsor couldn't be much closer to the school, pop down the High Street and walk across the bridge and you're there, two minutes, tops. Turn left for the Mango Lounge, a great Indian restaurant.

64. __-friendly: USER

65. Entourage: POSSE

66. "The Metaphysics of Morals" writer: KANT. He had enemies. "Immanuel? I just kan't stand that chap".

67. Cubs spring training city: MESA. If you say so - and so it is:


1. Support beam: JOIST

2. Destination for a wedding: ALTAR

3. Like many wrestlers: BEEFY

4. Unspecified amount: SOME. Let's enjoy a course in Advanced Mathematics with Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson in "Blackadder".

5. Nail salon material: ACRYLIC

6. Irritate: CHAFE

7. Sharpens: HONES

8. Class with mats: YOGA

9. "12 Years a Slave" director Steve: MCQUEEN. No idea, but MC led me to the answer without any trouble.

10. Boor: CHURL. Nice thought-provoking moment - we've all (?) heard of being "churlish", but I'd not considered there was a noun form.

11. Panda Express staple: FRIED RICE. If you're going to fry rice, steam it and let it get cold before it hits the wok.

12. Short short?: LIL'

13. Designer monogram: YSL

21. Assignment: TASK

22. Classic 1954 horror film about giant ants: THEM. Produced by Warner Bros. using specially-trained giant ants on the Burbank studio backlot:

26. Vodka __: TONIC. And a squeeze of lime, please.

27. More than a bit heavy: OBESE

28. Middle of Tripoli?: PEE. The "P" in the middle.

29. One advocating buying: BULL. Wall Street market-speak. The bronze of the bull on Wall Street comes in for a lot of attention. Let's just say one part of the sculpture is shinier than the rest.

31. Trees of a kind, often: GROVE

32. San __, city near San Francisco: RAMON. Hands up (me!) for MATEO when I just had an A.

33. Meringue ingredients: EGG WHITES

34. Go slowly: OOZE

35. Claiborne of fashion: LIZ

39. Scuttle: NIX

41. Painter's set of colors: PALETTE

42. Biennial games org.: U.S.O.C. United States Olympic Committee, the next Summer games are in 2020, the next Winter games in 2022.

43. Mercury, for one: ELEMENT

44. Orchestra name reflecting its music: POPS. Boston.

49. Superb servers: ACERS. Oh, stop it.! I feel I'm being tickled to death by horrible crossword-ese.

50. Volkswagen sedan: JETTA

51. Big name in stationery: EATON. Friendly crossing with ETON, rather nicely done. The posh writing paper in England was Basildon Bond . I could always hear "I write on Bond, Basildon Bond".

52. Capital WNW of Cheyenne: BOISE

53. Wanders: ROVES

54. Stage performance with singing: OPERA. That's rather like saying a banquet is "a get-together with food".

56. Give a strong impression (of): REEK. Usually a bad impression. I wouldn't say that someone reeks of good manners.

57. Buddy: CHUM

58. Hiker's guide: MAP

59. Lacto-__ vegetarian: OVO. Milk and eggs are on the OK list, but no fish nor shellfish.

Well, that brings the ROVE around the crossword to a close for this week, so here's the grid:


Notes from C.C.:

1) No updates on Dennis yet. He should be out of the ICU today and move to the step-down unit.

2) Happy birthday to Wilbur Charles! What's the special plan today?

Oct 10, 2019

Thursday, October 10th 2019 Kevin Christian.

Theme: Bent-o Boxes - BENT is, well BENT in each of the theme entries:

16A. Participated in a pub crawl: WENT BAR HOPPING. There is a Tube line in London which runs in a circle around town, called, very appropriately, the Circle Line. Back in my day, there were 27 stations on the continuous loop, and the "Circle Line Pub Crawl" was to ride the train for one lap, get off at each station and drink half a pint of beer at the nearest pub to the station. Back then, some stations actually had a bar on the platform, so that made life easy. For those of you doing the math, that meant downing thirteen-and-a-half pints during the ride.

24A. "Shadows of the Night" Grammy winner: PAT BENATAR. When I was a callow youth, never having seen her, I thought she was a guy. Women rockers were unusual in prehistoric times. Bass guitarist and Detroit bad-ass pop icon Suzi Quatro put me straight on the matter when I was around 13.

37A. Placating words before a confession: DON'T BE MAD ... I don't believe the placation has worked, ever. There's always a kicker too - "Don't me mad, I ran over the dog, but I got you a NEW PUPPY!"

53A. New and improved: EVEN BETTER. A new and improved family dog?

61A. Upset ... and what can be found in the four other longest answers?: BENT OUT OF SHAPE. Especially when the family dog has joined the choir celestial due to careless spousal driving.


1. Gold rush storyteller Bret: HARTE. All crosses, this made the north-west a struggle. A question - why do we refer to the "Pacific North-West" when describing that part of the country? I don't see many other north-wests?

6. Saints' org.: NFL The New Orleans Saints of the National Football League, he said, in an official tone.

9. Word pronounced like its middle letter: ARE.

12. "The Lion in Winter" co-star: O'TOOLE. For no good reason, I had GARP at 13D, so this was a struggle. I was puzzled that I didn't remember Costner in the movie. Eventually reason prevailed.

14. Senator Lisa Murkowski, notably: ALASKAN

18. Cleanse (of): RID

19. Afore: ERE "Able was I ere I saw Elba". Poor Napoleon, reduced to a palindrome, a complex and a cookie.

20. Video game pioneer: ATARI

22. Sch. playing home games in the Sun Bowl: U.T.E.P. Although I know full well that the Sun Bowl is in Texas, my left brain could not stop my knee-jerk-impulse brain filling in "UTAH" here. More corrective action required. Sorry, El Paso.

28. Numbs, as senses: DULLS

30. Bilingual TV explorer: DORA

31. File menu command: SAVE

32. Seiko Group printers: EPSONS. Had to wait a little for this one. With "----NS" in place, Canon and Epson had equal dibs on the fill.

34. Mountain myth: YETI

36. Flower location: BED

40. The Eiger, for one: ALP. Any Yeti in the Alps, or do they stick to being unproven in the Himalaya?

43. Scott who played Chachi: BAIO

44. Supplement: ENRICH

48. Snowblower brand: TORO. Pure guess, but "T" seemed to set things in motion. We see leaf blowers around here more than the snow cousins.

50. Schedule: PLAN. There's some English words I can't remember how to pronounce now depending on which side of the pond I'm on - this is one of them - SKED- or SHED-?

52. "Borat" star __ Baron Cohen: SACHA

56. Vegetable with Golden and Chioggia varieties: BEET. Food! (Sort of!). I know golden beets - Chioggia not so much.

57. San __, California: MATEO. One of the Bay Area bridges too.

58. "Fool (If You Think It's Over)" singer Chris: REA

60. __-di-dah: LAH

66. Nonworking time: LEISURE

67. Twain of country: SHANIA. I'd already got "HAT HAIR", so that required a rethink. A few do-overs today.

68. Bigger copy: Abbr.: ENL.argement.

69. Place to retire: INN. You have to drink thirteen-and-a-half pints before they let you go to bed though.

70. Over: ENDED


1. Indignant reaction: HOW RUDE!

2. Savored the flattery: ATE IT UP

3. Short poems: RONDELS. I had a N and an S. In went SONNETS. I was way too impulsive today. Here's Henry Austin Dobson having a crack at a rondel c.1877:

Love comes back to his vacant dwelling,
      The old, old Love that we knew of yore!
      We see him stand by the open door,
    With his great eyes sad, and his bosom swelling.

    He makes as though in our arms repelling
      He fain would lie as he lay before;
    Love comes back to his vacant dwelling,
      The old, old Love that we knew of yore!

    Ah ! who shall help us from over-spelling
      That sweet, forgotten, forbidden lore?
      E'en as we doubt, in our hearts once more,
    With a rush of tears to our eyelids welling,
    Love comes back to his vacant dwelling

4. Playdate participant: TOT

5. Hamburg's river: ELBE. "Eble was I 'ere I saw Elbe". "Eble" means "The condition of a person who has never visited Hamburg, nor seen its river". Apparently. Not.

6. "I don't wanna": NAH

7. Woman in Progressive ads: FLO. Is the character now moving beyond "irritating" to "mute the TV?"

8. One of 12 on a sitting jury?: LAP. Clever. 12 jurors sitting, making one lap each.

9. Tough dogs: AKITAS

10. Deferred payment at the pub: RAN A TAB. You can't do that on a pub crawl.

11. Impress deeply?: ENGRAVE

13. 1994 Costner role: EARP. So not GARP then? OK.

15. Go over: SPAN

17. Get lost in a book: READ

21. Ticked off: IRED. Nahhhh, c'mon, you're pulling me leg 'ere Guv'nor. There ain't no word "IRED" Mary Poppins! Unless, o' course, yer 'iring me to sweep yer chimney!

OK, enough of that. I haven't been on a pub crawl, honest, guv.

23. Lumber (along): PLOD

25. Bath time plaything: TOY BOAT. I had a toy deep sea diver when I was a kid, complete with helmet, dry suit, weighted boots and air supply. Sadly he was 12 inches tall, and there's not much more than 12 inches of water in a bathtub, so he didn't do much.

26. "Grimm" actress Turner: BREE

27. Wonderland cake words: EAT ME.

29. Elitist sort: SNOB

33. Harry Potter's potions teacher: SNAPE. Severus, brought to the screen by the fine, and sadly departed, Alan Rickman.

35. Fleming and Holm: IANS. I used to work for Fleming's, a private bank in London which was founded by the family. The bank had the largest collection of Scottish art in private hands, much of which was on display in the building. We had a bagpiper serenade us into work between 8:30 and 9. If you missed the piper, you were late. On the upside, the bank had its own pub, called the Scottish Pound.

38. Incline: TILT

39. Hardly lively: DRAB

40. "Lemme __!": AT 'EM

41. Precious: LOVABLE. One meaning of precious.

42. Many a middle schooler: PRE-TEEN

45. Most sparsely populated European country: ICELAND. But a footballing powerhouse despite only having a population of 300,000 and a coach who is a part-time dentist.

46. Inexpensive knockoff: CHEAPIE

47. Consequence of wearing a cap too long: HAT HEAD

49. Low soccer score: ONE NIL. And the score by which Iceland (reminder, population 300,000) beat England (population sixty-odd million) in the European Championships in 2016 to dump England out of the competition and force the resignation of the coach.

51. Sleuth Wolfe: NERO

54. Some spammers: BOTS. 

55. Two-legged zebras: REFS

59. 1975 Wimbledon winner: ASHE

62. Non's opposite: OUI

63. Coffee server: URN

64. Phil Rizzuto's retired number: TEN. Yankee shortstop "The Scooter". Why? No idea, ask C.C. (Steve: "Holy cow!")

65. Chewie's pal: HAN. Star Wars, Chewbacca the Wookie and Han Solo. The clue isn't really "correct" though - Chewie was a nickname, Han was Solo's first name. Details, details.

Right, that wraps it up for me. Onwards and gridwards!


Note from C.C.:

As Lemonade mentioned a few times, tomorrow's write-up will be unique. Be sure to come back and celebrate the special occasion of a blog favorite.

Oct 3, 2019

Thursday, October 3rd 2019 Jeff Stillman

Theme: Black Thursday - today's puzzle features some deep-discount bargains:

17A. Feature of an American flag purchased with 58-Across?: TWENTY-FIVE STARS. The Stars and Stripes as it would have appeared today if Arkansas was the last state to join the union back in 1836.

29A. Sidney Lumet film purchased with 58-Across?: SIX ANGRY MEN. If there were only six angry men, the verdict would have been "Guilty" - Henry Fonda, who cast the initial 'not guilty" vote was Juror #8. A great movie.

44A. Freight vehicle purchased with 58-Across?: NINE-WHEELER. That would make things a little lop-sided. An eighteen-wheeler actually has ten wheels, but eighteen rims and tires, just to keep things interesting. Here's two wheels, but four rims and tires:

and the unifier:

58A. Sales incentive: FIFTY PERCENT OFF. Here's a patriotic sign with 13 stars - let's call it the "Rhode Island" sales event:
Fun theme from Jeff, I got the themers before the reveal, so that's always nice. Good, solid fill too. Let's see what pops out:


1. Collect: AMASS. I've amassed quite a collection of cooking equipment over the years. I do follow the advice of Alton Brown and avoid any "single use" gadget, they take up too much space for their one function. Do you really need a garlic press, something to chop herbs with that isn't a knife or a melon baller when you already have measuring spoon the same size?

6. Stag: HART. Many pubs in England are called "The White Hart". The most common pub name in the UK is "The Red Lion". I've been to this "White Hart" in Overton, Hampshire:

10. Diminished gradually, with "off": WORE

14. Lake between the Silver State and Golden State: TAHOE. Gambling on the east side, weed on the west side. Pick your poison.

15. Promise, for one: OLEO. This confused me for a few moments, but remembered "Promise" is a brand of margarine.

16. Operation Solomon airline: EL AL. I didn't know the back story, but not hard to guess.

20. Raina Telgemeier graphic novel about a girl with braces: SMILE. Stab in the dark here, but when a couple of letters were provided by crosses, it wasn't hard to fill in the blanks.

21. Breeder's income source: STUD FEE

22. Names as a source: CITES. It's nice to receive a citation as a source, less pleasant to receive one for a traffic violation (or so I hear, I've never had one myself .... he lied).

25. Fizzy prefix: AER-

26. Decryption org.: N.S.A. National Security Agency, I always want to call it the National Spy Agency, but the CIA has dibs on that one.

34. Regatta racer: YACHT. I'm not sure when it was when I stopped trying to spell "yacht" with a "g' in there somewhere, but it was a happy day.

36. Paint store selections: HUES. I need to check out the hues at my local hardware store, I need to repaint my "hobby" room, I managed to overspray weathering paint onto the walls, not smart. They need a refresh anyway, so a good time.

37. Ristorante bottle: VINO. "In vino, veritas" according to the Romans. "In wine, truth". A poetic way to describe drunk texting, which rarely has a positive outcome.

38. Mandolin kin: LUTES

39. Loved, with "up": ATE

40. Dasani product: WATER. Dasani makes water? I doubt it. I think they bottle and sell it.

41. Carbon monoxide's lack: ODOR

42. Iditarod racer: SLED. Not for much longer if the planet keeps warming. It'll be a water-skier pulled by knee-deep huskies before too long.

43. Capital of Ghana: ACCRA

47. Coal scuttle: HOD. I'm more familiar with a hod being used to carry bricks to a bricklayer during construction of a wall. Same concept though.

48. "I have an idea!": AHA! It better be a good one.

49. Silas of the Continental Congress: DEANE. A little obscure, this one. The representatives of the original thirteen colonies (with the exception of Georgia) during the Revolutionary War formed the Continental Congress. Deane was one of the representatives from Connecticut, and is the only Silas I've heard of other than the Silas Marner of literature.

51. Deals with freebies: TWO-FERS. Same as 50% off! My local Ralph's market, part of the Kroger empire, have regular BOGO offers (Buy One, Get One) in the meat and seafood department. I can never resist those deals.

55. Museo Leonardiano city: VINCI. It would be odd if Vinci had a museum dedicated to any other Italian.

62. Everyone, in Essen: ALLE.

63. Mideast bigwig: EMIR

64. Mill input: GRIST. Grist for the mill - flour comes out, the chaff is blown away. I think.

65. "All in the Family" producer Norman: LEAR. If you say so, thank you, crosses.

66. Donnybrook: RIOT. From the Donnybrook Fair, first held 1204 in Dublin. It is sometimes described as "notoriously disorderly", but we're talking Irish, beer and fourteen days of festivities. It's small wonder that things occasionally got a little out of hand. I'm of Irish descent, so I can say that. The phrase "I went to a fight, but a wake broke out" is not spoken without a certain basis in fact. Donnybrook Fair can sound quite pleasant, according to an 18th century poem penned by that bard of prolific output, "Anon".

To Donnybrook steer, all you sons of Parnassus
Poor painters, poor poets, poor newsmen, poor knaves
To see what the fun is that all fun surpasses
The sorrow and sadness of green Erin's slaves
O Donnybrook, jewel, full of mirth is your quiver
Where all flock from Dublin to gape and to stare
At two elegant bridges, without e'er a river
So success to the humours of Donnybrook Fair

67. Church council: SYNOD


1. QB's stat: ATT. Pass attempts in American Football.

2. Big mouths: MAWS

3. Word of disapproval: AHEM

4. Sega's hedgehog: SONIC. Video game character of legend.

5. Band concert guides: SET LISTS. People collect them. Here's a "Joshua Tree" tour set list from U2 when I saw them at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena:

6. Cooperstown inst.: H.O.F. Hall Of Fame. Baseball, in Cooperstown's case.

7. "Rope-a-dope" boxer: ALI. He was "roping" Joe Frazier.

8. Races: REVS as in one's engine.


10. Multi-use workshop tool: WET-DRY VAC. I'm not sure it's "multi-use" - it's a vacuum, it just vacuums a lot of different stuff.

11. Elsa and Anna's snowman pal: OLAF. From the "Frozen" movie, I never saw it, but I hear it's good.

12. Medium __: RARE. The "gold standard" for steak done-ness.

13. Besides that: ELSE

18. Mysterious Himalayan: YETI

19. Litigious type: SUER. Is that a word?

23. Yoga instruction: EXHALE

24. Cooked in a skillet: SAUTÉED

26. Guitar string option: NYLON. Steel guitar strings for me. Don't nylon ones go out of tune all the time?

27. King Salman, for one: SAUDI. Thank you, crosses.

28. Do something in response to: ACT ON

30. Tease: NEEDLE

31. Deadpan comic Hedberg: MITCH. More crosses.

32. Summer month in South America: ENERO. January

33. Annual Santa tracker: NORAD. North American Aerospace Defense Command. Super nice folks at Christmas.

35. From now on: HEREAFTER. I tried EVER AFTER, but that obviously didn't work out too well.

40. Alarms: WARNINGS

42. More on the ball: SHARPER

45. Miss Muffet fare: WHEY. I prefer curds, myself.

46. Outer wall protector: EAVE

50. Vestibule, e.g.: ENTRY

51. Nonstick kitchen brand: T-FAL

52. Sly trick: WILE

53. "Man __ Mancha": OF LA

54. Frozen Four game: SEMI. Final Four too, and every other sport in a knockout format.

56. Invent, in a way: COIN. To coin a phrase ...

57. "That being the case ... ": IF SO ...

59. Brazilian hot spot: RIO. I've been lucky enough to have had a few trips to Rio, a city of contrasts and some quite wonderful sights, sounds and food!

60. Old PC monitor: CRT. The old Cathode Ray Tube. Poor Cathode and Ray, they were the darlings of the tech business for so long, now long consigned to recycle (hopefully) or landfull (less pleasant).

61. Co. with a bouquet in its logo: FTD. "Florists's Transworld Delivery" to be posh. The UK branding was "Interflora". Same logo though.

And with the winged feet of Eros [edit - sorry, Mercury] and a bunch of flowers, I'll leave you with the grid.


Sep 26, 2019

Thursday, September 26th 2019 David Poole

Theme: Spooked: Two government agencies facing off across the great idealogical crossword divide.

As the reveal, diplomatically placed in the center tells us:

23D. Long-running Mad feature suggested by this puzzle's circled letters: SPY VS. SPY

A great theme from David, the circles reveal CIA, appropriately on the West side of the puzzle, and KGB, aptly, on the East.

There's a lot to like about this theme, simple on the surface, but a little more when you dig down. The theme entries are placed pleasingly symmetrically, the letters for the agencies aren't just the first or last letter in the theme entries, they stand alone in each name or phrase, and the placement of the reveal dead center between the two is very neat. Good job.

Let's see what the fill holds for us:


1. Indian food option: MILD. I lean towards the more hot/spicy dishes, but there are many Indian dishes which are spiced, but not with chili or cayenne, the spices are there for aroma and flavor. Two classic examples are the korma, which is a mild, creamy curry, and the biryani, which is Indian cuisine's one-pot rice dish, a relative of paella, jambalaya and others. Here's my chicken biryani with coconut and yoghurt green raita.

5. "4x2=8" rapper from Korea: PSY. The "Gangnam Style" dude. I'm not sure any of us would be able to name any other Korean rapper.

8. Blood component: PLASMA

14. Et __: and others: ALII

15. Troy, N.Y., school: R.P.I. I tried to guess this, I got the "Institute" part, I could have guessed "Polytechnic", but there was no guessing "Rensselaer".

16. Trojan War hero: AENEAS

17. Delivery method: C-SECTION

19. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, familiarly: COACH K

20. Fall: AUTUMN

21. Boats and gravy boats: VESSELS

22. Stockpiled: AMASSED

24. Tigers, on scoreboards: DET.

25. "Miracle on Ice" winners: Abbr.: U.S.A. One of the most famous moments in sports, and that goes for non-US fans - I remember this from the 1980 Winter Olympics long before I moved to the States and before I knew much at all about hockey. "Do you believe in miracles? YES!"

28. Pours carelessly: SLOPS

29. Start of el año: ENERO

31. Quick bite: NOSH

33. Chef's collection: FRY PANS. I've literally worn out a couple of my Cuisinart skillets, I'm thinking about replacing them with cast iron.

35. Siri device: IPHONE

37. Pointed facial features: VAN DYKES. This dude rocks a great Van Dyke.

41. Morris Buttermaker's "bad news" team: THE BEARS

43. Big name in smooth jazz: KENNY G

44. Spray can output: AEROSOL. I thought the aerosol WAS the can. The output is deodorant, paint, olive oil, you name it.

46. Like some U.S. mail: CERT. ified.

47. African antelope: ELAND

50. Binge: SPREE

52. Montgomery of jazz: WES

53. Part of UCLA: LOS

54. Due: PAYABLE

56. Easy marks: PATSIES

59. __ del Fuego: TIERRA. I met a bartender in New Orleans who was from Tierra del Fuego; she said when she was a kid, her mom would point at the moon and tell her that was the closest place to where they lived.

62. Angular abode: A-FRAME

63. Complex containing thiamine and niacin: VITAMIN B. My Doc told me to take B3 supplements, apparently I'm not getting enough sun, that seems difficult to pull off in Southern California. (Edit - he told me to take D3! - Steve]

65. Close tightly: SEAL UP

66. Half of eleven?: ONE. Nice clue. Double-1 makes 11.

67. Spots at the prom?: ACNE. Sad, but true.

68. Discount phrase: OR LESS

69. Farm sci.: AGR.iculture. Seems hard to imagine studying farming without it.

70. Mower holder: SHED. If you're mowing the grass for silage on the farm, your agriculture class probably tells you the size of shed you need for the mower.


1. Brit's raincoat: MAC. Have you seen the ad currently running for the Microsoft Surface? It features a real Brit called Mackenzie "Mac" Book who points out the differences between the Surface and the Mac Book. It made me laugh, very clever.

2. Rick's love in "Casablanca": ILSA

3. In __ of: LIEU

4. Decrees: DICTA

5. 1996 Richard Gere/Edward Norton thriller: PRIMAL FEAR

6. Spot buyer: SPONSOR

7. Half a cosmic whole: YIN

8. Walked nervously: PACED

9. Some summer babies: LEOS

10. Santa __: dry winds: ANAS. Fierce debate in my neck of the woods as to whether they are called "Santa Anas" or "Santanas". I'm firmly with the latter. "Santa Ana" is a corruption of the original name perpetrated by out-of-state weather forecasters. In Richard Dana's "Two Years Before the Mast" he references "the devil wind Santana", well known to sailors in these parts. Santa Ana is a small city in Riverside County, and the winds neither originate from there or are funneled through there. OK, got that off my chest!

11. Withdraw formally: SECEDE

12. "Resurrection Symphony" composer: MAHLER

13. Invites for: ASKS TO.  Invites for lunch/asks to lunch.

18. Antacid brand: TUMS

21. Italian scooter: VESPA. Here's a young Sting riding a Vespa GS in the Who's "Quadrophenia" movie. Goodness knows what that scooter would be worth now, they're getting very hard to find.

25. Yard, say: UNIT

26. Junior-to-be: SOPH. Shouldn't it be "Jnr." in the clue? Last time I looked, you were properly a sophomore.

27. Tennis immortal: ASHE. Arthur. The stadium in Flushing Meadows, home of the U.S. Open is named for him. The Australian open has the Rod Laver Arena, The French Open has "Stade Roland Garros" and Wimbledon has - Wimbledon. I rather like that. You're pretty much one and done with naming. Imagine the uproar if the French decided to replace Roland with Yannick Noah or Suzanne Lenglen.

29. "The Neverending Story" author: ENDE. A German novel, originally.

30. Acronymically named boy band: 'N SYNC. The last letters of the first names of the band members. Who knew? I think it's just a happy coincidence.

32. White House architect James: HOBAN

34. Rug rat: ANKLE BITER

36. More than want: NEED

38. Had down cold: KNEW

39. Thornfield Hall governess: EYRE

40. Capt.'s subordinates: SGTS.

42. Bouquet for a señorita: ROSAS. Second Spanish class of the day. Roses in January?

45. On the soapbox: ORATING

47. West Texas city: EL PASO. According to TripAdvisor, the best restaurant in El Paso serves Greek and Mediterranean food. Somehow I'm a little unsure about that.

48. Preppy shoe: LOAFER

49. Celestial: ASTRAL

51. Zeno's home: ELEA

54. Coterie members, in slang: PEEPS

55. "Aunt __ Cope Book": ERMA'S

57. Black Friday event: SALE

58. Controversial radio host: IMUS. It's difficult to have any kind of respect for this man, I'll leave it at that.

60. Like chocolate cheesecake: RICH

61. Actress Hathaway: ANNE

63. Intl. news broadcaster: V.O.A. Voice of America. A shadow of its former self. The BBC's World Service is now the largest international broadcaster.

64. Rest area?: BED

That about does it for me. Here's the grid, and it's time for 64D!


Note from C.C.:

Happy Birthday to Dennis, who helped me greatly in the first few years of this blog. Dennis (the Marine) is now fighting another major battle. He'll probably let you know more later. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Sep 19, 2019

Thursday, September 19th 2019 Jeffrey Wechsler

Theme: Squeaky Clean - who's washing your dishes?

17A. Tall display of dishwashing liquid?: IVORY TOWER.

27A. Global donation of dishwashing liquid?: JOY TO THE WORLD.

42A. Rock band's preferred dishwashing liquid?: DAWN OF THE DEAD. The Grateful Dead.

57A. Using dishwashing liquid in the shower?: SUN-BATHING.

A quiet sashay down Aisle 11 in the grocery store and dish washing options galore. I use Palmolive, so I was not represented here. Simple enough theme, but nicely done. As always, Jeffrey pays attention to the fill and makes sure there's nothing clunky to make you wince. Some nice longer downs as always - Jeffrey and C.C seem to be masters at that aspect of construction.


1. Barista's concoction: BLEND. I started on the wrong foot here with LATTE, and I still think it's a more appropriate answer to the clue. Baristas don't blend the coffee, they brew whatever beans are blended for them.

6. Domino dots: PIPS.

10. Rotating rod: SPIT. Barbecue! Food!

14. Construction rod: REBAR.

15. Square __: ROOT.

16. Skirt with a flounce: TUTU.

19. MiG developer: USSR. In an oddly non-Soviet personal recognition move, in 1939 the USSR named the MiG fighter airplane for its developers - Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich.

20. Wee: TINY.

21. Soy sauce taste: UMAMI. The fifth "taste" - salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami - savory or meaty. When I need an umami "bomb" to season a casserole, for example, I go with a mixture of soy sauce, anchovy paste and Marmite.

22. Sleuth of radio, movies and TV: CHAN. Jackie.

23. Sitcom star from Melmac: ALF. Crosses all the way, this series passed me by.

25. Sticker: DECAL.

32. Set in a golf bag: IRONS. Arnold Palmer was once asked what he did if he was caught in a lightning storm when he was out on the golf course. He responded "I walk down the fairway and hold a one-iron high in the air". When asked if that was wise, he told the interviewer "Yes, even God can't hit a one-iron".

34. TV exec Arledge: ROONE. Head of ABC Sports and later ABC News.

35. Barcelona bear: OSO.

36. Short dog, for short: PEKE.

37. Or so: ABOUT.

38. 1956 crisis site: SUEZ. A kerfuffle over a canal.

39. Chest-beating beast: APE.

40. Darts: FLITS.

41. Slow, to Ravel: LENTE. Here's a great excuse to revisit one of the great performances in Ice Dance from 1984 - Jayne Torville and Christopher Dean interpret Ravel's Bolero. The dance won them the Gold medal at both the 1984 Olympic Games and the World Championships.

45. "Supergirl" actor Jon: CRYER. He's most famous, I think, for his role in "Two and a Half Men".

46. It can be thin but not fat: AIR.

47. Glance through: SKIM.

48. Goaded, with "on": EGGED.

52. Seed used in smoothies: CHIA. Do the pets get smoothied too?

56. "O brawling love! O loving __!": Romeo: HATE. A tad conflicted, was our boy Romeo:

“Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O any thing, of nothing first create!
O heavy lightness, serious vanity,
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms,
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.”

59. "__ that a lot": I GET.

60. One likely to snap: CRAB. I've just finished the latest season of "Deadliest Catch". Those king crab are snappy little buggers, steer well clear.

61. Spree: BINGE.

62. Like everything in a she shed: HERS. Is a "she shed" really a thing? I've only encountered the expression on a rather lame insurance company commercial.

63. Ballpark figure: OUTS.

64. Aconcagua's range: ANDES. 22,841 feet and the highest mountain outside Asia.


1. Pram pusher: BRIT. A baby carriage, more formally a "perambulator".

2. Son of Leah: LEVI.

3. Black, to a bard: EBON.

4. Zero, quaintly: NARY A ONE.

5. Martini specification: DRY. The only way, in my book. Ice, gin (NOT vodka!). Shaken. Glass. Twist. Drink.

6. Dance with a queen: PROM. Nice clue, it took a while for me to see this.

7. Captain Kirk's home state: IOWA. We learn something every day.

8. Common greeting card content: POEM.

9. Far from soothing: STRIDENT.

10. Masonry finish: STUCCO.

11. Bully: PUSH AROUND.

12. "Everything's ready to go!": IT'S ALL SET!

13. Chance at the spinner: TURN. Wheel of Fortune? There are some grand "Wheel" bloopers, some of which are not fit for a family publication. I'll leave it at that.

18. Clump of dune grass: TUFT.

24. Fleur-de-__: LYS. Finally - I got my LIS/LYS mojo. Nailed it!

26. Baa ma: EWE.

27. One whose work is laughable: JOKE WRITER.

28. Heavenly path: ORBIT.

29. Gear bit: TOOTH.

30. Word with hot or dog: HOUSE.

31. Zonk out: DOZE.

32. Tablet with Air, Pro and Mini models: IPAD.

33. Update the look of, as a product: REPACKAGE.

37. Like some bistros: AL FRESCO.

38. 1957 Coasters chart-topper with the refrain "Gonna find her": SEARCHIN'. Crosses, but solid. No real problem.

40. Opponent: FOE.

41. Fragrant chain: LEI.

43. MLB team with Mr. and Mrs. mascots: N.Y. METS. Crosses, but solid. I think this might be the refrain of the day for me.

44. Duchamp genre: DADA. Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dalí play chess:

47. __ Tzu: SHIH.

49. Trusted advisor: GURU.

50. Pesky bug: GNAT.

51. Goes back: EBBS.

53. Rear: HIND.

54. "Picnic" playwright: INGE. Crosses, but solid, here we go again. A 1953 play by William Inge which, I suspect, would be long forgotten except it was the Broadway debut for Paul Newman.

55. Forever: AGES.

58. Placeholder abbr.: T.B.A. To Be Advised.

I'm going to give the rest of this blog over to the cryptic puzzle which appeared in the UK's Guardian broadsheet last Thursday while I was in the UK - the top and bottom rows spell out a quite forthright political opinion. I encourage you to read the resulting article and click the interview with the constructor, who is also a heart surgeon. (Puzzles in the Guardian and Telegraph are published under a pseudonym, the Times puzzles are published anonymously).

And now here's the grid in all its glory: