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

Aug 6, 2020

Thursday, August 6th 2020 John Lampkin

Theme: Missplaced - like this puzzle's theme.

18A. *Scout leader's unit: BROWNIE TROOP.

35A. *Ragtime pianist's number: CAKE WALK. A great excuse to link Dire Straits and "Tunnel of Love" simply because it includes the words "cake walk". This was filmed at Wembley Arena in 1985 - I was there.

44A. *Analyst's infographic: PIE CHART.

12D. *Arbitrary error allowance: FUDGE FACTOR.

26D. *Boot sole material: CRÊPE RUBBER. But wait - is all crêpe rubber, or is all rubber crêpe? Or is there no overlap in the Venn Diagram of soles? Whichever way, "Rubber Soul" was a great Beatles album. "Crêpe Soul" didn't make the charts. Maybe it was cr ... not very good.

62. Appropriate reward, as often misspelled ... and what the starts of the answers to starred clues might be: JUST DESSERTS.

Alrighty then, I think I might be a little off-base here, but I'm going to play the role of "The Editor" for today's puzzle:

Scene: The Editor's Office - Enter John

Ed: Hi John, what have you got for me?
JL: Nice theme, probably Thursday-level, and oh, it's a 16x15

Ed: Why the 16?
JL: Because I needed the extra room for the reveal, it's a 12-letter entry "JUST DESSERTS".

Ed: You know you spelled that wrong?
JL: Yep, but the clue tells you I spelled it wrong.

Ed: OK, so the theme entries are spelled wrong too?
JL: No, they're fine, but they're all desserts, not deserts.

Ed: You know that "deserts" in the phrase alludes to neither arid areas nor post-dinner sweet treats?
JL: I know, but ...

Ed: OK, let me look - wait. CRÊPE SOLES? I've had crêpes for breakfast - mushrooms and cheese if I recall - and PIE CHART? "Pie" isn't just a dessert, you can have steak pie, chicken pot pie, shepherd's pie, cottage pie, oyster p...
JL: I know, I know. I didn't mean that the reveal literally meant that the theme entries were "just" desserts.

Ed: But you misspelled "desert", the reveal says "just desserts" and you're telling me the themers aren't spelled wrong and they aren't only dessert dishes? And the grid is a funny shape?
JL: Yep, that's about the long and short of it. "Long" - see what I did there? A long across? That's funny! And I covered myself with the reveal clue, I said "might be", not "are".

Ed: John, I'm not sure that's a good excuse, maybe you've caught me at a bad time. And who is "TAL"?
JL: Aha! He's a famous Russian chess player who won the World Chess Championship in 1960 and held it for six months.

Ed: Does he have a famous defence named after him? Or a great attacking style? Or insisted on playing in Iceland and claimed he was an alien?
JL: Not really. He did blame his short "Champion" reign on his kidneys though. He was a superstar.

Ed: In 1960? I was one year old. How many people have heard of him? Other than crossword editors, not including me?
JL: LOTS of people know Tal. Ask any grandmaster chess player, they'll tell you all about him. They'll tell you he had bad kidneys and won a championship in 1960.

Ed: What's his first name?
JL: I've no idea, can I look him up on Wikipedia and get back to you?

Ed: OK John, thanks. We'll be in touch. I'm not sure how to explain this one away though.


Right, let's see what we can find in the rest of the puzzle.


1. Spirited French commune?: COGNAC. "Commune" in the sense of "region" in France. The Cognac commune sits predominantly on the left bank of the river Charente in Bordeaux. Santé!

7. Like Wicca, say: PAGAN.

12. Not many: FEW.

15. Dawn goddess: AURORA.

16. Coffeehouse draw: AROMA.

17. Hagen of the theater: UTA. Who? Thank you, crosses. A few of these today for me.

20. UPS rival: DHL.

21. Take top prize for: WIN AT.

22. Hauled: DRAGGED.

24. Specialized job: NICHE.

27. Try a new color on: RE-DYE. I parsed this as "red eye" first. I just had my annual eye exam today, I blame that.

29. Claudius' successor: NERO.

30. Another, in Acapulco: OTRA.

31. Excessive: UNDUE.

32. U.K. fliers: R.A.F. The Royal Air Force.

33. Father's Day pin: TIE TAC. I thought these were "tie tacks". I had a couple, back in the day of three-piece-suits in London's Financial District, the "City". To think I wore them and couldn't spell them. Shame on me.

39. AOL or MSN: ISP. Internet Service Provider

40. A lot of hooey: CLAPTRAP.

43. Hoodwink: CON.

46. A bit much: TOO, TOO. Is this a thing? I would say that "too, too" was a lot too much, not a bit,

48. Manta __: RAY.

49. Like some perfume: MUSKY. These are the ones that hang around like an unwelcome house guest.

52. Blog entry: POST. This! Yay!

53. One of the basic tastes: SOUR. Sweet, sour, salt, bitter and that extra "savoriness" usually referred to nowadays as "umami", mostly by food writers who can't stop saying "umami".

55. Sans-serif font: ARIAL. Not this font. We're Times New Roman on this blog and proud.

56. Tackle box assortment: LURES.

57. Warm greeting: EMBRACE. Not right now. I know it's been a few months since I've seen you, but a polite elbow-tap is as close as I'm getting.

59. Tibet neighbor: NEPAL.

61. Capture: NAB.

67. That yacht: SHE. This beauty? She. That lovely yacht over yonder? She. That rusty hulk messing up the view on the riverbank over there? It. or He.

68. Pianist Rubinstein: ARTUR.

69. Comparable to a pin: AS NEAT. It's pretty hard to be an untidy pin. What do you have to do to attain scruffy-pin status? We should be told.

70. Bud's place: EAR. Behind the ear? Just ready to be fired up by ....

71. Many a Bob Marley fan: RASTA. Ya man. Respect.

72. They're often at the bottoms of columns: TOTALS.


1. Popular red: CAB.

2. Group possessive: OUR.

3. Garden adspeak word: GRO. I fed my kitchen basil plant Miracle-Gro a few weeks ago to perk it up a little. It should be called "Miracle-Eradicate". The plant was not impressed at all.

4. "Another problem?!": NOW WHAT?

5. Golf icon Palmer: ARNIE. Strictly, Arnold. If you're going to refer to a nickname, then "Golfer with an Army" would be better. In my humble opinion.

6. Genesis farmer: CAIN. Thank you, crosses.

7. Stroked gently: PATTED. I tried "PETTED" first. Not quite right.

8. Flight info abbr.: ARR.

9. Michelin rival: GOODYEAR. I had a weird dream last night that the Goodyear Blimp was performing aerobatics and crash-landed upside-down in front of Winchester Cathedral where I was watching. I helped the crew turn it the right way up, they inflated it again and took off. I've NO idea what that was all about.

10. Love, in Pisa: AMORE.

11. Source of much 1-Down: NAPA.

13. Bygone anesthetic: ETHER.

14. Guy found in kids' books: WALDO. Nice clue this one, made me smile. "Where's Waldo?"

19. Bring home: EARN.

23. Chew (on): GNAW.

24. Payback for lousy service: NO TIP. I'm torn. It would have to be truly terrible service for me to leave no tip at all. The only time I can recall doing it was eating at a restaurant in LA shortly after it opened, and the previous night George Clooney had eaten there. The wait staff were so buzzed by the prospect of maybe having another "star" visit that us mere mortals were completely ignored. The only person who paid attention to us was the busser. He got a cash tip which the wait person would have got, the wait person got nothing, I did explain why, but I fear due to the eye-rolling the explanation fell on deaf ears. Whatevs.

25. Formal "Just me": IT IS I.

28. Tear dispenser: DUCT.

31. Pac-12 team: UCLA.

32. Default takeback: REPO. Another nice clue. Default on your loan, we take back your car.

34. Sore from a workout: ACHY.

36. Singer Perry: KATY.

37. __ cannon: LOOSE.

38. Rustic pine features: KNOTS.

41. Loveseat sides: ARMRESTS. I found this a little odd, but OK.

42. Spitting sound: PTUI. Gross.

45. Novelist Caleb: CARR. Who? Thank you, crosses.

47. Swank: OPULENT.

50. Oh of "Killing Eve": SANDRA.

51. "Cat and Bird" artist: KLEE. Who? Thank you, crosses.

53. Taste, for one: SENSE. Umami? Say it one more time, I dare you.

54. Nebraska city: OMAHA.

55. High-end Honda: ACURA. The last car I owned in England before I moved here was a Honda Integra. When I got to LA, it was called an Acura. That was different.

56. Cowboy rope: LASSO.

58. Slightly open: AJAR.

60. Exam for jrs.: PSAT.

63. Tsk relative: TUT.

64. "The Crying Game" actor Stephen: REA.

65. 1960-'61 chess champ: TAL. Who? Thank you, crosses.

66. GPS displays: STS. I'm assuming "States" which you might get displayed on a map on your GPS device, but that is a total stab in the dark from me. I'll be prepared to be entirely wrong on this one, but it seems an appropriate clue/answer combo to finish this on.

Here's the grid - I didn't highlight the "desserts", I figured there's no need today.


Jul 30, 2020

Thursday, July 30th 2020 Roland Huget

Theme: Planetary Craft - the puzzle is crafted so that four planets - aka worlds - are split across two theme entries. To wit:

17A. Flirts with: MAKES EYES AT and 19A. Coffee server: URNSaturn. I've made eyes at a coffee urn in early-morning meetings when the coffee has just arrived and I've not had my morning caffeine fix.

23A. All thumbs: INEPT and 24A. Nefarious: UNETHICAL. Neptune.

36A. Square things: GET EVEN and 38A. Put many miles on: USE A LOT. Venus. My car came to end-of-lease last week and is going up for auction next month. Whoever gets that car is going to be happy - it's three years old with less than 15,000 miles on it and looks brand-new. So I didn't use it a lot.

51A. Where to find a hammer and anvil: MIDDLE EAR. and 53A. Unifying idea: THEME. Earth.

and the reveal:

59A. Not remotely on the same page ... and what can literally be found in four puzzle rows: WORLDS APART.

A "bridge the gap" theme from Roland - a clue to these themes is where the reveal mentions "puzzle rows" rather than "puzzle entries".  I filled in "MIDDLE EAR" and "THEME" and "Middle Earth" jumped out at me - then I got to the reveal itself and all became clear. I liked a lot that "THEME" was part of the theme; I'm sure that wasn't just a happy coincidence.

Good job all round from Roland - there's some great fill around the theme entries, and a couple of new ones too, which helps to keep things fresh. Let's take a look:


1. Vitamin amts.: RDA'S. The clue implies an abbreviation, it appears that "RDA" without the periods is now accepted usage. Makes punctuating this entry a lot simpler!

5. Come by: OBTAIN.

11. Pancake syrup source: SAP. The sap of the maple tree. I don't eat breakfast pancakes so I'd never eaten maple syrup until recently where a recipe I was using called for it. I was surprised it wasn't just sweet, it had a depth of flavor that I didn't expect.

14. Isn't informal?: AIN'T. I like these clues.

15. Southwestern community: PUEBLO.

16. __ Fáil: Irish coronation stone: LIA. The Stone of Destiny. Last used for a coronation around 500AD.

20. Picks up gradually: GLEANS.

21. Type of wave or spree: CRIME.

28. Web address feature: DOT.

29. Enliven, with "up": SPICE.

30. Parker and Waterman: PENS. I used Parker fountain pens at school - we had to write with pen and ink, woe betide you if you tried to sneak a ballpoint in there. Consequently all our fingers were ink-stained from refilling the darn things.

31. Sanford of "The Jeffersons": ISABEL.

34. Amusement park shuttles: TRAMS.

42. Catch on: SEE IT.

44. Lily's role in "All of Me": EDWINA. Lily Tomlin co-starred with Steve Martin in this 1984 comedy.

45. Smoothie berry: ACAI. Goji or Acai? Wait for the crosses - the "I" doesn't help you.

48. YouTube journals: VLOGS. Video Logs, formally. I subscribe to quite a few YouTube channels, you can lose yourself down some very quirky rabbit holes very quickly!

50. Water source: TAP.

55. "Caveman" diet: PALEO.

56. Chicago suburb: AURORA. It seems mean to describe it as a suburb, it's a city in its own right and in the top 115 most populous in the country. Here's the William B. Green residence. Familiar-looking architecture? Yes indeed, it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

58. New Haven Ivy Leaguer: ELI.

64. Barbecue piece: RIB.

65. Surpass: EXCEED.

66. Allergic reaction: ITCH.

67. Slalom shape: ESS.

68. Speech platforms: ROSTRA. Thank you, Latin lessons of yore. Nouns ending in "-UM" are generally neuter, and pluralized with "-A".

69. Radar's favorite soda: NEHI. You can still get this stuff. Anyone know what it tastes like?


1. The one for ewe?: RAM.

2. Figure out: DIAGNOSE.

3. Art that may be covered by a sock: ANKLE TAT. This is new fill. It appears that no-one gets a tattoo any more, they get "ink" or a tat. On one of our trips to England not so long ago, we stopped off in Blackpool, an old resort town on the Irish Sea. We parked across the street from a place which proudly had "TATTOO'S" writ large on the storefront. I don't think I'd trust them with punctuating my tat.
4. Allow to soak, as tea: STEEP.

5. Conducting business: OPEN.

6. Purchases all of: BUYS UP.

7. Informal top: TEE.

8. Crunch targets: ABS.

9. Dockworkers' org.: I.L.A. The International Longshoremen's Association.

10. V-shaped slit: NOTCH.

11. Gold miner's water trough: SLUICE.

12. Lindbergh, e.g.: AIRMAN. Amongst many things. This one wins Obscure Random Clue of the Day award, very Thursday-like.

13. Discussion groups: PANELS.

18. Perched: SAT.

22. Tool for cutting with the grain: RIPSAW.

23. "Gotcha, man": I DIG. I doubt either have been heard in daily life since ... oh ... the jazz era? Woodstock? A while ago, anyway.

25. Small point: NIT.

26. Neutral shade: ECRU.

27. Pokes fun at: TEASES.

29. Record holder: SLEEVE. With vinyl making a mini-comeback, record sleeve printing firms are back in business!

32. Next to: BESIDE.

33. Night before: EVE.

35. __ school: MED.

37. Khartoum's river: NILE. You can't argue with that. Khartoum is at the confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile, which together form the Nile.

39. Knowledgeable, as in a particular field: LITERATE.

40. Protesting, maybe: ON A MARCH.

41. Sticky stuff: TAPE.

43. Ode title words: TO A. Keat's "Ode to a Nightingale" is a little long to post here in full, but the first verse is well known (or at least, the first few lines):

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
         My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
         One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
         But being too happy in thine happiness,—
                That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
                        In some melodious plot
         Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
                Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

45. Current unit: AMPERE.

46. Viagra competitor: CIALIS.

47. Deviates from the script: AD LIBS.

49. Landscaping equipment: GRADER.

52. Farther down: LOWER.

53. Singing syllable: TRA. la la.

54. Hitchhiker's welcome: HOP IN. Do people still hitchhike? My buddy and I took a trip when we were 17 from the UK to the south of France and Spain and back in the days when it was still a thing.

57. Food safety org.: USDA.

60. Good Grips utensil brand: OXO.

61. Coke alternatives: RCS. RC Cola. I suppose you can pluralize it, you can have Cokes and Pepsis, so why not (although "pepsis" sounds like a some kind of infection!)

62. Court call: LET. "Let the Prisoner Go"? Nah, tennis. I don't watch a lot of tennis, but the last tournament I saw there were no net-cord judges anymore. When did those folk get phased out? They were a fixure at Wimbledon.

63. How-hot-it-feels stat.: T.H.I. The Temperature Humidity Index. I like LA's dry heat, I get grumpy in humid places unless I'm on vacation in a pair of beach shorts.

And I think that's about it. Here's the grid with the theme entries highlighted in what my MacBook paint tool calls "Banana".


Jul 23, 2020

Thursday July 23rd 2020 Susan Gelfand

Theme: Edible Apparel - take a food item and the clue turns it into something to wear:

17A. Jewelry to wear for a good cry?: ONION RINGS. The first time I tried making onion rings all the batter ended up in the pan and the rings came out bald. Not what I was looking for!

61A. Warm stole to wear on Thanksgiving?: TURKEY WRAP. All stoles are wraps, but not all wraps are stoles. That's fashion sense for you.

10D. Headgear to wear while truffle hunting?: MUSHROOM CAP. Is a truffle a mushroom? Nice clue though. Here's a truffle pig - if the pig finds a truffle, you have to be quick before he eats the whole thing. That's an expensive piggy-snack!

24D. Shoes to wear when driving a junky car?: LEMON WEDGES. There are a few "how to" videos on YouTube which detail how to cut citrus wedges. How can the video run for 80 seconds? Are they teaching you how to make a knife first? Incroyable. Cut lemon(lime) north-south. Cut wedges. Don't cut yourself. Rinse. Repeat. What was that, five seconds?

Today we have an across-and-down theme from Susan. Nice plays on words for the theme entries and all "in the language" and some fun in the fill too. Let's go look:


1. Noisy with activity: ABUZZ.

6. A bit cracked: AJAR.

10. Fem. counterpart: MASC.

14. Southeast Asian capital: HANOI. Vietnam's capital city. The Old Quarter is very colorful - and moped-friendly!

15. Place to bowl: LANE.

16. Golden rule word: UNTO.

19. Toffee bar with a crown in its logo: SKOR. Assuming that Hershey's meant that the name of the bar makes you think "Swedish" (especially with the crown) you'd have thought they'd have named it SKÖR, with the umlaut, as that means "brittle" in Swedish, a good name for a brittle toffee bar covered in chocolate. But they didn't - the named it SKOR, which means "shoes" in Swedish. So if you think Hershey's chocolate tastes like old shoes (and I do), then apparently the company agrees with you.

20. Thus far: YET.

21. Procure: GET.

22. CenturyLink Field NFLer: SEAHAWK. Wow, that's some formidable Caps/Lowercase/Caps/LowerCase/Caps clueing.

24. Support under the table?: LEG.

25. "I wouldn't __ you wrong": STEER.

26. Poem often starting with "There": LIMERICK.

"There once was a man from the sticks
Who loved to compose limericks.
But he failed at his sport,
They were always too short."

30. Lasso loops: NOOSES.

34. Sistine Chapel ceiling man: ADAM.

35. Giant Giant: MAYS.

37. __ Dame: NOTRE. It's sad looking at Notre Dame cathedral at the moment with no spire after the fire last year.

38. Like New York's Chrysler Building: DECO. I often stay at a hotel close to the Chrysler Building in Manhattan. Depending on the luck of the draw, I either get a view of the building looking south, or a generic view of Lexington Avenue looking north.

39. Church leader: ELDER.

41. Gold source: MINE.

42. Brings home: EARNS.

44. Extended ride?: LIMO.

45. "At the Movies" segment: CLIP.

46. Reduce speed: SLOW UP. You can slow down too, but you can't speed down, although you can speed up. What a confusing language we speak.

48. Breaks, as the law: VIOLATES.

50. Clear in class, maybe: ERASE. Mostly whiteboards now. When I was at school it was a dusty job to wipe off the chalkboard from the previous class, usually given to the kid who was last through the door. (Me).

52. Weather report backdrop: MAP.

53. Most loving: FONDEST.

56. Chivalrous title: SIR.

57. "Knives Out" actress __ de Armas: ANA. I should watch the movie, it's got a great cast and excellent reviews.

60. Awestruck: AGOG.

64. Turn over: CEDE.

65. Comics canine: ODIE. Garfield's doggie chum - or nemesis?

66. None too worldly: NAÏVE.

67. Light tops: TEES.

68. Sandberg with nine Gold Gloves: RYNE. Baseball. Imaginatively (!) nicknamed "Ryno" he played second base for the Phillies and the Cubs before retiring in 1997.

69. Dental exam component: X-RAYS. One part of a dental exam that doesn't make me sweat. I'm not particularly fond of dentists, I was tortured as a small child by them and I've never forgiven nor forgotten. My current team are great though!


1. Sea greeting: AHOY!

2. Curse: BANE.

3. Textbook section: UNIT.

4. Where the wild things are: ZOO. Not really, they're not exactly wild if they're in a zoo? Maybe wild at being incarcerated.

5. Witty retort: ZINGER.

6. Landed: ALIT.

7. "Surf City" duo __ and Dean: JAN. Still a fun ditty from 1963. The lyrics might not exactly be PC nowadays.

8. Inner turmoil: ANGST.

9. Viewed anew: RE-SEEN. I suppose so. It took me a while to come up with an example of usage.

11. "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" singer: ANKA.

12. Put in the overhead bin: STOW.

13. Popped top: CORK. I've got one in my hand right now. My Home Happy Hour chardonnay from the Central Coast.

18. Prevailing power: REGIME.

23. Ages and ages: AEON.

25. Perform a long jump?: SKYDIVE. No thanks. The only time I'm jumping out of an airplane is if it's on fire and it's on the ground.

26. Puts on cargo: LADES. The next time I'm putting my groceries in my trunk, I'm going to remind myself that I'm "lading". Sounds both strenuous and posh.

27. Best possible: IDEAL.

28. Computer shortcut: MACRO. I'm getting used to my new MacBook, and what is lovely is that I don't have to remember "shortcuts" to type accented words - no CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-NUMLOCK-ALT-00085 or something for an umlaut. I can type "U" and hold down the key until a little menu pops up with my dicritical choices for the letter. Saves me a lot of time, especially here on the blog!

29. Word with cold or close: CALL. Do you like getting cold calls? I only ask because I dislike making them, but that's part of my job. My mission is not to intrude, bore or over-promise. If I do that, I've had some quite pleasant conversations.

31. Long-legged wading bird: STILT. That's new to me. STORK didn't fit. STILT? Quite nice-looking though. Learning moment.

32. Banks on a diamond: ERNIE. More baseball. Without baseball, crosswords would be struggling.

33. Oozes: SEEPS.

36. Tractor-trailer: SEMI.

40. Rent sharer: ROOMIE.

43. "Of course!": SURE!

47. Church leader: PASTOR.

49. Vocal cords locale: LARYNX.

51. Cram, say: STUDY. If you're cramming, it's too late, Chillax, take the grade and vow not to backslide on your studies next semester.

53. It's the truth: FACT. Mostly true.

54. S-shaped molding: OGEE. I had a flat on the ground floor of a Victorian house in London way back when. I could recite the interior wall components as I had to replace most of them - baseboards, base caps, panel moulds, chair rails, ogees; plinths aprons and casings and then picture rails and crown mouldings. The crown mouldings were tricky, they were wet plaster which you shaped with a template. Oh, and the ceiling rose around the central pendant light. I'm not sure how I survived that experience.

55. Connecting point: NODE.

56. __-Ball: SKEE.

57. Puccini piece: ARIA.

58. Deep blue: NAVY.

59. Gibbons and gorillas: APES.

62. __ Tin Tin: RIN.

63. __ movie: WAR.

And with that, I guess I'm out of time and out of clues to chat about. Here's the grid!


Note from C.C.:

Irish Miss (Agnes) and I made today's Universal puzzle. You can solve it here. It's edited by David Steinberg.

Jul 16, 2020

Thursday, July 16 2020 Jeffrey Wechsler

Theme: Sleuthing - use the reveal to hunt down the genre and thence the author:

58A. Literary genre often associated with the writer concealed in 16-, 32- and 40-Across: DETECTIVE STORY.

16A. A step up from a carport, perhaps: UNHEATED GARAGE. You probably don't need any heating in the garages in my neck of the woods unless you have a very delicately-dispositioned car. A/C perhaps if you're using it as a workshop.

32A. Limitation-of-freedom metaphor: BALL AND CHAIN. And a British slang word for a spouse (not exactly complimentary.)

40A. Ding-a-ling or ding-dong: ONOMATOPOEIA. What a great word, this is, and a treat to find it in the crossword. I wonder if this was the "seed" entry that gave Jeffrey the idea for the theme? I'm guessing it may have been.

Cool theme from Jeffrey, and I like how the reveal clues the genre to get to the author, a minor plot twist if you will. The construction is neat - a lot of both "themeage" and "stackage" give some satisfying larger areas of white space.

Let's have a tiptoe through the tulips and look at the fill:


1. Some munchies: CHIPS.

6. Asks to be excused, with "off": BEGS.

10. Latin initialism on a cross: IHS. I always thought it was INRI, but what do I know?

13. WWII riveter: ROSIE. Sun's Out, Guns Out! "We Can Do It".

14. Relating to body structure: ANATOMIC.

18. Come to terms: SETTLE.

19. Electronic dance music genre: TECHNO. This really is music you need to dance to.

21. Org. that's not lax at LAX: T.S.A. I think that's being generous to the T.S.A. They're not exactly gaffe-proof. Nice clue though.

22. Interval: LAPSE.

26. Space: GAP.

27. German brewing surname: STROH. Founded in Detroit in the 1850's. The company was taken over and broken up in 2000, but some of the brand names survive under new ownership.

30. Common Korean surname: LEE. Very common, about 15% of Koreans have the name. It is derived from the common Chinese name Yi, and shares the same character 

31. Extremely dry: SERE.

36. Doubled, perhaps: GOT A HIT. Play ball!

39. Corrida figures: TOREROS. All matadors are toreros, but not all toreros are matadors. Also "toreador" was allegedly invented by Bizet for the opera "Carmen".

42. Zilch: NADA.

43. Greater N.Y. school: L.I.U. It looks like you have to be careful at one end of the soccer field not to paste yourself onto the wall, Looney Tunes-style.

44. Orchestra section: BRASS.

48. Chicago airport code: ORD. Orchard Field, originally, hence the odd acronym for "O'Hare".

49. "Golden Boy" playwright: ODETS. Oscar de la Hoya was nicknamed "Golden Boy" in his fighting days, now runs Golden Boy Promotions.

51. Hotel amenity: SPA.

52. President of Princeton, then the U.S.: WILSON.

55. Stride affectedly: SASHAY.

62. One happy to have no class?: GRADUATE. Its not just graduates who have no classes at the moment!

63. Arabian, for one: HORSE.

64. DE Dec. setting: E.S.T. Eastern Standard Time in Delaware in December. That's a lot of abbreviations packed into one small space.

65. What might take a while?: ERST. As in "erstwhile". Nice clue.

66. Fencing blades: EPÉES.


1. Pizza party leftovers: CRUSTS. Cold pizza for breakfast - lovely!

2. "Really": HONEST.

3. Eponymous goddess of a 1987 film flop: ISHTAR. This movie passed me by. I didn't miss much by the look of it, Roger Ebert wrote "Ishtar is a truly dreadful film, a lifeless, massive, lumbering exercise in failed comedy" and his compadre Gene Siskel remarked it was "shockingly dull" and "dim-witted".

4. Painter Mondrian: PIET.

5. Stop from leaking: SEAL.

6. Sweetie, in recent slang: BAE. I'll take a leaf out of Siskel's book and describe this as "dim-witted". It's a shortening of "baby" although "before anyone else" is claimed, although that's a "backronym".

7. Stop: END.

8. Joke: GAG.

9. Hawaii, e.g.: STATE.

10. Apple desktop: IMAC. I wonder how many iMacs are now sold other than to graphic designers?

11. A condition of maximum activity: HIGH GEAR. Not "top gear"? That says "maximum" to me. High gear just suggests a higher work rate.

12. Hypothetical account: SCENARIO. Interesting, I hadn't considered scenario to be hypothetical situation, but on reflection a scenerio can play out into reality. Good one to mull over.

15. Kate Brown is its gov.: ORE. Oregon.

17. Business card no.: TEL.

20. Bids first: OPENS.

23. Considered in full: ALL TOLD.

24. Tiny soup base: PEA. Odd clue, is pea the "base" of pea soup? I'd call it the main ingredient. And a pea isn't really tiny. I must be missing something here.

25. Mailed, as invites: SENT OUT.

28. "The Audacity of Hope" author: OBAMA.

29. "I'm amused": HA HA. Usually used sarcastically in my experience.

31. Gather wool from: SHEAR. There's a joke about a Kiwi and an Aussie sheep farmer involving "shearing sheep" which I won't say any more about.

33. Set ablaze: LIT.

34. Female ruminant: DOE.

35. Nursery item: CRIB.

36. First big song success for The Moody Blues: GO NOW. A song that's survived the test of time, methinks. Here's a reminder.

37. Positioned for ambush, as in many Westerns: ON A RIDGE.

38. Two-year-olds, say: TODDLERS.

41. Dessert choice: PIE.

45. Like sailors on leave: ASHORE. Unless you're serving on a shore-based station, and you go on a cruise for your vacation.

46. Spread out: SPARSE.

47. Agree: SAY YES.

49. At the proper moment: ON CUE.

50. Montreal-to-Boston dir.: S.S.E. I liked the compass-point-opposites we had a couple of weeks ago with a pair of NNE/SSW entries, but I guess we're firmly back to random-place-to-random-place clues. At least let's think about something to link the two place names together?

53. RBI or ERA: STAT. Baseball loves stats.

54. Venerable ref.: O.E.D. The Oxford English Dictionary. The day "bae" qualifies for an entry is the day that I cancel my (not-existent) subscription.

56. Queens tennis venue honoree: ASHE.

57. Where to get off: STOP. The great thing about the old Routemaster buses in London was that they had an open platform at the back so you jump on and off wherever you liked. Worked like a charm until some bureaucrats decided that it was dangerous, and you couldn't operate the bus with just a driver to collect fares as it forced passengers got on at a designated stop. Caused more congestion than you can imagine. Just a couple of years ago the Routemaster-style buses were reintroduced on certain routes.

59. Paving stuff: TAR.

60. "__ nothing new": IT'S. A rule if you're not sure about using an apostrophe with "it": "It's an apostrophe".

61. Nov. honoree: VET. Veteran's Day.

Well, there we have it. Here's the grid, and I just noticed 1A which reminds me to get a bowl of chips to crunch on with a beer.



Notes from C.C.:

Al Hollmer (Spitzboov) and I made today's Universal puzzle. You can solve it here.  It's edited by David Steinberg. The puzzle was years in the making. Thanks for the patience, Al!

Also go to USA Today for the "Front Wheels" (Wednesday 7/15/2020) puzzle Hahtoolah (Susan) and I created. It's edited by Erik Agard.

Jul 9, 2020

Thursday, July 9th 2020 Stella Zawistowski

Theme: Food Fad - as the theme reveal explains:

62A. Diet that involves eating fat, cutting carbs, and avoiding the ends of the answers to the starred clues: KETO.

And so we find:

20A. *49ers Hall of Famer who was MVP of Super Bowl XXIII: JERRY RICE. He was best known as a 49er although after he was released by San Francisco he played for the Raiders, the Seahawks and the Broncos. When he was ready to retire in 2006 he signed a one-day contract with the 49ers to allow him to retire as a member of the team where his NFL career began.

26A. *Inactive sort: COUCH POTATO

40A. *One hard to fool: SMART COOKIE

51A. *Head honcho: TOP BANANA. Here's the famous Andy Warhol painting that appeared on the cover of the 1967 album "The Velvet Underground and Nico" and now graces a record label's logo.

According to University of Chicago Medicine, following the keto diet can cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies and an increased risk of heart disease. No thanks, I'll stick to my rice and cookies.

So a straightforward enough theme from Stella with the keto diet unifying four random foods. The fill was nicely done with a couple of longer downs and generally a very solid word list, nothing to make you groan which is always nice. Let's take a foray into said fill:


1. Number system in Programming 101?: BINARY. There are 10 types of people in the world - those who understand binary, and those who don't.

7. Tyler, the Creator work that won the 2019 Grammy for Best Rap Album: IGOR. Thank you, crosses. Rap isn't really my strong suit.

11. NYSE news: IPO

14. Gets around: EVADES

15. __ colada: PIÑA

16. Golf scorecard word: PAR. A word not often seen on my scorecards, that's a fact.

17. Best Actress between Halle and Charlize: NICOLE. Kidman in 2002 for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf in The Hours.

18. Late-day religious service: EVENSONG

22. Envelope-pushing: EDGY

23. Produit de la tête: IDÉE. Une bonne une, avec optimisme.

24. Maze rodent: RAT

25. Writer Deighton: LEN. British author best known for spy novels, but did you know he also writes cookbooks and illustrated cookstrips?

31. Bit of verbal derision: CATCALL

35. Like some patches: IRON-ON

36. Student, to a counselor: ADVISEE. One of those words which has gained more currency in recent years. It wasn't really seen around much before the 1950's.

37. Not empirically derived: A PRIORI. Theoretical deduction rather than evidence-based.

38. Sequel title words: PART II. Did Shakespeare write an 11-part play about the famous English King Iv, or am I imagining that? I'm sure I remember the final installment - Henry Iv, Part 11.

39. Shows contempt for: SPITS AT

43. __ tee: TO A

44. Newark-based insurer, on the NYSE: PRU. The ticker symbol for Prudential Financial Inc. My first office job was in a marine insurance underwriters' office who were agents for the Pru. I filed claim forms and entered policy details into a ledger the size of a desk. After six months of that I begged and pleaded to be allowed to learn how to program the computer, and the rest is history.

45. Musical note connector: SLUR

49. Leg bone: SHIN

54. Rest stop facility: MEN'S ROOM

57. Like much humor: IRONIC. It's ironic that none of the situations described in Alanis Morrisette's song "Ironic" are actually ironic. Good song though. Here's a refresher if you've not heard it for a while.

58. Assn.: ORG.

59. Sooty passage: FLUE

60. It has its pros and cons: DEBATE

61. Grill fuel: GAS. I was recently given a table-top electric grill; it's awesome for "skewer" meals like Korean barbeque and yakitori.

63. Not so tough: EASIER


1. Scruffy film dog: BENJI. Is he that scruffy? He's a mongrel, but cute.

2. Like some college walls: IVIED. Some baseball infield walls also. A ball lost in the Wrigley Field ivy is a ground-rule double.

3. Mussel shell lining: NACRE

4. Absolutely flip for: ADORE

5. Bank (on): RELY

6. River of Flanders: YSER

7. Poison remedy: IPECAC. Nasty stuff, it was an emetic given orally. No longer recommended, as apparently a good session of throwing up doesn't really do much good. Activated charcoal is much more effective and gives your whole system a good clean.

8. Donates, biblically: GIVETH

9. Unseparated: ONE

10. Bled or fled: RAN

11. Music players discontinued in 2017: IPOD NANOS. I've got a mini one lying around somewhere. It holds a grand total of about 50 songs but was quite the thing back in the day.

12. Hunger twinge: PANG

13. Wild indulgence: ORGY

19. "Get this done": SEE TO IT

21. "Who's better than me?!": I RULE! Yay me!

25. "Five Minutes" country singer Morgan: LORRIE. Thank you, crosses. Country music apparently isn't really my thing either.

26. Small Spanish house: CASITA

27. Acid found in vegetable oil: OLEIC

28. Longstocking of kiddie lit: PIPPI. I tried PIPPY first until SMART COOKYE looked a little too medieval English to be correct.

29. __ Bora: Afghan cave complex: TORA

30. "I'll get this done": ON IT

31. Baseball hats: CAPS

32. Cain raiser: ADAM

33. Nielsen concern: TV RATINGS. The Nielsen ratings are becoming less important as the shift continues towards streaming content rather than watching broadcast TV. Instead of estimating audience numbers by polling a small number of households, the streaming figures are actual views.

34. Thick-skinned yellow fruit: CITRONS. Here's one:

37. Invite to a balcony: ASK UP

41. Refuse to participate: OPT OUT

42. Words from a balcony: O ROMEO

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,

And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

45. Ones looking down: SNOBS

46. Molokai neighbor: LANAI. Maui too, they're both about the same distance from Lanai. Molokai is home to the highest sea cliffs in the world.

47. Become 9-Down: UNITE

48. Slot car, for one: RACER

49. Urban portmanteau: SMOG

50. Greek goddess of marriage: HERA

52. Wait for: BIDE

53. Zone: AREA

55. '60s atty. general: RFK

56. Cheer for un gol: OLÉ! Not really, you cheer for a gol by saying "gol!", and in the case of Mexican soccer commentators, strung out ad nauseam. Olé! tends to be used when a team is putting together an extended series of passes and keeping the ball away from the opposition.

And with Programming 101 to start, and Football Chants 101 to finish, here's the grid:


Note from C.C.:
Happy Birthday to dear Tony (Anonymous-T), who has helped me and this blog tremendously all these years. Thank you so much for your generosity Tony! You make our blogging so much easier and you lighten up our blog!
At Wit's End near Carmel on Father's Day 2017

Jul 2, 2020

Thursday, July 2nd 2020 Paul Coulter

Theme: The Cruciverbalist's Lament.

16A. "No idea": HOW SHOULD I KNOW?

26A. "No idea": I'M STUMPED. Interesting word, "stump". There are a ton of different meanings beyond the tree stump. You stump up for something when you pay, a politician stumps on the campaign trail. This batsman has just been stumped playing cricket:

38A. [No idea]: SHRUG. Note the brackets around the clue to indicate a gesture.

51A. "No idea": IT BEATS ME

60A. "No idea": I DON'T HAVE A CLUE

Paul sings us the song of the sad crossword solver today. Five theme entries indicated by the common clue, and together forming a tide of woeful ignorance.

The puzzle itself was pretty straightforward (for me, anyway). There's some good stuff in the fill and some nice long entries in the downs to keep things entertaining. Nice job from Mr. Coulter. Let's go for a wander:


1. Indian noblewoman: RANI

5. Pressure meas.: P.S.I. Pound force per Square Inch. There are many kinds of measurements of pressure - newtons, pascals, atmospheres, all kinds of goodies.

8. Little lies: FIBS

12. Like port, usually: AGED. Technically, a wine can only be called a port if it's made in Portugal's Doura region. There are a few very good California "port-style" wines. The Fairbanks brand is not amongst them, so steer well clear, the same goes for their "sherry". First law of wine - don't cook with something you wouldn't drink.

13. W. alliance since 1948: O.A.S. The Organization of American States, comprising all 35 independent states of the Americas, including the USA.

14. Southwestern grassy plain: LLANO. Here's one in Columbia:

19. Make a minister: ORDAIN

20. Soft drink nut: KOLA

22. Flings: CASTS

28. Cost of preventing deterioration: UPKEEP

30. Adhesive: PASTE

31. Protein-rich bean: SOYA

32. Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo __: EPSTEIN As GM of the Red Sox, he delivered the first World Series to Boston in 86 years, ending the "Curse of the Bambino" championship drought. What is less commonly-known is that the GM post was first offered to Billy Beane of "Moneyball" fame, who was tempted by the eye-watering salary offered by owner John Henry but elected to stay at Oakland.

John Henry should be feeling pretty good this week - he is also the majority owner of Liverpool F.C. in England, who just sealed their first championship win in the Premier League era, and their first title for 30 years dating back to the 1989/90 First Division championship. But I digress.

37. Blueprint detail, for short: SPEC.

39. Charity: ALMS

43. Wearing away gradually: ERODING

45. Greek earth goddess: GAIA. Thank you, crosswords past!

46. Autocrats of old Russia: TSARS. Is there a preferred spelling of TSAR vs CZAR? I'm not sure if one is closer to the Cyrillic original "царь" than the other.

49. 100 agorot, in Israel: SHEKEL. I'm sure if this clue was written the other way around not many people would know "agorot".

56. Dancer Castle: IRENE. Here she is modelling in 1917.

57. Strait-laced: PRIM

58. Storywriter known for irony: O. HENRY. The "O" doesn't really stand for anything, although when asked in an interview for a French newspaper, William Porter told them it was the inital for "Olivier" and it became a "fact" that the full name was "Oliver Henry".

66. Pasta often served alla vodka: PENNE. Food! Just a splash is needed to give the sauce a little bite.

67. Louis XIV, par exemple: ROI

68. Unnerve: FAZE

69. Hides the gray, maybe: DYES. Not me, I proudly sport my gray.

70. "Atlas Shrugged" writer Rand: AYN. OK, so this clue I thought was badly done - SHRUG is part of the theme, I'd have avoided reusing the root in an unrelated clue. "The Fountainhead" is an equally well-known Rand work, so I'd have used that instead. Minor nit.

71. Mattress spring: COIL


1. "Go team!": RAH!

2. Back in the day: AGO. Not my favorite. I don't associate "ago" with "back in the day".

3. Still in the package: NEW. Garage sale or eBay win - NOS - "New Old Stock", or BNIB - "Brand New In Box."

4. Fake __: ID'S

5. Not up to snuff: POOR

6. Mecca native: SAUDI

7. Religion of Mecca: ISLAM. Nice pairing of these two answers.

8. Low-tech fire starter: FLINT. In my youth, I lived in Winchester, a historic city in the south of England. The old city walls were made of flint cobbles, and we used to have fun striking sparks by bashing two pieces against each other. This is the Great Hall, flint-built; with the c1400 Round Table hanging on the wall. Not a bad wall decoration!

9. Breed: ILK. Breed? Not really, more fiefdom. I refer you to many "of that ilk" references. Instead of the belabored "Lord Clackmannan, of Clackmannan" which is a tad redundant, it was rendered "Lord Clackmannan, of that ilk". I bet you didn't expect to learn that when you woke up this morning?

10. Supervisor at a financial institution: BANK MANAGER. "Back in the day", you knew you were in trouble if you got a letter from the bank manager, usually "politely" pointing out that you had overdrawn your account.

11. Busybodies: SNOOPS. Bank Managers also.

15. Young hooter: OWLET

17. One may wind up on a fire truck: HOSE. Nice clue.

18. Bad-mouth: DIS

21. Beverage suffix: -ADE

22. Use bad words: CUSS

23. Informal pricing words: A POP

24. Largest of the Inner Hebrides: SKYE. Here's a little musical interlude - "Over the Sea to Skye". Quite a few different lyrics were set to this music. The Saltire looks grand against a blue sky.

25. Japanese ritual with an iron pot: TEA CEREMONY

27. Org. with an Odd News web page: U.P.I. United Press International, the Washington-based wire service.

29. Baja bread: PESO. Not tortilla? Nope, not enough room.

33. Scholar's deg.: PH.D

34. __ Lanka: SRI

35. Winery cask: TUN

36. French toast maker's need: EGGS

40. Victoria, for one: LAKE. The name should be reverted to the original Lake Nyanza, there's been way too many names lost to colonial flag-planters. Do you have a flag?

41. Appearance: MIEN

42. BOGO event: SALE. "Buy One, Get One". A cunning marketing ploy. Always hooks me, line and sinker, even though I hear the soundtrack in my head: "That's cunning! Stick a tail on it and call it a weasel!".

44. Cape Town's country: Abbr.: R.S.A. The Republic of South Africa. Probably another candidate for returning to pre-Colonial naming.

46. Pointed end: TIP

47. Narrow piece: STRIP

48. Tolerated: ABIDED

50. Breezy greeting: HIYA!

52. Big name in raingear: TOTES. Has the "totes adorbs" run been exhausted? Hard to keep up with the language sometimes.

53. "Use your inside voice": SHH!

54. Comedian featured in Jerry Stiller's "Married to Laughter": MEARA. Anne, Jerry's wife.

55. Official representative: ENVOY

59. Horse rider's strap: REIN

61. Shreveport-to-Little Rock dir.: N.N.E. Ah, back to the random-place-to-random-place chestnut. One moment of reprieve last week, but reverting to type with this one. Let's just agree to use the literal clue "Compass Point" from hereon. It's lame fill, and why pretend otherwise?

62. Ozone-depleting chemical: CFC. Also the initials of the soccer team I support in England, Chelsea F.C.

63. Language of Southeast Asia: LAO

64. Special forces weapon: UZI

65. Unagi, e.g.: EEL. A freshwater eel, in this case., which is what the "for example" bit is all about. All unagi are eel, but not all eel are unagi. ウナギ in Japanese.

And with the final clue making me Food! happy, here's the grid!


Note from C.C.:

Evan Birnholz, constructor for the Washington Post, just released below information:

"I am very proud to announce the release of "Grids for Good"! This is a collection of 42 crosswords and variety puzzles by 44 different constructors to raise money for coronavirus relief and as well as organizations fighting against institutional racism."
I'm one of the constructors. Go to "Grids for Good" for those great puzzles and support charitable causes. The puzzles are available in PDF and puz formats.

Jun 25, 2020

Thursday, June 25th 2020 Joe Deeney

Theme: Two-fer - the theme entries work together to define two subsets of the theme entries:

17A. Log flume, e.g.: WATER RIDE

23A. Connection need at some coffee shops: WIFI CODE. Code, or password? When you're in the coffee shop, what do you ask for? The wifi code, or the wifi password? I know what I ask for, and it's not the "code". Maybe we can compromise on passcode?

32A. Parking ticket holder, perhaps: WIPER BLADE. Nice clue. Not a nice thing to find under your wiper blade though, the ones here in LA come with $$ signs attached.

40A. Cut into: OPERATED ON. Ouch! Towards the end of his career, when Cal Ripken Jr. discussed his various surgeries at press conferences, he'd always say that he'd been "cut on", it always sounded much more painful than "had a procedure".

50A. Late 19th-century smoking establishment: OPIUM DEN

58A. Start to turn mushy, maybe: OVER-RIPEN

The two reveals working together leading us to OPEN WIDE and WIDE OPEN and what to look for in the other six entries:

64A. With 67-Across, doctor's order ... and a hint to 40-, 50- and 58-Across: OPEN

67A. With 64-Across, like a town lacking restrictions ... and a hint to 17-, 23- and 32-Across: WIDE

I don't recall seeing a theme like this before - the two reveal entries work together and switch the theme halfway down - the first three entries split "WIDE" open, and the second theme entries have OPEN split wide. Very nicely done by Joe. It's always fun to see something a little different and this was a very slick twist on a standard gimmick.

Let's see what else we've got talk about:


1. Text: PING. The word has moved from tech-speak to common usage - to ping someone is to send a quick message that you're around if they want to respond back. The tech usage was in computer and internet networks. You would "ping" a piece of equipment with a network signal to see if it was alive - if it was, it would send an echo back, much like a sonar "ping" would be echoed back to the origin. The world of sonar is where the term came from, so if one of your geek friends tries to tell you that it stands for "Packet Internet Groper" you can correct them.

5. Nutmeg spice: MACE. The aril of a nutmeg seed is mace - it has a more earthy flavor than the nutmeg itself.

9. Newton trio: LAWS. Laws of Motion, if you recall from your science classes.

13. Bahrain bigwig: EMIR

14. Norse god: ODIN

15. Out of the wind: ALEE

16. Fur wrap: STOLE. A stole could be described as a fashion accessory, and a fashion thief's accessory would sell a stolen stole. All clear?

19. Husky hello: ARF! Huskies don't look like they "arf" to me. More a "grrrr". It's probably all the Itidarods.

20. Whitman's "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," e.g.: ELEGY. So help me out with this "bloom'd" thing. What's with the apostrophes and poets? It doesn't save any space, nor add anything to the word. Why didn't Walt just write "bloomed"? Same amount of ink, same pronunciation.

22. Odds alternative: EVENS

25. Classic 1953 western: SHANE. "Shane! Come back!"

26. Charge: FEE

27. Telluride automaker: KIA. Not based in Telluride, obviously. They're pretty ugly to my eye, but of course your mileage may vary.

28. Direction opp. 8-Down: WSW. I'm not a big fan of the compass-point fill, but at least this pair have a crack at being something different from the stultifying "Random City to Anytown dir.".

30. "Avatar" actress Saldana: ZOË. Let's give her the umlaut back.

36. Iraqi money: DINAR. I tried REALS first, not quite right.

38. Cricket club: BAT. Hmmm. Do you call a baseball bat a "club"? Or a golf club a "bat"? Discuss.

39. That's a wrap!: SARAN. I liked this.

43. "The Last Jedi" heroine: REY. We're watching the Star Wars movies in narrative-chronological order. There are so many crossword references it seemed like the right thing to do. Plus, they are actually pretty good :)

44. Cholesterol letters: HDL. I had my numbers checked pre-lockdown, all good. My bad cholesterol used to be very high, but eating a lot of Asian food has helped considerably.

45. Kid: TOT

46. Alias letters: AKA

48. Like proofed dough: RISEN. You can prove a loaf and it doesn't rise at all, that's why it's called "proving" to make sure that the yeast is active.

55. Ached (for): PINED

56. Nearly boil: SCALD

57. Wt. units: OZS

60. Artifact: RELIC

62. Part of CPA: Abbr.: CERT. Certified Public Accountant, I suppose.

63. Map line: ROAD

65. Olympus neighbor: OSSA. Nice to see OSSA and ETNA hanging out so nicely. Greeks and Romans, getting along. Mt. Ossa looks volcanic from its shape, although Wikipedia is silent on its vulcan origins.

66. Sicilian volcano: ETNA. There is no doubt that this one goes off every now and again.


1. Lab glassware eponym: PETRI. Jules Richard Petri developed a shallow, lidded, glass dish to grow cultures in the lab. Alexander Fleming famously used them to isolate the future antobiotic penicillin, and so Jules gets a high-five from the human race.

2. "Gotta go!": I'M OFF!

3. Zilch: NIL

4. Aegean country: GREECE. Go and see Mt. Ossa while you're there. From the top you might be able to see the sea - the Aegean Sea - the coastline is no more than five miles away and the mountain is 6,500 feet high, so it's a fair bet you can on a clear day.

5. Worked in the yard: MOWED

6. "Opposites attract," for one: ADAGE

7. Highway alternative: CITY. Mileage stats for a car.

8. Direction opp. 28-Across: ENE

9. Insect stage: LARVA

10. Dell gaming brand whose name was inspired by "The X-Files": ALIENWARE. Thank you crosses.

11. Camel's favorite time?: WEDNESDAY. A sideways reference to an insurance company commercial - Wednesday is "Hump Day". Thankfully one of the very few (insert insurance company name here) commercials which are actually entertaining, rather than the 99% majority that have you reaching for "mute" button. Don't they have focus groups any more? Or do the focus groups still find someone wearing a white apron or an amphibian with a British accent amusing? I suppose they do.

12. Has eyes on: SEES

16. Toothed tool: SAW

18. Fixes up: REHABS

21. Movie mogul Marcus: LOEW. The theater chain he founded is now a piece of history, following mergers, buyouts, buy-backs and more corporate divestments and acquisitions. The company ended up as part of the AMC group and the brand name was phased out in 2017.

24. "My concern is ... ": I FEAR

25. Elton John's title: SIR

27. __ diet: high-fat, low-carb regimen: KETO

29. Former Chinese Premier __ Jiabao: WEN. Thank you, crosses.

30. Old storage devices: ZIP DRIVES. Funny how these are now "old". When we used to give these away at trade shows, we needed the riot squad on hand so we didn't get overrun.

31. Quips: ONE-LINERS

33. "As if!": I BET!

34. Legal __: PAD

35. Calif. NFLer: LA RAM. The Rams organization have come in for no little criticism recently for their proposed new logo, which look like it belongs more to the Chargers down the street:

36. Cry from Homer: DOH!

37. Not family-friendly: RATED "R"

41. Large load: TON. Depends what's carrying it. It wouldn't work out well in my trunk, but a container ship wouldn't notice the odd ton here or there.

42. __ salon: NAIL

47. "Web Therapy" actress Lisa: KUDROW

49. Sleeping giant: SERTA

50. Heist mastermind of film: OCEAN. I think the movie franchise has mined the "Ocean's" seam to exhaustion at this point.

51. Bamboo eater: PANDA. Is Ron Artest still "The Panda's Friend", or did he move on to another name? I lost track after "Metta World Peace".

52. Meted (out): DOLED

53. Internet issue: E-ZINE

54. Foreign policy advisory gp.: N.S.C. National Security Council. How effective it is at the moment is not for me to say.

55. Slightly, in scores: POCO. Music. Here's some, which I can't read. There appear to be some kick-ass arpeggios in the bass clef, way beyond my left-hand technique.

56. Difficult position: SPOT. You could equally be in a good spot, as opposed to a bad one.

59. Fury: IRE

61. Prefix with center: EPI-

Fittingly, that wraps up another EPI-C journey through the Thursday puzzle. Thanks to Joe again for something a little different, and some thoughtful work with the rest of the grid.

And, right on time, here IS the grid:


Jun 18, 2020

Thursday, June 18th 2020 Adam Vincent

Theme: Kleptomania! This puzzle just can't stop stealing - and we're not talking about baseball:

17A. Steal from a box office?: LIFT TICKETS. Here's an unused box office one:

30A. Steal from a bar?: HOOK SHOTS. Kareem never hooked shots. He just sky-hooked a-plenty.

44A. Steal from a government database?: NICK NAMES. I didn't stop to think about this one, but now wonder as I come to write up the puzzle if this is British English?

What's interesting about the British "nick" is that you can be nicked (arrested) for nicking (stealing) and end up in the nick (jail). If your name is Nick, and you nick your finger in the larceny process, that just adds a whole new couple of dimensions to the sentence.

(The grammatical sentence, not the sentence handed down for nicking). Who says English isn't hard to learn?

59A. Steal from a beauty salon?: POCKET COMBS. I rarely, if ever, used a comb, I just washed my hair, toweled it dry and ran my fingers through it to "style" it. Lockdown locks now demand comb-use, otherwise I look like a deranged sheep as the day wears on. Plenty of product required, too, to calm things down.

I liked this theme from Adam, four synonyms and nothing to upset you in the theme or the fill. I might speculate this might be a tad on the easy side for a Thursday, but everyone's mileage will vary.

Let's see what we've got lurking in the chutes and ladders of the fill:


1. Actress Gillan of "Guardians of the Galaxy": KAREN. A nod to the gods of crosses right off the bad. No idea.

6. Has a frog in one's throat: RASPS

11. Caps Lock neighbor: TAB. SHIFT doesn't fit, and A isn't exactly long enough.

14. Texas tourist spot: ALAMO. All together now: "It's smaller than you thought it was when you got to visit". Unlike the Grand Canyon; nothing can prepare you for how deep and wide the canyon is.

15. Insistent comeback: IS TOO!

16. "It's __-win situation": A NO

19. Dress to the nines, with "up": TOG

20. Put away: EAT

21. Like a loud crowd: AROAR

22. Bellybutton type: OUTIE. -IE and wait for the crosses.

24. Sources of wisdom: ORACLES. The Delphi oracle is the most well-known. The minor oracles mutter about the unfairness of that.

26. Chincoteague horse: PONY. A breed of pony, of course we all knew that (shhh! - now I know that).

27. Clumsy: GAWKY

32. Ostrich cousin: RHEA. I didn't notice this on the way through, crosses filled it in for me.

33. Got together: MET

34. Sudoku digit: ONE. "Sudoku" is superfluous here.

35. Routine grounder, e.g.: EASY OUT

37. Timber-cutting tool: BROAD AX

41. Bird whose eye is in the Wise potato chips logo: OWL. Never heard of them. Pennsylvania-based, so that might account for it.

42. __ race: RAT

43. Field mouse: VOLE

48. Goddess trio, with "the": FATES. Your fate is assigned at birth by Clotho the Spinner, Lachesis the Alloter, and Atropos the Inflexible. What does the "alloter" do?

49. Workplace standards org.: O.S.H.A. I would have thought by now that OSHA wouldn't need the periods, but I guess with "org." in the clue, I should respect that.

50. Integer: NUMERAL. Like ONE.

52. Moves with the breeze: SWAYS

54. Grenoble greeting: SALUT!

55. Feed bit: OAT. I went for ORT first and had to have a bit of a re-think.

58. Top __: TEN

62. Syncopated work: RAG

63. Where van Gogh's second "Sunflowers" series was painted: ARLES. The first series was painted in Paris. If you're wondering which Van Gogh you've got hanging on your wall, a "Paris" painting shows the flowers lying around on the floor, an "Arles" painting shows them in a vase.

You might think he'd got himself together in Arles, vase-wise, but then one night he and his buddy Paul Gauguin happened to tie one on in an absinthe bar, which ended with angry words and Vincent chopping off his own ear with his razor.

Happy days.

64. St. Teresa's town: AVILA

65. Is for two?: ARE

66. Bobby pin target: TRESS. Tress comes up again within a week. I didn't elaborate on it before, as I thought it was a common term for a hank of hair, but there were some "what?" comments, so once bitten - tress = hair. I need to get my tresses attended to shortly.

67. __ Tots: TATER


1. Curly leafy green: KALE. People claim to love kale, but really, they don't.

2. Latin "others": ALIA

3. Rapids transit: RAFT. Nice clue.

4. Ambulance pro: E.M.T.

5. Official with a seal: NOTARY

6. Bounce: RICOCHET

7. Set the price high: ASK A LOT

8. Sound system: STEREO. Do people buy a "sound system" which is "stereo" anymore?  Maybe this should be clued with a "once" qualifier. I do very clearly remember my first stereo sound system. I put my headphones on and listened to my new "Dark Side of the Moon" album from Pink Floyd. I still remember my astonishment at hearing a different mix in each ear.

9. Cauldron: POT. Does anyone other than witches use cauldrons?

10. Mediocre: SO-SO

11. Many a clue in the TV series "Blindspot": TATTOO

12. Sanctify with oil: ANOINT

13. Pro golfer's disappointments: BOGEYS. I'm usually quite satisfied with a bogey. I start to sulk at the triple-bogeys.

18. Glass of public radio: IRA

23. Sudden, dramatic disruption: UPHEAVAL

24. "I heard you the last time": OKAY, OKAY!

25. Tennis garment: SKORT. Golf, too. I'd like to see a male golfer on the PGA tour wear one and see what the reaction was from the PGA. Male golfers on the European tour can wear shorts on a tournament-by-tournament basis according to the forecast temperature, but they still can't wear a kilt. Equality for the Scots and Irish! And skorts for men!

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

28. "Yes!": AHA!

29. "Isle of Dogs" director Anderson: WES

31. __ Balls: former Hostess treats: SNO. Currently owned by "Apollo Global Management" which sounds about as appetizing as a private equity firm can.

33. Disney film based on a Chinese legend: MULAN

36. "Queen Sugar" cable station: OWN. Thank you crosses.

37. Unfounded: BASELESS

38. On the __: DOT

39. Tavern tankard: ALE

40. Simple signatures: X'ES. Also known in legal circles as "Signature by Mark". Yes, it's a thing:

42. New film versions: REMAKES

44. Cosa __: NOSTRA. "La Cosa Nostra", literally "our thing".

45. "Cross my heart!": I SWEAR

46. Coins returned: CHANGE

47. Brawn: MUSCLE

48. One of the haves: FAT CAT. "Fat cats have a heart attack" in this catchy 1984-inspired ditty from Muse.

51. Boring routine: RUT

53. Minor disagreement: SPAT

55. Leave unsaid: OMIT

56. Not all thumbs: ABLE

57. Deposed Russian ruler: TSAR

60. "Bobby Hockey": ORR. Bobby Orr retired. His number is retired. It's probably time he was retired from crossword duty too, there is literally no new way to clue his name. Yes, he was a great defenseman, but ...

61. Egg cells: OVA

And here, without further ado, is the grid. Have a great Thursday!