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

Sep 20, 2018

Thursday September 20th 2018 Paul Coulter

Theme: Jay Lend-o - Loan a letter to a phrase and come up with a "punny" new one.

17A. Norwegian coastal horse?: FJORD PINTO. Ford Pinto

Not only was this car a genuine menace to drive, but when Ford wondered why it wasn't selling in Latin America, they were informed, late in the marketing day, that "pinto" is a rather perjorative term for the size of a man's ..... equipment. I mean car.

24A. Excellent joke?: GREAT JAPE. Great ape.

39A. Where a sensei teaches how to slalom?: SKI DOJO. Ski-Doo. A Sensei in this context is a martial arts teacher; I know the term as a third-generation Japanese-American.

50A. "We sure fell for that one, Jack," e.g.?: JILL HUMOR. Ill humor. What? I mean I get it, but can we come up with a better clue? "You" rather than "we" makes a lot more sense; still terrible, but better than this effort.

The reveal?

62A. Was yanked offstage ... or what four puzzle answers did, in a way: GOT THE HOOK. The "J" is a hook-shape. Hence a j-hook in hardware, and probably fishing, although I didn't check the fishing bit. Wild stab in the dark with the fishhook.

Yep, nothing to argue about here. Find a phrase, add a "J" to it somewhere, clue it appropriately and move on.

And ..... the fill.


1. Have a sudden inspiration?: GASP

5. Embryonic membranes: CAULS

10. "Good going!": NICE!

14. Ancient Andean: INCA

15. Fully committed: ALL IN. Poker term originally, I believe. Bet all your chips on one hand of cards.

16. Cries at the Home Run Derby: OOHS. Baseball mini-theme today. Home Runs, pitchers and such.

19. Agitated state: SNIT. Agitated? Ticked-off, in my book.

20. Ring leader?: TORERO

21. Parenthesis, e.g.: ARC

22. Dún Laoghaire's land: EIRE. It used to be the primary ferry port between Great Britain and Ireland, but most, if not all, services have now been retured. Pronounced "Dun Leary" if you ever need to buy a ticket.

23. Largest division of Islam: SUNNI

26. Alpine transport: T-BAR

28. 2010 sci-fi sequel subtitled "Legacy": TRON

29. Grassy stretches: LEAS

32. Map line: ROAD

35. "A Doll's House" playwright: IBSEN

38. "The Martian" has none: E.T.S

41. Stat for Chris Sale: ERA. He's a pitcher, so Earned Run Average. Red Sox now, previously White Sox. I wonder what he did with the white ones from his uniform when he was traded? Or did he just leave them in his locker for the laundry guy? There are around 1,200 players each season in Major League Baseball. He's one of them. I just need to learn another 1,199 and I've got this year's crossword nailed.

42. Pronunciation symbol: SCHWA. This thing: ə. A mid-central vowel. A south-central vowel in Los Angeles is probably something else entirely.

44. PBS science series: NOVA

45. Small racer: KART

46. Barbershop part: BASS

48. McGregor who plays two roles on TV's "Fargo": EWAN. I've liked him since "Trainspotting" which I saw at an "arts theater" in Santa Monica and was hugely amused to see that it was subtitled English, in spite of being in English.

54. Jungle vine: LIANA

58. Big star: IDOL. Billy. Rebel Yell. Cue the music. 80's live pop excess.

59. Lincoln Ctr. site: N.Y.C. Also the site of my hd. off.

60. PBS science series: COSMOS. Chlecho trickery with 44A.

61. Brit's floor covering: LINO. We had lino in the bedrooms when I was a kid, and no heating. Getting up in winter was a bare-foot-meets-ice-rink experience.

64. Fuss: TO-DO

65. Dvorák's "Rusalka," for one: OPERA

66. Instead: ELSE

67. Scandinavian name meaning "cliff": STEN. What do you call a man with a seagull on his head? Cliff.

68. Block: DETER

69. Sunflower edible: SEED


1. They're kept under wraps: GIFTS

2. Pear variety: ANJOU

3. Contempt: SCORN

4. Raises: PARENTS

5. Guitarist's gadget: CAPO

6. "Aladdin" prince: ALI

7. __ nerve: ULNAR

8. Petrol unit: LITRE. Those British and their spelling. No reason to mess with the original French, but you know, what do those foreigners know?

9. Vehicle with caterpillar treads: SNO-CAT. Ski-doo, sno-cat. Winter today.

10. Often-cosmetic procedure: NOSE JOB.

11. View from Corfu: IONIAN SEA. Yep, nice spot for sure.

12. Sound from a tree: CHIRP. 

13. Competitor of Helena: ESTÉE. Lauder vs. Ruberstein. Gloves off!

18. Small amount: DRIB. Is a drab bigger or smaller than a drib? Surely it has to be one of the two, else you'd be doing something "in dribs and dribs" or "drabs and drabs".

24. Abdomen neighbor: GROIN. It's a toss-up which one you'd rather take a hit playing rugby. I've suffered both. I think I'd lean towards the abdomen given the choice.

25. Chamber music group: TRIO

27. Storied craft: ARK

29. "__ Miz": LES

30. "You get the idea" letters: ETC.

31. Light hair color: ASH BLONDE

33. Brouhaha: ADO

34. Matthew Arnold's "__ Beach": DOVER. A scary chap, he was a schools inspector, frightening in itself, but his work is referenced by Ray Bradbury and Ian McEwan - you know you're not in for an easy ride with his poetry or prose when you're in that company.

Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Dover Beach, Matthew Arnold

36. Be off: ERR. Surprised to to see a baseball reference ... oh wait ...

37. Bryce Harper, for now: NAT. Washington Nationals. There it is!

39. Ornamental band: SASH

40. Talk: JAW

43. Belgian language related to French: WALLOON

45. Deli snacks: KNISHES

47. Ra, in ancient Egypt: SUN GOD

49. Cosmetic additive: ALOE

50. Rejects suddenly: JILTS

51. Jerk: IDIOT.

52. Mr. Magoo, for one: MYOPE

53. Santa's reindeer, e.g.: OCTET

55. Whac-__: A-MOLE

56. Rope loop: NOOSE

57. FAQ part: ASKED. Frequently-Asked Questions link on a website.

60. Scorch: CHAR

63. Amount past due?: TRE. Uno, duo, tre. Any Green Day fans are wondering what happened to that triptych. Uno was delivered, I think duo and tre are still a twinkle in the band's eye.

Got Grid?


Sep 13, 2018

Thursday September 13th 2018 Joe Deeney

Theme: TOGA, or another type of "butter" churn!

16A. Rolls off the alley: GUTTER BALLS. Bowling's not my thing, I just don't have the coordination for it.

23A. Swing era dance: JITTERBUG. Ditto me and dancing, that coordination problem again. This picture is captioned "Scandalous Teen Crazes". The scandal!

32A. Smoking hazard: CIGARETTE BURN. I was half-expecting "BUTT" instead of BURN, but of course that wouldn't work with the theme. Mr. Purist says that you shouldn't have any of the same letters of your scramble adjacent to the ones you have scrambled - in this case the "RE" in "CIGARE-" breaks the rule. However, I'm feeling charitable today, so no grumble.

44A. Anticipatory counterargument: PREBUTTAL. A relatively new portmanteau - "pre-emptive rebuttal" usually in politics where you 'fess up to your shortcomings before the opposition point them out. I use the same tactics in a competitive sales situation - I know the FUD that the competition are going to dish, so I get my counters in first (FUD = fear, uncertainty, doubt).

and the reveal:

52A. Dairy implement, and a hint to what's hidden in 16-, 23-, 32-, and 44-Across: BUTTER CHURN

A nice clean theme from Joe, and I counted the grid size twice to make sure we're back to a regulation 15x15 after the last four Thursdays produced an additional square across or down.

Let's see what we've got in the fill - two clunkers and a lot of pleasant stuff!


1. Minimally: A TAD

5. Oversight: LAPSE

10. "Man With a Plan" network: CBS. In the news this week for reasons they didn't wish for.

13. One and only: SOLE

14. Fads: MANIAS

15. No longer active: Abbr.: RET. As in a retired asset. Most retired people I know are more active than the rest of us who are nose-to-the-grindstone keeping-the-wheels-of-industry-turning. My retired sister probably puts up more air miles than me, and spends her time exploring Mayan ruins in Honduras, hitchhiking through Cuba, yomping up mountains in Montana and generally playing "Where's Waldo?".

18. "__ we there yet?": ARE

19. College Board exam, briefly: AP TEST. Strictly "advanced placement", but one of those "no longer an abbreviation" examples. So is "exam" in the clue. Coincidence?

20. French assent: OUI

21. It's calculated using ht. and wt.: B.M.I. Body Mass Index.

22. Make a face, say: REACT

26. Loan application section: DEBT

27. Badgers: NAGS

28. Staff helper: AIDE

29. "Be My __ Ono": Barenaked Ladies song: YOKO. A nice departure clue for a crossword staple. I didn't fill it in right away because it could have been a lot of different words if you don't know the song.

30. West Coast athletic footwear company: LA GEAR

36. Got close to empty: RAN LOW

37. Area to lay anchor: COVE

38. High style: UPDO

39. Cry related to "hey": AHOY! Often heard in a cove?

40. Opt out: PASS

47. Goldfinger's first name: AURIC

48. Three-time NBA Finals MVP Duncan: TIM. One of the most unassuming people ever to suit up for a professional sports team.

49. __ Butterworth: MRS. Her first name was revealed, to great fanfare in 2009. Joy! No, not the emotion, that's her name. Apparently. What is Aunt Jemima's last name? We should be told.

50. Post-workout lament: I'M SORE

51. Open event gold medalist in the 2016 Chess Olympiad: USA. Apparently there are two categories, "Open" and "Women's". Don't ask me why. Ask FIDE, the World Chess Federation. Also, don't ask me why one is a translation of the other either. Odd bods, those chess folk.

55. Do a 5K, e.g.: RUN. Followed by 50A, probably.

56. Meets up with the old gang: REUNES. Ach. Clang! I know we've seen this before, but it doesn't make it any more pleasant.

57. "Makes sense": I SEE

58. Conclusion: END

59. Increase: ADD TO

60. Typically round-neck shirts: TEES


1. Norse gods' home: ASGARD. I got stuck on "Valhalla" and couldn't let go for a time. Valhalla is in Asgard. I also got distracted by "Isengard" from The Lord of the Rings. I wonder about what goes on with my synapses sometimes.

2. Head cover: TOUPEE

3. Window-switching keyboard shortcut: ALT-TAB

4. Catch a scent of: DETECT

5. Yellow __: LAB

6. "Fifty Shades of Grey" heroine: ANA. Thank you, crosses, The whole "Grey" genre passed me by.

7. Trial episodes: PILOTS

8. French toast: SALUT!

9. Nail polish brand: ESSIE. I'll take Joe's word for it. Not on my regular shopping list.

10. More like Oscar the Grouch: CRABBIER

11. Hamilton local: BERMUDAN. I read "locale" and was trying to figure out how to cram BROADWAY into a place it patently did not belong.

12. "In the Heat of the Night" Oscar winner Rod: STEIGER. He won the Oscar for Best Actor. Co-star Rod Steiger won the Golden Globe and the BAFTA award for the same thing. I don't know any movie where that's ever happened before or since.

14. B.A. Baracus player: MR. T. The "A" Team.

17. Superlative suffix: EST
23. Copacetic: JAKE. I'd not seen this synomym before. From the "Roaring Twenties" according to that font of all knowledge, the Oracle at Delphi. I mean Wikipedia.

24. "Makes sense": I GOTCHA. See "I SEE" above.

25. Old World Style sauce: RAGU. This one:

27. Swed. neighbor: NORW. Not my favorite. SWE and NOR in my book. You don't see DENM or FINL.

29. Retired NBAer Ming: YAO. I think he stands six feet nineteen and can leap the Great Wall in a single bound, even in retirement.

30. Tax: LEVY

31. Japanese prime minister since 2012: ABE. Is he honest? We should be told.

32. Big name in juice pouches: CAPRI SUN

33. Hot: IN DEMAND

34. Amorphous mass: GLOB. Is a globule a little glob, or something else entirely? Discuss.

35. Home Depot purchase: TOOL

36. Burst: RUPTURE

39. Ready to sire: AT STUD

40. Test limits: PUSH IT

41. Excite: AROUSE

42. Yes or no follower: SIRREE!

43. Drama segments: SCENES

45. Sunspot center: UMBRA. Suntan? Burnt Umbra :)

46. Leveled, with "up": TRUED

47. Theater chain initials: AMC. Pioneers of the multiplex and megaplex theaters, both in the USA and around the world.

50. Form W-9 org.: IRS.

53. Explosive stuff: TNT. Boom!

54. Fair-hiring letters: EEO. I always want it to be "Equal Opportunity Employer" which puts me off my stroke somewhat.

I love the window seat on the plane, I can't understand why anyone would want to pull the shade down, it's a beautiful world out there. I'm heading south back to LA from Seattle, and this is the sunset outside. Not the best picture, but I thought it was one to share.

Thanks to all for the birthday wishes yesterday. I was treated to a quite amazing dinner at José Andrés' restaurant here in LA last night. We ate at the kitchen bar with just eight other people and were presented with a twenty (!) course tasting menu served by the chefs who prepared the dishes. Most times I think I could take a stab at reproducing something I've eaten in a restaurant, but this one? Not a chance.

Grid? Gridded!


Sep 6, 2018

Thursday, September 6th 2018 Jeffrey Wechsler


The reveal tells you what to look for...

35A. Impediment to creativity ... and each set of puzzle circles: WRITER'S BLOCK

... and we find, clockwise in each circled block, beginning in the NW: Bradbury, Lawrence, Chandler, Voltaire, Gordimer and Morrison. That's Ray, D.H. (or T.E.), Raymond, no first name, Nadine and Toni to give them all their full monikers. The latter two I have not read, the others I have.

Tough to pick a favorite, but I did find T.E. Lawrence's "The Mint" fascinating. If you have ten minutes to spare today, please enjoy this excerpt from the book. Glorious writing. If your heart isn't beating furiously reading about the race with the airplane, better check your emotional pulse!

Back to the crossword, I'm looking for a connection between the six authors but nothing jumps out unless there's some fiendish meta that I'm missing (quite likely, actually!)

This grid extends the recent sixteen-squares-on-one-side (SSOOS?) Thursday trend, and also features a very clever theme in the "block" shape of each author. Jeffrey's a master at themes, this one is no exception. Let's see what the fill held in store:


1. Seething: ABOIL

6. Jaguar weapons: CLAWS. My Jaguars had weapons - break down at every opportunity. One to drive, one in the shop.

11. Half a dance: CHA. Cha. (Cha?)

14. Stinger ingredient: BRANDY. Classically made with cognac and white crème de menthe. Cheers!

15. Superman player Cavill: HENRY

16. "The Last Jedi" villain Kylo: REN. Thank you, crosses. No Stimpy clue today? Nice for a change.

17. Alpine airs: YODELS

18. Broken out, in a way: ACNED

19. Days gone by, in days gone by: ELD

Once adown the dewy way a youthful cavalier spurred with a maiden mounted behind him, swiftly passing out of sight, recalling to the imagination some romance of eld, when the damosel fled with her lover.

1891 - Mary Noailles Murfree, In the "Stranger People's" Country

20. Capital on the Volga: RUBLE. Capital as in "money" for anyone new to this game.

21. Suppress, as a story: SIT ON

22. Punching tools: AWLS

23. Suffix with fruct-: OSE

24. Hall of Fame manager Stengel: CASEY. He managed both the Yankees and the Mets. I think the HOF nomination came more from his exploits with the former rather than the latter.

25. Sal of "Exodus": MINEO

26. Waters down: WETS

28. Taiwanese PC brand: ACER

29. Rita awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom: MORENO. And ... cue the music!

30. Hankering: ITCH

32. Depilatory cream: NAIR. Tried NEET first, was wrong. Not sure where I came up with that one. Wiki has it as an acronym for "Not in Employment, Education or Training" referring to young people without a job.

34. Historic span: Abbr.: CEN. tury

38. Big letters in family-owned supermarkets: IGA. Founded as the Independent Grocer's Alliance.

40. Troubadour's strings: LUTE

41. Uncle __: BEN'S. A crime against humanity.

42. Codes of conduct: MORALS

44. Christian with style: DIOR

46. Venerated one: IDOL

50. Adorkable types: NERDS. I LOVE "adorkable". What a great language we have in English.

51. Lets off steam: VENTS

52. JFK posting: ETA. I haven't been to JFK for a while, United stopped flying into there a few years ago. All their NYC flights go through Newark now, with the exception of some regional services into La Guardia. What was the point of this story? I miss the ride into Manhattan past the World's Fair remnants.

53. "Psych" finale?: -OSIS

54. Is after: SEEKS

55. Field mice: VOLES. I didn't know voles were mice. Good to know for the next time I meet one.

57. Area 51 craft: UFO

58. Singer with Lawrence: GORMÉ. Wild, stab-in-the-dark guess for me. Husband and Wife duo.

59. Accept, with "for": SETTLE

60. Greek org.: SOR. Sorority. I drove up Hilgard Avenue by UCLA last week, it's also known as "Sorority Row" from all the sorority houses there.

61. Lyft passenger: RIDER

62. Difficult tasks: TRIALS

63. Hosp. parts: E.R.S

64. Mideast bigwigs: EMIRS

65. Will Rogers prop: LASSO


1. Work up: AROUSE

2. Risky proposition: BAD BET. Risky? Downright dumb if you ask me.

3. Turow biographical title: ONE L. Harvard Law School calls first year students "one l's"

4. Not working: IDLE

5. Fleur-de-__: Quebec flag image: LYS

6. Poolside chair: CHAISE

7. Debate equipment: LECTERNS

8. Get under one's skin: ANNOY

9. Small songbird: WREN

10. Letters on a Qantas baggage tag: SYD. Sydney airport. I've been there, I don't recall much about it though (the airport that is, not the city!). I recall the Qantas lounge was nice, I flew out of Sydney to Auckland en route back home to LA.

11. Like many tees: CREW NECK

12. Greek: HELLENE. I knew "hellenic", now I know "hellene" too.

13. "... et cetera": AND SO ON. These entries can be difficult to parse. There's a few good examples today, look at 38 and 54D too.

14. How some tickets may be sorted: BY ROW

21. Scented pouch: SACHET

22. Put on: AIR

24. Plant in many Road Runner cartoons: CACTUS

25. Dunderhead: MORON

27. What Marcie calls Peppermint Patty: SIR. I needed this to unlock "ITCH" - I couldn't get away from "ACHE".

29. Distance runners: MILERS

31. Cultivates: TILLS

33. Monastic figures: ABBOTS

35. Golden State team: WARRIORS

36. Christ the __: Rio landmark: REDEEMER. An iconic sight. I got a great view of it flying into Rio's Santos Dumont domestic airport from Sao Paulo the last time I was out there. SDU is right on the ocean and slap-dab next to Sugarloaf, so it's hard to beat the view out of the airplane window.

37. Crime show with several spin-offs: CSI. The purists might have wanted to try to avoid "crime" in the clue as "crime", albeit abbreviated, is part of the answer. Doesn't ruffle my feathers though.

38. "You obviously can't depend on me": I'M NO USE

39. Fetches: GOES FOR

43. Most junk mail: ADS

45. Comic book personnel: INKERS. They draw the outlines. Other folk color them in. With crayon, and their tongue sticking out of the side of their mouth. Just kidding, some of my best friends are in comics and animation.

47. Change symbols, in math: DELTAS. The difference between "this" and "that".

48. Opera with Desdemona: OTELLO. I had a brain futz and tried OFELIA first. What was that all about?

49. Alters with a light touch?: LASES. Laser shaping, reshaping or surgery.

51. 48-Down composer: VERDI

54. "__ told": "That's the rumor": SO I'M

55. Designer Wang: VERA

56. Name in boxy cars?: OTIS. Mr. Elevator. Nice clue.

58. Higher ed. test: G.R.E.

59. Cardinal's letters: STL. St. Louis, on scoreboards.

And, as the stoics would say, "grid and bear it", so here it is!


Aug 30, 2018

Thursday, August 29th 2018 Lewis Rothlein

Theme: Cloth Ears. My mother used to tell me I had "cloth ears" if I misheard something. Here we have four potential "oh, I thought you said ...."

17A. Fabricated "Murphy Brown" star?: CANVAS BERGEN. Actress Candice.

23A. Fabricated "Help!" star?: JOHN LINEN. Beatle Lennon.

Here are the Fab Four, with Lennon in a linen suit, narrowly avoiding death by a Number 39 bus (en route from Willesden to Waterloo) on their return journey across the Abbey Road zebra crossing. Paul might already have been dead, if you believe the stories. If you squint your eyes and look to the right of the bus you can see the road that I used to live on. I used to walk across Abbey Road to get to the pub where I had an evening job pulling pints of Guinness and serving up shots of Bushmill's whiskey.

50A. Fabricated "Girls" star?: LENA DENIM. Actress Durham.

56A. Fabricated "La La Land" star?: RAYON GOSLING. Actor Ryan.

and the unifier across the middle:

33A. Clergy ... and four answers in this puzzle?: PEOPLE OF THE CLOTH

Another odd-shaped puzzle Thursday, perhaps Rich has a new trend going? That's three in a row this month. The unifier here is 16 letters, so if you want to keep that as a grid-spanner, then something has to give, and that something is the traditional 15-wide constraint.

This looks to be Lewis's LAT debut, he's been in the NYT before, once with this moniker and twice with a middle "E" initial.

Full disclosure, I'm not a fan of "sounds like" themes; the kinda-sorta-homophone thing is way too subjective for me. There's a world of difference between LINEN/LENNON (close)  and DENIM/DURHAM (miles apart) but that's just me. I do like the "Fabricated ..." cluing though, that's very neat.

The fill is full (!) of nice stuff. Let's go look:


1. Sickly complexion: PALLOR

7. Eugene of "American Pie" movies: LEVY

11. Grand Canyon hrs.: MST. Mountain time. Funny that a canyon is on Mountain time, no?

14. Current unit: AMPERE. Amp for short and convenient.

15. Finnish telecom giant: NOKIA. Bumps in the road for these folk. Anyone have a Nokia phone?

16. Something to slip on?: ICE. The question mark is a little odd, it's not exactly misdirection. I get "slip on" in the "lingerie" sense, but I think it's a reach for a checho with 35D.

19. Omega-3 source: ROE

20. Ongoing: ACTIVE

21. It can get you down: SKI RUN

26. Scents: ODORS

27. Coalition creators: UNITERS. No, flat out no. Never been used in common parlance. Oh! You Uniters! You creators of coalitions! Nope.

28. Olympians using boards: DIVERS. Fun clue. Lugers, snowboarders, skeleton folks ... no, no and nope again. Oh! Summer Olympics!

30. Often-injured knee ligament, for short: MCL. I went with ACL first, didn't we all? Anterior, Median, and no doubt posterior ligaments. The ACL seems to get the worst of sports injuries. I love it when people say they ruptured their "crucial" ligament. Most of them are. The knee ligaments are "cruciate" ones. They cross over.

31. Illinois River city: PEORIA

41. Fragrant blooms: LILACS

42. MLB scoreboard letters: RHE, or more accurately, R    H    E. Not a word. Runs, Hits and Errors. Would you accept PINR in your crossword?

43. Metallic sounds: CLANKS.

45. Like some relations: SPATIAL

49. Language student's challenge: SLANG

52. Knocks their socks off: WOWS 'EM

54. Soccer star Messi: LIONEL Vote now: Messi, Maradona, Pele,  Best, Ronaldo, Puskas, Buffon, Cryuff. GOAT. Write-in votes welcome.

55. Whichever: ANY

61. Urban center?: BEE. The letter "B". It's in the middle of "urban".

62. "Your game": I LOSE

63. Paradise: UTOPIA

64. Old union member: Abbr.: SSR. A soviet socialist republic, no longer a member of the "U" in USSR.

65. Sicilian volcano: ETNA

66. Studio dweller: TENANT. Can't I own a studio? Weird clue.


1. __-Man: PAC

2. Q&A session on Reddit: AMA. Ask Me Anything, apparently. Good to know.

3. Clinic worker: Abbr.: LPN. Licensed Practical Nurse. Where do the theoretical ones go to get certified?

4. Eastern Mediterranean region: LEVANT. With "The", usually. Egypt to Turkey and eastwards to a loosely-defined area of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. It's that "loosely" that usually starts arguments.

5. Expert in futures?: ORACLE. The Oracle at Delphi. The jury is out on the accuracy of Pythia. She might have been taking the ....

6. Mix again: RE-STIR. Take verb. Add "RE". Done and done.

7. Frequent Mastroianni co-star: LOREN. Sophia. Marcello co-starred in many of her movies.

8. Ticker tape, briefly?: EKG. Nice.

9. Goes (for): VIES

10. Grammy-winning satirical artist Al: YANKOVIC

11. Magnet for a narcissist: MIRROR

12. Searches high and low: SCOURS

13. Winter temp range: TEENS. Terrible clue. It depends where you are. You don't write directional clues relative to where you are, you don't write time-based clues depending on what year you are in, you certainly don't write this clue.

15. Campbell of "House of Cards": NEVE.

18. Storage spots: BINS

22. Noble objective: IDEAL

23. Checkers move: JUMP

24. Whenever: ONCE. "Whenever upon a time". "Whenever, I met the president". "It happened whenever that I ....". Really?

25. City whose state's postal code is half its name: HILO. Thumper.

28. "Shoulda thought of that!": DOH!

29. Slight reaction?: IRE

31. One-striper: Abbr.: PFC

32. "The X-Files" subjects: ETS

34. Thinks ahead: PLANS

35. Something to slip on: LINGERIE. See 16A grump.

36. Large deer: ELK

37. Allied gp. since 1948: OAS. Organisation of American States. Tip of my tongue.

38. "Are you out __?": OR IN. I'd say "IN" first before "OUT". There's a few fills here which stretch the "in the language" rule, this is one. You can't just swap stuff around. "Feast or famine" doesn't really work as "Famine or feast". 

39. Drunken noodles cuisine: THAI

40. Nautical wheel: HELM

43. Duplicates: CLONES

44. Billy McBride on "Goliath," e.g.: LAWYER

45. Smooch in a lift: SNOG. Lift = elevator in the UK; Smooch = snog. Fair. When I was a yoot, smooching was slow-dancing, snogging frowned upon.

46. Prove successful: PAN OUT

47. Carol beginning: ADESTE. Fidelis. Oh come, all ye faithful.

48. Rat out: TELL ON

49. Clinic supply: SWABS

50. Writer Mario Vargas __: LLOSA

51. A, to Merkel: EINE. Angela Merkel. She might have said that "A" was her vorname initial.

53. __ liquor: MALT

57. "Round __ virgin ... ": YON. A Christmas mini-theme in August! How nice.

58. Pub initials: IPA. India Pale Ale. We've been over this before.

59. Diarist Anaïs: NIN

60. Noir pistol: GAT. Quite what makes it "noir" - I'm open to suggestions. Is it always black? Always used in French movies? Is there a super-villain named "Noir" who uses a "gat"? I need to know, if only for next time.

And that .... is that. Well, it would be if I posted the grid, so here it is::


Aug 23, 2018

Thursday August 23rd 2018 Roger & Kathy Wienberg

Theme: Anagram Fun. 'Nuf said?

18A. Takes on a new responsibility, as of leadership: ASSUMES THE MANTLE. Who assumed Mickey's mantle? The Mick followed Joe DiMaggio, not exactly an easy mantle to assume. The Commerce Comet was followed in turn by Bobby Murcer.

28A. "Guys and Dolls" showstopper: ADELAIDE'S LAMENT. Showstopper? I think I must have a different idea of a showstopper than this solo dirge. I'd use it as an opportunity to go take a bathroom break and maybe grab something from the bar. I'd link it, but it's too depressing.

48A. Shelf for trophies, maybe: FIREPLACE MANTEL

63A. Complex reasoning that occurs literally at the end of three long answers: MENTAL GYMNASTICS

So MENTAL becomes three anagrams - two homophone and a dirge - I mean a lament. Nothing too challenging. The reveal is 16 letters long, so again we have a break from the "regulation" 15x15 - 15x16 last week, 16x15 this time around.

The spousal double of Roger and Kathy are back - I don't see a Kathy & Roger in the books yet - is this like Lennon & McCartney or Jagger/Richards?


1. Massage therapists' workplaces: SPAS

5. "Fiddlesticks!": P'SHAW!

10. Used room service: ATE IN

15. Largest city on Hawaii's largest island: HILO

16. Terminix target: ROACH. I'd link a nice picture, but I follow Rich's "yew!" rule for breakfast crossword solvers.

17. Piquant: ZESTY

21. Indigenous New Zealanders: MAORIS

22. Kind of artery: RENAL. Not AORTA then.

23. Key in a PC reboot combo: ALT. Where would we be without CTRL-ALT-DEL? My keyboard currently says DELETE though.

24. Evenly matched: CLOSE

26. Mosquito repellent: DEET. Terminix and Deet in quick succession. Not a good day to be a bug.

34. Sporty '60s Pontiac: GTO. Quick, we had this last week - what does it stand for?

35. __ out a win: EKE

36. Biopic about Charles: RAY. Very well portrayed by Jamie Foxx. Here's one of the originals.

37. "So that's it": I SEE

38. Threw a fit: RAGED
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

40. Capital of Oman: RIAL. "Capital" means "currency" in this context, for any newcomers.

42. Muscle: BRAWN

43. Superficially highbrow: ARTY

44. To and __: FRO

45. "So that's it!": AHA!

47. Orchestrated: LED. Why use 10 letters when one will do?

52. Cruising, say: ASEA

53. Stealthy warrior: NINJA

54. Movie SFX: CGI. All together now: "Special Effects: Computer-Generated Imagery".

56. Prince Harry's mother: DIANA

59. Word on the street: GOSSIP

66. "Inside the NBA" analyst: O'NEAL . Law-enforcement legend Shaquille, who holds the record for Clayton County's "Tallest Sheriff's Deputy"

67. In the back: AREAR. Please stop this. It's not a word "in the language". I know it's handy, but it's not a word.

68. Love god: EROS

69. Dweebs: NERDS

70. "Same Time, Next Year" has only two: ROLES. Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn played the roles in the movie.

71. Not a good impression: DENT. But it's a good impression if you make a dent in a task that's been sitting around waiting for your attention, right?


1. Pretense: SHAM

2. Tuscany town: PISA. They should fix that tower; it's a menace, that thing. Shoddy construction, it should be demolished before it hurts someone. They should sue the contractors and built a straight one. Pisans, Untie! I mean Unite!

3. Furthermore: ALSO

4. Lake Itasca, for the Mississippi: SOURCE

5. Laundry cycle: PRE-SOAK. This is weird - isn't pre-soak when the laundry is in the basket? I'm at a loss to what a washing machine will do that leaving the clothes on the floor, pre-soak, doesn't accomplish. Do they sit in the machine waiting for the "soak" phase? We should be told. I'm baffled.

6. Three-letter product with two periods: S.O.S You can buy two cans of this stuff online - used, apparently. You can't make this stuff up.

7. Animosity: HATRED

8. Feel yesterday's yoga class, maybe: ACHE

9. "Stop pouring": WHEN. Personally a word that has passed my lips very few times in the "pour" context.

10. Spring bloomer: AZALEA

11. Yellow bill in classic Monopoly: TEN

12. Event that may feature family heirlooms: ESTATE SALE. Funny how some words or phrases are new to the puzzle databases. This is one of them. It's been used in the plural, never in the singular.

13. "__ turn up": IT'LL

14. Dmitry's denial: NYET

19. Roamed (around): MILLED

20. At a frenetic pace: MADLY

25. Saw-toothed range: SIERRA. Is there a brand-name range of carpentry tools called "Sierra?" There should be. If not, I'm calling dibs on the idea.

27. Kuwaiti ruler: EMIR

28. Big name in games: ATARI

29. Animal behavior specialist: DOG TRAINER. Dog whisperer didn't fit.

30. New __: MLB baseball cap supplier: ERA. You'll see the logo in every dugout.

31. Deli choice: SALAMI

32. Staircase pillar: NEWEL. I recall that I got in all kinds of "Anon" trouble the last time I talked about the components of a staircase, so I'll pass on this occasion. I didn't know the staircase community was so touchy.

33. Work the bar: TEND

34. Five-time US Open champ: GRAF. Steffi, tennis.

39. Checks out: EYES

41. Org. with a five-ring logo: I.O.C. International Olympic Committee. They're a non-profit. They fairly and equitably distribute the billions of dollars accruing from each Olympiad. Yes they do. c.f. F.I.F.A., the org. tasked with fairly and equitably distributing the billions of dollars accruing from each World Cup. I don't know how they manage it.

42. Stringed instruments: BANJOS

44. Swing wildly: FLAIL

46. Airport parking facilities: HANGARS

49. Piano trio: PEDALS. The upright I learned on has two. PIANO and FORTE. I've no idea what the middle one on a grand piano does.

50. Protective coating: ENAMEL

51. Sampled: TASTED

54. "Get real!": C'MON

55. __ pool: GENE

57. Thickening agent: AGAR

58. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songwriter Laura: NYRO. She passed me by. I was amused to read that her first manager was a gentleman by the name of Artie Mogull. It just tickled me.

60. Stable stud: SIRE

61. Clickable image: ICON

62. "Hey, you!": PSST!

64. Abe Lincoln's youngest son: TAD. Now there's a bit of trivia I never knew.

65. Dundee denial: NAE. "If there's nae wind and nae rain, it's nae golf". The Scots have their own opinion about sunny, calm days on the links. For me, it's the only time I have a cat in hell's chance of a half-decent round. I once played at Easter on a course in Wales on the Irish Sea, it was so cold and I was so numb I swung my driver out of my hands and sent it helicoptering over a cliff.

And with that, here's the slightly portly grid!


Note from C.C.:

Happy birthday to Tinbeni, our always cheerful friend. Let's all toast him at sundown today!

Aug 16, 2018

Thursday, August 16th 2018 Bruce Haight

Theme: Cubed Rouge - square dancing with the noble grape:

The reveal:

37A. With 40-Across, party supplies found in this puzzle's four corners: BOXED

40A. See 37-Across: WINES

Each corner contains the word WINE rendered as a little cube surrounded by the other entries, hence "boxed wine". Placing the reveal centrally with two stacked 5's means that Bruce had to stretch the puzzle vertically, so it's a 16x15 grid.

Neat theme, especially as Bruce uses the elbow room in the downs to add some nice lengthy fill. The WINE boxes start in turn in each cube in the SW,  NW, SW and NW, so very pleasing to the eye.

Boxed wine deservedly had a bad rap at one time, now, if you choose carefully, you can get some very drinkable stuff for your daily house wine or your casual party. A winemaker told me once that you won't get great wine in a box, because great wine needs a bottle to age in, but if you're buying wine for "bulk" consumption, you're not going to be laying it down in your cellar.

Some good advice I once read is to serve it in one of those indestructible Duralex glass tumblers you drink the house wine out of in France, and you're on the right track. Save the Riedel stemware for the posh stuff. Cheers!

Let's see what else we've got to challenge our Thursday minds:


1. Set of options: MENU

5. Dodge: EVADE

10. "Sing it, Sam" speaker: ILSA. I tried RICK at first without thinking. Sheer nonsense, of course.

14. Gospel singer Andrews: INEZ. This corner was a little tricky for me. INEZ crossing ENID could have been a Natick, but logic prevailed.

15. Annual Big Apple parade sponsor: MACY*S

16. Darned: SEWN

17. New Zealand bird: KIWI. There's a debate about changing the New Zealand national flag. A lot of the proposed designs have a kiwi on them. The rest have the silver fern beloved of the national rugby team.

18. __ Wars: Rome vs. Carthage: PUNIC

19. Tizzy: SNIT

20. Vogue VIPs: EDS. Editors of Vogue magazine. I've cracked this particular crossword code.

21. __ wrench: ALLEN

22. With 22-Down, "People's Court" rival: JUDGE

23. KOA campground area: R.V. LOT

25. Bond film?: GLUE. Nice clue for this little word. Might be my favorite of the day.

27. Ally of "WarGames": SHEEDY. Who? This lady, apparently, from 1983:

29. "Westworld," e.g.: HBO DRAMA. I saw the original movie back in 1816, or something. Yul Brynner was the cowboy. It was quite good.

33. "It's a Wonderful Life" director: CAPRA

34. Juicy fruit: BERRY

35. Up to, briefly: TIL. To quote Bill the Bard:

O, gentlemen, help! 
Mine and your mistress! O, my lord Posthumus! 
You ne'er kill'd Imogen til now. Help, help! 
Mine honour'd lady!

Cymbeline, Act V Sc. 5

36. Revlon rival: AVON

38. Beige shade: BONE. I was tempted by ECRU first, but I resisted said temptation.

39. Hard to find: RARE

41. Fail to mention: OMIT

42. Hill builder: ANT

43. Cantina toast: SALUD!

44. __ donna: PRIMA. Is there a seconda donna? We should be told.

45. Fundamental measurement: BASE UNIT

47. __ exercise: upper arm strengthener: TRICEP

48. The "G" of GTO: GRAN. Gran Tourismo Omologato, of course. Lots o' Italian today.

49. Apple __: CRISP. I thought the insurance company was SIGNA, which left me frowning at SR___, that didn't look right at all.

50. Start of a French oath: SACRÉ. BLEU! In French, this is actually one word and the "E" is not accented. There, now you can start a trivia argument in the bar.

53. Norwegian contemporary of Tchaikovsky: GRIEG. Let's have a little "Hall of the Mountain King". The comments on the video are priceless if you've got the time.

55. Bullfight "Bravo!": OLÉ. Huzzah! No "World Cup" clue this week.

58. One-fifth of a limerick: LINE. The actor David Niven's very first audition for Sam Goldwyn included the unexpected request to recite a limerick. I won't quote it here, but apparently it was the only part of the screen test which had any merit and won him a contract with Goldwyn.

59. Guadalajara gal pal: AMIGA

60. Target Field player: TWIN. Minnesota, natch. C.C. would know.

61. Is indebted to: OWES

62. Lacked: HADN'T.

63. Make (one's way): WEND. I picture wending as not being a direct route. Nothing to say you can't wend on a straight line though.

64. Skin pics: TATS. I'm still tattoo-less after all these years. I do have my eye on one. Maybe one day.

65. "My take is ... ": I'D SAY

66. Circle parts: ARCS


1. Karaoke need: MIKE. Funny, we had MIC a couple of weeks ago, and I was mulling over whether MIKE was an acceptable variant. I guess it is! *drops mic*.

2. Novelist Bagnold: ENID

3. Bulletins, e.g.: NEWS REPORTS

4. "Argo" weapon: UZI. I had "Argo" confused with the Persia vs. Sparta war movie "300", so an assault weapon didn't immediately spring to mind.

5. Use: EMPLOY

6. Event for which Kerri Strug is famous: VAULT. She sprained her ankle in a prior event, but famously strapped it up and nailed her landing to help the USA to team gold in gymnastics at the 1996 Olympics.

7. Unpopular spots: ACNE

8. Endangered species: DYING BREED

9. PC bailout key: ESC

10. Library, cardwise: ISSUER

11. Give for a while: LEND

12. Belt: SWIG

13. Deal preceder: ANTE. Ante up your stake before a poker hand is dealt.

21. "Bridge of Spies" actor: ALDA

22. See 22-Across: JUDY

24. Fogg's creator: VERNE. Phineas Fogg in Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 days". It's pretty much impossible today if you don't fly. There are no commercial passenger services across the Pacific.

26. Some aristocrats: LORDS

27. Egyptian beetle: SCARAB. 

28. Morro Castle city: HAVANA. Learning moment, but I had most of the crosses, so I didn't think more than a beat or two.

29. Threaded fastener: HEX NUT

30. Electricity producer, perhaps: ATOMIC POWER. Is "perhaps" a cover-yourself moment from Bruce here? I think "nuclear power" myself

31. Dr. Evil's cohort: MINI ME. From the "Austin Powers" movies. The actor Verne Troyer who played the character sadly passed away recently. A mini-tribute to Verne with the 24D entry.

32. Pub handle: ALE TAP. I call it a beer tap or hand pump in my pub.

34. Seeing red: BOILING MAD

37. African title of respect: BWANA. From the Swahili.

38. Foe of "moose and squirrel": BORIS. Boris Badenov from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

43. "You bet": SURE!

44. Fussy sort: PRIG

46. Means of escape: EGRESS

47. International agreement: TREATY

49. Insurance giant: CIGNA. Not SIGNA then. Oh.

50. Part of a piggy bank: SLOT

51. Bygone audio brand: AIWA. What happened to them? They were ubiquitous in the '70s.

52. Site for techies: CNET

54. Empties (of): RIDS

56. "The Mod Squad" cop: LINC. Colleague of Pete and Julie, of course we all knew that. The final episode aired in 1973. Needless to say, I never saw it.

57. Circle's lack: ENDS

59. Tuna at a luau: AHI

60. Airline once owned by Howard Hughes: TWA. He gave up control of the airline in the 1960's.

And - grid, artfully colored. I'm glad I got out of New York last weekend; the East Coast has been pounded again by some awful weather. Be safe, everyone out there.


Aug 9, 2018

Thursday, August 9th 2018 Jeffrey Wechsler

Theme: ISLE BE BACK - The Terminator's description of today's theme:

16A. Lombardy skiing destination: THE ITALIAN ALPS. Lanai. Lombardy has all sorts going for it, Milan, great food & wine, Lake Como, skiing. No wonder it's beyond my retirement budget. I blame George Clooney for jacking up the prices.

22B. One of many standing in a Mexican bar: TEQUILA BOTTLE. Bali. The tequila would work well in my 48A restaurant "CANTINA BURRATA" below.

36A. Gene Autry Easter song critter: PETER COTTONTAIL. Crete. Unknown critter for me. Another letter-by-letter fill.

48A. Carl Orff opus: CARMINA BURANA. Aruba. Completely unknown to me. I had ***INA BUR*NA at one point, and decided it had to be a restaurant called CANTINA BUR*** and then BURRATA didn't fit. I didn't know the work, but I certainly know "O Fortuna" from the opus. Here's conductor Simon Rattle giving the Berlin Philharmonic the full eyebrow treatment.

Then the reveal:

58A. Vacation spots found in each set of puzzle circles: ISLAND RETREATS. 

Lawks-a-mercy, this was a toughie! I did a speed warm-up with the monthly puzzle in the United Airlines in-flight magazine (a pre-Shortz NYT reprint) and then cracked my knuckles for a quick JW Thursday jaunt. 70 minutes later, I'm still not done. That ALBI/CARMINA/ACS/LAVISH/BRUSHY perfect storm almost did for me. Finally, FINALLY teased it out. That "Congratulations" Mr. Pencil box was never so welcome. Cracking stuff.

Let's see what else gave me wounds to lick this week:


1. Kvetch's phrase: OY GEVALT! What? Right off the bat. I should have seen the omen for bad things to come.

9. Obstruct: DAM UP. JAM UP? No.

14. Military award phrase: FOR VALOR. This is the Medal of Honor awarded to Sgt. John Randolph "J.R." McKinney. I never knew him nor met him, but his memorial page came up when I was searching for a suitable image to post. He was also awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman's Badge (the, "See, I Been there") during the Pacific campaign in WWII. He passed away aged 76 in 1997. Thank you for your service.

15. Cut out for marriage?: ELOPE

18. Feed bit: OAT

19. "Can I get a word in here?": AHEM?

20. Addams cousin: ITT

27. Merged comm. giant: G.T.E.

29. Large garden ornament: URN

30. Viewed warily: EYED

31. Looks down on: DISDAINS. This caused me a huge problem. I know "DISTAINS" and so "TEN**" was just not revealing a fabric. I stared down that section for a loooooong time. Finally, I thought that maybe it might be a "D". I looked up DISTAIN after I was done, and apparently it's archaic. That ages me quite precisely, I guess.

34. Gas __: TAX

41. Extreme degree: NTH

42. Moot point: NON-ISSUE

43. Toulouse-Lautrec's birthplace: ALBI. Pretty place. This is the Pont Vieux ("Old Bridge"). I like the French literalism. Which begs the question, why isn't he called "Albi-Lautrec"? Toulouse is a good 74Kms away. We should be told.

46. Like -trix, at times: Abbr.: FEM.

47. Brief "I think": IMO

54. "Law & Order: __": SVU. Special Victims Unit, apparently.

55. Boy of la casa: NIÑO

56. Farmers' business: Abbr.: INS. I like the commercials, the always jaunty "We are Farmers, bam-de-bam, bom, bam-bam-bam". The spokesperson in the commercials, actor J.K. Simmons is a regular patron of my local Italian restaurant. It's tough not to sing the hook line when he walks in.

64. Stand out: SHINE

65. Behind closed doors: IN SECRET

66. Publicizes showily: HYPES

67. Car named for a small warship: CORVETTE


1. Many times o'er: OFT

2. Pirate song snippet: YO, HO! 

Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest — 
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! 
Drink and the devil had done for the rest — 
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! 

Robert Louis Stevenson

3. Classic circus adjective: GREATEST

4. Site with clickable RSVPs: EVITE

5. Industrial-sized tank: VAT

6. Helen Keller is on its st. quarter: ALA.

7. Brief chuckle: LOL. Brief, as in abbreviated. Nice clue. First instincts here are HAH! or HAW!

8. Dry run: TRIAL

9. Cygnus' brightest star: DENEB

10. Budget rival: ALAMO

11. Gretchen of "Manchester by the Sea": MOL. I think I saw the movie, but either I gave up on it halfway through, fell asleep or it just didn't register.

12. Presumptuous: UPPITY

13. Mortar's partner: PESTLE. Seems obvious when you fill it in, but my first thought was "BRICKS", closely followed by military ballistics. Considering I used my pestle and mortar more often than bricklaying or aerial bombardment, I wondered why I struggled.

17. Revelation reaction: AHA!

21. "Chopped" host Allen: TED. Gimme. One of my favorite shows, and favorite hosts. He's so classy. Never a bad word to say about anyone.

23. Ice cream buy: QUART

24. "Spenser: For Hire" actor: URICH. I tried URIAH first. Yep, that worked just great.

25. __ particular order: IN NO

26. Student's backpack burden: TEXTS. TESTS/TEXTS. I was wrong at first.

27. Econ. indicator: G.D.P.

28. Exec's accessory: TIE

32. Sturdy fabric: DENIM. I spent about 40 minutes on these nine or ten squares. Paid off in the end, although I'm sure the guy next to me on the plane was wondering if I was trying to solve by sheer stare-down tenacity.

33. RR stop: STN. 

34. Copier need: TONER

35. Jungian archetype: ANIMA

37. Stir-fry staple: TOFU. I use the extra-silky type in pad thai noodles. Tip - pour boiling water over it to drive out the moisture before you fry it. Counter-intuitive I know.

38. Buddha statues, Japanese silk prints, etc.: ASIAN ART

39. Periodic table suffix: -IUM

40. Celestial feline: LEO

43. Carrier products, briefly: ACS. Aircraft from a carrier? AC voltage carried by your power utility company? Appellation d'origine contrôlée wines imported by Robert Carrier? Questions, questions.

44. Profuse: LAVISH

45. Like some hillsides: BRUSHY. Not GRASSY, then. Darn.

49. Ludicrous: INANE

50. Array just before an odometer reaches 100,000: NINES

51. "So?": AND

52. __ acid: BORIC

53. Family member: NIECE

57. Dele canceler: STET

59. Cup rim: LIP

60. Eclectic musician Brian: ENO. Elevators, Roxy Music and U2. Versatile guy, and very useful in crosswords.

61. Original D & D company: TSR. One day, one day I'll remember this.

62. Prepare to drag: REV. As in your engine, before your drag race. Here's the famous start to the race in Grease, filmed here in LA on the not-exactly-bucolic river bed under the 6th Street Bridge.

63. Sault __ Marie: STE.

The seatbelt sign has been on for most of the ride across the country today. I call it "trampolining" when you're bouncing up and down. Amazing the internet cable doesn't get disconnected, eh?

And it's Sierra Tango Echo Victor Echo signing off from 37,000 feet, or 11,280 meters, give or take, in Euro-money.

Here's the grid:

Aug 2, 2018

Thursday, August 2nd 2018 Ed Sessa

Theme: Book 'em, Steve-o! Miscreants to be tracked down and dealt with.

20A. The blacksmith was busted for __: FORGING CHECKS. Have you seen the "Forged in Fire" show on the History Channel? They create some badass weapons each week. The producer came up with the idea after being "forced" to watch cooking shows like "Chopped" by his 14-yo daughter.

26A. The miner was busted for __: PICKING POCKETS

42A. The marathoner was busted for __: RUNNING NUMBERS

50A. The barber was busted for __: SHAVING POINTS

and a "bonus" unifier:

53D. Blacksmith, miner, marathoner or barber, in this puzzle: PERP

Morning! I tend to associate puzzles like this with the late Merl Reagle - he was extremely fond of the punning theme. Ed's done a nice job with the theme entries, nothing is forced, and there's also a couple of non-theme 10's in the across entries for good measure. The theme entries tie together well, and there's that "bonus" PERP cropping up late in the downs.

When you create a puzzle with a lot of theme squares, you can leave yourself a problem with the rest of the fill. Ed's done a pretty good job for the most part, but there are some clunkers which I didn't love.

Let's see what pops:


1. Lacks options: HAS TO

6. Passion: FIRE

10. Asian holidays: TETS

14. When Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are last seen in "Hamlet": ACT IV. They died at the hands of pirates, according to Hamlet.

15. Super-large film format: IMAX

16. Tons: A LOT

17. Give some space: LEAVE ALONE

19. Filmmaker Wertmüller: LINA. Who? She was the first woman nominated for "Best Director" Oscar back in 1975.

22. Chow line?: ARF. Woof. A "line" a chow (hound) might use.

24. Clamor: DIN

25. Pistons great Thomas: ISIAH

31. Pattern for some school uniforms: PLAID

32. French peak: ALPE. The Alpe d'Huez is a famous, grueling climb which makes a frequent appearance in the Tour de France stage race, including this year's route. The crowds of spectators can be more of a challenge than the hill itself.

33. Toxin fighters: SERA

34. Dogpatch name: ABNER. Looks a little racy for the time:

36. Some: A FEW

40. Desertlike: ARID

41. Jane Curtin title role: ALLIE. Kate's mutual support cohort in the 80's sitcom.

47. Confuse with booze: BESOT. One of those verbs you rarely see, if ever. The adjective is more common, but nothing to do with booze: "I was besotted by ..."

48. Vein find: ORE. I think I've seen ORE in every Thursday puzzle for the last couple of months.

49. Word with bar or suit: WET

55. "I hate the Moor" speaker: IAGO. Shakespeare's "Othello".

56. Creates opportunities: OPENS DOORS

59. Piano piece for four hands: DUET

60. "Love Song" singer Bareilles: SARA. Who? Oh - this song!

61. China's Zhou __: EN LAI

62. Alternatively: ELSE

63. Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl airer: ESPN. Now that's a proud moment for the players! Rose Bowl? Pah! Set your clocks for December 18th this year. Where would you rather be, let's face it!

64. Real cards: RIOTS


1. "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that" speaker: HAL. "2001: A Space Odyssey" The mischievous computer, the primary antagonist. HAL 9000 for completeness. If you tick up one letter of the alphabet, HAL becomes IBM. Coincidence?

2. Big heart?: ACE

3. Military wheels: STAFF CAR

4. Watch-when-you-want gadget: TIVO. Is Tivo a thing any more? I thought cable boxes come with DVR built in.

5. Went too far with: OVERDID

6. Taxpayer's chore: FILING

7. "That's my cue!": I'M ON

8. Gave a buzz: RANG

9. Office VIP: EXEC

10. "The Voyeur's Motel" writer Gay: TALESE.

11. Evoke: ELICIT

12. Some small trucks: TONKAS. "Small" is relative. They're big toys to little kids!

13. Secret store: STASH

18. Not fer: AGIN. There's more, further down.

21. Walk in the woods: HIKE. Ignore the movie (usually good advice) - try the book.

22. iPhone downloads: APPS

23. Agitate: RILE

27. Soul supplier: KIA.

28. Pampers maker, for short: P AND G. Procter and Gamble. Not the easiest letter progression to parse.

29. World Cup cheer: OLÉ! I think it might be time to retire this one. I watched almost every minute of the 2018 World Cup and my recollection count of "olés" is nil.

30. EMT's skill: CPR

34. MSNBC journalist Melber: ARI. Thank you, crosses.

35. Compost holder: BIN

36. Clerical vestment: ALB. Three letters. Fill it in and move on.

37. Had no co-pilot: FLEW SOLO

38. Joyce's land: ÉIRE. Not really. Joyce left Ireland in 1912, never to return. Éire wasn't adopted as the official name of the free state until 1937 under Éamon de Valera. Confused?

39. Old place?: WEST

40. Not for: ANTI. Brother of AGIN in 18D

41. One changing a bill: AMENDER. Yeah. No. Clunk.

42. Move again, as lumber: RE-HAUL. Yeah, No. Clunk. One-two punch of "really?" for me here.

43. Linguist's concerns: USAGES

44. Dissenting ballot: "NO" VOTE. I say Nay Nay! Enough!

45. Presidential speechwriter Peggy: NOONAN. She wrote some remarkable speeches for Reagan and Bush 41. She was inspired in one case by John Gillespie Magee Jr's poem "High Flight" which he wrote while he was a fighter pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force in WWII. He completed the verses a few weeks before his death in 1941:

 "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

46. "Mila 18" novelist: URIS

47. Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" was one: B-SIDE. Beloved of karaoke bars everywhere.

51. Odor detector: NOSE

52. Students' stats: GPA'S

54. "Beloved" author Morrison: TONI

57. Squeal: RAT

58. Part of the fam: SIS. Could be BRO or SIB, so wait for the crosses.

Pip, Pip!


Jul 26, 2018

Thursday, July 26th 2018 Paul Coulter

Theme: Can you spare some speared pears to pare? Scrambles on the theme of "pears".

17A. Led: SPEARHEADED. Here's the Kovel spearhead (or at least a reproduction of it) excavated in the Ukraine in 1858. The original was looted and lost during WWII.

31A. Barbecue favorite: SPARE RIBS. Food! I tried "SHORT RIBS" first for absolutely no good reason. I sous-vide my spare ribs with a dry rub for 36 hours before painting them with sauce and finishing them off in a searing hot oven. Purists tell me that's not barbecue. Taste Buds don't object.

38A. Reduces, as spending: PARES DOWN. Usually only by a few slivers, but a reduction nonetheless.

51A. Cooked fruit dessert ... and a cryptic hint to the start of 17-, 31- and 38-Across: STEWED PEARS. More food! I'm a happy camper today.

Solid Thursday-level puzzle from Paul. There is a reveal entry, and so you can dispense with circles to alert the unwary to the presence of the theme scrambles. The fill is smooth, and the long downs give some pleasing cohesion to the whole. Let's see what jumps out:


1. Org. that awards the Spingarn Medal: N.A.A.C.P.  Awarded annually for outstanding achievement by an African-American.

6. Bochco series: LA LAW

11. Peter, Paul and Mary: Abbr.: STS. Nice clue! Saints, not states and nothing whatever to do with the folk trio. Here's Seal singing Peter Yarrow's Puff the Magic Dragon in my submission for the "Tenuous Link Of The Week" competition.

14. Counterpart of "a": ALPHA. I suppose it is a counterpart, never thought of it that way before.

15. Bacteria in undercooked meat: E.COLI. Let's be clear, the bacteria is present in contaminated meat and if that meat is undercooked can present a health risk. No need to swear off your medium-rare hamburger or your kibbeh nayyeh if you source your meat carefully.

16. Not just "a": THE

19. Bonanza contents: ORE

20. Many a Bon Appétit subscriber: FOODIE. The canny foodie gets Bon Appétit online.

21. Tablet download: E-BOOK

23. Flips, in a way: RE-SELLS

26. Ball beauties: BELLES. Here's a question - can a ball have more than one belle, or do multiple belles have to divvy up the balls between them? We should be told.

27. Hardened: INURED

28. Decline to recline?: STAY UP. Nice!

30. Bursts: POPS

34. Suffix with glob: -ULE

35. Held closely (to): ADHERED

37. "O wad some Pow'r the giftie __ us": Burns: GIE. "Oh, would some power give us the gift ..."

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!

Robert Burns, "To a Louse".

40. Manage (for oneself): FEND

41. Melonlike tropical fruit: PAPAWS. Food aplenty. I know 'em as pawpaws, and long before I'd ever seen one in the flesh, I knew the name from the "Bear Necessities" song from The Jungle Book Disney movie.

42. Slapstick trio member: STOOGE. 

44. Loosey-__: GOOSEY

46. Fishing lure: SPINNER

47. Less experienced: RAWER. or rare, as opposed to medium-rare, to continue my food! theme of the day.

48. Plump: ROTUND

50. Mike and __: fruity candy: IKE

56. Part of mpg: PER

57. Quilt filler: EIDER

58. Latin stars: ASTRA. Should be familiar from many mottoes and a ton of cultural references. I know "Per Ardua ad Astra" as the motto of the Royal Air Force.

59. "Star Trek" rank: Abbr.: ENS. ign.

60. Tea go-with: SCONE. If you're ever in Devon or Cornwall, make sure you get clotted cream on your scone.

61. Bikini blast: N-TEST. Bikini atoll. Contrary to popular opinion, the swimsuit isn't a "bikini" because it's a two-piece, it's because of the alleged explosive effect of wearing one when they were first introduced.


1. Hip-hop artist who narrates Netflix's "The Get Down": NAS. Knew the artist, but not the show.

2. Hurdle for Hannibal: ALP. Also a hurdle for the riders in the Tour de France which is currently heading for the finish in Paris this weekend.

3. Act like: APE

4. Plant-eating scarab beetles: CHAFERS. Thank you, crosses. I will file this away for future scarab reference.

5. Sentence shortener: PAROLE. Nice one. I was on the ET AL, ETC train for a while.

6. City on the Aire: LEEDS. A given for me. We lived in Leeds when I was a little kid and the city was the site of a lot of firsts for me - riding a bike unaided, kissing a girl (on a dare, naturally!), tearing open an artery falling out of a tree (I still have the scar), breaking a leg. I never fell in the river Aire though, which was just as well. Back then, I wouldn't have drowned, I'd have slowly dissolved in the chemicals.

7. Antioxidant berry in smoothies: ACAI

8. Valuable deposit: LODE. What a lode of ore we have today.

9. Tap output: ALE

10. Innocent-looking: WIDE-EYED

11. Informer: STOOL PIGEON

12. Pang: THROE

13. Goes after: SEEKS

18. You might hear music on it: HOLD. Usually really awful, crackly, repetitive stuff. People who implement on-hold music and announcements should be forced to listen to the tape loop for a full day, then see how they like it.

22. Cloud: BLUR

23. Make confetti of: RIP UP

24. Name on a 1945 bomber: ENOLA

25. Dominant states: SUPERPOWERS. My superpower is my Vitamix blender. It's got so much horsepower that if you leave it running for a minute or so the contents of the jug get hot enough to simmer just from the friction of the blades.

26. Spartan: BARE

28. Expels: SPEWS

29. Mountain lake: TARN

31. Larry McMurtry's "The Last Picture __": SHOW

32. __-watch: BINGE. The nearest I've come to binge-watching was settling down to all six seasons of Downton Abbey over a period of a few weeks.

33. Feast where the Haggadah is read: SEDER

35. Bad-mouths: ASPERSES. What a cracking word! We're all familiar with the noun form, as some of the snarky anons in the comments like to throw aspersions around like confetti, but the verb form is new to me. I resolve to use it. Not in the first person active though.

36. "Saving Private Ryan" event: D-DAY. I saw this in the theater when it was first released. There was a stunned silence for the first 40 minutes or so.

39. Let up: EASE

40. Most affectionate: FONDEST

42. 5'7" Webb, shortest to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest: "SPUD". All-Name Hall of Fame. Another first-round All-Name Hall-of-Famer is the 5'3" "Muggsy" Bogues who was the shortest player to ever play in the NFL and HE could dunk. Think about that. The hoop is at 10'.

43. __ Alley: TIN PAN

44. Beef: GRIPE

45. Like Cognac casks: OAKEN. Or dwarves' shields, according to The Lord of the Rings.

46. About 1.3 cubic yards: STERE. Or a cubic meter, more simply put. There's some discussion about whether to use the cubic meter for cut wood, and the stere for uncut wood, but frankly I shouldn't lose any sleep over it.

48. Give a makeover: REDO

49. "A Prayer for __ Meany": John Irving novel: OWEN. A fabulous novel in my humble opinion, this had me enthralled from start to finish.

52. Personal quirk: TIC

53. Downed a sub?: ATE

54. Syst. of cars on tracks: R.R.S. Railroads. I'm thinking of building a model railway, but it would have to be the super-tiny "N" scale. Not sure if me old bones and eyesight are up to the task.

55. Convened: SAT

And that should do it. I'm hungry after all this food!


Jul 19, 2018

Thursday, July 19th 2018 Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke

Theme: On/Off Switch - replacing one with the other in the theme entries, to whit:

17A. Exhale over scalding coffee?: BLOW ON STEAM. I can't get started without a nice cup of hot Joe. I cracked my (glass) french press this morning ignoring the instructions not to stir the grounds with a metal spoon. I just ordered a stainless steel replacement. That solves one problem.

27A. Discontinue slanted material in articles?: CUT OFF THE BIAS. To cut on the bias is a tailoring term, cutting on a diagonal across the weave.

45A. Visit some animal shelter residents?: CALL ON THE DOGS. My brother and his wife vacation each year on Skiathos, one of the Greek islands. The local animal shelter lets registered visitors take a dog out for a walk, for a fee - a kind of "Rent-a-Dog" service.

61A. Delay passing a congressional bill?: PUT OFF AN ACT. Which is what a filibuster is for. Great word, by the way.

When you see Gail and Bruce on a by-line, you know that you're in for a smooth experience. These two are pros at the constructing game. This one is no exception (although I do have one Yuk! moment, more on that shortly). A nice theme, nothing contrived.

I do question the central PODIUMS entry being clued in the same way as the theme entries (the ..? convention) - it bugged me that it had nothing to do with the theme, but was front and center as if it did. Unless I missed something, entirely possible!

Without further ado, let's go and see what jumps out.


1. New England sch.: UMASS. Didn't even blink! University of Massachusetts.

6. Dominant: ALPHA

11. Chest protector: BIB

14. Up: RISEN

15. Stunt cyclist, e.g.: DARER. This is my "yuk!" moment. Technically correct, but "in the language?" Not so much, IMHO.

16. Valuable extraction: ORE

19. Bit of muesli: OAT

20. Mariners' home, familiarly: SAFECO. Safeco Field, home of Seattle Mariners baseball. It's on the waterfront next door to the football and soccer stadium. Great locations, both.

21. Bilingual subj.: E.S.L. English as a Second Language.

22. July 4th events, briefly: BBQS

23. Five-O cop: DANO. The one with the book.

25. James or Jones of jazz: ETTA

32. Letters of urgency: ASAP. It seems to go without saying in my business world. Everyone wants everything yesterday, and mainly for free.

34. Long of "In Too Deep": NIA. Thank you crosses. Here she is:

35. Broad neckwear: ASCOT. I got tripped up a little here as I had "BARB" for Ms. Streisand before I came back to this one.

36. One in an airport queue: CAB

37. Talking points?: PODIUMS

40. Memorable 1969 bride: ONO

41. Harry's Hogwarts nemesis: DRACO. Potter, meet your nemesis, Malfoy. I think that's right. He's pretty slick at the old "occlumency" thing, apparently.

43. Letters in an unfilled sched. slot: TBA. Could have been TBD, my first thought. Wasn't.

44. From the top: ANEW

49. Classroom "I know! I know!": OH! OH!

50. First name in country: REBA. McEntire.

51. Did a number: SANG. Reba's probably done one or two in her time.

54. Small application: DAB

56. Ear inflammation: OTITIS. I swear it was OTOSIS, so that was a bump in the road for a moment.

60. Fire: AXE. Not a fire axe? No, not a fire axe, The pink slip kind of axe.

63. General Mills cereal: KIX

64. Metal giant: ALCOA. Aluminium. Heh heh - that's cool, no objection from Spellcheck.

65. Debate topic: ISSUE

66. Id follower?: EST

67. Conductor Zubin: MEHTA. Here he is leading the LA Phil through Mozart's Bassoon Concerto K.191.

68. Arms treaty subj.: N-TEST


1. Cities, informally: URBS. I like this - if the suburbs are a distance from the city, the city must be the urb. Awesome.

2. Kunis of "Black Swan": MILA

3. Starting on: AS OF

4. Clinched: SEWED UP. Vive d'equipe de France! Allez Les Bleus! France clinched the World Cup last Sunday with a win over less-fancied Croatia. Formidable! They day after Bastille Day too.

5. Treaded winter vehicle: SNO-CAT

6. Wikipedia lacks them: ADS. I thought of EDS first, in spite of knowing full well that there are editors. I'll give these folks a plug - when they have their next fundraiser, consider contributing. No amount too small.

7. Untimely?: LATE

8. Like alarm clocks: PRE-SET. 

9. Part of HMO: HEALTH. Maintenance Organization.

10. Half of a very high price?: ARM. Add the leg and you're emptying your wallet. Can you pay a leg for a moderately high-priced item?

11. Schmo: BOOB

12. Green Zone country: IRAQ

13. Action at the track: BETS

18. "That's all wrong!": NO! NO! NO!

22. Streisand, in fanzines: BABS. Not BARB. My bad.

24. "The Wizard __": OF ID. Trap well and truly fallen into. Not Oz. I love the strip:

26. They usually end up in hot water: TEAS. Teabags was my first thought, I wasn't a million miles off.

27. Plotting group: CABAL

28. Hill of country: FAITH. More country singers. She should do a duet with Reba. Actually, I just found that she did. You can go look for it if you like, it's on YouTube.

29. iPhone array: ICONS. I used to create icons as a programmer back in the day when you had a canvas of only 16x16 dots and 255 colors. I think I spent too much time messing around with Paintbrush, and not enough time testing my code, in hindsight.

30. Top-drawer: A-ONE

31. Stash: STOW

32. Adapter letters: AC/DC

33. "Waitress" Tony nominee Bareilles: SARA. More gratitude to the cross-Gods from me. I should send 'em a thank-you gift.

37. "Hunny" lover: POOH. Tiggers don't like it though, as wonderfully drawn by E.H. Shepard.

38. Lyft alternative: UBER

39. Fashioned from: MADE OF

42. Heavy shoe: CLOG

44. Saying nay to: AGAINST

46. Plant root growth: NODULE

47. Pastoral roofing: THATCH. I lived in a thatched cottage before I moved to the US. It's been extended and refurbished since I lived there, but still very much recognizable. Thanks to Google Spy - I mean Maps - for the update.

48. Get one's hands on: OBTAIN

51. Sushi go-with: SAKE. I've got a nice selection in the pantry and the fridge for when the sushi moment strikes.

52. Allies' enemy: AXIS. Germany, Italy and Japan in WWII, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey in WWI.

53. Coming right up: NEXT

55. One in an UGG box: BOOT. Apparently you can't buy new, genuine Uggs from an eBay store It's against the retailer agreement to sell them on auction sites. So now you know.

57. Shock, in a way: TASE

58. Post-op areas: ICU'S

59. "Leave it in" mark: STET. When pundits, recently, were calling for Dele Alli to be dropped from the England World Cup soccer team, I started calling him "Stet" Alli. I thought it was funny. Apparently I was in a minority of one.

61. Bobby's wife on "Dallas": PAM. She had the permanently-surprised look and acted with her eyebrows. Linda Gray, who portrayed JR's wife, emoted primarily with her chin.

62. Pilot-licensing org.: F.A.A. Federal Aviation Authority.

And - here's the grid.

This blog now complete, errors and omissions excepted. Just need to post my new disclaimer:

Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information provided on the Thursday Blog, whether disseminated via browser, social media sites and/or mobile applications, Blogger Steve makes no express or implied warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information. Blogger Steve provides this information via all online services and platforms on an "as is" basis. While there may be changes to information on topics covered on the Thursday Blog, these changes may or may not be made available electronically on the main page.

There, that should cover my ass this week. Here's the grid!