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

May 23, 2019

Thursday May 23rd 2019 Joe Schewe

Theme: Scramble  - as the nicely-placed reveal tells us:

60A. Simple salad ... and what the starts of the five other longest answers are?: MIXED GREENS. I like it when the reveal is placed towards the bottom of the puzzle, it gives you a chance to figure out the theme before you get to it. This time, it was key to me going back and unlocking some of the theme entries, SEGA and VOILE in this case.

17A. U.S. gaming release of 1989: SEGA GENESIS. Sage green. I'd never heard of the console, mainly because it was marketed as the Mega Drive in Europe.

24A. Chiffon-like materials: VOILE FABRICS. Olive green. Often used for sheer window drapes.

33A. Future first lady wed in 1842: MARY TODD Army green. Crosses all the way here. Mary Todd before she married Abraham Lincoln. She had a tough life, not only did she witness her husband being assassinated, but out of four children only one outlived her.

41A. Foam toy: NERF BALL Fern green. The brand is now owned by Hasbro, and annual Nerf sales are estimated at more than $400 million. Enthusiasts claim that the name is an acronym for "non-expanding recreational foam".

49A Rocky Mountains nickname: MILE HIGH CITY Lime green. Denver, home to Denver International Airport terminal which is more than half a mile long, and I always seem to arrive at Gate 95 and have to walk the 0.66 miles to Gate 17 for my LAX connection. (Gate 17 is the first gate in Terminal B, for reasons unknown to me).

Joe returns for what I think is his fourth LAT appearance. Straightforward theme once you tumble to the gimmick, some of the theme entries were obtuse enough that I needed the reveal, as I mentioned above. Let's see what else catches the eye:


1. Analyze critically: PARSE

6. Counting gadgets: ABACI. "Counting" seems a little simplistic for what you can do with an abacus.

11. Business address abbr.: STE. Suite.

14. Michener novel with astronauts: SPACE. Never heard of the book, crosses all the way.

15. Answer an insult with an insult, say: REACT

16. Short flight: HOP. The shortest commercial flights I have taken were between LAX and Carlsbad, about 80 miles as the crow flies. You'd think it would be better to drive, but the traffic between LA and San Diego is so unpredictable I'd have kept missing meetings. The airport is so tiny that almost everybody waits in a bar called "The Landings" about 20 feet from the terminal until they open security, usually about ten minutes before the flight is scheduled to depart. The planes that land there aren't exactly big:

19. It often follows you: ARE. I am, you are, he/she/it is.

20. Ivan or Nicholas: TSAR

21. Actor Chaney: LON

22. Windy home, probably: AERIE. Nice cluing.

28. Left the country?: SECEDED. Another nice clue. Some inventive stuff today.

31. Piccadilly Circus statue: EROS. Except it's not. The statue is commonly referred to as Eros, but actually it depicts his brother, Anteros. The statue is a memorial to the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, and Anteros, "the God of selfless love" symbolizes the Earl's philanthropy and his efforts to replace child labor with school education. It's a total waste of time trying to tell people this, however, but I still like to try.

32. Plain text: PROSE

37. It's all around us: AIR. Depends on whether you happen to be on dry land or not.

38. Hangs on a line?: WAITS. Seems a good excuse to revisit this Blondie hit from 1978.

40. Word from a bull: BUY

44. Line to the audience: ASIDE

46. Took the bus: RODE

47. Becomes a burden: IMPOSES

53. Give a speech: ORATE

54. Longing: YEN

55. Cheese with an edible rind: BRIE. Pretty much all cheese rinds are edible, except those made from wax or other such stuff. I always eat the rind.

59. Beans or baloney: ROT. Beans? I didn't see this until now, the crosses filled it in for me. I'd not heard of the synonym "beans" before. Webster's list about 60 synonyms for "baloney".

64. Aardvark snack: ANT

65. European woman's name meaning "peace": IRENA. Common in Russia and Poland, hence the "European" part of the clue.

66. Safe places?: BANKS

67. Caustic chemical: LYE

68. State of northeast India: ASSAM. Famous for its tea - strong and favorful. I usually blend it in with some Earl Grey for the bergamot flavor.

69. Temporarily unavailable: IN USE


1. "Hey!": PSST!

2. Gibbons, e.g.: APES

3. Music featuring sitars: RAGA

4. Often colorful accessories: SCARVES

5. Neurologist's printout, briefly: EEG. I always get mixed up with EKG. This instance was no exception - SPACE fixed my error, SPACK didn't look quite right.

6. "Dover Beach" poet: ARNOLD.
The sea is calm tonight. 
The tide is full, the moon lies fair 
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light 
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, 
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay. 

That's a cross-channel ferry in the background of this picture. The Dover-Calais crossing is the shortest of the routes across the English Channel.

7. __ Bag: eponymous '70s designer label: BEENE. Geoffrey Beene created the brand in 1974 as a low-cost alternative to his haute couture offerings.

8. Remote batteries: AAS. Not always, one of my TV remotes uses AAA batteries.

9. Third-century date: CCI. 201 A.D.

10. Delivery announcement: IT'S A BOY!

11. Puppeteer Lewis: SHARI

12. Tire-shaped: TORIC. I tried OVOID at first, which didn't really make a ton of sense.

13. They're heavier than foils: EPÉES. In Olympic fencing, the foil's target is limited to the torso. In the epée competition, you can hit your opponent anywhere, including the head and feet, recreating the fighting capabilities of the weapons in actual combat.

18. Nobelist Wiesel: ELIE. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

23. Once, old-style: ERST

25. Poem of homage: ODE

26. Skillful deed: FEAT

27. SFO postings: ARRS. Arrivals at San Francisco International airport.

28. Time period: SPAN

29. Buffalo's county: ERIE

30. Irish pop group family name: CORR. I haven't heard much from this musical family recently. Four siblings, here's one of their singles from 2009.

33. End of a corporal's URL: MIL. Reserved for the U.S. Department of Defense.

34. Sapporo sashes: OBIS. The city, not the beer.

35. "Seriously, man!": DUDE!

36. Adds highlights to, perhaps: DYES

38. Arabian arroyo: WADI. I learned this from my Dad, who was posted to North Africa during WWII. He was a gunner in the Royal Artillery, but transferred to the Medical Corps when he discovered he would earn an extra sixpence a week.

39. Words after shake or break: A LEG

42. Worry: FRET

43. Czech Republic region: BOHEMIA. Leading moment for me. I always assumed, for no good reason, that it was somewhere in Germany.

44. Likely: APT

45. Nutrient-rich legume: SOYBEAN

47. Winter eave buildup: ICE DAM. I'd never heard of this before. Here's an example:

48. "Merciless" Flash Gordon foe: MING. Thank you, crosses. No clue.

49. Story lesson: MORAL

50. Device common on "Seinfeld": IRONY. Don't talk to Alanis Morissette about this. She was teased mercilessly that all the situations she described in her song "Ironic" were not, actually, ironic.

51. Starbucks order: LATTE

52. Spotted African predator: HYENA

56. OPTI-FREE rival: RENU. Contact lens cleaners. I don't have contacts, so I'd not heard of either of them.

57. Contents of many cartridges: INKS

58. To be, to Brutus: ESSE

61. Apr. addressee: I.R.S. Nice clue, I enjoyed this one. See how you can get cunning with what seems to be simple fill?

62. Crosses (out): X'ES

63. Slugger's stat: RBI. No explanation needed? Runs Batted In in baseball.

And with that, I think I'm done, save for posting the grid.


May 16, 2019

Thursday, May 16th 2019 Jeffrey Wechsler

Theme: The Modern Prometheus - all the theme entries refer to the alternative title of this novel:

17A. Classic 1818 novel: FRANKENSTEIN. Here's the cover of the first edition:

20A. Unnamed character in 17-Across: THE MONSTER. "It" is known by number of names in the novel, none of them particularly flattering, including "It".

35A. Author of 17-Across: MARY SHELLEY. She wrote the novel when she was 18, she was 20 when it was published. Her, her husband Percy and Lord Byron had a competition to see who could come up with the best horror story.

47A. 1974 portrayer of 17-Across: GENE WILDER. Here's the classic moment from the movie when Wilder meets Marty Feldman's Igor for the first time.

53A. 1931 portrayer of 20-Across: BORIS KARLOFF. A little before my time, but surely everyone has seen Karloff's performance in this classic movie.

So, a nice challenge from Jeffrey, I didn't really get a toe-hold until the SW corner, then it was a question of working across and back up. The Karloff theme entry was my first, then it was just a question of fitting the pieces of the puzzle into place.

There's a lot of fresh fill in the puzzle too. SEED HEADS in the center of the downs was impressive as it crosses all five theme entries. Let's check out the rest.


1. Expert in Islamic law: MUFTI. A learning moment. I knew the word as a military term for civilian clothes but not the Islamic connection.

6. Classroom tools: RULERS

12. Nation partly in the Arctic Circle: FINLAND. Brrr. Not a whole lot of daylight in winter, either.

14. Left: GONE OUT

15. "I didn't lie!": IT WAS SO!

16. Select, as a jury: EMPANEL. I'm not sure I knew this. Crosses filled in a lot of it for me.

19. Otoscope target: EAR. I learned "oto-" from this photograph of David Niven in his book "The Moon's A Balloon". The caption read "Cupid developed otosis as a result" which sent me scurrying for the dictionary.

24. In a calculating way: SLYLY. Just pipped by "rhythm" as one of the longest words with no vowels.

27. Antipoverty agcy.: O.E.O. The Office of Economic Opportunity. Established by Lyndon Johnson to manage his War on Poverty programs. It was abolished in 1981.

28. Actor Stephen: REA. I had him as RAE first which slowed things down a tad.

29. Prefix with plus: SUR. Surplus.

31. Reduce in status: DRAG DOWN

37. Slapstick reaction: SPIT TAKE. Never heard of this term before either. One of these:

39. Borrow, but not really: BUM. "Not really" because you'e not going to give it back, as in "bum a smoke".

40. "__ you serious?": ARE

41. Talk and talk: YAP

43. Namely: TO WIT

52. "__ scale of 1 to 10 ... ": ON A. Fill it in and move on.

56. King in 1 Kings: SOLOMON

59. Shoulder piece: EPAULET

60. Like some rural bridges: ONE LANE

61. July 4, 1776, notables: SIGNERS. I tried FATHERS first, knowing it was probably wrong. I proved myself right (wrong) eventually.

62. Green field?: BOTANY. Field of study.

63. Campus figures: DEANS


1. Kind of heart valve: MITRAL

2. Easily led astray: UNWARY

3. Rich dessert: FLAN

4. Something to do: TASK

5. Map box: INSET. Took me a while to figure this out, even though the clue is familiar enough.

6. "Did my heart love till now?" speaker: ROMEO. Yay! I actually knew this.

7. Detach, as a dress pattern: UNPIN. My mom used to make her own dresses, I witnessed lots of unpinning of patterns as a kid.

8. Isn't straight: LEANS

9. Big stretch: EON

10. Deeply regret: RUE

11. Mo. town: STL St. Louis.

12. High winds: FIFES. Nice clue. A fife is a high-pitched flute.

13. Honolulu-born singer: DON HO

14. Go back for a second helping: GET MORE

18. A dandelion's are called blowballs: SEED HEADS. We used to drive my dad nuts blowing the seed heads; as fast as he was trying to get the pissenlit out of the lawn we were just compounding the problem.

21. Fox NFL analyst Aikman: TROY. He's actually pretty good as an analyst; the Cowboys did something right, Tony Romo is a quite excellent announcer.

22. "Ick!": EEW!

23. Fled: RAN

25. Future JD's exam: LSAT

26. Mongolian tent: YURT. Now available as expensive "glamping" accomodations in Big Sur, among other places.

30. Shaggy rug from 12-Across: RYA. Remembered from crosswords past.

32. Kosovo neighbor: Abbr.: ALB. Albania, on the Balkan Peninsula.

33. Surfeit: GLUT

34. How-to presentation: DEMO. I've demoed a lot of software in my time. One of the more enjoyable parts of my work day.

35. Bearing: MIEN

36. Prominent New York City feature: SKYLINE. The most impressive skyline I've seen is Hong Kong island overlooking the harbor, especially at night when all the buildings are lit up in neon.

37. Give a little: SAG

38. Not post-: PRE-

42. Short dogs, for short: PEKES

44. Like some scarves: WOOLEN. This gave me pause for quite some time. I've always spelled it with two "L"s.

45. Works out: INFERS

46. Last family to keep a White House cow: TAFTS. Two cows actually, Wooly Mooly and Pauline Wayne. There's that single "L" again in "Wooly".

48. Dangerous virus: EBOLA

49. Lennon love song: WOMAN. Written for Yoko, as 57D cross-references.

50. Twist: IRONY

51. Fleet: RAPID

54. Heated state: RAGE

55. Large green moth: LUNA. Quite impressive-looking things. I don't think I've ever seen one.

56. One may be choked back: SOB

57. Dedicatee of 49-Down: ONO

58. __ alone: not to mention: LET

And with that, I'm on my way. Have a great day!


May 9, 2019

Thursday, May 9th 2019 Roland Huget

Theme: North/South Divide - The theme entries separate the poles, as the reveal succinctly explains:

58A. In complete opposition ... and a feature of the four other longest answers: POLES APART. Or a Warsaw couple when one of them is away on a trip?

And the themers:

17A. *Finds flaws (in): PICKS HOLES, usually as relates to someone's argument. Polemicists are adept at this.

21A. *Casino fixtures where blinds might be used: POKER TABLES. This one might need some explanation. In some poker games, famously Texas Hold 'Em, after a new hand is dealt there are two "forced" bets to get the action started, the "small blind" and the "big blind". Two players must bet, irrespective of what their cards look like. The blinds rotate around the table as each hand is dealt. The amounts of the blinds are posted at each table so you know what you're getting into before you sit down, e.g. "$5/$10".

36A. *They make nuts healthy: POLYUNSATURATES. The "good" fats found in nuts, fish and other foodstuffs.

50A. *Skilled debaters: POLEMICISTS. Word of the week for me. Excellent.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable solve. It took me just over half an hour which is quite a bit longer than I'm used to on a Thursday. I didn't see the theme until the reveal, and that let me go back to 17A and fill in a lot of gaps in the Northwest. And some great words - polyunsaturates, polemicists, some long entries in the downs and I don't recall any clunk in the fill.

Great job from Roland. Let's take the Grand Tour.


1. Award named for a goddess: CLIO. Advertising awards. The muse was "the proclaimer, glorifier and celebrator of history, great deeds and accomplishments".

5. Put down: ABASE

10. First choice: FAVE

14. "You're __ luck": OUTA. I looked askance at this one, I'd always seen "outta" before. I acquiesced in the end.

15. __ shorts: BOXER

16. Truth stretcher: LIAR

19. "Star Wars" sentence inverter: YODA

20. Baseball bat wood: ASH. I thought it was ELM at first, but it's too heavy for modern-day bats.

23. Sign-off word: YOURS

25. River through Tours: LOIRE. Beautiful part of the world, the Loire valley.

26. Shot water?: RAPIDS

28. Rash: HASTY

31. Citation ender, briefly: ET AL. Texts with multiple authors in citations are shortened by citing the first author's name, followed by "et al".

32. Usually multilayered dessert: TORTE

33. Place to unwind: SPA

40. __ card: common phone component: SIM. A Subscriber Identity Module, if you ever wondered.

41. Closes in on: NEARS

42. Half of sechs: DREI. German, natürlich.

43. Alaskan cruise sight: FJORD

44. Iris ring: AREOLA

46. Milan's La __: SCALA

49. The Huskies of the NCAA's Big East: UCONN. The women have won 11 basketball and 5 field hockey national titles.

54. Tank contents: GAS

57. Tip: APEX

60. Wild, all-night party: RAVE

61. Tiny swimmer: AMEBA. I still can't get used to not spelling this AMOEBA.

62. Marine threat: ORCA

63. Kept in one's sights: EYED

64. Fixes: SPAYS

65. Urban bane: SMOG. Much, much better here in LA than it was when I first moved here. The worst smog I've ever experienced was last year in Delhi, when the AQI was 440 (out of possible 500); anything over 300 is categorized as "hazardous". I came down with bronchitis and tore a rib cartilage one night I was coughing so hard.


1. Historic NYC club, with "The": COPA. Crosses filled this in for me, it didn't spring to mind.

2. '60s-'70s All-Star pitcher Tiant: LUIS. Thank you, crosses. Way before my USA time.

3. Sensory omen regarding money: ITCHY PALM. Lovely clue and fill.

4. Wine barrel wood: OAK

5. Can't stand: ABHORS

6. Financial records: BOOKS

7. Roadster rod: AXLE

8. Oracle: SEER

9. Formerly, formerly: ERST. From whence "erstwhile".

10. Airman, slangily: FLYBOY

11. Pungent mayo: AIOLI. Pungent? Odd choice of adjective. Is the aroma of garlic pungent?

12. "Star Wars" heavy breather: VADER. Darth. I like how this crossed YODA. It was world Star Wars Day last Saturday "May the Fourth be with you". Makes me laugh every year.

13. Wipe out: ERASE

18. Source of fries: SPUD. Peeled, chipped and double-fried. Yum! Not OILY at all.

22. Let out, e.g.: ALTER

24. Like some fried food: OILY. Yech. No excuse for this. Usually caused by not having the oil hot enough before you start cooking, and not keeping it up to temp.

26. Gym iterations: REPS

27. French possessive: À TOI. "Yours".

28. Squirrel away: HOARD

29. Fine __: ARTS

30. "The Simpsons" disco guy: STU

32. Old Russian ruler: TSAR. Always need to wait for a T or S to decide between this and CZAR

33. Coerce: STRONG-ARM. Nice fill. A lot of quality in the fill today.

34. Thurman's role in "The Avengers" (1998): PEEL. Diana Rigg played Emma Peel in the original British TV series back in the '60s.

35. Home to K2: ASIA. The world's second tallest mountain, and most demanding and second-most dangerous to climb behind Annapurna.

37. Clear, as a copier: UNJAM. My printer has an annoying habit of reporting a paper jam when there isn't one. I still have to go through the rigmarole of "clearing" the non-jam before it'll start working again.

38. Prefix with natal: NEO-

39. Yemeni port: ADEN

43. Showed off a muscle: FLEXED

44. Fills in for: ACTS AS

45. Soprano Ponselle who debuted at the Met opposite Caruso: ROSA. Thank you, crosses.

46. Slash on a score sheet: SPARE. Bowling. Easy for the bowlers among us, less easy for me.

47. Insured patient's obligation: CO-PAY

48. Advil alternative: ALEVE

49. "Best before" cousin: USE BY

51. Hoppy brews: IPA'S

52. Freebie: COMP

53. Intestinal sections: ILEA

55. Violin music instruction: ARCO. Use the bow, as opposed to pizzicato, pluck the strings.

56. Unaccompanied: STAG. Took me a while to see this. I wanted SOLO first.

59. Bldgs. with many boxes: P.O.'S. I was trying to fit apt, condo, some other multi-dwelling building, then the Post Office penny dropped.

OK, I've run out of runway so time to post the grid and take off.


May 2, 2019

Thursday, May 2nd 2019 Hoang-Kim Vu

Theme: Punditry -  four punning theme entries as follows:

20A. San Sebastián beachgoer?: BASQUE IN THE SUN. Also known as Donostia in the Basque language, San Sebastián is a beautiful city in Spain renowned for its beaches and its wonderful cuisine.

34A. Really cranky folks in Prague?: CROSS CZECHS

43A. Majestic Nairobi native? : GRAND KENYAN. Not for me. I pronounce "Kenyan" and "Canyon" quite differently.

59A. End of a Helsinki marathon?: THE FINNISH LINE. Odd one out here, I'd say. The punning "Finnish" and the punned "Finish" are too close for my liking.

Here we have another LAT debutant in Hoang-Kim Vu, Rich really is casting the net wide for new constructors, so congratulations.

I think I've said before that play-on-words puzzles are not my favorites; they're difficult to nail for one reason or another. I did like "basque in the sun" having said all that. Let's see what else we've got:


1. Radio letters: AM/FM

5. Oust: EVICT

10. Overly submissive: MEEK. Aren't the meek supposed to inherit the earth?

14. Composer Schifrin: LALO. I think I ought to know this by now, it's been used in more than a few puzzles. The crosses filled it in for me.

15. Where one might find shade on a 16-Across: LANAI. The veranda, originating quite aptly in the Hawai'ian islands.

16. Tropical spot: ISLE. Such as the island of Lanai, now 97% owned by my old boss Larry Ellison. He's come in for a lot of criticism regarding his promises to make the island "the first economically-viable 100% green community". Not a lot of progress has been made.

17. Ceremonial promises: I DO'S

18. Explosion: BLAST

19. Bread with vindaloo: NAAN. Food! I love garlic naan. I've tried making them at home, but you need that 800F tandoor to cook them in for the genuine taste and texture.

23. Doorbell ringers' response: IT'S US

24. Joshua tree habitat: DESERT. Let's hear from U2 with a live track from their "Joshua Tree" album. I saw them perform the album live at the Rose Bowl in 2017. What a great gig.

25. CPR specialist: EMT

27. Copy, in a way: TRACE

31. "Blue Bloods" network: CBS

39. Only state whose entire east and west borders are rivers: IOWA. News to me. The Missouri and Mississippi rivers are the borders. The author Bill Bryson once wrote "Iowa is so flat that if you stand on a phone book you can see for 200 miles". Made me chuckle.

41. "Mythology" author Hamilton: EDITH. Who? Apparently this Bryn Mawr graduate passed me by.

42. Word with day or year: LEAP

46. Like many Pinterest projects, for short: D.I.Y. I never quite "get" Pinterest. I've ended up there a few times searching for images, but I don't really understand what the site is all about.

47. Inkling: SENSE

48. Young Dickens hero: PIP. From Great Expectations. "I took the opportunity of being alone in the court-yard, to look at my coarse hands and my common boots."

50. Birthplace of Marie Curie: WARSAW. I knew this, no idea how. I must have read up on Mrs. Curie at some point.

55. PlayStation player: GAMER

62. Wielder of the hammer Mjölnir: THOR

63. Gate fastener: LATCH

64. Chip in chips: ANTE

65. See 66-Across: KANE and

66. With 65-Across, Susan Lucci role: ERICA. Crosses all the way. I don't watch daytime soaps, and thus I've never seen "All My Children". The actress was 71 when this picture was taken last year. Had some "work" done?

67. Like some dorms: CO-ED

68. Was in the red: OWED

69. Disintegrate: DECAY

70. Blunders: ERRS


1. Cover story?: ALIBI. Nice clue.

2. Really upset with: MAD AT

3. Dentist's advice: FLOSS

4. The Hagia Sophia, once: MOSQUE. This place in Istanbul, now a museum. It began life as a Greek Orthodox Christian cathedral before it became a mosque.

5. Dresden's river: ELBE. Crossword staple by now.

6. Still in effect: VALID

7. Cockamamie: INANE

8. Throws out a line: CASTS

9. Church donation: TITHE

10. Faire performer: MINSTREL. Entertainment at many a Renaissance "Faire."

11. First son of Isaac: ESAU

12. Lust for life: ELAN

13. "Inception" actor Watanabe: KEN

21. "Semper Fi" org.: U.S.M.C. Properly "semper fidelis", "always faithful"

22. Tight end Zach who scored the go-ahead touchdown in the Eagles' only Super Bowl victory (2018): ERTZ. Who? And I watched the game. He came from Stanford, so he's probably smart as well as large enough not to trifle with (6'5" and 249lbs)

26. Tough journey: TREK

28. Cruised through: ACED

29. Indian spiced tea: CHAI

30. Best Breakthrough Athlete Award, for one: ESPY

31. Smokes, briefly: CIGS

32. Drag: BORE

33. Ugly duckling, as it turns out: SWAN

35. Tribute piece: ODE

36. Confession in confession: SIN

37. Hog heaven?: STY

38. "I say, old __": CHAP

40. Got back to: ANSWERED. Strangely, this word has not appeared in either the LA Times nor the Shortz-era NY Times crosswords.

44. Unable to hear: DEAF

45. Approaching: NIGH

49. Royal home: PALACE

51. Irritated: RILED

52. It's a trap!: SNARE. Nice clue.

53. Caper: ANTIC

54. Neopagan practice: WICCA.  I had WICKA for no good reason at first, and ERIKA seemed OK. Not good enough for the "ta-da" though, so I sleuthed around until I saw my mistake.

56. Like the key of Beethoven's Fifth: MINOR. C minor in this particular instance. All together now - DA DA DA DUN!

57. Stage direction: ENTER

58. Some woodwinds: REEDS. The piccolo and flute are also part of the woodwind section of the orchestra, but do not have reeds.

59. Become less aloof: THAW

60. Give a fine edge to: HONE

61. Grammy-winning country duo Dan + __: SHAY. Crosses again, thank you. Never heard of these two chaps. 67 million folks have viewed their "Tequila" video on YouTube, so they're evidently popular somewhere out there. (See what I did with their/they're/there!)

62. Fight-ending letters: T.K.O. Technical Knock-Out, as I'm sure we all know by now. When the ref stops the fight.

And so to the grid, and that's my lot.


Apr 25, 2019

Thursday, April 25th 2019 Andrew Linzer

Theme: Hipster Talk: The first word of each theme entries is a slangy form of "nice" as suggested by the clues:

21A. "Dude, nice triatomic molecule!": FRESH WATER. Three atoms, two hydrogen and one oxygen.

23A. "Dude, nice metered text!": EPIC POEM. Those Homeric staples the Iliad and the Odyssey are not strangers to the crossword.

34A. "Dude, nice root vegetable!": SWEET POTATO

49A. "Dude, nice riding crop!": COOL WHIP. The odd man out in the theme entries. The others are what I would call self-referential - the phrase as a whole is a variant of the second word. In this one "whip" and "Cool Whip" are completely different things.

51A. "Dude, nice buzzer collection!": KILLER BEES

Inventive theme from Andrew today. I'd not heard of "fresh" in the slang usage before, but it didn't slow me down much. There did seem to be a lot of three-letter fill, especially around the middle section, but nothing too irritating.

I did think the COOL WHIP entry was a little out of left field, and rather pointed up that the rest of the entries were just modifiers of the second word. Not a cardinal sin, but - gave me a little of a "meh" moment. Also "buzzer" for "bee" seemed a little contrived. Anyway ....

... let's take the tour.


1. Color in a darkroom: SEPIA. Sepia toning is still used to give black & white photographs a warmer quality, and to improve their life. The technique was common in 18th-century portrait photography. Check out this English couple from 1885:

6. "May I say something?": AHEM?

10. Flat for an artist: LOFT.

14. Lake named for a tribe: HURON

15. Folk hero Crockett: DAVY

16. Song for one: ARIA. Resisted the temptation to plonk SOLO in here until I had some confirmation from the crosses.

17. Olympics infrastructure project: ARENA. Sadly, quite often never to be used again. There is very rarely any long-term economic benefit to be gained from building Olympic facilities. Los Angeles, hosting the Olympics in 2028, is not building any new permanent facilities for the games.

18. One not found on a violin: FRET. I don't know how violinists do it. I tried to play a fret-less electric bass guitar once and I was lost.

19. Communist icon: MARX. Karl, buried in Highgate Cemetery in North London.

20. Former U.N. leader Annan: KOFI. I can never remember this fellow, I always wait for the crosses.

25. Free bakery treat?: AROMA. Nice clue.

26. Letters after T?: REX. I resisted the "UVW" run.

27. Get a lode of this: ORE

28. Muddy home: STY

30. Scabbers, in the Potterverse: RAT. I don't know the Harry Potter canon too well, but the crosses were solid. There's another Potter reference later on.

31. Nonprofit URL ending: ORG

32. Like: À LA

33. Producer of cones and needles: PINE

37. Oompa-Loompa creator: DAHL. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" author Roald.

39. Tear: RIP

40. Conan's network: TBS

41. Novelist Umberto: ECO. I remember reading "Foucault's Pendulum" when I was on vacation in Greece a number of years ago. I clearly remember where I was while I was reading it and thoroughly enjoying it. Now I can remember absolutely zero about the book itself. Ripe for a re-read.

42. Cyclops organ: EYE

43. Animal that sounds like a musical note: DOE. Not re? Doh!

44. Sports bar fixtures: TV'S Remember when they were not flat-screen and had to sit on steel-braced shelves or mounts to support the weight?

47. Open, as oysters: SHUCK. I used to host an oysters and Guinness party on the last Sunday before Christmas back in my London days. We went through a ton of oysters, I got to be a pretty good shucker. I provided the oysters and the kegs of Guinness, the guests brought Champagne. Happy Sundays!

54. Aid in battling blazes: HOSE

55. Yoda trainee: JEDI

56. Many millennia: EONS

57. "Sesame Street" woman for 44 years: MARIA. She was bilingual. The actress who played her, Sonia Manzano, felt the human characters on the show were getting less and less of the script action, so she moved on in 2015.

58. Broiling spot: OVEN

59. Crumb carriers: ANTS

60. Yoga pose similar to a push-up: PLANK. I try to plank most days, it's good for the central core. My record time for planking is the entire song "Year of the Cat" by Al Stewart, which runs 6:21 on YouTube. One of my favorite songs from the '70s.

61. "Sesame Street" Muppet: BERT. Second character of the day from the show.

62. Mexican coin: PESO. Maria knows this.

63. Bad spells: HEXES


1. Salt dispenser: SHAKER. I don't use shakers, I use bamboo wood pots, easier to get at. I have one each for kosher and finishing salt.

2. Where Andorra is: EUROPE. Between France and Spain in the Pyrenees. It's a beautiful part of the world. Pretty cracking food too, sitting between France and the Basque Country.

3. In or out, at times: PREFIX. Challenging clue. For example, in-swinger or out-swinger in baseball.

4. Jefferson Memorial column type: IONIC. Here's a few of the columns:

5. Gasteyer of "Lady Dynamite": ANA. No clue, thank you crosses. This show passed me by.

6. Like some subscription-based sites: AD-FREE

7. Word from Arabic for "sacred, inviolable place": HAREM

8. Party times, often: EVES

9. Bit of folklore: MYTH

10. 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music winner Kendrick: LAMAR. The Compton-based rapper won for his album "Damn".

11. "Messiah," e.g.: ORATORIO 

12. Relief pitcher, in baseball lingo: FIREMAN. I hadn't heard this term before, it made me smile. I can't hear Metallica's "Enter Sandman" without seeing Mariano Rivero heading to the mound. The band played the song live for him at Yankee Stadium when the Yankees retired Rivero's number 42.

13. IRS table column: TAX RATE.

21. Fake: FORGERY

22. Method: WAY

24. Opening on a sweater?: PORE. Nice clue. There were a couple of humid days in Jamaica last week where my pores were definitely open!

28. __-mo replay: SLO

29. Parlor pictures: TATTOOS. Took me a while, I was thinking about family portrait photographs in the parlor (or parlour).

31. Hermes, in the Potterverse: OWL. Had the W, so didn't hesitate here.

32. Handy program: APP

33. NBA stats: PTS. Points, simple enough.

34. Place to pull over: SHOULDER

35. Rare NFL result: TIE. Donovan McNabb, then the Eagles quarterback, famously didn't know that an NFL regular season game could end in a tie when he played in a 13-13 tie with the Bengals back in 2008. "I've never been a part of a tie. I never even knew that was in the rule book,"

36. Genesis casualty: ABEL

37. Office position: DESK JOB

38. Accomplish: ACHIEVE

42. __ out a living: EKE

43. Playground retort: DOES SO. Some of these are tricky to parse. I saw "DO ESSO" first.

44. Insect midsection: THORAX

45. Redness-removing brand: VISINE. I use it sparingly, my optician tells me it's not good for your eyes. It's a lot cheaper than the brand she wants me to use though.

46. Appeals (to): SPEAKS

48. Director Eastwood: CLINT

49. They're beside the point: CENTS. Another nice clue. $9.99

50. Pod member: WHALE

52. Bring in: REAP

53. Study, with "up": BONE

57. Indy 500 stat: MPH

And with that, it just remains for me to post the grid and then skedaddle.


Apr 18, 2019

Thursday, April 18th 2019 Roland Huget

Theme: Heaps of Shapes - the four theme entries contain scrambles of the word "shape":

18A. Penny pincher: CHEAPSKATE

23A. Knot used to take up slack: SHEEPSHANK. I can tie one of these with my eyes closed, it's a common sailing knot. It shakes out when there's no tension on the rope, super-useful for shortening a mooring line. Wikipedia terms it "unstable", I didn't realize knots had personality issues.

50A. Prankster's weapon: PEASHOOTER. I shot my dad in the eye with a peashooter when I was six. I still remember the feeling of absolute dread of the consequences. He was pretty good about it, he only beat me to within two inches of my life. Actually, after he got over the surprise, he just sat me down for a little chat about safe play.

57A Project wrap-up: FINAL PHASE. The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time. The final 10% takes the other 90%.

... and the reveal giving us a hint of what to look for:

38A. Amorphous sci-fi beings, and a hint to what's hidden in the four other longest answers: SHAPESHIFTERS

For the therianthropiist-followers among us, I recall we had LOUP GAROU a couple of weeks ago, one of the more common shapeshifting tropes.

A straightforward theme, scramble SHAPE and find four theme entries which work. The odd man out is FINAL PHASE, which has two words, the others just one.

A solid effort from Roland, the theme works nicely. The puzzle as a whole felt more like a Tuesday or Wednesday to me, but it sailed along nicely. Let's see what we've got to talk about:


1. Onetime capital of the Mughal Empire: AGRA. Slightly different slant on the cluing for this staple. Nice.

5. Pop star: IDOL

9. Idea, at times: IMAGE. Mental image.

14. Apparently are: SEEM. Not "is", that would be "seems".

15. Bering Sea port: NOME. I'm intimately acquainted with Dutch Harbor, another Alaska port, despite never having been there. I've watched all the "Deadliest Catch" episodes.

16. Center for Auto Safety co-founder: NADER. "Unsafe at any speed".

17. Part of the supreme Hindu trinity: SIVA. The Destroyer. The Creator and Preserver are Brahma and Vishnu respectively.

20. Trooper's outfit?: ISUZU. Nice clue. Car manufacturer.

22. Moan and groan: GRIPE

26. Garden nuisance: WEED. Jeopardy answer "What is a Boston fan?"

30. Prof.'s helpers: T.A.S

31. Overly: TOO

32. Fill with affection: ENAMOR

34. Relax completely: GO LIMP

37. Like lambs and rams: OVINE. I've got by bovines and ovines down now.

41. Pizzeria allure: AROMA. I can smell the aroma of Blue Mountain coffee brewing. I'm in Jamaica.

42. Refreshers: TONICS. Gin in mine, please. Tonic water was developed to mask the taste of the anti-malarial drug quinine in colonial-era India.

43. Snapper?: CAMERA. 

45. Chinese restaurant general: TSO

46. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones music genre: SKA. This will get you up in the morning. I love Ska - the British band "Madness" was another fine purveyor of the genre.

49. One logging on: USER

54. Miniseries based on a Haley novel: ROOTS

56. Sucked (in): LURED

62. Voice quality: TONE

63. Old saw: ADAGE

64. Throw off: EMIT

65. Poetic black: EBON

66. Ins and outs, with "the": ROPES

67. Like yellow bananas: RIPE

68. Slight damage: DENT


1. Give a hand: ASSIST

2. "Memoirs of a __": Arthur Golden novel: GEISHA

3. Musical shows: REVUES

4. Floor: AMAZE

5. Business mag: INC

6. Self-critical cry: DOH! Homer Simpson's favorite expression.

7. Seamaster watchmaker: OMEGA. Wait for at least one letter to decide between OMEGA and ROLEX.

8. Come to know: LEARN

9. Clouseau's rank, briefly: INSP. The bumbling inspector, wonderfully played by Peter Sellers.

10. Rock the boat: MAKE WAVES

11. Periodontist's org.: A.D.A. I saw mine last week. I love getting my teeth cleaned.

12. Come down with: GET

13. Long starter, once: ERE. Ere long, this will be back in common parlance. At least among us crossword folk.

19. Toll road: PIKE. A shortened version of "turnpike". The tallest mountain in England is Scafell Pike, which towers an astonishing - wait for it - 3,209 feet. You can walk up and down it in a couple of hours. The scenery is beautiful, it's in England's Lake District.

21. Passing muster: UP TO PAR

24. Footprint maker: SOLE

25. Raise on a pole: HOIST

27. Many an oil-rich ruler: EMIR. I tried SHAH first, was wrong.

28. Many ages: EONS

29. Death Row Records co-founder, familiarly: DRE. The good Dr. with his business partners Suge Knight and The D.O.C. The label was a sensation in the 90's, but it didn't end well.

33. "You're way over the line": NOT COOL

34. Tantrum while playing Xbox: GAMER RAGE. I like this new fill. I'd never heard the phrase before, but it didn't take long to figure it out.

35. Old conductance unit: MHO. It's the reciprocal of the ohm, hence the spelling. I like inventive plays on words, especially in the sciences.

36. Ice cream buys: PINTS. I rarely buy a pint of ice cream, I'd just eat it all. I buy those little Haagen-Dazs mini-tubs.

38. Mmes., in Madrid: SRAS. Señoras.

39. House-shaped browser button: HOME

40. School group: FISH. Made me smile. The clue has been used before, but I like these plays on words.

41. Puncture prefix: ACU-

44. Each: A POP

46. Disco light: STROBE

47. Passionate about: KEEN ON. I might be more than keen if I was passionate. I read in an article this week that nowadays if you say "I love you" in Japan, it's viewed as something of a joke. You say "I like you ... a lot" instead.

48. Passionate: ARDENT

51. Upper regions of space: ETHER

52. "Likewise": AS AM I

53. Blabbed about, in a way: OUTED

55. World Cup cheers: OLÉS. There were a few of these at the Barcelona - Manchester United game this week. The Messi-led Barca knocked United out of the Champions League 4-0.

57. Go __: succeed: FAR

58. Rite answer?: I DO

59. Short snooze: NAP

60. Bit of a draft?: SIP, Draft beer. Thursday-clue for a simple word.

61. Côte d'Azur saison: ÉTÉ. I've been to the French Riviera a number of times, always in summer. I have an unpaid ticket for parking on the Cannes promenade. I had no idea what I'd done wrong, so I figured I was being targeted for having GB license plates. I couldn't pay it now even if I wanted to, it's in francs.

And with that confession of crimes past, I think I'm done. I'm off to get some salt fish and callalou for breakfast and some of that delicious coffee. Ya Mon, Respect.


Apr 11, 2019

Thursday, April 11th 2019 Julian Kwan

Theme: Piscine Puzzle - The theme answers conceal a type of fish, as hinted at by the reveal:

68A. Kids' card game ... and a directive pertaining to the four longest puzzle answers: GO FISH!

20A. Drawer in the court: SKETCH ARTIST

28A. "You overreact when you're hungry" candy bar: SNICKERS ALMOND. I was going to grumble about this, as the campaign is usually known as "You're not you when you're hungry", but BBDO made a slight change for the Snickers Almond ads as I discovered on YouTube.

45A. It may contain curls and crunches: WORKOUT ROUTINE

52A. Clinic technician: LAB ASSISTANT

Straighforward enough theme here - go and look for the fish in the theme entries when you reach the reveal, which was the very last across entry, which I like - it keeps you guessing. All the fish span the two-word entries, which is nice, and three of the four theme entries have not appeared in any of the major puzzles according to the ever-helpful Cruciverb database. IRIS SCAN is new too, so some freshness in the puzzle which is always nice to see.

Again, I think we have a debutant in the LAT today, according to our blog records anyway, this is Julian's first, so congratulations! If it's the same chap, he competed as a rookie in the 42nd Annual American Crossword Puzzle tournament just a few weeks back.

Let's go ahead see what else pops out:


1. Sizzling Tex-Mex meat: FAJITA. Food! Usually skirt steak, chicken or shrimp. There are veggie options too.

7. Polling results: Abbr.: PCTS. Percentages.

11. Adams of "Vice": AMY

14. Boy whose wings melted in the sun: ICARUS

15. Four-star review: RAVE

16. Forest female: DOE

17. Gently used: NEWISH. Something could be newish, but trashed, I wouldn't all that "gentle" usage.

18. Salinger title teen: ESMÉ. The short story was "For Esmé—with Love and Squalor"

19. "Let's get out of here!": RUN

23. Isn't feeling 100%: AILS

26. Grafton's "__ for Alibi": A IS. You might as well print this one with the grid.

27. Ship stabilizer: KEEL

33. Brand of suit Bania gave Jerry in a memorable "Seinfeld" episode: ARMANI

34. Lamb's alias: ELIA

35. Indiana state flowers: PEONIES

37. Cast a spell on: ENCHANT

42. Banking biggie: CITI

44. Acrobatic dive: GAINER. I had to look this one up, I've never heard of it. It's a backwards somersault.

49. Nice dad?: PÉRE. The old Mediterranean resort misdirection. French city, French father.

50. MADD ad, e.g.: PSA

51. Holly genus: ILEX. Dug deep for this one, but dug it I did.

57. Singer DiFranco: ANI

58. Opera set in Egypt: AIDA

59. Ex-Met pitcher known as "Dr. K": GOODEN. With 2,293 Major League career strikeouts, you can see where the nickname comes from.

63. __ profit: NET

64. Pitch indicator: CLEF. These things. I only learned about the alto clef relatively recently. The piano and guitar music that I've seen use only the bass and treble clefs.

65. One way to travel: ON FOOT

66. Carpentry tool: ADZ

67. __ loser: SORE


1. Shark tip-off: FIN. Cue John William's iconic "Jaws" music!

2. Bandage brand: ACE

3. Boxer's target: JAW

4. Biometric identification technique: IRIS SCAN

5. Narwhal feature: TUSK

6. Queens tennis stadium: ASHE. Not convinced about this clue. It's "Arthur Ashe Stadium", I've never heard it called anything else. Take the Cincinnati Bengals - they play at Paul Brown Stadium, no one calls it "Brown".

7. Sharply defined: PRECISE

8. Transaction without financing: CASH SALE

9. "South Park" rating: TV-MA

10. Magic 8 Ball, some hope: SEER

11. Brody of "The Pianist": ADRIEN

12. Revealed the function of, with "over": MOUSED. Only if you've got a tool tip pop-up. You can mouse over the other stuff all day and it's not going to help you figure out what that particular control does.

13. Streisand title role: YENTL

21. La Brea __ Pits: TAR

22. Ref's ruling: TKO. Boxing's Technical Knock Out. The fighter cannot continue, according to the referee.

23. Quickly, quickly: ASAP

24. Memo lead-in: IN RE - "In the matter of" or "Regarding". I first came across this when I was reading a volume of collected letters from and to the great Hunter S. Thompson. There was some lively reading in there, as you can imagine.

25. Wheels for a celeb: LIMO

29. New York cager: KNICK. In the early days of professional basketball, the court was enclosed by a cage, and therefore never went out-of-bounds, hence "cager".

30. Farm follower?: E-I-E-I-O. "... and on that farm he had some ducks ...."

31. Jargon: LINGO

32. Former Portuguese colony in China: MACAU. A big gambling destination. Most of the famous Las Vegas casino brands have properties here, including Sands, The Rio, The Venetian and the Wynn. The finale of the recent season of Top Chef was filmed in Macau.

36. More senseless: STUPIDER

38. Had a great first date: HIT IT OFF

39. Deep blue dye: ANIL

40. Aloha State bird: NENE

41. "Jurassic World" predator, for short: T. REX

43. "The coast is clear": IT'S SAFE

45. Withdrew gradually: WEANED

46. Kayak alternative: ORBITZ. Orbitz is owned by Expedia, as are Travelocity, Trivago,, Hotwire and others. Kayak seems to be the only one to escape their clutches so far!

47. Actor Stephen who is a UNICEF Ireland Ambassador: REA

48. Traitor: RAT

49. Course before contingencies: PLAN A. Then comes Plan B.

53. Anatomical pouches: SACS

54. Storage cylinder: SILO

55. Excited: AGOG

56. Words said with a finger wag: NO NO. Dikembe Mutombo was famous for his "no no" finger wag when he blocked a shot:

60. "__ know you?": DO I

61. Canon SLR: EOS. Depending on the model, these can run you around $3,000, and that's just for the body.

62. Unspecified degree: NTH

And with that, my cruciverbalist chums, here's the grid:


Apr 4, 2019

Thursday, April 4th 2019 Kevin Salat

Theme: Job Description - as the reveal tells us, all the jobs comprise nine letters, followed by five.

To wit:

20A. One reviewing challenges: APPELLATE JUDGE. There are a minimum of three of them in an appellate court.

24A. One who's got you covered: INSURANCE AGENT. I'm going to see my AAA agent on Friday, I think I can save almost $200 a month on my auto and homeowners if I bundle with them. Awesome!

41. One seen in a Hanes catalog: UNDERWEAR MODEL. Mark Wahlberg, in his "Marky Mark" days, famously modeled for Calvin Klein.

46. Predictable work ... and, in a way, what the other three longest answers are?: NINE TO FIVE JOBS. When I had a desk job in the US it was always nine to six. Where did I go wrong?

According to the blog history, this is Kevin's LAT debut, so congratulations for that. I liked this theme, it's a little unusual that the reveal calls out the letter count of the theme entries and ties the long entries together, so it's very elegant. None of the theme entries have appeared before in any of the major puzzles which is quite an achievement in itself.

The fill has some nice fresh entries too, so there's a lot to like about this puzzle. Let's go for a tour and see what pops out.

By the way, I Googled Kevin, and if this is the same gentleman, he blogs on "The Jeopardy! Fan" and he appeared on the show on March 14th this year. I know a  lot of our regulars follow the show, so I think that's very cool.


1. "High" places?: SEAS

5. Flag down: HAIL

9. Caller ID?: IT'S ME

14. El __, Texas: PASO. Founded as El Paso del Norte - the northern pass. Paso Robles, in California, was founded as El Paso de Robles - the pass of the oaks.

15. Actor Idris who plays Heimdall in "Thor" films: ELBA. British actor, best known I think for playing a drug trafficker in the HBO series "The Wire". Also spent a year training as a kickboxer for a documentary and won his first bout in 2016.

16. Mozart wrote a lot of them: NOTES. Do you write a musical note? I suppose you do, it never crossed my mind before. Or do you write a manuscript? Would you say that Shakespeare wrote a lot of letters? Discuss.

17. Dungeness delicacies: CRAB CAKES. Food! The best crab cakes have very little filler. Maryland-style crab cakes combine egg, Old Bay seasoning, mayo, mustard and seasoning.

19. Omni rival: HYATT

22. Fish eggs: ROE

23. Brooding genre: EMO. Here's a great example of the genre from Green Day.

32. Pig's sniffer: SNOUT

33. Weep for: MOURN

34. See 27-Down: RAE. I prefer cross-referenced entries to come in order in the cluing, but this looks fine in the grid.

35. Sch. near the U.S.-Mexico border: U.T.E.P. Second reference to El Paso today - University of Texas at El Paso.

36. Law school subject: TORTS

37. Put on the cloud, say: SAVE. Data backups and the like to the cloud. I've got three cloud storage accounts, iCloud, OneDrive and Google Cloud. My phone automagically backs up my Photo Stream to iCloud, it's rather nice. Google Cloud gets involved in photo backups too, I'm not quite sure how.

38. Writer Deighton: LEN

39. "It Wasn't All Velvet" memoirist: TORMÉ. Mel.

40. Asks: POSES

44. Aromatic necklace: LEI. Typically plumeria, but can also be made from other flowers. Ginger flowers make one of the prettiest and most aromatic leis.

45. "How We Do (Party)" British singer Rita __: ORA. Crosses all the way, I've never heard of her. The official video on YouTube has more than 56 million views, so obviously some people have.

54. Implied: TACIT

55. Chain used by many contractors: HOME DEPOT

56. Courtroom pro: STENO

57. Take testimony from: HEAR. Our theme Appellate Judge would take testimony.

58. Depend: RELY

59. "The Ant and the Grasshopper" storyteller: AESOP. Not one of his most famous fables, but easy enough to deduce.

60. Philosophies: -ISMS

61. Fort SSW of Louisville: KNOX. Site of the James Bond "Goldfinger" attempted heist featuring the staggeringly-named Pussy Galore.


1. Shelter gp.: S.P.C.A. There's an R in front of it in the UK organization, it has a Royal warrant.

2. Big name in Tombstone: EARP

3. "By yesterday!": ASAP!

4. Sleeps it off: SOBERS UP

5. Physician, ideally: HEALER. Ideally indeed. I wouldn't trust a physician who wasn't a healer.

6. Commercial word with Seltzer: ALKA

7. "Oh, suuure": I BET

8. Cut with a beam: LASE

9. Cruel: INHUMAN

10. Papillon, e.g.: TOY DOG. New one on me, I've never heard of the breed. Cute little fella though.

11. Deer sir: STAG. Nice clue.

12. Dole (out): METE

13. Ballpark fig.: EST. Estimated attendance figure. The "official" attendance tends to be inflated, as they count tickets sold, not "butts in seats." Season-ticket no-shows count as attendees.

18. Influence: CLOUT

21. Ballpark opinions, at times: JEERS. The jeers from the "phantom". attendees are rather muted.

24. One-__ chance: IN TEN

25. Incessantly: NO END

26. "When the moon hits your eye" feeling: AMORE

27. With 34-Across, Sally Field film: NORMA

28. More adorable: CUTER

29. Make blank: ERASE

30. Piercing site, perhaps: NAVEL. Gazing site too.

31. Scottish center?: TEES. The two T's in the middle.

32. Sci-fi navigator: SULU

36. Specifically: TO WIT

37. Float fixer: SODA JERK. Not because you get insulted when you order your soda.

39. Place with a bird's-eye view: TREETOP

40. Went carefully (over): PORED

42. Nickname of golfer Sergio García, who turned pro at age 19: EL NIÑO. I've always enjoyed watching Sergio play. I was happy for him when he finally won his first major at the 2017 Masters. He's a passionate Ryder Cup competitor.

43. Shakers' relatives?: MOVERS

46. "Mom" actor Corddry: NATE. Another unknown, thank you crosses. I don't recognize him at all.

47. Treats, as a sprain: ICES. Ouch.

48. Surprised greeting: OH, HI!

49. They're not on the same page: FOES. Peculiar clue. If two foes dislike each other equally, aren't they on the same page as far as that's concerned?

50. Religious scholar: IMAM

51. Premiere: OPEN

52. Simple tie: BOLO

53. Where Achilles was dipped for invincibility: STYX. Missed that pesky heel though, causing his downfall when he was shot in the heel with a poisoned arrow by Paris.

54. Org. operating full-body scanners: T.S.A.

I think that about wraps it up for today. I hope Kevin stops by to confirm or deny his appearance on Jeopardy!


Mar 28, 2019

Thursday, March 28th 2019 Timothy Schenck


10D. *Italian pistols: BERETTAS. (Beret) In the early James Bond novels, his pistol of choice was a Beretta 418, but a firearm expert and a fan of the books wrote to Ian Fleming criticizing his decision as the weapon had no real stopping power. Fleming replaced the firearm with a Walther PPK in Dr. No.

11D. *A skeptic's wont: TO QUESTION (Toque) I was impressed that Timothy found a way to use the proper name for the tall chef's hat, among other styles.

28D. *Quaker Oats cereal with a naval officer on the box: CAP'N CRUNCH (Cap)

38D. *The Sunshine Skyway Bridge spans it: TAMPA BAY (Tam). The bridge was involved in a tragic incident in 1980 when a freighter collided with it during a thunderstorm and brought down a large section.

38A. Partners of tails ... and what's found in the answers to starred clues: TOP HATS. See the picture of the royals below.

Happy Thursday, everyone, and I'm thinking a particularly happy Thursday for the constructor, as I believe this is his debut for the LA Times. The theme is simple, but nicely done. The theme entries are all in the downs so that the hat can sit "on top." as the reveal suggests.

[Edit: It's actually Tim's second LAT).

Let's see what else we've got:


1. Ancient gathering place: STOA

5. Warm place to chill: HOT TUB

11. "Waterfalls" pop trio: TLC. I know the song, I had no ideal that was the name of the group.

14. Medical breakthrough: CURE

15. Revolt: UPRISE

16. "That looks good!": OOH!

17. Dict. label: ABBR.

18. Not as nice: MEANER

19. Sine __ non: QUA. An "essential condition or necessary component" for you non-ancient Romans out there.

20. Impressive vocal quality: RESONANCE

22. Spew: ERUPT

24. Have a feeling: SENSE

25. Reason for a warm eye compress: STYE

26. Race town near Windsor Castle: ASCOT. Gentlemen are encouraged to dress formally for the annual Royal Ascot meet in June. Here's some royals being, well, royal at Royal Ascot. Prince Harry looks like he just got off a horse.

29. Information to process: DATA SET.         

32. "Sounds fair": DEAL

33. Berth place: MARINA

36. Greek cross: TAU

37. ChapStick target: LIP

39. Doctrine suffix: -ISM

40. The Stratford, in TV's "Newhart": INN. Here's the Waybury Inn in Vermont which was used in the show "acting" as the Stratford.

41. Pupil surrounder: AREOLA. Quiet at the back.

42. Frost lines?: POEM

43. Flatters: BECOMES

45. Masculine: MANLY

46. Cheats, with "off": RIPS

47. "__ always makes it better": Anne Burrell: BACON. I never heard her say it, but didn't take long to figure this one out.

50. Throat dangler: UVULA

52. Aboveboard: ALLOWABLE

56. Solder component: TIN along with lead, or silver and copper for lead-free solders, and commonly with a flux core.

57. Caviar source: BELUGA

59. Morsel on a shellfish platter: CLAW. Depends how big your crustacean is. The biggest lobster caught on record was a 44lb behemoth off Nova Scotia in 1977. Those claws are certainly not "morsels"!

60. Anti-apartheid org.: A.N.C. The African National Congress.

61. Landfall for Noah: ARARAT

62. Word before and after sweet: HOME

63. Part of a snarky laugh: HEH

64. Approvals: YESSES

65. Terminal info: E.T.A.S


1. Emotional trauma consequence: SCAR

2. Skin cream holder: TUBE

3. Poetic spheres: ORBS

4. Spray starch dispenser: AEROSOL

5. Likely to err, eventually?: HUMAN. You can be divine, and forgive though.

6. Hits theaters: OPENS

7. Vestige: TRACE

8. Spork prong: TINE

9. Finish, with "up": USE

12. __-garou: werewolf: LOUP. First mentioned in 60 B.C. by Roman author Petronius, so they've been around a while. Before the invention of firearms and silver bullets, they pretty much had the run of the place at full moon time. Apparently you can bludgeon one to death with a blunt silver object, but I'd prefer to keep my distance.
13. Facebook option: CHAT

21. Safety feature at a trapeze school: NET

23. Scandinavian rug: RYA. Thank you, crosswords past.

25. Seasonal visitor: SANTA

26. Stage surprise: AD LIB

27. River with 37 bridges in Paris: SEINE. I was going to tell you how many bridges cross the Seine in total, but when I went to Wikipedia I realized I'd be here all day counting them. Just know, there's a lot!

29. Retro phone part: DIAL

30. Conference room stand: EASEL. For the flip chart. Still a fixture in these days of whiteboards and flat-panel TVs.

31. Tot's ache source: TUMMY

33. Social customs: MORES

34. Imitates: APES

35. Letter before sigma: RHO

42. Grand style: PANACHE

44. Safflower __: OIL

45. Cut grass: MOW

47. Gets fuzzy: BLURS. Gets fuzzy, not Get Fuzzy:

48. Diet for some aquarium fish: ALGAE. The Siamese Algae Eater is described on one website as "easy to keep, and will eat anything put in the tank". I hope not, they'd eat all the plants, the other fish and the treasure chest if that was the case.

49. Paint layers: COATS

50. Arches National Park state: UTAH

51. Hollywood crosser: VINE. Here's the iconic Capitol Records tower seen from the intersection. There's a flashing light on the top of the mast which spells out "Hollywood" in Morse Code.

52. "Oh dear!": ALAS

53. Ink smudge: BLOT

54. Revered Tibetan: LAMA

55. Farm females: EWES

58. "Blood hath been shed __ now": Macbeth: ERE. On seeing Banquo's ghost.

"...The time has been
That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
And there an end. But now they rise again
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns
And push us from our stools. This is more strange
Than such a murder is."

I don't have a lot of sympathy for Macbeth - he didn't just push Banquo off his stool, he pushed him off his mortal coil.

And with that thought, here's the grid!


Mar 21, 2019

Thursday, March 21 2019 Ed Sessa

Theme: 'K, Abe! A promise to the president, or, in this puzzle, a "bake" scramble.

17A. *Hazards for herpetologists: SNAKE BITES. My first learning moment of the day - herpetology, the study of amphibians and reptiles.

26A. *Square-shaped ice cream treat: KLONDIKE BAR. Never tried one. Am I missing out?

44A. *Novel narrated by a horse: BLACK BEAUTY. I picked up an old copy of this book in a pub in England at Christmas. I'm not sure I'd have remembered if the horse was the narrator if I hadn't skimmed a few pages.

11D. *Pry: POKE ABOUT. I wanted POKE AROUND, but not enough room.

31A. *Doggie bag item: STEAK BONE Food! If you wonder what to do with steak bones, try melting a stick of butter or two and slow cooking (or sous vide) with the bones for a couple of hours, then strain it into a jar and refrigerate it. Use it to toss vegetables in, spread it on toast, toss pasta in it, eat it out of the jar with a spoon, the options are endless.

59A. Breadcrumb coating brand ... or, as two words, what is found in the answers to starred clues: SHAKE 'N BAKE. or "Shaken Bake". Doesn't it strike you as odd that there's an apostrophe to indicate the first missing letter, but not the second?

Nice puzzle from Ed. The reveal helped me complete STEAK BONE, I was at a loss to see what could follow "STEAK". I liked the theme entries going both across and down, and the interlocking of the two down entries with two of the across ones.

As always with Ed, some challenging cluing and some nice stuff in the fill. Let's take a tour:


1. Mosque leaders: IMAMS

6. Teddy-bearlike Star Wars figure: EWOK. Wicket W. Warrick for example.

10. What many icons open: APPS

14. Prime production: MOVIE. Amazon Prime, I'm guessing. I'd be more inclined to clue it "Prime product", as "production" implies that Amazon was the producer. (In my (humble) opinion.)

15. Vase-making dynasty: MING. Try not to drop it, these things don't come cheap:

16. Legal plea, briefly: NOLO. Nolo contendere, "I do not wish to contend", or "no contest".

19. Ring calls: TKOS. Technical Knock-Out called by the referee of a boxing match. The guy getting pummeled could always plead "nolo contendere" through his mouthguard.

20. Falco of "The Sopranos": EDIE

21. Designer Schiaparelli: ELSA. Thank you, crosses.

22. Classic mother-and-son statue: PIETA. This came up last week, I believe.

23. Didn't emulate Washington?: TOLD A LIE

25. Programming language with a coffee icon: JAVA

30. North-of-the-border gas: ESSO. They have the brand in the UK too. They had a brand of paraffin called "Esso Blue" and when the Police were recording the outro of "Message in a Bottle" they replaced one of the repeated"sending out an SOS" with "sending out an Esso Blue". It was remastered at some point because you can't hear that now.

33. Not sharp: DIM

34. What the fourth little piggy had: NONE

35. Erode: EAT INTO

38. Bettor expectations: PAYOUTS

40. Brought up: BRED

41. Shuttlecock's path: ARC. Fun game, badminton. I used to play against a fiercely-competitive Pakistani lady in London, she'd wipe the floor with me at squash, but we were more evenly-matched on the badminton court, mainly because she hadn't played before!

43. Dols. and cts.: AMTS.

48. Spelled-out strikeouts: KAYS. Baseball's "K". Henry Chadwick "the father of baseball scoring" used "S" to denote sacrifice, and chose "K" for a striKeout. Some scorers mark a regular K for a swinging strikeout, and a backwards K for a batter caught looking.

49. Best Buy buys: FM RADIOS. Why do I think of these things as outdated? I listen to the one in my car all the time.

54. Sacked out: IN BED

56. Great Plains tribe: OTOE

57. Eurasia's __ Mountains: URAL

58. Groups of two: DUOS

61. Poet St. Vincent Millay: EDNA

My candle burns at both ends; 
It will not last the night; 
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light

"Figs from Thistles: First Fig"

62. Funny Fey: TINA

63. Meant to be: FATED

64. Road sign animal: DEER

65. Fragrant arrangement: POSY. Carried by ladies in times past to ward off the pungent "aromas" of urban living.

66. Property claims: LIENS


1. "That's enough, thanks": I'M SET

2. Columbus' world: MONDO. Christopher's Italian world.

3. Be of use to: AVAIL

4. Ready to be recorded: MIKED

5. Use one's eyes: SEE

6. Estevez of "The Breakfast Club": EMILIO

7. Breaking point: WIT'S END

8. Service status: ONE-A. Fit to serve in the armed forces.

9. Metric wts.: KG'S Kilograms. "Two and a quarter pounds of jam weighs about a kilogram".

10. Treatment for 17-Across: ANTIVENOM. I had ANTIVENIN first. There are rattlesnakes in the hills around here where I hike. Always good to know where the nearest urgent care location is if the worst comes to the worst. Dogs are more likely to come a cropper than humans though.

12. Novelist's starting point: PLOT

13. Slugger Sammy: SOSA

18. Tolling place: BELL. Is a bell a place?

22. Karachi's country: Abbr.: PAK.

24. "Locked Up" rapper: AKON. I'm not sure I'd describe him as a rapper - he collaborates with rappers on his singles, but his vocal parts are more mainstream than hip-hop.

25. Iwo __: JIMA

27. Drop down: DIP

28. Lines in the sand, perhaps: ANTS. Odd one this - ants marching in line, in the desert or on the beach.

29. Hi-__ image: RES

30. First name in tea: EARL. I love Earl Grey, my favorite tea. Generally understood to be named for the second Earl Grey, Charles, who was Prime Minister in the 1830's and received a gift of the bergamot-flavored blend.

32. Host of the 1950s' "Your Show of Shows": SID CAESAR. Thank you, crosses. Before my time (and geography).

35. Drop off: EBB

36. Keep-on connection: TABS

37. Cal. neighbor: ORE. 

39. Sisterhood name in a 2002 film: YAYA. "Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood".

42. Mideast tunics: CAFTANS

45. "The Spanish Tragedy" dramatist: KYD. Alternative title "Hieronimo is mad againe". Here's Mr. Kyd:

46. "I guess it's fine": UM, OKAY

47. Genealogy chart: TREE

50. Largest UAE city: DUBAI

51. Fuming: IRATE

52. Like some casks: OAKEN. I hesitated over this, STEEL being a viable alternative.

53. Downhill runners: SLEDS

54. Fingered: ID'ED. Identified a suspect.

55. Art class subject: NUDE

56. Birthplace of seven presidents: OHIO

59. Oil additive brand: STP. They make gasoline additives too. If you get Marathon gas in your area, it's got STP additives in it to compete with Chevron's "Techron" brand.

60. Org. with Vikings: NFL. The Minnesota Vikings, as local lady C.C. will attest.

And here's the suitably-highlighted grid, and that's this edition of the blog "baked".