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

May 28, 2020

Thursday, May 28th 2020 Bruce Haight

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

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

Seems clear enough! Let's go find them:

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the recipe for Primodial Soup:


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


1. Barely enough to notice: A TINGE

7. Defib expert: EMT

10. Monopolizes: HOGS

14. Like a side view: LATERAL

16. __ cross: TAU

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

20. Partnership for Peace org.: NATO.

21. "On the Waterfront" director Kazan: ELIA

22. Radio tuner: AM DIAL

28. Open a crack: AJAR

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

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

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

36. Bagged leaves?: TEA

42. __-mo: SLO

43. One-named supermodel: EMME

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

45. Put forward with confidence: ASSERT

47. General vibe: AURA

54. Chew out: REBUKE

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

56. Pianist Gilels: EMIL

64. Fit figure: SIZE

65. Semi-important part?: CAB

67. "Now!": STAT!

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

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


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

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

3. Skater Midori: ITO

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

5. Playful criticism: GRIEF

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

7. Extras on many Syfy shows: ET'S

8. Chinese chairman: MAO

9. Ahi serving: TUNA STEAK

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

11. Studio sign: ON AIR

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

13. Took badly?: STOLE. Nice clue.

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

19. Fun time: LARK

23. Spotted pattern: MOTTLE

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

25. Once, once: ERST

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

27. Pork cuts: LOINS

28. Emer. alerts: APB'S

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

32. Makes a decent living: DOES OK

33. Close proximity: ARM'S REACH

34. Played charades: MIMED

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

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

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

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

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

45. Talisman: AMULET

46. Australian isl. state: TASM.

48. Media attention: PRESS

49. Pay: REMIT

50. Spanish resort island: IBIZA

51. Green spaces: LEAS

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

53. Get-go: ONSET

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

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

60. Crew aid: OAR

61. Mod or nod ending: ULE

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

63. __ Pérignon: DOM. Cheers!

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

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


May 21, 2020

Thursday, May 21st 2020 Ross Trudeau

Theme: Mat-chmaking - the cross-refererenced theme entries have both a clue component and a back-reference component to the solution.

17A. What the unalert might 61-Across to take: COLD SHOWER. Great when you expect it, heart-attack-waiting-to-happen when you don't.

30A. What a gracious host might 61-Across to give: WARM WELCOME

37A. What a devout Muslim might 61-Across to perform: AFTERNOON PRAYER

45A. What a tight pair might 61-Across to do: COUPLES YOGA

and the unifier:

61A. Struggle vigorously ... and what four other long answers' ending words can do?: GO TO THE MAT

Nicely done by Ross - in order to properly solve the theme entries you need guidance from the reveal at 61A, then you can complete the theme phrases - shower mat, welcome mat, prayer mat and yoga mat.

This one firmly in the Thursday category for the "toughness" metrics, but once you got past the theme and the reveal, some of the fill seemed a little automatic.

No matter. Entertaining and let's go see what we can find to talk about:


1. Fifth pillar of Islam: HAJJ. There is talk that this year's Hajj may be cancelled due to Covid-19. It's quite the spectacle in a normal year:

5. Air Jordans, e.g.: NIKES

10. Peel: RIND

14. "Arrested Development" actress Shawkat: ALIA, Never seen the show. Thank you, crosses.

15. Between, poetically: 'TWIXT. If you're in the middle of some annoying early adolescents, are you "'Twixt Tweeners"?

16. Grenoble gal pal: AMIE

19. Skier Lindsey with a record 20 World Cup titles: VONN. Lindsey has a career record of 82 World Cup wins. She has 20 Crystal Globes which celebrate the overall champion in a particular discipline each season.

20. __ One vodka: KETEL

21. Title king in a Mozart opera: IDOMENEO. Totally unknown to me, although the solid crosses meant it didn't hold me up too long. I discover that Idomeneo was a King of Crete.

23. Granny: NANA

26. Patronize, as a restaurant: DINE AT. Not at the moment, for many.

27. Amigo: PAL. Friendly puzzle today, Amigo, amie, pal.

33. Climber's asset: GRIP

35. Yours, in Tours: À TOI, Tours is a beautiful city, but then most French cities and towns are, at least to my eye. If the Tour de France doesn't go ahead this year I'll miss the glorious aerial shots from the helicopters.

36. Pole worker: ELF. Nicely done. Elves at the North Pole.

42. Sports doc's pic: M.R.I.

43. "I'm __ hurry": IN NO

44. Sported: WORE

49. Women of Troy's sch.: U.S.C. A certain Woman of Troy cheerleader celebrates Vince Young's winning touchdown for Texas in the 2006 BCS Championship Game at the Rose Bowl. This picture never fails to amuse me.

50. Pick up, in a way: ANSWER

51. Employment: WORK

53. Say when?: SET A DATE. Nice clue/answer combo.

56. Potter's supply: GLAZE

60. Biblical brother: ABEL

64. Enjoy some rays: BASK

65. Broadcasting: ON AIR

66. Rascals: IMPS

67. Music and theater: ARTS

68. "Country Grammar" rapper: NELLY

69. Asking too many questions: NOSY


1. Talentless writer: HACK. Actually, being a hack is something of a talent. It's a perjorative, but writing rushed articles to a short deadline isn't easy. Quality obviously suffers, but when you've got ten minutes to write a hatchet-piece you can't get everything!

2. Natural healer: ALOE

3. Leave high and dry: JILT

4. Smith of "After Earth": JADEN. Will Smith's son. He's got some peculiar views.

5. Last in a series: NTH.

6. Iconic WWII island, briefly: IWO

7. Auckland native: KIWI

8. Struck (out): EX'ED. This is an example of fill that annoys me. You can find "X'ED" in crosswordland a hundred times a year, but you can't just add letters to suit yourself. I know it's a phonetic spelling, but it's like the ARGH/AARGH and the similar variants. EX'ED OUT is not an expression in the language. Try a Google search. The first thing that comes up is "Did you mean X'ED OUT?" I'd X that out of my fill right away.

9. Marched confidently: STRODE

10. Hogwarts house with a corvine name: RAVENCLAW. Potter, Harry.

11. "We all have the same values": I'M ONE OF YOU. Difficult to parse at first, but solid.

12. When 51-Across starts, for many: NINE A.M. I think "for some" might be more appropriate in these strange times.

13. Signify: DENOTE

18. Diner side: SLAW

22. Distance runner: MILER

24. Indian bread: NAAN

25. Stella __: beer: ARTOIS. This has been cropping up a few times recently. "The Star of Artois". Here is the brewery that used to make a special version for the Netherlands. Apparently the Nederlanders were not fans of Belgian brews. The current brewery in Belgium is no oil painting, so I'll skip that.

27. Org. whose fans follow the links: P.G.A. Golf. Is anyone interested in the Woods/Manning and Mickleson/Brady "event" this weekend? I have my views on that, which I'll keep to myself.

28. Lab report?: ARF. Dog bark.

29. Chemistry exam?: LITMUS TEST. Acid or Alkali. We used Universal Indicator Paper at school, which had degrees of acid/alkali color. What do they use nowadays? I'm pretty sure you should be able to point your cellphone at a beaker of something and get the complete chemical breakdown of composition and PH levels.

31. Dreamy: MOONY

32. Separate grain from chaff: WINNOW

34. Controversial pretrial police practices: PERP WALKS

38. Ticked off: RILED

39. Possum pal of Porky Pine: POGO. Never heard of him. The comic strip ceased publication in 1975, so that might have something to do with it. Here's a porcupine panel which is cute.

40. Trauma ctrs.: E.R.'S

41. __ room: REC

45. Winter melon: CASABA

46. Sign of bad service?: ONE BAR. Cellphone coverage, although there's more than one bar I can point you towards where you get terrible service. I do this research in the public interest, of course.

47. Christopher Paolini fantasy best-seller: ERAGON

48. "Gah!": ARGH! How funny - my "take your pick" of ARGH/AARGH crops up right here.

52. Designer Calvin: KLEIN

54. Mood: TONE

55. List-ending abbr.: ET AL.

57. Rifle filler: AMMO. What do you call an expert office assistant who can find the right place for a document quickly? A riffle filer. Ba-dum! I'll be here all week, thank you thank you.

58. Tases: ZAPS

59. DIY site: ETSY. I've never used Etsy but it comes up a lot when I'm searching for hobby stuff on Google.

62. Alaskan resource: OIL

63. Taste: TRY. I'm willing to taste pretty much anything as long as it doesn't look like an insect. Which is totally irrational, because lobster, shrimp, langoustine and crawfish are as insect-like as they come. Except they're not insects. Same concept, but they live underwater. Which makes it OK. I said it was irrational.

With that appetizing thought, here's the grid!

Stay safe, especially any of you are in the "we're open!" states.


May 14, 2020

Thursday, May 14th 2020 Bruce Haight


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

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

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

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

58A. Work out specific strategy: TAILOR A PLAN

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

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


1. Pub customer's usual, say: ORDER

6. Floor: AMAZE

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

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

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

16. Tribute in stanzas: ODE

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

20. Choose: OPT

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

22. __ interface: USER 

27. Takes public transport, slangily: BUSES IT

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

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

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

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

41. Musician Brian: ENO

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

43. More than a glance: GAZE

44. More elegant: FINER

46. Caught: SNAGGED

52. Munch Museum city: OSLO

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

54. Maven: PRO

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

62. Ad-__: LIB

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

64. Impertinent: SAUCY

65. "By all means": YES!

66. Wide divide: CHASM

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


1. "Here comes trouble": OH NO!

2. Enlist again: RE-UP

3. Sticker at a bar?: DART

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

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

6. Aficionado: ADDICT

7. Transform: MORPH

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

9. __ garden: ZEN

10. "Yikes!": EEK!

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

12. Madison Ave. guys: AD MEN

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

18. Naysaying: ANTI

22. Gp. for the troops: U.S.O. 

23. Strengthen, with "up": BEEF

24. Mideast mogul: EMIR

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

26. Part of a foot: ARCH

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

28. Informed about: UP ON

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

32. Chaney of horror: LON

34. Nod off: DOZE

35. Nodding off, maybe: ABED

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

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

39. Fit-king link: FOR A

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

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

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

47. Queen dowager of Jordan: NOOR

48. Relaxed: AT EASE

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

50. Davis of "Grumpy Old Men": OSSIE

51. Matters of opinion: POLLS

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

55. Political contest: RACE

56. Cameo stone: ONYX

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

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

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

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

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


May 7, 2020

Thursday, May 7th, 2020 Blake Slonecker

Theme: Salad Days - scrambles of five different green veggies as the reveal tells us:

53A. Mesclun, and a hint to the circled squares: MIXED GREENS

and so we find:

16A. Casual appetizer: CHIPS AND DIP. Spinach.

23A. Tool for flooring jobs: TILE CUTTER. Lettuce.

30A. Designated spaces for some riders: BIKE LANES. Kale.

38A. Opening: INAUGURAL. Arugula.

47A. Rewards earner, perhaps: CARDHOLDER. Chard.

A nice theme from Blake. It's puzzles like these that need the circles to explain the reveal - the ones where the theme words are not scrambled are fun to hunt down, but the scrambles would be very tough to find without some guide. The theme obviously doesn't help with the solve, but you have a few minutes' bonus to go treasure hunting. Nice work with the theme, I enjoyed the scambles. The rest of the puzzle didn't have a whole lot of sparkle, but you can't win 'em all.

As for all the Food! on display here - it's a shame to consign all these greens to a salad - spinach and mushroom curry is one of my favorites, lettuce as a wrap for larb beats the heck out of it just being a quiet salad ingredient (and in a cheeseburger, let's not be a snob here, what is a burger without shredded lettuce?), Arugula - or rocket in the UK - what a great bed for smoked chicken, cous-cous and spicy stomato sauce. It brings pepper, green and crunch. Chard! If you can't get collard greens, here's your answer, and you can pickle the red stalks. What am I missing? Kale. Ah, Kale. dear kale. Not for human consumption, let's all admit it.

Recipes available on request!

So back to the puzzle. The numbers when you crunch them, are firmly in the "Monday" category but the theme just about carried it through. The fill felt a little stale and skewed heavily towards 3- and 4-letter words.

Let's go seek. Without hiding.


1. __ de deux: ballet dance: PAS. The first three-letter fill, and a fill-in-the-blank too. Don't worry, you've only got another 35 three-letter words to go.

4. Spell: TRANCE

10. Rite opener?: AM I. Really? OK, not my thing. If someone asked me "Am I rite?" I would ask how old they were.

13. "Fire away!": ASK

14. Web banners: HEADERS

15. Auerbach of the Black Keys: DAN. We meet another AUER further down, so thank you crosses for both, unknown to me.

18. Tap quaff: ALE. Now you're talking.

19. Sunday cry: AMEN!

20. Sneaky critic: SNIPER

22. Sweater mishap: SNAG

27. Extra qtrs.: O/T'S

28. Game fish: BONITO. I keep dried bonito flakes, or katsobushi in the pantry. I put 'em on rice with soy sauce and sesame seeds, and make dashi with katsobushi and kombu - the dried kelp.

29. __ boots: GO-GO

32. One of 12, usually: JUROR

33. Ruminant's mouthful: CUD

34. Natural drier: AIR

35. Concrete support rod: REBAR

44. Qatari chief: EMIR

45. Masses: DROVES

46. Source of iron: ORE. Or spinach!

49. "And another thing ... ": ALSO ...

50. Breaks up: ENDS IT

51. Wheel connector: AXLE

52. Beaver creation: DAM

59. GPS calculation: ETA. Apparently you can get an Estimated Time of Arrival from your Global Positioning System device. I'm sure that's really important. At least it's a change from an airline clue. I'm tired of the fill though.

60. Folded breakfast fare: OMELETS. I think my favorite omelet is spinach, mushroom and brie. Lots of food to get my teeth into today!

61. Conk out: DIE

62. Place to relax: DEN. Probably not very relaxing if the lions are home.

63. War zone lifesavers: MEDICS

64. LG rival: RCA. Not strictly true, RCA does not exist as a company any more. The branding was sold to Technicolor and Sony Music by GE when the division was closed down.


1. D.C. funding group: P.A.C. Political Action Committee. I make no comment.

2. Her 2002 self-titled album debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200: ASHANTI

3. Protection on the slopes: SKI MASK. Not a bad alternative protection to wear in the store right now.

4. Afternoon brew: TEA

5. Sought office: RAN

6. Total: ADD

7. Former Royals manager Yost: NED

8. Shortening brand: CRISCO. Funny, just yesterday I was looking up shortening, lard and schmalz.

9. College sports channel: ESPN U.

10. Charger accessory: ADAPTOR. I had ADAPTER and apparently was wrong. Oh well. Was I wrong?

11. Cause of some tough-guy behavior: MALE EGO

12. Mistakenly: IN ERROR

14. Channel that can be costly to watch: HSN. Nice clue. Whenever I've had the misfortune to come across the Home Shopping Network I've never had the slightest urge to buy whatever is being shilled. I almost enjoy watching to see what outlandish claims are made for the stuff they sell. How do they not get sued for misrepresentation?

17. Cribbage piece: PEG

21. Geek Squad employee, for short: I.T. GURU

22. __ story: SOB

23. Creep: TOAD

24. Cozy stopover: INN

25. Shakira's "Hips Don't __": LIE

26. Aliens, briefly: ETS

28. Make unclear: BLUR

31. Some last-minute birthday greetings: E-CARDS. Handy things when you forget a birthday or anniversary.

32. Dances for leprechauns: JIGS

34. Violinist Leopold: AUER

35. Drew back: RECEDED

36. Exude (from): EMANATE

37. 2014 Best Picture: BIRDMAN

38. Like offline interaction, initially: I.R.L. "In Real Life". "Dude, I have to get off Instagram, I have a test tomorrow IRL".

39. Doze: NOD

40. Urban way: Abbr.: AVE.

41. Burrito feature?: ROLLED "R". We just had Cinco de Mayo on Tuesday. We had tacos al pastor, but burritos will feature on the "leftovers" menu shortly. Yum!

42. "__ and Old Lace": ARSENIC. 1944 movie starring Cary Grant. The sceptics might wonder what he was doing making movies when WWII was heading into a critical period. Did he have flat feet or something?

43. Celestial feline: LEO

45. Complete a sentence: DO TIME

48. Mouthed sideline greeting: HI MOM!

49. Log splitter: AXE

51. MGM motto word: ARS

54. Chose on a form, with "in": X'ED

55. New Haven alum: ELI

56. Present mo.: DEC. Fun play on words.

57. Classic muscle cars: GT'S

58. __ salt: SEA. I have Maldon salt from the UK and Fleur de Sel Guérand from France in my pantry.

I guess that's about it!

Please stay safe. Some states are "re-opening" but please remember that the virus is not contained, there is insufficent or inaccurate testing, there is no adequate treatment and there is no vaccine. Use your best judgment!


Apr 30, 2020

Thursday April 30 2020 Dave Bardolph

Theme: Whodunnit? That would be Dave Bardolph for this debut puzzle!

The reveal tells us:

46A. Their last names are the first names of three puzzle answers: MYSTERY NOVELISTS

19A. Longtime face of CoverGirl: CHRISTIE BRINKLEY. Agatha Christie. I always want to spell the model's name "Chrissie" and so the theme was a little slow to emerge for me.

24A. "Honky Tonk Time Machine" singer: GEORGE STRAIT. Elizabeth George. I'd venture she's by far the least known of the three, but I may be wrong. I looked her up and she's an American, born in Ohio and living in California writing British detective novels. That's novel. (See what I did there?)

42A. '90s-'00s sitcom character who married his friend's sister: CHANDLER BING. Raymond Chandler. Friends: "The one with Chandler and Monica's Wedding", Season 7 finale.

Firstly, let's say hello to Dave Bardolph, I believe this is his LAT debut. A quick bit of research shows that he's competed at the ACPT and he likes a challenge - Matt Gaffney's weekly meta puzzles. That's impressive right there!

So the puzzle - I think it's a slick debut. Did you notice we've got a 16x15 to accomodate both the lovely Christie Brinkley and the reveal?

It's all complete coincidence of course, but there were a fair few repeats of recent Thursday fill. It's funny how it works like that. It's like waiting for a number 22 bus in London, you don't see one for ages and then three of them come along all at once.

OK, let's take the grand (rapids) tour:


1. Box office bust: FLOP

5. Exhibits grief: SOBS. The other kind of exhibit's grief? Getting stolen from the gallery.

9. Winter Games vehicle: LUGE. We've talked about this before. Why you would want to go feet-first down a bobsled run on a glorified metal tray is beyond me.

13. Dropped precipitously: DOVE

14. Jazz form: BEBOP. A genre that inspired and informed Jack Kerouac. I saw the manuscript of "On the Road" at a recent exhibition celebrating Route 66 here in LA. It was written on a typewriter in three weeks on a single roll of paper so that he didn't have to stop to change sheets. Quite amazing.

15. Nodding off in class, say: BORED. Wake up there, I haven't finished.

16. Frosted: ICED. You can ice a cake with frosting, but can you frost a cake with icing? We should be told.

17. Enticing emanation: AROMA

18. Digital greeting: ECARD

22. Boarding area: GATE. There are crickets at most gates at the moment. I've been grounded, no frequent flyer points for me this year.

23. Trunk holder: TREE. Does a tree "hold" a trunk? I think this was my least favorite of the day.

29. Capture: NAB

32. Ingratiate: ENDEAR. I look at "ingratiate" as a bad thing, a toadying-up to someone. Endearing is something quite different. Strike Two.

33. Brinker of kiddie lit: HANS. Thank you, crosses.

34. Soap unit: CAKE

35. Alpaca's habitat: ANDES

36. Parcels: LOTS. Parcells: Lots of Superbowls.

37. "The Piano" extra: MAORI

38. Regretted: RUED

39. "And __ off!": WE'RE

40. Send for: SUMMON

41. Polite title: SIR

44. Berth place: SLIP

45. Banned orchard spray: ALAR

54. One on a roll: VOTER

55. Enjoy leftovers, say: EAT IN

56. "Go ahead, I dare you!": DO IT!

57. Abs-strengthening exercise: PLANK

58. Spring up: ARISE

59. "Darkest Hour" Oscar winner Oldman: GARY

60. Do a laundry chore: SORT. I don't exactly "sort". Anything white or vaguely so goes in. The rest can fight it out amongst themselves.

61. Too hasty: RASH

62. Fencing sword: EPÉE


1. Org. created by the 1933 Banking Act: F.D.I.C. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. I had to look that up. Familiar acronym, unfamiliar proper name.

2. Ness, for one: LOCH. Ah - what about Eliot Ness? He could have appeared in many mystery novels.

3. Wrapped up: OVER

4. Like some boxers: PEDIGREED. I was thinking pugilists, then underwear and then - oh! Westminster or Crufts dog shows!

5. Sequence: SERIES

6. Orchestra pitch setter: OBOE. I often wonder if the oboe does anything else other than pitch-set.  And what if the oboe is warped or something? Then the whole orchestra is out of tune, but at least all out of tune to the same degree.

7. Box office bust: BOMB. Clecho with 1A.

8. Michigan State players: SPARTANS

9. Age of Enlightenment philosopher: LOCKE. No politics in this blog, but I refer you to this. 'nuff said.

10. Eurasian range: URAL

11. "Chicago" star: GERE

12. Jacuzzi effect: EDDY

14. Player in a box: BATTER. This confused me, as I was still under the misapprehension that CHRISTY was CHRISSY. I went to look at my turkey baster and tried to make sense of that. Then, with a clang, the penny dropped.

15. "The Devil and Daniel Webster" author: BENET

20. Epic tales: SAGAS

21. Crocus kin: IRIS

24. They're changed on the road: GEARS. I thought TIRES first, but that wasn't working, but I channelled my inner BEBOP and ON THE ROAD mini-theme.

25. Boredom: ENNUI

26. Less mundane: ODDER

27. Sticker: THORN

28. Graded: RATED

29. Wynonna's mother: NAOMI

30. Ohio rubber city: AKRON

31. Person: BEING

34. College town on the Charles: CAMBRIDGE. It should be called Charlesbridge. Cambridge, UK, is a university town on the Cam. Ergo, Cambridge. Don't just pinch names, New England, make up some of your own. Too late now, I suppose. Boston, Cambridge, Woburn, Braintree ... I could go on. I would be amused to see Nether Wallop, Maine or ... more unprintable offerings. English town or village names can sometimes be a little ... salty.

36. We're in one now: LEAP YEAR. I had the "L", put in "LOCKDOWN" thinking all the time that it was a quick turnaround for a puzzle submitted to Rich. Then nothing fit around it, so out it came. All became clear.

37. Big picture: MURAL. Not a moutain range with an "M"? Some interesting stuff going on today. You know what it's like, you invite your buddy Michelangelo over for dinner and he brings a bucket of paint and a brush. Next thing you know, you're stuck with preserving an art treasure while your walls crumble. At least Banksy's stuff is stolen in the middle of the night and you don't have to worry about it.

39. Sound like a fan: WHIR. Nice clue - could be ROOT or CHEE ... oh no, ran out of space.

40. Moon goddess: SELENE

42. Store employee: CLERK

43. Extravagant: LAVISH

44. Angioplasty implant: STENT

46. Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger in 2019: MVPS

47. "Seize the day" acronym: YOLO. You only live once. It became a slightly-annoying internet meme for a while, then, as fads do, went away.

48. Yellow dwarf or blue giant: STAR

49. Early capital of Japan: NARA

50. Grammy winner Redding: OTIS. In a neat book-end of last week's Thursday, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding both had posthumous hit #1 singles. It's late for a music link, but too good to pass up. I can't not link this wonderful singer. As with Janis, taken too early.

51. TV cliff-hanger: SOAP. Some purists say you shouldn't have the same word in any clue that you have in the fill. Me? It's tough enough constructing. Don't start introducing arbitrary rules.

52. Part of a regular rotation: TIRE. So you don't have to change them "on the road"!

53. Eye ailment: STYE

So as usual, I ran out of paper and I have to finish here. Jack Kerouac had the right idea!

Here's the grid, all 16x15 of it and thanks to Dave. If you've got a couple of minutes to spare, enjoy the Playing for Change "Dock of the Bay" celebration. What they are doing looks more "normal" today, but they have been bringing musicians all over the world together with one song, for a great cause, for a while. Look up the "La Bamba" collaboration if you have a care, I dare you not to smile, laugh and cry.

Stay safe.


Apr 23, 2020

Thursday, April 23rd 2020 Ed Sessa

Theme Metallic Mystery - the word "golden" has gone missing from five theme entries

The reveal hints at the word we're missing:

59A. His touch will complete five puzzle answers: KING MIDAS. It didn't work out quite the way Midas had planned, he didn't really think it through, did he?

and so we find:

17A. Generous severance package: [Golden] PARACHUTE

32A. Chance of a lifetime: [Golden] OPPORTUNITY

41A. Marriage milestone: [Golden] ANNIVERSARY

10D. McDonald's trademark: [Golden] ARCHES

45D. Automatic promotion on "America's Got Talent": [Golden] BUZZER

A slick theme from Ed. I actually saw the theme right away when I got to 17A, but it was only the symmetry with ARCHES that led me to BUZZER - I don't watch America's Got Talent and so I had no idea there was such a device as a "golden buzzer" which I discover immediately puts a contestant through to the final rounds.

Let's take a tour:


1. Title critter in Blake's "Songs of Innocence": LAMB. Blake was apparently quite fond of lambs, if you look at his "Songs of Innocence" (strictly speaking, "Songs of Innocence and of Experience") there's not only "The Lamb" referenced by this clue, but a whole bunch of lamb-y lines in other poems. If you've ever seen the movie "Chariots of Fire" you'll be familiar with my school hymn "Jerusalem" which plays at the end. And references a lamb. Talented chap, lamb-centric.

5. Almost dry: DAMP

9. Football's "Papa Bear": HALAS. George Halas, founder, owner and head coach of the Chicago Bears. He was also known as "Mr. Everything" in consequence.

14. __ vera: ALOE

15. __ Eats: delivery service: UBER. Their drivers are busy at the moment. Note that there's no umlaut in the company name.

16. Hold the floor: ORATE

19. Bobby in a 1971 #1 hit: MCGEE. Janis Joplin classic which still sounds great today. The recording was released posthumously and reached number 1 on the Billboard chart. It was written by Kris Kristofferson.

20. Toss aside: DITCH

21. Bad loser: SOREHEAD. I've never heard this expression. Sore loser, of course, but not sorehead.

23. Locks: HAIR

26. Stage of adolescence: PUBERTY. All angst and acne.

27. Frito-Lay brand: TOSTITOS. Chips and salsas.

31. Sudoku fill: Abbr.: NOS.

34. Web spots: ADS

37. Ethically uncertain: GRAY. American spelling. Wouldn't it be more accurately be a "gray area"?

38. Ring bearer: EAR

39. Came down to earth: ALIT

40. "Atlas Shrugged" writer Rand: AYN. I read this a number of years ago and I can't remember a single thing about it.

45. Lily of France garment: BRA. I had to validate, of course, that this clue/answer combination was in fact correct. After much long and painful research I can confirm that it is. You're welcome!

46. Citrus grove sight: LIME TREE

47. Covered, in a way: INSURED

51. NYC area above Houston Street: NOHO. There's a NoHo in LA too, the trendy name for North Hollywood. It's a bit of an oddity, to be honest. It's so far north of Hollywood that it's across the Cahuenga Pass in the San Fernando Valley, and you have to struggle through Studio City and Toluca Lake before you actually get there.

52. Suddenly stops working, as an engine: SEIZES UP. Not a good thing to happen. My motorbike sprung an oil leak while I was riding back in 1976 and I didn't notice. Suddenly the engine went from a two-cylinder four-stroke to a single, and useless, lump of metal.

54. __ Gay: ENOLA. Not so fast, it could be sprinter Tyson Gay. And he is fast.

58. TV host Gibbons: LEEZA

62. Garden tool: EDGER

63. Biblical twin: ESAU

64. California's __ Valley: SIMI. It's the safest city with a population of more than 100,000 in the USA, primarily because police officers from the LAPD were given incentives to move there by the City Council.

65. Stadium levels: TIERS

66. Droops: SAGS. What "Lily of France" hopes to have us avoid.

67. Air filter acronym: HEPA, our old friend the High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing filter.


1. W. Coast force: LAPD. Nice clue, it took me a which to see this one. In fact this corner of the puzzle was my last fill.

2. Court game word: ALAI

3. Cartoonist Drucker: MORT. "Master of the Mad Caricature".

4. Bucket shaped like a sandcastle, for one: BEACH TOY. I find this clue a little odd. Would you call a bucket that's designed to make sandcastles "shaped" like one?

5. "Thank you, Captain Obvious": DUH! I love Billie Eilish's song "Bad Guy" which is so catchy and features a few "DUH"s.

6. __ Dhabi: ABU

7. Team that retired Mike Piazza's #31: METS. It's odd, I associate him more with the Dodgers than the Mets, but the Dodgers didn't retire his number. I remember him hitting a home run clean out of Dodger Stadium and into the parking lot, a wallop estimated to be 440 feet.

8. Hosp. area: PRE-OP

9. __ Industries: L.A. youth program: HOMEBOY. I like the salsas produced by Homeboy Grocery which are sold in my local Kroger market.

11. Ale alternative: LAGER. I bought a couple of bottles yesterday of "limited edition" Midnight Lager produced by Stella Artois. It's almost black in color. I'll report back when I've tried it.

12. Bugged a lot: ATE AT

13. Like some bagels: SEEDY. Did you know that restauranteur Joe Bastianich is credited with inventing the "everything" bagel? He was working in a bagel bakery and was tasked with putting the poppy seeds, sesame seeds and what-not on each type of bagel. At the end of his shift he decided to dip the last few bagels in the spillover of all the toppings, and bingo, the Everything Bagel was born.

18. Department head: CHAIR

22. Litter lightweight: RUNT

24. Addams cousin: ITT

25. Monet's "Cathedral Series" city: ROUEN. I once stayed in a hotel opposite the cathedral in the main square in Rouen. The bellringers started on Sunday morning 6AM, and that was the end of my night's sleep.

27. Forum robe: TOGA

28. "Live at the __": Patsy Cline album: OPRY

29. Spread across: SPAN

30. __ mail: SNAIL. 

33. "The Empire Strikes Back" director Kershner: IRVIN. Thank you, crosses

34. Old apple spray: ALAR. Daminozide was banned in 1989 as a "probable carcinogen".

35. Desperate: DIRE

36. Eye woe: STYE

39. Blow away: ASTONISH

41. Unpaid balance: ARREARS

42. Highland refusals: NAES

43. Punk subgenre: EMO. I never really got into Emo music; it seemed a little too naval-gazing for my taste.

44. Shorten, as a pants leg: RE-HEM

47. Spot of land: ISLET

48. "__ say more?": NEED I

49. Onslaught: SIEGE

50. They're put up in fights: DUKES

Did you know that Notre Dame were called, variously, The Terriers, the Horrible Hibernians, The Catholics and the Ramblers before settling on the Fighting Irish moniker? I quite like the Hibernians one.

53. City in Tuscany: PISA

55. Comic strip canine: ODIE. From the "Garfield" strip by Jim Davis.

56. Light source: LAMP

57. Sri Lanka locale: ASIA. Because "Laccadive Sea" doesn't fit.

60. Old horse: NAG

61. "Better Call Saul" drug lord Fring: GUS. Another "thank you" to the crosses today.

Which just leaves the grid to wrap things up:


Apr 16, 2020

Thursday, April 16th 2020 Steve Mossberg

Theme: : All Hale! Homophones form the last word of each theme entry, clued accordingly:

17A. Where the farmer relaxed to update the books?: POSTING BALE

27A. Story of how the spider monkey climbed the tree?: PREHENSILE TALE

44A. Obstetrician's job, sometimes?: DELIVER THE MALE

58A. Put the fix in on Black Friday?: RIGGED A SALE. This one was my favorite, nicely done.

A pretty fun theme; I'd quibble for a nanosecond at 27A - the spider monkey is not prehensile, his tail is, which is kind of the point. So a minor demerit for that one, but there again I can't really see any alternatives to fit the four-letter end-of-phrase theme. You might be able to conjur something up with GAIL/GALE or VAIL/VALE, but those would seem forced. So I've talked myself around. I'm sure Steve looked at all the options and settled on the most natural ones, so bravo.

I think this is the second LAT puzzle for Steve, JzB blogged his first back in August 2019. He's appeared in the Wall Street Journal too.

Let's take the Grand Tour:


1. Turning point: PIVOT

6. Pagoda instruments: GONGS. I wanted WIND CHIMES but was a little discouraged by the lack of room to cram it in.

11. Outdo: TOP

14. Big game setting: ARENA. Nice midirection. I ran through the safari park/Maasai Mara/Serengeti/Okovango thought process before the penny dropped. The Scottish soccer National Stadium, Hampden Park in Glasgow, hosts Scotland's international matches and has a capacity of more than 51,000. Oddly it is also the home ground of Scottish second-division club Queen's Park, who's average home crowd is between six and seven hundred. Yes, you read that right.

15. No-frills type: ARIAL. The sans-serif font. Nice clue.

16. "Yo, Hadrian!": AVE! Not from "Rocky", but a greeting to Roman Emperor Hadrian, who had a wall built between England and Scotland to keep out the marauding Scots. It's not as big as the Chinese Great Wall, but still a pretty impressive feat. The town at the eastern end of the wall is named, appropriately, Wallsend. It's not very tall now, but when the Romans departed as the roman empire dwindled, the locals took the stones to build with.

19. Cooper's creation: KEG

20. Not behind: ANTI. "Behind" in the "support" sense

21. Long-term digs in orbit: Abbr.: ISS. The International Space Station. Some interesting reminiscences this week as it is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission.

22. Landscaping stones: PAVERS

24. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Scherzer: MAX

26. Visibility reducers: HAZES

33. Asian language: LAO

34. Takes up: ADOPTS

35. Cookware brand: T-FAL. The company name is Tefal, a portmanteau of Teflon and Aluminum.

36. Dethrones: OUSTS

38. Low digit: TOE

39. Tries: HEARS

40. One with a password: USER

41. Notably different, with "a": FAR CRY

43. JFK alternative: LGA. La Guardia.

47. Manicurist's tool: EMERY. Not liking this one - it's an emery board, not an emery.

48. NBC skit show: SNL. They tried a "virtual" SNL espisode last weekend, apparently not to great acclaim.

49. Sad-eyed hound: BASSET

51. Moody rock genre: EMO

53. Not too many: A FEW

57. Hundred Acre Wood know-it-all: OWL. I had "WOL" at first, because that's how he spells his own name, and he lives at The Wolery.

61. Med. scan: M.R.I. All kinds of three-letter scans to choose from, so wait for the crosses.

62. "Middlemarch" novelist: ELIOT. George, who was a female. She figured she had a better chance of being published if the adopted a man's pen name for her novels. In Silas Marner, the eponymous weaver, miser and loner adopts an orphan girl. I'm not sure that would fly with Social Services nowadays.

63. Mastery: SKILL

64. Competition pass: BYE

65. Nicks: DENTS

66. Cut back: PARED


1. Nickname for Haydn: PAPA

2. Press: IRON

3. Cummerbund alternative: VEST. There's a commercial for Capital One airing at the moment where the script misspells it as "cumberbund" (or maybe the actress mispronounces it). Drives me bonkers.

4. As scheduled: ON TIME

5. __ sushi: Japanese sea bream: TAI. Not liking this clue. Tai is the sea bream. It's got nothing to do with how it might eventually be prepared, but no harm, no foul.

6. April 1 array: GAGS. As we've got a San Serif font in the puzzle today, you might like to read about one of the early successful hoaxes pulled off by a national newspaper, in this case The Guardian in the UK in 1977.  Here's a great artice about the islands of San Seriffe.

As an aside, the paper was so renowned for typos that slipped past the proofreaders that it became known as The Grauniad to its readers. The best one I saw was the front page banner headline after the 1980 Presidential election which read in 72 point bold "REAGAN WINS IN LANDSIDE".

OK, back to the crossword.

7. Swingers on a perpetual-motion desk toy: ORBS

8. "NCIS: Los Angeles" actress Long: NIA

9. Laverne and Shirley, e.g.: GAL PALS

10. Vulgar content: SLEAZE

11. Is arrested, in slang: TAKE A FALL. I'm not sure I'd heard this idiom in this particular sense before.

12. Exceeding: OVER

13. Cello parts: PEGS

18. Put the kibosh on: NIXED

23. Sporty Chevy: 'VETTE

25. Sounds of realization: AHAS

26. Sophisticated, in a way, briefly: HI-TECH

27. Take a minute: PAUSE

28. Ygritte portrayer on "Game of Thrones": ROSE LESLIE. Thank you, crosses. I watched Season 1 then lost interest. Then I cancelled HBO and that was the end of my GofT-watching.

29. __ public: NOTARY

30. Cricket, for one: SPORT. One that is incomprehensible to many who didn't grow up watching or playing it. The long-form version of the international game is scheduled for five days and, more often than not, no-one actually wins. The Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia is cricket's largest ARENA, it has a capacity of over 101,000.

31. Tee size: LARGE

32. Idina's "Frozen" role: ELSA. I still haven't seen the movie, but I'm getting pretty good at the character's names.

33. Vibrant, as colors: LOUD

37. Cuts back: TRIMS

39. "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," e.g.: HYMN. This one passed me by. My knowledge of hymns comes from the venerable "Hymns, Ancient and Modern (Revised)" issued at school and published in about 1805, so the "modern" bit was all relative. You were given a copy on your first day at Grammar School and woe betide you if it was lost or defaced.

41. Good for growing: FERTILE

42. Do a lawn job: RESOD

45. Went off course: VEERED

46. Yukon neighbor: ALASKA

49. Have a rough night at the comedy club: BOMB

50. Not as planned: AWRY

51. Four-award acronym: EGOT. Someone who has won all four "major" entertainment awards - An Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony - has an EGOT.

52. 1969 MLB upstarts: METS. The "Miracle Mets".

54. Midway event: FAIR. The world's first Ferris Wheel was erected during the 1893 World's Fair on the Chicago Midway, the original "Midway".

55. Redbook rival: ELLE. I don't think I'd heard of Redbook, but let's face it, I'm not exactly their target demographic.

56. Fuse: WELD

59. Sling spirits: GIN. Spirits? Spirit, surely. Maybe the constructor or the editor were mixing cocktails when they decided that a plural clue should reveal a singular answer. The classic Gin Sling is gin, simple syrup, sweet vermouth, angostura bitters, soda and a lemon spiral. Cheers!

60. Deadly biter: ASP

And there we have it, another puzzle wrapped up. Here's the grid, and I hope everyone is behaving themselves, keeping safe and "All Hale!" in ths spirit of the theme today.

As a reminder, if you want to chat about the crossword or anything else, send me your number to the email address in my profile and we'll connect.


Apr 9, 2020

Thursday, April 9th 2010 Bruce Haight

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

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

25A. Gets plastered: TIES ONE ON

38A. Owns part of: HAS AN INTEREST IN

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

and the reveal tells us what to look for:

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

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

Let's take the tour:


1. Mind: OBEY

5. Old lemon: EDSEL

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

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

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

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

19. Lobed organ: LUNG. Nor EARR then.

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

21. Polish place: NAIL. Polish or polish?

22. Couldn't help it: HAD TO

23. Document feature with size options: FONT

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

30. Dull sound: THUD

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

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

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

41. Well-suited: APT

42. With enthusiasm: AVIDLY

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

44. Rtes. often numbered: AVES

45. Pack animals: LLAMAS

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

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

54. Chucklehead: BOZO

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

58. Document settings: TABS

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

63. Frost-resistant flower: ASTER

64. Golfo contents: AGUA

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

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

67. One of the Ivies: PENN


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

2. Cake on a dish: BAR OF SOAP. 

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

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

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

6. Slack off: DOG IT

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

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

9. Trippy '60s drug: LSD

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

11. Get past: ELUDE

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

13. Prod: EGG ON

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

22. __ cat: HOUSE

24. Mardi Gras acronym: NOLA

26. Musical star Merman: ETHEL

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

28. Hazmat monitor: OSHA

29. Rot: DRIVEL

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

34. Avg.: STD.

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

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

37. Little marchers: ANTS

39. Maritime: NAVAL

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

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

46. Fuzzy film coward: LION

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

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

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

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

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

55. Terrible test score: ZERO

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wake up.

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

Be safe!


Apr 2, 2020

Thursday, April 2nd 2020 Alan DerKazarian

Theme: OM .... G! (Cue crying).

61A. Scream-evoking horror film technique ... and a hint to what's hiding in five puzzle rows: JUMP SCARE

This is one of those puzzles which I call an "aftertheme" - there is no way that the reveal helps you solve the puzzle, especially in this case as it comes pleasingly-placed at the end. Instead you solve the puzzle, find the reveal and then go back theme-hunting to make sense of it.

In my case, I'd never heard of the phrase "jump scare", and with the "J" crossing the unknown "AJA" it took me a WAG to go for the only letter which vaguely made sense and with that I finished the puzzle.

Per our friends at Wikipedia "A jump scare (often shortened to jumpscare) is a technique often used in horror films, haunted houses, video games, and Internet screamers, intended to scare the audience by surprising them with an abrupt change in image or event, usually co-occurring with a frightening sound, mostly loud screaming".

So now I went back to look for the five puzzle rows, and discovered "TERROR", "FRIGHT", "ALARM", "START" and "PANIC", all synonyms for SCARE and find that they "jump" across a black square in the grid.

Thanks to Alan for treasure hunt!

So there we are. I think it's nice that Rich seems to have abandoned the "circles" gimmick in the puzzles - this is a great example where there could have been circles to point up where the theme entries are. I find the detective work after the fact much more satisfying than being led to water and told to drink.

I don't do scary movies. I snuck into "The Exorcist" at 14 and couldn't sleep without the light on for a month. "The Omen" and "Carrie" didn't do a whole lot to settle my nerves either. Many years later I decided that I was old enough to watch "The Ring" and regretted it for days afterwards. I've cried in all the "Toy Story" movies, what chance do I have with the scary stuff?

So let's go and explore the rest of today's topics:


1. Egyptian god with an ibis head: THOTH. I thought I knew this one, but I stumbled and stuttered until eventually the crosses helped me out.

6. One who crosses the line: SCAB. Picket lines. I've never been a militant, but I did join a picket line last year and I was cold, wet, mostly miserable but felt I was doing something very right.

10. Blight-stricken tree: ELM. We had three gorgeous elm trees behind my childhood house in England. One year they didn't leaf in the spring. The next year they were dead and gone. They were more than 100 years old.

13. "Donnie Brasco" actress Anne: HECHE

14. Flap: TO-DO

15. Corp. leaders: CEOS

17. Lay to rest: INTER

18. With 42-Across, part of a psychologist's battery: RORSCHACH. Part of the theme. A poll - how many people knew how to spell this right off the bat? I didn't, I had ROR, a blank bit and "ACH". The middle was eventually filled in, but that was a toughie.

20. Seven-time Wimbledon winner: GRAF. Steffie. A class act.

21. Wisconsin city on the Mississippi: LA CROSSE

22. HDTV part, for short: HI-DEF. This was a tricky clue, as HI-DEF forms two parts of "HDTV".

24. They may be civil: RIGHTS. Wars, ceremonies and law didn't fit, so I was left with rights. And right I was.

25. Singing stars: DIVAS

27. "60 Minutes" regular: STAHL

31. Strong brew: ALE. It can be strong, but doesn't need to be. IPA is strong as it was brewed to transport to India in the 1850's and needed hops and alchohol to preserve it in the kegs on the way. The British soldiers didn't object.

34. Deadly: LETHAL

37. West Point team: ARMY. I oddly tried to force "USMA" in here before I saw sense.

38. Prom adornment: CORSAGE

40. Hear about: LEARN OF

42. See 18-Across: TEST

43. Stella __: Belgian beer: ARTOIS. STELLA! The logo is a star - hence Stella - the Star of Artois. I like beer trivia.

45. Düsseldorf direction: OST. Damn. I jumped the gun with EST and then suffered when ARNE didn't look right. I could have helped myself by looking two clues down, and realizing that EASTS and EST probably wouldn't work together in a quality puzzle.

46. Hard work: SWEAT

48. Bridge seats: EASTS

50. __ Zee: Hudson River area: TAPPAN. I was tempted by "ZUIDER" thinking that the Dutch would transport their native names (New Amsterdam, Harlem being anglicised examples) then recalled the bridge. Which I spelt as TEPPAN, I must have had teppanyaki food on the brain.

53. Divine fluid: ICHOR. A completely new one for me. This was my second-to-last entry - ICHOR crossing OSIER was another near-Natick.

57. Laszlo Kreizler, in a Caleb Carr novel: ALIENIST

60. Nylons: HOSE

63. Broadway orphan: ANNIE

64. US Open stadium namesake: ASHE

65. Surrealist Paul: KLEE. He didn't stick to one thing, there's the hand of Mondrian, Picasso and other influences in his paintings.

66. Paragon: MODEL

67. It may be gross: TON

68. Barrie pirate: SMEE. "Peter Pan".

69. Leaders of industry: CZARS. TSARS/CZARS - wait for the crosses.


1. Fried chicken choice: THIGH. My favorite, not just for fried chicken. The best flavor and easy to cook. I use thigh meat more than any other cut of chicken, when I get my boning knife out, stand back, I can skin and debone 10lbs of chicken thighs in five minutes flat.

2. Painter __ de Toulouse-Lautrec: HENRI. He was nicknamed "Teapot" by the good ladies of the Pigalle and the Moulin Rouge. He was not very tall, but had, allegedly, an impressive "spout".

3. Two quartets: OCTAD. Tried OCTET, didn't work, changed it.

4. Jay Powell chairs it: THE FED

5. That girl: HER

6. Orchestra sect.: STR. I'm never a big fan of this when I see it. Would you know how to shorten woodwinds, brass or percussion? No, and neither would anyone else. Let's consign this to the dustbin of desperate crossword fill.

7. Not very friendly: COOLISH

8. "What __": "Ho-hum": A DRAG

9. Amazon crime series based on Michael Connelly novels: BOSCH. Thank you, crosses.

10. Satellite communications giant: ECHOSTAR

11. Grazing sites: LEAS

12. Soft shoes: MOCS

16. That girl: SHE. SHE and HER today.

19. Old PC monitors: CRT'S. Cathode Ray Tubes, I hate to think how many of these ended up in landfills.

23. Adidas rival: FILA. I think Adidas might look down their nose at Fila being described as a rival. Nike for sure, Puma probably in soccer equipment, maybe New Balance for running shoes. Fila? That's a stretch. How do you pronounce Adidas? It depends where you come from, and Adidas doesn't have a published company "standard" unlike Nike (NYK-ee). If you're from these shores, then you're likely to say "a-DEE-das". If you're from Europe, mostly "ADD-EE-DAS".

24. Yelp user, say: RATER. HATER would equally fit here. How many Yelp reviews have you read with One Star because the restaurant wasn't equipped with ESP and didn't know that the reviewer was recently vegan, even when she ordered the medium-rare rib-eye and IT WAS MY FIANCES B-DAY AND THEY DIN LET US SIT AT THE TABLE I WANTED BCOS S/O ELSE HAD BOOKED IT AND THEN CHARG US 4 THE CAKE I BOUGHT IN AND FEED ME STAKE WHEN I TURNED VEAGAN ON FRIDAY. THEY ARE LIARS. I WON GO BACK LOL". I feel sorry for restauranteurs the world over.

26. Brightest star in Lyra: VEGA

28. River of Pisa: ARNO. Yeah, me ARNE looked odd when I goofed on OST/EST

29. Gps. with copays: HMO'S

30. Ride-sharing option: LYFT. I do wonder why Uber and Lyft are always described as "ride-sharing" services? I know you can share a ride with them, but I wonder what proportion of their revenue comes from ride-share? They were never touted as ride-share services, they were launched as alternatives to calling your local taxi firm for a ride, getting stuck on hold, then being told "15-to-45 minutes" and riding in a rattletrap that stank of cigarettes and a driver that refused to take credit cards and complained he wasn't getting enough tips. Uber and Lyft are not perfect, but they are a hell of an improvement over the "service" before.

31. Ballet divisions: ACTS

32. Early movie mogul: LOEW

33. Gaelic language: ERSE

35. Take out __: A LOAN

36. Island rings: LEIS

39. Fox River, in TV's "Prison Break": STATE PEN

41. Spot of wine?: ASTI

44. Source of a homeopathic oil: TEA TREE. I've used this to cure sporadic outbreaks of dry skin. I'll abide by the "breakfast test" and won't gross you out with more graphic descriptions.

47. They may be fake: TANS

49. Slangy nose: SCHNOZ. I have a friend who is an animation artist. I don't drink any alcohol in January; he drew a caricature of me the day I stepped down from the wagon one February 1st on a bar napkin with a crayon. I never thought I had a schnoz, but the artist doesn't lie!

51. Chooses: PICKS

52. Church song: PSALM

54. Passport producer: HONDA

55. Willow twig: OSIER

56. Lively dances: REELS

57. "The Birth of a Nation" actress __ Naomi King: AJA

58. A deadly sin: LUST. These are tricky waters to navigate. As well as the Ten Commandments, you have the Seven Deadly Sins, the Eternal Sins against the Holy Ghost and the Sins that Cry to Heaven for Vengeance. It seemed like every theologian worth his salt came up with a new list. I think we should just be nice to each other and leave it at that.

59. "If u ask me": IMHO

62. Shoebox letters: EEE

63. "Breaking Bad" network: AMC

That pretty much wraps up this Thursday. I hope you're all taking care of yourselves and being extremely careful in these unusual times. If you're starting to get a little stir-crazy and want to talk to someone other than the walls or the dog, please don't hesitate give me or any of the bloggers a shout and we'll be happy to talk crosswords, or anything else. You can zing me an email through my blog link to keep your personal information secure and I'll be in touch. I'm not sure I'll talk any more sense than the dog, but at least the accent might entertain you.

And .... drum roll ... here's the grid!