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

Sep 19, 2019

Thursday, September 19th 2019 Jeffrey Wechsler

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

6. Domino dots: PIPS.

10. Rotating rod: SPIT. Barbecue! Food!

14. Construction rod: REBAR.

15. Square __: ROOT.

16. Skirt with a flounce: TUTU.

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

20. Wee: TINY.

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

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

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

25. Sticker: DECAL.

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

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

35. Barcelona bear: OSO.

36. Short dog, for short: PEKE.

37. Or so: ABOUT.

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

39. Chest-beating beast: APE.

40. Darts: FLITS.

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

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

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

47. Glance through: SKIM.

48. Goaded, with "on": EGGED.

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

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

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

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

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

61. Spree: BINGE.

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

63. Ballpark figure: OUTS.

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


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

2. Son of Leah: LEVI.

3. Black, to a bard: EBON.

4. Zero, quaintly: NARY A ONE.

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

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

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

8. Common greeting card content: POEM.

9. Far from soothing: STRIDENT.

10. Masonry finish: STUCCO.

11. Bully: PUSH AROUND.

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

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

18. Clump of dune grass: TUFT.

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

26. Baa ma: EWE.

27. One whose work is laughable: JOKE WRITER.

28. Heavenly path: ORBIT.

29. Gear bit: TOOTH.

30. Word with hot or dog: HOUSE.

31. Zonk out: DOZE.

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

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

37. Like some bistros: AL FRESCO.

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

40. Opponent: FOE.

41. Fragrant chain: LEI.

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

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

47. __ Tzu: SHIH.

49. Trusted advisor: GURU.

50. Pesky bug: GNAT.

51. Goes back: EBBS.

53. Rear: HIND.

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

55. Forever: AGES.

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

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

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


Sep 12, 2019

Thursday, September 12th 2019 Jeffrey Wechsler

Theme: Back to Square One - and how is that? Let's explain.

40A. Classic American board game symbolized by this puzzle's circles: CHUTES AND LADDERS. In the UK, and, I believe, Canada, the game is called "Snakes and Ladders" although there are many variations. There are even a chain of coffee shops headquartered in Toronto called "Snakes and Lattes".

The game originated in ancient India under the name Moksha Patam, and traveled to the UK to be called "Snakes and Ladders", faithful to the Indian original, and thence to the Americas, where Milton Bradley renamed it "Chutes and Ladders" and produced the first US version in 1943. I hope the clue refers to the name of the US version, and not the provenance.

It's an interesting study of morality, the ladders reward virtue and the snakes, or chutes, punish transgression. The phrase "back to square one" originated from the game.

Here's a game board preserved in the National Museum in Delhi:

OK, history lesson over.

Jeffrey served up a wonderful puzzle here, it takes great skill to be able to hide the theme entries in multiple adjoining fill, and note that the "downwards" entries are all "chutes" and the "upwards" entries are all "ladders".

Downwards: TRASH, MAIL and LAUNDRY
Upwards: ROPE, FIRE and STEP.

As always, Jeffrey hides some landmines, so just when you think you have the thing beat, you find a section that you stare at, fiddle with, write stuff in, take stuff out, you just can't figure it out. For me this week was the top-center, I had terrible trouble getting that straight.

So Bravo! Mr. Wechsler. Let's take a look at what we have:


1. "Are you getting 100%?" cereal: TOTAL

6. Lover: FLAME. As I mentioned above, this section took me an age to figure out. I just couldn't see FLAME, OILER and even when I finally tripped to PULLMAN I was lost.

11. Excludes: BANS

15. Place to play: ARENA

16. Gulf of Oman vessel: OILER

17. Neutral tone: ECRU

18. Charcuterie fare: MEATS. Food! Originally a way of preserving meats, mainly pork, before refrigeration. Nowadays extends to pates, sausage, and all kinds of interesting stuff.

19. Quaint sleeping coach: PULLMAN CAR. The UK railways ran various all-Pullman services which were first-class only. White tablecloths, candles, waiter food service. I have a couple of Pullman cars on my model railway.

21. Target, as a receiver: PASS TO

23. "Moonlight Sonata" opening movement, e.g.: ADAGIO. Here's Beethoven's masterpiece adagio. Don't bother reading the snarky comments below the piece, it's amazing how those keyboard warriiors want to find some, any excuse to criticize. I think comments should be closed for YouTube.

24. Stand buy: ADE. Lemonade, Ice-T :) What was that commercial for? It was funny.

25. Dromedary feature: HUMP

28. Hybrid fruits: UGLIS

31. Cheerleader's cry: GO TEAM! Or GO WRONG TEAM! as this USC cheerleader celebrates Vince Young's winning touchdown in the 2006 Rose Bowl which confirmed Texas as the National Champions. Ooops.

33. Top __: BANANA

34. "Garfield: __ of Two Kitties": A TAIL. Unheard of, but an easy guess.

37. Deceptive appearance: GUISE

39. __ Plaines: DES

44. Fish often fried: COD. Back in me youth, we ate fish on Fridays, as did all good Catholics (or bad Catholics, in our case, but we had to keep up appearances). The local "chippy" was my mother's night off cooking, we had take-out of fried fish and chips. Three choices, battered cod or haddock; or my dad's favorite, breaded plaice. Wrapped in genuine newsprint. Happy days.

45. Famille member: ONCLE

46. Out of practice: RUSTY. Like my piano skills, I might be able to knock out a "Moonlight Sonata" but I'd have the dogs howling, and not at the moon.

47. Deceptive: TRICKY. A bit like Jeffrey's puzzles.

50. Took to heart: HEEDED

52. Sleep soundly?: SNORE. Loved this clue/answer.

53. Classic movie theaters: RKO'S. RKO had a crack at "verticalization" before anyone had even thought of the term. They figured that if they were producing the movies, they may as well air them in their own theaters and take the box office directly without giving a cut to the theater owners.

54. Maple yield: SAP

57. Martial arts teacher: SENSEI. Literally "one who comes before". An honorific shared in both Chinese and Japanese.

61. Knesset country: ISRAEL. The Israeli Parliament.

63. Brit's afternoon drink: A SPOT OF TEA. Tough to parse if you have all the letters from crosses: ASPOTOFTEA. What? It's the "POT" that throws you.

67. Raised landform: BUTTE

68. Stable baby: FOAL

69. Befuddled: AT SEA

70. It was originally a sitting meditation pose: ASANA. Now a yoga position.

71. Capital on the Tiber: ROME

72. With 22-Down, intimidate: PSYCH (out).

73. Reach: GET AT


1. __ Bay Rays: TAMPA. When did they drop the "Devil" part of the name? C.C. would know.

2. Nymph associated with Artemis: OREAD. Not one, but many. These were mountain nymphs, allegedly aggressive, but they didn't seem to have any trouble attracting attention. I wonder why?

3. Needle: TEASE

4. Tiny tunnelers: ANTS

5. Eighteenth, usually: LAST HOLE. My last hole is the nineteenth - the clubhouse bar.

6. Clotheshorse: FOP

7. Sch. with a Brooklyn campus: LIU. This innocuous little fill was the source of a good 20 minutes of head-scratching - couldn't see past NYU. NYU went in, came out, went in, came out, we do the hokey-pokey and we turn about and end up with NYU all over again. Long Island University - of course. Now if you were asking about Iced Tea, you'd be speaking my language.

8. Penne __ vodka: ALLA. Food! I know you wanted "A LA", as did I - but we are speaking Italian, not French. Here's my dinner tonight - ragu Bolognese I made yesterday (the flavors develop if you leave it overnight), linguine, Parmegiano Reggiano, basil from my own bush and - the killer - a poached egg. So I present "Lingine alla Bolognese con l'uovo" in my terrible Italian.

9. Fuse: MELD

10. Writer Bombeck: ERMA. I still struggle to remember ERMA vs IRMA. Sorry, Irma - I mean, Erma.

11. Inoffensive: BENIGN

12. Praise: ACCOLADES

13. New Deal agcy.: NRA

14. __ La Table: cookware shop: SUR. There's one next to the original Farmer's Market on Fairfax here in LA. It has a magnetic attraction - when I shop the market, I swear they teleport me in there and do the hypnosis finger-snap just after I've finished buying something. I have a rather lovely paella pan from my last telekinetic moment, but I have to say it's had a lot of use.

20. Bonn : Wasser :: Barcelona : __: AGUA

22. See 72-Across: OUT

26. Soccer star Rapinoe: MEGAN

27. Beer belly: PAUNCH

29. Unlikely to react: INERT

30. Likely to react?: SASSY

31. "Scram, varmints!": GIT

32. 2017 "Hello, Dolly!" Tony winner: MIDLER. Bette, of course.

33. TV's Arthur: BEA

34. Billing nos.: ACCTS

35. "This __ / Doth to our rose of youth rightly belong" (Shakespeare): THORN. The "thorn" of love.

Countess: Even so it was with me when I was young:
If ever we are nature's, these are ours; this thorn
Doth to our rose of youth rightly belong;

All's Well that Ends Well, Act III sc i.

36. Intrusive MP3 files: AUDIO SPAM. Is this a thing? I know the two words go together, but had anyone ever had an unwanted intrusion of MP3 files? I know U2 came in for some flak a while ago when they gave their latest album away free to anyone who had an Apple iTunes account, but I can't think of anything which might come close to spam. Anyone?

38. Aerodynamic: SLEEK

41. __ sauce: SOY

42. Bridal gown storage option: DRESS BAG. Hmmm, OK.

43. It'll never work: DUD

48. Big Easy cuisine: CREOLE. Food!

49. Co-worker of Lane and Olsen: KENT. Superman in his day job.

51. "Where __ sign?": DO I

54. Pulled a chair up to: SAT AT

55. Insurance giant: AETNA. Founded as the Aetna (Fire) Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut. Why Aetna? Based on the name of Etna, the active volcano beloved of crossword constructors.

56. Skirt fold: PLEAT

58. Dove, e.g.: SOAP

59. Young salamanders: EFTS

60. Wee: ITSY

62. Sleight of hand: RUSE

63. Egypt's cont.: AFRica. If you'd like a little different take on the by-now bland "Toto" song, here's my favorite Norwegian heavy metal and legendary cover artist Leo Morachiolli. Ear defenders advised for the weak at heart, or hearing.

64. Jack of "Barney Miller": SOO

65. Common Market letters: EEC. European Economic Community.

66. Hot tub sigh: AAH!

I'm in the UK for a few days, I'm crossing my fingers that civil war doesn't break out while I'm here and the hordes descend on Heathrow Airport with pitchforks and torches. If that happens, I'll just pop into the pub for a pint or two and maybe a spot of tea and wait for it to rain. The last time there were major riots in England when I lived there it was during a spell of nice weather. Once it started raining, the rioting subsided. No-one likes to riot in the rain.

Pip-pip, old Chaps! Toodle-oo!


Note from C.C.:

Happy 60th birthday to dear Steve, the Cal Ripken Jr. of our blog. Steve has a busy job and travels often, but he always prioritizes our blog and writes many posts on the road. Thank you so much for your incomparable dedication and humor, Steve!

Steve and Jill, June 12, 2016
Tea at The Queen Mary

Sep 5, 2019

Thursday, September 5th 2019 Kristian House

Theme: Two's Company or an enemy! Two-handed games, let's go look:

17A. *Brain trust member: MASTERMIND. Fun game, you try to match the colors and order of four hidden pegs set by your opponent. "Mastermind" is also a long-running quiz show in the UK; the first few seasons were won by university professors, diplomats and such. Then Fred Housego, a London taxi driver, stormed the competition, he won and became a popular figure appearing on TV and radio. Even though he was an emerging media star he still continued to drive his cab.

22A. *Nixon's cocker spaniel: CHECKERS. Not many alternative clues for this one. The only one I can think of is too "British". (the Prime Minister's "official" country residence). Why the PM needs a country residence is beyond me.

38A. *Influential record company named for co-founding brothers Leonard and Phil: CHESS. A great story and anyone lovers of R&B or Rock 'n Roll will know Chess Records. Interestingly, they also had a subsidiary label "Checker" - shame it wasn't the plural to match 22A.

This is their release "Rocket 88" with Jackie Brenston, a single generally accepted as the first "Rock and Roll" release

50A. *Playful question spoiled by caller ID: GUESS WHO? Also guess who:

"Knock knock!
Who's there?
To who?
No, it's to whom.

60A. *The USS Iowa, e.g.: BATTLESHIP. The game used to be simple, played on graph paper, and calling out squares to your opponent, but it's got a little more complicated, battery powered and unnecessary. Does there have to be an app for everything? The battleship "Iowa" found a home here in Southern California in San Pedro harbor.

11D. With 28-Down, words to a cheater ... or an honest hint to the answers to starred clues: TWO CAN PLAY ...

28D. See 11-Down: ... AT THAT GAME

This was nicely done. The five theme entries were clued without any reference to the games, and the down reveal was a nice surprise when it all came together. Great job by Kristian and a lot of fun fill to round things out.


1. Isla surrounder: AGUA

5. Real cutup: JOKER

10. Italian volcano: ETNA. There's another four-letter volcano in Italy in the Lazio region, Vico, and Lake Vico occupies the caldera,it's  safe to say it hasn't blown its top for quite some time, if it does all that water would be giving Rome a hot shower.

14. TV series that had flashbacks, flash-forwards and multiple timelines: LOST

15. Kemper of "The Office": ELLIE

16. Truant GI: AWOL

19. Meander: ROVE

20. Afflicted with illness, say: STRICKEN

21. Gastric woe: ULCER

25. PC key: ALT

26. Reel Big Fish music genre: SKA

29. Pigs out (on): ODS

30. Flying frenemy of Godzilla: RODAN. "Frenemies" because they usually start out fighting each other in the movies, then team up to defeat a bigger threat to them both.

32. "Beaten" ways: PATHS. Because "Sado-masochistic lifestyle" doesn't quite fit.

34. One who is rotten to the core?: BAD APPLE

37. Quartet member: ALTO

40. Serb or Croat: SLAV

41. Went over again and again: REHASHED

43. Razz: TEASE

44. Geometric given: AXIOM. I thought "postulates" were geometric and "axioms" algebraic, but since I pretty much sucked at high school mathematics so who am I to question the experts?

45. Ox tail?: -IDE

47. Hankering: YEN

48. Toward the stern: AFT

53. 2010 Supreme Court appointee: KAGAN

55. Shows derision for: SNEERS AT

59. Boast: BRAG

62. Toon mail-order company: ACME. He'd get quicker delivery and free returns with Amazon Prime today.

63. Be of use to: AVAIL

64. Sty sound: OINK

65. Swamp stalk: REED

66. "Aw, fudge!": NERTS!

67. Corddry of TV's "Mom": NATE. Crosses all the way, as is my wont with TV-related clues.


1. Help for the needy: ALMS

2. Animal on the Cubs' 2016 World Series rings: GOAT. I've been to the original Billy Goat Tavern on Lower Michigan Avenue. Simple enough place, cold beer and the "cheezborgers" of Saturday Night Live fame.

3. Space Race inits.: U.S.S.R.

4. Room often with a slanted ceiling: ATTIC

5. Pulled quickly: JERKED

6. Early Mexicans: OLMECS

7. "Hogan's Heroes" colonel: KLINK

8. German article: EIN

9. Crimson, e.g.: RED

10. Bluegrass legend Scruggs: EARL

12. Original: NOVEL

13. At the ready: ALERT

18. Heart sonograms, familiarly: ECHOS

21. Food safety agcy.: U.S.D.A.

23. Paleozoic and Cenozoic: ERAS

24. Retina cells: RODS

26. Exchange barbs: SPAR

27. Curly cabbage: KALE

31. Church area: APSE

33. The Cardiff Giant, notably: HOAX. A great story. The hoax was exploited by one David Hannum, who coined the phrase "there's a sucker born every minute" when he discovered people were paying to see a copy of the giant, created by P.T. Barnum. Hannum sued Barnum, but the case was dismissed by the judge who ruled that Barnum had just faked a fake.

Look him up on Wikipedia. I'd post the picture here, but some of delicate dispositions might be alarmed by the naked giant's nether regions. If the giant is ten feet tall, his well-sculpted "wedding tackle" is around a foot. He puts Michelangelo's "David" to shame.

34. __ Bath & Beyond: BED

35. Zap with a beam: LASE

36. Equally matched: EVEN

38. __ En-lai: CHOU

39. Iron-rich blood pigment: HEME. Slowly figured this out from the related words - hematoma, hemaglobin and so on. In UK English, we complicate matters, originally using the dipthong spelling "hæma..." and then, completely true to the "why don't we complicate spelling?"  edict, the expanded "haema".

42. Portent: SIGN

43. Giggly sound: TE-HEE

45. "Don't you agree?": ISN'T IT?

46. Resides: DWELLS

48. 1556-1605 Mogul emperor: AKBAR

49. Screwball comedy: FARCE

51. Celestial red giant: S-STAR

52. Director Welles: ORSON

54. Like good Scotch: AGED. It never goes bad, unlike wine aged too long, but it disappears, evaporating into the ether, the annual 2% loss known as "the angel's share". That's 29 million gallons of Scotch evaporating out of the barrels of Scottish distilleries every year. Those angels are having a PAR-TEY!

56. LaBeouf of "Transformers" films: SHIA

57. Informal contraction: AIN'T

58. Toll rd.: TPKE. The geek in me knows it as an acronym for Threshold Public Key Encryption.

60. Prohibition: BAN. A good job it didn't happen in Scotland otherwise those angels would have to go find something useful to do.

61. "__ Maria": AVE

That's about it, I think. Music link posted? Check. Picture embedded? Check. Random story about the UK? Check! Grid? Here it is. Check!


Aug 29, 2019

Thursday, August 29th 2019 Ed Sessa

Theme: Goodbye Hello Goodbye - Help! I'm stuck in here! As the reveal explains:

58A. It comes full circle as you work your way through 20-, 36-, 43- and 58-Across: REVOLVING DOOR

20A. Cookie with a whimsical name: SNICKERDOODLE. I've never had one. I resolve to try one, I'll report back. I had an Orange Julius for the first time last week and thoroughly enjoyed it, I need to start visiting the oddly delicious menu items more often. Popeye's just launched a chicken sandwich that made the culture section of the UK newspaper I read online. Truly these are great times.

Read about it here

36A. The grapevine: WORD OF MOUTH. The Grapevine is the climb out of LA on I-5 to San Francisco or Fresno. Closed in winter sometimes, we do get snow down here, contrary to popular opinion. You can still surf though!

43A. Custom: MADE TO ORDER. French fashion introduced "Prêt-à-Porter", literally "Ready to Wear" as a reaction against bespoke, expensive tailoring. A genius sandwich chain which launched in England called their stores "Prêt-à-Manger" - "Ready to Eat". Branches have arrived in New York, I'm waiting for them to make the 3,000 mile trip across the country when they open one in LA. I'll be first in line.

Nice job by Mr. Sessa - notice how the "DOOR" revolves a letter-shift at a time through RDOO, ORDO, OORD to end at DOOR. First class construction. Note the 10- and 9- letter entries in the fill too, Ed is a craftsman, without doubt. Let's see what else jumps out:


1. Respond to "Let's give it up for ... ": CLAP

5. Moves like Tinker Bell: FLITS

10. "... thou damned whale!" speaker: AHAB. Of "Moby Dick" fame, or infamy, depending on your viewpoint.

14. Gad about: ROVE

15. Like some whiskey barrels: OAKEN. Irish whiskey is my favorite, curiously most Irish whiskey (note the "e") is aged in ex-Bourbon oak barrels from the US.

16. Lawless character: XENA. Nice clue. New Zealander Lucy Lawless portrayed the title character in "Xena: Warrior Princess".

17. Turkmenistan neighbor: IRAN. IRA_ and wait for the cross.

18. Huge herbivore: RHINOCEROS. Isn't it interesting all the big African animals - the rhinos, the hippos, the elephants are all herbivores?

22. Biden's 2008 debate opponent: PALIN. In UK politics, in 1978 one debatee described being attacked by the other as "like being savaged by a dead sheep". I'll leave it at that.

23. "Fresh Air" airer: NPR

24. Although: YET

27. Led Zeppelin's "Whole __ Love": LOTTA

31. Critical layer: OZONE

33. Torch-wielding group in "Frankenstein": MOB. Pitchforks too, if it's a proper mob. You can't storm a castle without a good turnout of pitchforks.

39. From the beginning: ANEW

41. LED component: DIODE. Light-Emitting Diode. I have a few of them lighting the interiors some of the buildings on my model railway.

42. Brute: OGRE

46. "__ Como Va": Santana hit: OYE. Carlos Santana had some genius moments of collaboration - here's Rob Thomas, lead singer of Matchbox Twenty with Santana, the hit that that pretty much took over the radio in 1999/2000

47. Penny pincher: MISER

48. Composition: ESSAY

50. Dalí contemporary: ARP. Jean on a French day, Hans on a German day.


51. Summer in la ville: ÉTÉ

54. One to the manor born: NOBLE

63. It's stressful to live in it: CRISIS MODE. Stressful? That's an understatement.

65. Counterclockwise arrow function: UNDO

66. Countless years: EONS

67. Monastery wear: COWLS

68. Monopoly card: DEED. The most expensive property on the UK version is "Mayfair", which actually is isn't a street in London, it's a ritzy district off Park Lane, the second-most expensive property.

69. Name on a box of bricks: LEGO

70. Useful thing: ASSET

71. Gaelic language: ERSE


1. Like pretzel rods: CRISP

2. Doone of Exmoor: LORNA. Set in the fictional Doone Valley in the west of England

3. Be of service to: AVAIL

4. Eyeliner applicator: PENCIL

5. Driver's warning: FORE! Golf. A word often employed by yours truly.

6. "The Wizard of Oz" actor: LAHR

7. "Just messin' around": I KID!

8. Mortise insert: TENON. One of these!

9. Nose (around): SNOOP

10. Salchow kin: AXEL. Ice skating jumps.

11. "Take it": HERE YOU GO!

12. Smart game-show vowel purchase for "D _ _ M AND GL _ _ M": AN "O"

13. English lit degrees: BA'S. Two graduates of English Lit would be Bachelors of Art, but the two degrees are BA's. English is a peculiar language.

19. Data disk: CD-ROM

21. Recognize: KNOW

25. Sweepstakes submission: ENTRY

26. Titter: TEHEE. This is one of those words that crossword constructors can spell a number of different ways to suit their needs.

28. Stir: TO-DO

29. The Chipmunks, e.g.: TRIO. "The Chipmunks", pronounced "Annoying as hell".

30. Go gaga over: ADORE

32. Herpetologist's employer: ZOO. A specialist in reptiles and amphibians. From the Greek "herpeton" - "creeping animal".

33. Famiglia nickname: MAMMA

34. Being broadcast: ON AIR

35. Support for a king?: BEDSPRING. One word or two? The interwebs are divided.

37. Chances: ODDS

38. Tuition add-ons: FEES

40. Rather small: WEE

44. Fountain near the Spanish Steps: TREVI. The Rome police have introduced fines for tourists sitting on the Spanish Steps. It seems a little harsh. The fines are not "Trevi-al" either - around $280.

45. Chimed: RANG

49. Slangy greeting: YO! DUDE!

52. Puccini opera: TOSCA

53. "__ World": "Sesame Street" segment: ELMO'S

55. Dumb move: BONER

56. High-yield deposits: LODES

57. Wear away: ERODE

59. Petro-Canada competitor: ESSO

60. Swearing in a monastery?: VOWS. Those cowl-clad denizens of 67A. Nice clue.

61. Not working: IDLE

62. House in a bush: NEST

63. Bit of animation: CEL

64. Anonym in a landmark case: ROE vs. Wade.

I think that about does it for me. Just time to add the grid and I'm outta here!


Aug 22, 2019

Thursday, August 22nd 2019 Winston Emmons

Theme: EPI-penned - the letters EPI appear in the theme entries as the reveal explains:

65A. Quake's origin, and a feature of the answers to starred clues: EPICENTER. Very common word on the news around these parts. There have been a few pretty big shakes over the last few weeks.

So we get:

17A. *Watch: TIMEPIECE

24A. *Jazzman Fats Waller, style-wise: STRIDE PIANIST.  I was not familiar with this term at all.

40A. *"Boulevard Montmartre" series painter: CAMILLE PISSARRO

Here's the boulevard "on a Winter's Morning":

52A. *Understand: GET THE PICTURE

Straightforward enough theme, nicely executed. Note that the "EPI"s in each theme entry are the middle three letters of each answer. I struggled a bit with the STRIDE/W.C. HANDY/AZO/DYNES region but the crosses eventually pulled it together.


1. Suggestions, informally: RECS. Recommendations, I presume.

5. Many 40-Across works: OILS. A cross-reference clue right off the bat to annoy those who don't like them!

9. Supplement: ADD TO

14. Monsieur's mine: À MOI

15. Champagne designation: BRUT. Driest of the champagnes. The others, from dry to sweet, are Extra Sec, Sec, Demi Sec and Doux. Some purests split "rut" into "Extra Brut", the driest, and "Brut Nature".

16. React to a loss: MOURN

19. Palestinian leader Mahmoud: ABBAS. Thank you, crosses

20. Childish comeback: ARE SO!

21. Increase, with "up": REV

23. Simian: APE

29. "St. Louis Blues" composer: W.C. HANDY. Unknown to me. A very influential musician, I come to find.

31. Huntsville's home: Abbr.: ALA. Handy briefly taught at the now-named Alabama A&M University near Huntsville, and quit when he found that a pipe-fitter made more money. See what I just learned?

32. Nitrogen-based dye: AZO. Another unknown.

33. Turow book set at Harvard: ONE L. "One L" refers to a first-year law student, not just at Harvard but all law schools.

36. Quaking tree: ASPEN

44. Krispy __: KREME

45. Room in una casa: SALA

46. __ bran: OAT

47. Corn unit: EAR

49. Sisters on whom "Little Women" was loosely based: ALCOTTS

57. It may be inflated: EGO

58. Not bright: DIM

59. Dreadlocks wearer: RASTA

62. Golfer with an "army": ARNIE. Arnold Palmer, nicknamed "The King". He was one of the first golf superstars with the arrival of televised tournaments.

68. Walks unsteadily: REELS

69. Make over: REDO

70. "Star Trek" creator Roddenberry: GENE. There's a building on the Paramount lot named for him. He's made them quite a bit of money over the years.

71. Sore throat cause: STREP

72. Word with dash or happy: SLAP

73. Novelist Ferber: EDNA


1. Female rodent, to Fernando: RATA. You need a gato to chase her off.

2. Arab chieftain: EMIR

3. Returns: COMES HOME

4. Afternoon break: SIESTA

5. Kimono sash: OBI

6. Anger: IRE

7. "Filthy" moolah: LUCRE. Is all lucre filthy?

8. Expensive: STEEP

9. Physicians' gp.: A.M.A.

10. Bio info: D.O.B.

11. City with the world's tallest building: DUBAI

12. Snares: TRAPS

13. Kickoff: ONSET

18. Dirty work?: PORN. Rich has been getting a little more lenient over the years with "acceptable" entries.

22. By way of: VIA

25. Object of much reverence: IDOL

26. Newton fractions: DYNES. This was part my problem area, crossing "STRIDE" and "HANDY".

27. Rueful word: ALAS

28. Voyager org.: N.A.S.A.

29. Eccentric: WACK

30. Überauthority: CZAR. What, he arrived in Russia in a ride service? Maybe Otis was a Lyftauthority?

34. "Learn about the UV Index" org.: E.P.A.

35. Pastel shade: LILAC

37. Voiced one's opposition: PROTESTED

38. Logician's "E": ERAT. "Quod Erat Demonstrandum", "QED".

39. Forget-me-__: NOTS

41. "How __ Your Mother": I MET

42. "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology" memoirist Remini: LEAH. I remember hearing about the book, I never got around to reading it.

43. Brine has a lot of it: SALT

48. Signal to stop: RED

50. Virologist's goal: CURE

51. Creamsicle flavor: ORANGE. How funny, just last Friday I had my first "Orange Julius" at a Dairy Queen in Westminster Mall. It was surprisingly good!

52. Gets ready, with "up": GEARS

53. Long-billed wader: EGRET

54. Copier cartridge: TONER

55. Places to tie up: PIERS

56. Drive: IMPEL

60. Miss. neighbor: TENN.

61. Plane measurement: AREA

63. Martinique, par exemple: ÎLE. Caribbean island, part of the French West Indies. Here's La Plage des Salines - beautiful!

64. Clairvoyant's claim: E.S.P.

66. Journalist Tarbell: IDA

67. Steal, in slang: COP

I think that about does it for me today. Hasta la Jueves!


Aug 15, 2019

Thursday, August 15th, 2019 Gary Larson


39A. Come to a compromise ... and a homophonic hint to what each of four long answers contains: MEET IN THE MIDDLE

17A. E-cig user's package: VAPOR KIT. Food! Funny, I just made a Mexican pork dish last night, pork pibil. it was dee-lish, great tacos. A friend suggested I swap out the tomatillos in the sauce for cumquat, I like that idea for the acid element. I'll report back.

24A. Place for an apian colony: HONEY BEE FARM

51A. Self-arming protection system: PASSIVE ALARM

64A. Beach party with shellfish: CLAMBAKE

Plain and straightforward theme from Gary. Nothing to complain about - except maybe "VAPOR KIT". I'd never heard of that, and Google seems to agree with me. It seems a little contrived. "VAPE" yes, otherwise - not so much.

So moving on:


1. "Cheers" cheer: NORM!

5. Lyft or Uber: APP

8. Makes fun of: MOCKS

13. Melville's "Typee" sequel: OMOO. Has anyone actually read this? It crops up in many crosswords - and has anyone actually read "Typee"? "Moby Dick" was a slog.

14. Seafood delicacy: ROE

15. "Oh, darn!": AW, RATS! Charlie Brown's favorite exclamation.

19. Dollhouse accessory: TEA SET. TEA POT slowed me down.

20. Playground retort: ARE SO!

21. ER "Now!": STAT!

23. "What fun!": WHEE!. There's a lot of exclamations today. I used to work for a Dubliner in London who called the exclamation point a "shriek". I got to like it. I asked him for the password to a computer account once when I was new, and he told me "shriek or shriek ..." I was thoroughly confused ... until I discovered he was saying "!R!". So if you want to know the password to the database administrator account at [redacted], it's "Shriek or Shriek password"

27. Married person: SPOUSE

30. "Furthermore ... ": ALSO ...

31. Keats' "Sylvan historian": URN.

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
       A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:

32. Actor McShane and novelist McEwan: IANS. I'm fans of both.

35. Fields of study: AREAS

43. Offspring: SPAWN. Usually "hell-spawn" for some reason.

44. Merrie __ England: OLDE. The Renaissance Fair doesn't really do justice to how pretty nasty conditions were in "Merry Old England".

45. Alumna bio word: NÉE

46. "Argo" setting: IRAN

48. One of the four Evangelists: ST. MARK. Matthew, Luke and John were his Evangelist compadres.

56. May, to Peter Parker: AUNT

57. North-of-the-border brand: ESSO. Across-the-Atlantic brand too.

58. Kick to the next level: AMP UP

62. Scribe: WRITER

66. Inhumane one: SADIST. Actually, the Marquis de Sade gets a little bum rap for this, so I've read.

67. The whole lot: ALL.

68. Frank: OPEN

69. Flows slowly: SEEPS

70. Chi follower: PSI

71. Gridiron play: PASS


1. Super star: NOVA. So here's a little musical interlude to a "supernova" band who apparently predicted their explosion to fame and implosion in an omnishambles quite accurately. Damn, they were good.

2. "Rubáiyát" poet Khayyám: OMAR. I'm glad I didn't have to go look for the diacriticals in the clue, I'd have been busy all day.

3. One may be tied around a saddle horn: ROPE

4. Chinese dish with pancakes: MOO SHU. Food!

5. Torah holder: ARK

6. Composure: POISE

7. Picayune: PETTY

8. Fisher-Price parent: MATTEL. They have a "Hot Wheels" branded bus that ferries folk between their two campuses in El Segundo her in LA. It's pretty cool. When you are waiting in the lobby they have a "bus cam" so you can see where it is.

9. Need to pay: OWE

10. "Mommie Dearest" mommie: CRAWFORD

11. Buckwheat dish: KASHA. I had never heard of this before, so, obviously, I'm going to make it at the weekend and see what's what.

12. Ranch critter: STEER. Critter? Terrible clue.

16. Goblet part: STEM

18. Outback hoppers: ROOS

22. Cut down to size: ABASED

25. Teutonic turndown: NEIN

26. Morales of "La Bamba": ESAI

27. Basic math homework: SUMS

28. Help the chef: PREP. You're welcome to join me in my kitchen. I'll prep for you if you'll return the favor.

29. Draft card designation: ONE-A

33. More than apologizes: ATONES

34. Org. with Canadiens and Canucks: NHL

36. Poet St. Vincent Millay: EDNA

37. Astro or Angel: AL'ER. Baseball, ask C.C.

38. Car radio button: SEEK

40. Drawstring alternative: TWIST TIE. Creative clue.

41. Crucifix letters: INRI

42. Painted Desert landform: MESA

47. Heads off: AVERTS

49. Airport conveyance: TRAM. The longest and most aggravating tram contest is a three-way playoff between San Franscisco, Atlanta and Newark.

50. 1997 chart-topper for Hanson: MMMBOP. I looked it up on YouTube. The chorus was vaguely familiar. What I was stunned about was the ads for the current tour. I assumed they all retired when their voices broke.

51. Bear hands: PAWS

52. Mysterious glows: AURAS

53. Like some remarks: SNIDE

54. Music licensing fee-collecting org.: ASCAP

55. Takes it easy: LOLLS.

59. Nickname for Haydn: PAPA

60. Hawaiian strings: UKES.

61. Rollerball items: PENS I was trying to fit rollerskate-related items in here, then I looked at what I was holding in my hand.

63. Ability to pick things up?: ESP

65. Boxing legend: ALI. I know I've said before, I "met" Muhammad once in an elevator at Warner Bros. We had an understanding not to approach anyone you ran into on the lot, but I couldn't resist shaking his hand and calling him "Champ". He was an amazing man.

With that, here's the grid.


Notes from C.C.:

Good luck to Picard (Robert), who's having a major surgery today. Please send positive thoughts to his way.

Picard and his Wife, Tahoe, 2016

Aug 8, 2019

Thursday, August 8th 2019 Roland Huget

Theme: Dennis Rodman - he created so many random news stories during his career, he seems a good theme title

17A. Annual e-tail sale event: CYBER MONDAY

25A. Expensive gift: DIAMOND RING. Here's one currently on eBay for $155,000 from Illinois. They don't say if you get free postage, I'm not bidding if I have to pay USPS. Pah.

38A. Old West wanted poster figure: REWARD MONEY

51A. Apollo craft: LUNAR MODULE. Lunar Excursion Module officially, but we'll LEM, or I mean LET that one go.

61A. Ideal deck-shuffling goal ... and a hint to a hidden word, and how it appears, in the four other longest answers: RANDOM ORDER, Surely random disorder? I think I see the point, but the reveal fell a little flat for me.

Simple enough theme from Roland, but still a lot of challenge to work through. I think we would all have navigated this one safely.

Let's see what else we've got:


1. Shelves for cooking: RACKS

6. Image problem, briefly: BAD P.R.

11. Navy letters: USS

14. Muscat native: OMANI

15. Catherine of "Best in Show": O'HARA

16. Water source: TAP. English! Faucet now.

19. Good Grips gadget brand: OXO. I have an OXO can opener. Best I've ever had. Bed, Bath and Beyond - take your 20% off coupon and get one, I'm sure you've got a pile of coupons. I tell them they should just knock 20% off all the prices and save themselves the cost of printing and mailing the coupons.

20. Distrustful: LEERY

21. Any of six classic Clue cards: WEAPON. What are they? The candlestick seems a little bludgeon-y. There! I just invented a word!

23. "I kissed thee __ I killed thee": "Othello": 'ERE. With a candlestick?

28. Folded snack: TACO. Food! I made carnitas al carbon tacos with two salsas, crema, queso and pico de gallo at the weekend. I think I passed out in a food coma.

30. Put away: HID

31. Shock, in a way: TASE

32. Sliced very thin: SHAVED. Food! I'm loving this today. Shaved truffles? Go lightly ...

35. Substantial: SOLID

41. Soprano Fleming: RENEE. Thank you, crosswords past.

42. Log on to: ACCESS

45. Barely go (through): SEEP. Hmmm. Not sure about this clue. Seep to me means slowly, not a struggle to get through a gap.

48. Like a favored project: PET

50. Govt. workplace watchdog: OSHA

56. "The Fountainhead" author Rand: AYN. I read this years ago, it was a long read. I rarely give up on a book, but this one was a challenge.

57. Build up: ACCRUE

58. Raptor's grabber: TALON

60. E'en if: THO'

66. Call someone by the wrong name, e.g.: ERR. I do this all the time, all the memory games I play just don't help. I've called long-term girlfriends the wrong name at random times. That usually doesn't go over well.

67. Outrage: ANGER

68. Small change in a small bank: PENNY

69. Catch: SEE

70. City on the Rhone: LYONS. I stalled on this one for a while, I've been to Lyon a number of times - as far as I know, unless there is another similar-named city on the Rhone, the city is called LYON. A quite beautiful place with great food. I first went there when I was 17 and was hitchhiking through France. I got dropped off at midnight by a little park where I pitched my tent. I woke up in the morning and found that I was camped on a traffic circle in the middle of the rush hour. A Gendarme drove up and told me to get the hell out of there :) I'd be happy to be corrected, about the spelling, but I'm calling this entry a rare mistake.

71. Ham it up: EMOTE


1. Big bird of myth: ROC

2. Adams of HBO's "Sharp Objects": AMY. No clue, thank you crosses.

3. Iconic San Francisco transport: CABLE CAR. Fun to ride up and down the hill from downtown to Fisherman's Wharf. Amazing that the old technology works just fine!

4. Tot's perch: KNEE

5. Fathered: SIRED

6. "Take that!": BOOYAH!

7. "Kung Fu" actor Philip: AHN. Another one, thank you crosses.

8. Pops: DAD

9. Decapod on a menu: PRAWN. I'm not sure I knew they had ten pods, whatever a pod is. I need to go and research this.

10. Like starfish: RAYED. I've love to explain this one, but I have no idea why a starfish is "rayed" - is it sunbathing? We need to explore Google.

11. Ideal place: UTOPIA

12. Battle of Hastings combatants: SAXONS. The home side. The Away team the Normans, sneaky buggers, invented shooting people in the eye with arrows. Then made a tapestry out of it. Oh well, that's why my DNA is 17% North-West French.

13. Dish cleaner: SPONGE. Whirlpool Dishwasher didn't fit.

18. Orthopedist's pic: MRI

22. Like the Empire State Building: ART DECO. Funny, I don't think of the Empire State Building as Art Deco. The Chrysler Building, yes.

23. Presumed UFO crew: E.T.'S

24. Cheering word: RAH!

26. Transgression: MISDEED

27. 2016 Tony winner Leslie __ Jr.: ODOM. Crosses again! I'd be all over (figuratively!) the basketball player.

29. Like a bogey: OVER PAR. Now this was interesting. I had the "O" in place and went for "ONE OVER". There's a lot of common letters, so unpicking the mistake wasn't straightforward.

33. Romano cheese source: EWE. Sheep. Cheese.

34. Singer Fogelberg: DAN

36. Mauna __: LOA. KEA also, so if you have the "A" wait for a cross.

37. Fortune rival: INC. Money magazines. I don't read them, maybe I should.

39. Seized wheels: REPO

40. Ambiguous response: YES AND NO

43. Short: SHY.Shy of a dollar, a dime ... short of the check.

44. Japanese title of respect: -SAN. I'd clue this as a suffix, as you don't use "SAN" alone. A man or a woman - Steve-san in my case, Zhouquin-san in C.C.'s case.

45. Roofing pieces: SLATES

46. Trick-taking card game: EUCHRE. I learned this game from some Mid-west friends. I knew I had it nailed when I "went alone" and won every trick. So much fun. My friend Laura from Illinois is an Euchre magician, just don't bet when you go up against her.

47. Recital bonus: ENCORE

49. Private teachers: TUTORS

52. Like much of Idaho: RURAL

53. Nasty type: MEANY

54. Hightail it: LAM

55. Hitch on the fly: ELOPE.

59. Utah city on I-15: OREM. Thank you, crosswords past. On the subject of Utah, when I drove to Las Vegas recently on I-15 from LA, the miles were shown to Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. What was odd was that the SLC mileage was pasted over with a new number. Did it move? There were at least 10 mileage boards that I passed with an "amended" mileage.

62. Private aid prog.: NGO. I ddn't even see this while I was filling in the grid. A Non-Governmental Organization.

63. Spot for a recliner: DEN

64. Tolkien creature: ENT. A tree, who specializes in tonsil infections, stirrup problems and sinus infections ... no, wait ....

65. Manhattan liquor: RYE. Whisky, bitters, sugar and a twist of orange.

And on that happy note, Slainte!

Here's the grid!


Aug 1, 2019

Thursday, August 1st 2019 Jack Murtagh

Theme: Clueless in Los Angeles - but step down and find the unclued related theme entry!

20A. Court address: YOUR + 25A. -: HONOR

18A. World's largest lizard: KOMODO  + 23A -: DRAGON

53A. Percussion piece: SNARE + 57A. -: DRUM

55A. Shotgun type: DOUBLE + 62A. -: BARREL. One of my favorite movies is Guy Richie's "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels". Here is Vinnie Jones, who was a professional football player in England before he moved to acting. Trust me, he was pretty much the same on the field as he was in his movie persona:

The reveal tells us:

40A. Instructions for fire safety ... or for completing four puzzle answers: STOP DROP AND ROLL

Great puzzle - you fill in the first part of the theme entry - then you run out of space, but what? Drop down a square and fill in the second word, unclued. So that takes care of the "STOP" and "DROP" in the reveal, but what is this? A ROLL - Honor roll, Dragon roll (sushi, yay!), drum roll and barrel roll. Woo-hoo! A great puzzle from Jack, there is much to like in this one. I think this might be Jack's first puzzle in the LA Times, so Huzzah! for that.

I had no clue regarding the theme until I noticed that I'd filled in "DRUM" with the crosses, and I just guessed at SNARE. Then I looked at a mostly empty grid, and realized what we were dealing with. I love the unlocking the secret of a puzzle, and this one is up there with my favorites. I respect the creative thought that goes into these. Thanks, Jack, you had me bemused for quite some time. Bravo! - Or, as I have learned from watching the great Tour de France this year - "Chapeau"! *


1. Digital unit: BIT. Bits, bytes, megabytes. No-one thought of terabytes back in the day, that was science fiction. I have a 2TB hard drive to back up my computer, it's the size of Post-It pad and cheap enough to make Captain Kirk's eyes water. We'll come back to the Post-It note at some point, fascinating history for the iconic 3M product.

4. Play the part of: ACT AS

9. Paintball attire, for short: CAMO. I have camo shorts. I think at one point we all did. No longer a fashion item, I wear them hiking (stealth mode so that I don't get eaten by mountain lions).

13. Cry from a card holder: UNO!

14. Religious leader: CLERIC. I didn't really consider a cleric a leader, I thought he/she would be way down on the totem pole, but I guess a flock, and he leads them.

16. Made man?: ADAM. Made from clay, if I recall correctly. Eve was made with clay and a rib?

17. Home for the holidays, say: OFF. I'm off. Actually, not yet, I still have a puzzle to go.

19. Rooftop spinner: VANE. If it's spinning you've got some serious weather heading your way. Buckle up!

22. FDR job-creating program: WPA

27. Catchers with pots: EELERS. Slippery little buggers - have you tried to catch one with your hands?

28. Like the Avengers: HEROIC

31. Twice DVI: MXII. I miscalculated this and ended up with CODEC which I was sure was correct. Nope. Buzzer!

32. Z preceder: A TO. This was a head-scratcher until I parsed it out. A to Z. There's a town near me called Azusa - it was founded as an industrial manufacturing town - they made everything "from A to Z in the USA."

33. Pancake at a seder: LATKE

36. Longtime Sweethearts maker: NECCO. Hands up everyone who has handed out a Love Heart in school! I gave one to Laura. The pain of unrequited love.

43. Marx forte: HUMOR. Not "Communist Revolutionary Theory"? OK, my bad. Not enough squares.

44. Kim and Kourtney's sister: KHLOE. I hate that I know this.

45. Bundle of cash: WAD

46. Toy with a tail: KITE

48. "Spill it": TELL ME

50. Bassett of "American Horror Story": ANGELA. Crosses all the way. I'm sure she's a great actress in a great movie, but never blipped on my radar.

56. Zing: PEP

61. Where Georgia is: ASIA. I struggle with the Europe/Asia divide, it seems very arbitrary

65. Mineral resource: ORE

66. Move: SELL

67. Cocktail garnishes: OLIVES. Why did I go with LEMONS first? That did not work at all. If I order a martini, I get a Gibson - onions, not olives, in my defense.

68. A long time follower?: AGO. "A long long time ago, I can still remember how the music used to make me smile". Let's sing along with Don McLean. I'm sorry you have to click through a couple of ads, but on a side note, why did the post have a picture of Bob Dylan?

69. Scoundrel: HEEL

70. "Aida" setting: EGYPT

71. Dawn phenomenon: DEW. Sundown also, there is a dewpoint in the evening too. That's when it hurts your plants, when you get dew that freezes overnight.


1. Elevate: BUOY. "Boy" in English-English, Boo-eey in American English. I think after 25 years I prefer the latter.

2. Scoop: INFO. 

3. Curds in cubes: TOFU. Food! Mine goes into Pad Thai noodles. Pour boiling water onto the cubes to dry them out - I know it's counter-intertuitive but it works. Then add them to the wok.

4. "Oy!": ACK!

5. High-capacity vehicle?: CLOWN CAR Colorful, and a nightmare for anyone with coulrophobia:

6. Record time?: TEMPO. Is 33/45/78 a tempo? I'm showing my age, everything now is a download. Damn, I'm old.

7. Like noisy fans: AROAR. I suppose so. Still doesn't beat Grantland Rice's "Under a blue-gray sky, the four horsemen of the apocalypse rode again". Sports journalism at its finest.

8. Vicious on stage: SID. The Sex Pistols. I won't link a song, not everyone's cup of tea. I saw them in a basement room in a pub in North London before Sid joined the band, and boy, I have to say they were talented, they caught the moment and caught lightning in a bottle.

9. High-and-mighty: CAVALIER

10. Wise words: ADAGE

11. Regal home: MANOR. Regal? Not so sure, regal means royal. Lords of the Manor were certainly elevated in society, but not royal.

12. Warning signs: OMENS

15. Book form that replaced the scroll: CODEX. Featured in "The Da Vinci Code". And I couldn't remember the spelling.

21. Pi follower: RHO

24. Team in a seasonal verse: REINDEER

26. Boring contraption: OIL DRILL. Hmm. Oil Drill? Not sure that's a thing. "Can you bring me an oil drill"? Said on-one, ever.

28. Diner dish: HASH

29. Words to a backstabber: ET TU! More like a front-stabber if you read the text. I'll give this one a pass.

30. Part of a Clue accusation: ROOM. Colonel Mustard, Candlestick, Library. It's always the blunt instrument that gets you.

31. "Iron Chef America" creation: MEAL. Food! Nice clue. Mystery ingredient, five courses. Just don't get me started on Alton Brown who is the biggest charlatan in food shows, period. I wouldn't trust him to judge my cooking as far as I could throw him, and that's not a long way.

34. Casino gratuity: TOKE. Learning moment. I've tipped the dealers cash or tokens, but never thought of it as a "toke". I must consign that to the memory banks.

35. Canadian road sign letters: KPH, Don't go too fast, eh?

37. Monk's hood: COWL

38. Quahog or geoduck: CLAM. A geoduck is one heck of a clam.

39. Renaissance faire word: OLDE

41. Sphere used to capture a Pikachu, say: POKEBALL. Now this one I need some help with. My brother-in-law is a huge Pokémon Go fan, I'd ask him but he's old enough to know better. What is the sphere thing? It filled itself in.

42. "Zip it!": NOT A PEEP!

47. Fitness portmanteau: TAE-BO. Taekwondo and Boxing. Apparently.

49. Was in charge: LED

50. Small recipe amount: A DASH. Food! I tend to use a couple of dashes.

51. Long time follower?: NO SEE. Clecho with 68A. Nicely done.

52. Chicanery: GUILE

53. Rosemary unit: SPRIG. "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" Plenty of food! today.

54. Brazen: NERVY

58. "Ice __ Truckers": TV reality series: ROAD

59. Impulse: URGE

60. Cry that may mean "I'm out of tuna!": MEOW! Poor kitty.

63. Microbrewery output: ALE

64. WWII craft: LST. Landing Ship, Tank, I believe.

*I learned that the French also "take their hat off" to someone to show respect. They just abbreviate it to "hat" - hence "Chapeau"!

That's it from me today, here's the grid!


Jul 25, 2019

Thursday, July 25th, 2019 Paul Coulter

Theme Clean Sweep - all the theme entries are phrases containing the name of a detergent, to wit:

17A. Detergent sold around Yankee Stadium?: BRONX CHEER. Hopefully none aimed at this puzzle.

27A. Jingle for a detergent ad?: SURF MUSIC. What better excuse for a summer blast with the Beach Boys from 1963?

38a. Detergent for fishing equipment?: NET GAIN

47A. Directors in charge of a detergent?: DASHBOARD. The outlier regarding the theme. One word, not two.

63A. Detergent for seasonal cleaning?: SPRING TIDE. Quickly - which tide is higher, the spring or the neap?

So, I have to say I found this a struggle, the center section especially. I stared it down eventually, but it really was a challenge, so kudos to Paul for the assignment. The cluing was tough, but there were a couple of entries which were, to my mind, so obscure to be worthy of my new acronym SNOE (Said No-One, Ever). We'll come to those in due course.

That being said, the theme was fun, and some nice long downs to tie things together. Let's go and explore:


1. Diet food phrase: NO-FAT. Heavens. What a horrible idea! I look at the fat content of everything I eat, but no fat? No flavor.

6. Puny pencil: STUB

10. __ gin fizz: SLOE. I used to make sloe gin back in the UK. You pick a basket of sloe berries in the winter, prick them all over with a needle (takes a while!) and infuse them with a couple of pints of gin or more. A few weeks later you uncork the bottles and yay! Sloe Gin!

14. Ancient market: AGORA

15. Long Island Iced Tea coloring provider: COLA. I tried COKE first against my better instincts.

16. Double-decker checker: KING. Checkers. Two makes a king. Is it three that makes a queen?

19. Village People megahit: YMCA. I saw them perform at Dodger Stadium on a July 4th after the game. They still had it!

20. Good to go: SET

21. Put up: HOUSE. Soft "S" if you're wondering.

22. Fell off: EBBED

23. Title characters, typically: LEADS. As in actors.

25. Tetris shape: ELL. I've seen Tetris, never played it. I can see how it could get addictive.

26. Chicken __: KIEV. Food! A classic recipe - chicken breast stuffed with parsley, garlic and butter and fried in breadcrumbs. Certainly not NO-FAT. We should be less sniffy about the "old school" food, this one is delicious. Just don't eat it every day.

33. Stuck, with "down": BOGGED

35. Game official: REF

36. Mediterranean tourist site: ETNA. Yay! A clue that doesn't talk about Sicily or "spewer".

37. "Go team!": RAH!

41. Same old routine: RUT

42. __ sax: ALTO

44. Charge: FEE

45. Large sea ducks: EIDERS. Those of the popular "down". I hope we leave them alone now and use synthetic breast feathers. I don't need to be kept warm that badly.

50. Junior prom attendee: TEEN. Isn't a senior prom attendee a teen too? I've never been to a prom, but aren't seniors teens too?

51. G.I. chow: M.R.E. Meals, Ready to Eat. Also "Meals Rarely Enjoyed" or "Meals Rejected by the Enemy".

52. "Snowy" bird: EGRET

54. No-sweat class: EASY "A"

57. Copier of old: MIMEO. I tried XEROX first against all common sense. I circled around this puzzle for quite a while filling in odds and ends here and there. This mis-step didn't help.

59. Member of the fam: SIB. Ling.

62. Quickly down: CHUG

65. Kon-Tiki Museum city: OSLO. I do want to go to Oslo, just so I can visit the crossword museums - the Nobel library, the Kon-Tiki museum, I think there are a couple of other destinations too.

66. Acorn droppers: OAKS

67. Three on a par-five, say: EAGLE. Golf, two under par. Or "Turkey Eagle" if you watch the ads for State Farm Insurance with Ricky Fowler. He's a funny chap, on a par with Peyton Manning in the celebrity commercial actor stakes.

68. Hard on the ears: LOUD

69. Military outpost: BASE

70. Composition for nine: NONET. Playing a nice-piece on a tightrope? No Net.


1. Bags: NABS

2. Fantasy brute: OGRE

3. Stage illumination: FOOTLIGHTS. This was fun, I noodled around with FLOODLIGHT, SPOTLIGHTS and others before the crosses started to help me out. I was an electrician with an amateur theatre company in London and lit a lot of productions. I blew myself off my stool in the lighting booth once when my cunningly-rigged stage telephone shorted out the lighting board mid-performance (it was a dress rehearsal, so no harm done). My hair was only slightly singed. Don't mess around with 220 volts and 30 amps. I picked myself up off the floor. I only missed one lighting cue as I patted myself on the back. There was a funny smell in the lighting booth for a few days, I think it was my charred hair.

4. Prince Valiant's son: ARN. Why did I think this was HAL?

5. Many an offshore bank account: TAX HAVEN

6. Go downhill fast: SCHUSS. The tuck position. If you're watching the Tour de France, watch tomorrow's stage 19 in the Alps, and watch the riders schuss on the downhills. They are crazy, I've come off a bike at around 25 MPH and it hurts. These guys are doing around 50.

7. __ the line: TOES

8. Film beekeeper: ULEE

9. Keep out: BAR

10. Color named for a natural phenomenon: SKY BLUE

11. Spot for a nest: LIMB. There are sparrows nesting in a street sign outside my door right now. Two chicks have been born. A lot safer inside a steel street sign than perched on a tree branch.

12. A while back: ONCE

13. "Good grief!": EGAD!

18. Atlantic catch: COD. A great fish, now slowly recovering from the over-fishing of the 70's and 80's. The UK and Iceland went to a "soft" war over the fishing grounds in the North Atlantic. A couple of warning shots were fired by British frigates in the so-called "Cod Wars".

22. Stately tree: ELM I had OAK first until 66A put paid to that idea.

24. Brain scan, for short: EEG. I need to consign the difference between EKG, ECG and EEG to memory. That one letter in the middle held me up for a long time

25. __ White, Jennifer Hudson's role in the film "Dreamgirls": EFFIE. Thank you crosses, I saw and enjoyed the movie, but the name escaped me.

26. Fluffy-eared critter: KOALA. I was trying to think of the fluffy guys in the movie who turn nasty (when they get wet?). Then I saw the light. I still can't remember what they were called, and a Google search "movie critters who get wet" doesn't help.

28. Pushy type: URGER. SNOE. First one.

29. "V for Vendetta" actor Stephen: REA

30. It may have an arrow: STREET SIGN

31. Store, as ashes: INURN. Quicky following on from 28D. My second SNOE of the day.

32. Title pets in a Lilian Jackson Braun mystery series: CATS. Have you seen the trailer for the new CATS movie? It's so creepy I had nightmares. Two questions - why does Helen Mirren's character wear a fur coat, when she's got fur underneath? And - why do the female cats have boobs? We should be told.

33. Thin nail: BRAD

34. "Moll Flanders" novelist: DEFOE. A lot of deep digging in the memory banks for this one.

39. Cause of a brewed awakening?: TEA. I get the wordplay here, but I think this is a stretch, even for a tea-drinker like me.

40. Ammonia component: NITROGEN

43. "Heavens!": OH MY GOD!

46. Snider of Twisted Sister: DEE. A great band who became popular in the 1980's. Go search for them on YouTube, you'll find some entertaining videos on there.

48. Sports __: BRA. In my youth I sang a version of "Rawhide" that was amusing to my ears: "Round 'em up, move 'em in, head 'em up, squash 'em down ... Sports Bra!". You have to understand I was young and foolish :)

49. End: DEMISE

53. High-ranking off.: GEN. General. Don't watch the commercials, they are all terrible.

54. Earth Day subj.: ECOL. ogy.

55. "Understood": AH, SO! SNOE, unless they are playing a cod Chinese character in a terrible movie.

56. "Mr." on a sci-fi bridge: SULU. Star Trek chap. I'm pretty sure he never said "Ah, So, Captain". I might be wrong, but somehow I doubt it.

57. Film-rating org.: M.P.A.A. The Motion Picture Association of America. I read an article recently about the British equivalent, and what now informs their ratings. I'd risk upsetting the mild-mannered amongst our Cornerites if I was too detailed, but apparently some "things" no longer consign your movie to the 18+ category as long as they inform the story.

58. Bothers: IRKS

60. Like much chitchat: IDLE. Isn't all chitchat idle? I thought that was the definition.

61. Borscht vegetable: BEET

63. Blubber: SOB

64. Confucian path: TAO

And ... we get to the grid after a long and winding road. Hope you had fun with Paul's puzzle.


Jul 18, 2019

Thursday, July 18th 2019 John-Clark Levin & Jeff Chen

Theme: Could I get the scam on the side? As the diner said to the huckster.

The reveal tells us what to look for:

54. Freelance for extra income ... and a hint to the answers to starred clues: SIDE HUSTLE. The first or last word is the hustle, depending on which side of the grid the entry is placed.

16A. *Goof off: FOOL AROUND

24A. *Mecca for sci-fi and superhero fans: COMIC CON. A lot of the attendees take it pretty "seriously", quite the colorful crew:

29A. *Trace-amount precipitation: SNOW FLURRIES. Thankfully rare in Los Angeles. I did my share of cold back in the old country. I'd not heard of "snow" in the context of a hustle before.

39A. *Object of Jason's quest: GOLDEN FLEECE. I always think of the skeleton-fighting scene from the movie "Jason and the Argonauts". Not bad special effects for 1963.

46A. *Make flashy modifications to: TRICK OUT. There's a whole culture of auto trick-outery here in Southern California.

This looks to be the second LAT collaboration between John-Clark and Jeff, the first was just back in May, and very enjoyable this was too. Entertaining theme, fun fill and some nice cluing and misdirection. Let's see what jumps out:


1. Like challah bread: EGGY

5. Obligations: DEBTS

10. Pistons' org.: N.B.A.

13. Broadway seductress: LOLA. From the musical "Kinky Boots". The Broadway production went dark this April after more than 2,500 performances. The impressarios got their money back on that one!

14. Threepio's pal: ARTOO. Star Wars droids, as we all know.

15. Take the show on the road: TOUR

18. Stunt legend Knievel: EVEL. His son, Robbie, continues the family tradition.

19. Suit parts: VESTS. Could be COATS or PANTS so wait for some help from the crosses.

20. Gross sales, on an income statement: TOP LINE

22. Juices up: FUELS

25. Jessica of the "Fantastic Four" films: ALBA

26. Mysterious power: ESP.

28. Votes against: NOES

33. Burden: TAX. Don't get me started.

34. Co-star/co-creator Issa __ of HBO's "Insecure": RAE. No clue, thank you crosses. I used to get HBO as a "bonus" when I switched providers, but I never watched anything on there, so I cancelled when my free trial was done.

35. Prefix with -gram: ANA. I find it disappointing you can't make an anagram out of anagram. I'm going to start a company called "Garmana" just so there is one.

36. Quick drink: NIP

42. Oil cartel: OPEC

44. Commotion: ADO

45. __ Stefani, returning coach on "The Voice": GWEN. She's great, I loved the third No Doubt album "Tragic Kingdom". Here's the breakout single.

49. Puts on Facebook: POSTS

50. Alerts on the road: HONKS AT. Generally not an alert, more a frustration-reliever.

51. Often-dystopian conflict: WW III

53. "Er, I'd rather not": UM, NO

58. Start of D-Day?: DEES. Two "D"s begin "D-Day". Nice clue.

59. Like Navy SEALs: ELITE

60. Run like heck: TEAR

61. Nursery roll: SOD

62. Intuit: SENSE

63. Watson who played Hermione in Harry Potter films: EMMA


1. Sprite: ELF

2. Muck: GOO

3. Car storage spot: GLOVE BOX. Very nice, took me a while to see the misdirection here.

4. Sonia Sotomayor's alma mater: YALE LAW

5. Pub flier: DART

6. Greek Cupid: EROS. No more Eros lessons, I think you've all got it now. Class dismissed.

7. Approx. 1,055 joules: B.T.U. British Thermal Units. Rule Britannia!

8. Depp's "Lone Ranger" role: TONTO

9. Genesis city of sin: SODOM

10. Beginner: NOVICE

11. __ Aires: BUENOS. A city on my bucket list to visit. I've worked for companies with an office there, but never managed to swing a trip.

12. "Over the Rainbow" composer: ARLEN. Harold Arlen was a musical machine - he wrote the melodies for many, many songs. "Over the Rainbow" was voted the 20th Century's No. 1 song by RIAA and the National Endowment for the Arts.

15. AT&T and Verizon: TELCOS. I think AT&T might be considered a little more than a telco with the acquisition of DirecTV and the takeover of Time Warner.

17. Pack animal: ASS

21. __ gland: organ that secretes melatonin: PINEAL

22. Extreme diet: FAST

23. Forearm bone: ULNA

24. Life-saving proc.: C.P.R. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Long desscription for something you need in a hurry. Thank you, abbreviations.

26. Mideast airline: EL AL

27. Took to court: SUED

30. Monastic garments: FROCKS. I call 'em cassocks, but what do I know?

31. South African capital: RAND

32. Recon target: INFO

36. One may trend on Twitter: NEWS ITEM

37. "Law & Order: SVU" actor: ICE T. The NYPD's Special Victim's Unit is the basis for this version of the franchise.

38. Pilot products: PENS. I've got one next to my laptop as we speak. I love the thin stylus and free-flowing ink.

39. Sticky-toed lizards: GECKOS

40. Wear (away): EAT

41. Chanel fragrance for men: EGOISTE. Seems to be missing a "T" and adding an "E", but that's what you get with product names. I suppose "EGOTIST" doesn't send many positive connotations.

42. Words that begin the line before "Deny thy father and refuse thy name": O ROMEO!

43. Determined precisely, with "down": PINNED

46. Dull sounds: THUDS

47. Caravan stops: OASES

48. Functional: UTILE

49. More, on a score: PIU. Learning moment for me, I think. I know I'm going to forget about it in about 30 seconds time, but at least I've seen it now.

51. Dampens: WETS

52. Roller coaster cry: WHEE! Not me, the only coaster that doesn't scare me to death is the one I put my cocktail on.

55. Racket: DIN

56. Quick flight: LAM. Nice misdirection, I was on the "short HOP" track at first.

57. Eventful chapter: ERA. The penny dropped, I was thinking of novels at first.

Here's the grid in all its "edgy" detail, and I think I'm out of blog.