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

Nov 15, 2018

Thursday, November 15th 2018 C.C. Burnikel

Theme: Tyro Torrent - all the theme entries are novices in various guises:

28A. *Fresh face in a newsroom: CUB REPORTER. The opposite is "a grizzled newspaperman". Now there's a phrase. It was used to describe Chicago Herald-Examiner reporter Ben Hecht among others: "... he had already developed the crusty style of a grizzled newspaperman ..." A mark of respect.

58A. *Fresh face at online gaming: NOOB. Via "Newbie" and "Newcomer" we get to NOOB. Language evolution, folks, I love it. If you are an expert, you used to be "L33T", as in "elite", but I'm sure that has gone the way of the dodo now.

59A. *With 60-Across, fresh face at a dojo: WHITE paired with ...

60A. *See 59-Across: BELT

3D. *Fresh face at boot camp: RAW RECRUIT. Don't mess with your Drill Sergeant.

11D. *Fresh face in the Boy Scouts: TENDERFOOT

51A. Error the answers to starred clues might make: ROOKIE MISTAKE

One thing to note right off the bat is that the symmetry of this puzzle is not "normal", meaning left-right and top-bottom, it is "mirror" symmetry, in this case left-right. This is often done to accommodate an attractive theme that can't be placed in a normal grid, I'm guessing this is the case with this one from C.C. (I could go ask her, but I'm taking a wild stab in the dark).

Another example of when you might see this variation is when there is a pattern or picture depicted in the white/black squares, but unless we've got a four-legged Space Invader/Pokémon hybrid I don't think that's the case here!

Let's see what else jumps out:


1. Passé saver of fave programs: VCR

4. Energized: AMPED UP

11. Sales add-on: TAX

14. Parseghian of Notre Dame: ARA. "The era of Ara" - Notre Dame football from 1964 to 1974, rescuing the program from mediocrity and winning national championships in 1966 and 1973. You wouldn't want to get this look from him:

15. "Alas, it's true": I FEAR SO. I had a few goes at this one, ended up correctly, eventually.

16. Juan Perón's wife: EVA. Don't Cry for Me, Argentina.

17. Level the playing field?: MOW. When I went to watch Chelsea FC play in London in the 80's, the appearance of the ride-on mower pre-game to give the pitch a final trim would be accompanied by this ditty, sung from the terrraces, as he drove, Zamboni-like, up and down the pitch:

"One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow.
One man and his dog (Spot), went to mow a meadow.

Two men went to mow, went to mow a meadow
Two men, one man and his dog (Spot), went to mow a meadow.

Three men went to mow, went to mow a meadow
Three men, two men, one man and his dog (Spot) went to mow a meadow.

Four men went to mow ...."

You get the idea. Amused us greatly at the time. I think the slowest mowing was something like "86 men went to mow ....."

And an excuse for a shameless Chelsea fan link!

18. Was felt very strongly: RAN DEEP

19. Say no to: NIX

20. Medicare section: PART B

22. Big name in shoe stores: DSW. Confession - I was Natick'ed again, two weeks in a row, with this one. The "W" got me.

23. "Same here": AS DO I. ME TOO didn't work. SO DO I didn't work. Eventually got the right letter combo.

25. Camper's heater: STERNO

27. Links targets: GREENS

32. ORD airport postings: ARRS. Arrivals at Orchard Field, now better known as Chicago O'Hare. One of my favorite airports for a layover, it's just a really nice space.

34. Get hitched on the run: ELOPE

35. Giant in nonstick sauté pans: T-FAL. My non-stick skillet is cast iron. Works a treat, but it gives the biceps a workout.

38. Big oafs: LOUTS

40. Saw: MET

41. Galaxy, e.g.: PHONE. Very nice, took me a while to see this one.

42. Practice frugality: SKIMP

43. Tense NFL periods: O.T.'S

44. "Bleeding Love" singer Lewis: LEONA. Thank you, crosses. Close to another Natick here. See 41D

45. Beat in a pie contest, say: OUT-EAT. Don't go up against Joey Chestnut. It's not just Nathan's hot dogs that he likes.

47. Booted out: OUSTED

48. Turncoat: RAT

50. Cable network since 1972: HBO. I tried HSN. Was wrong.

62. "Try again": NOPE

63. Zeus' shield: AEGIS. I knew it! Woo Hoo crosswords!

64. Bike signal: BELL

65. Website for handmade jewelry: ETSY

66. Egg holders: NESTS

67. "Match Game" host Baldwin: ALEC


1. Improvises, in jazz: VAMPS

2. Dubrovnik resident: CROAT

4. Site with many home pages?: AIRBNB. Lovely clue. I started using AirBnB this past year for weekend trips. No complaints at all, some lovely accommodations

5. CalArts degree: M.F.A.

6. Await a decision: PEND

7. George of "MacGyver": EADS

8. Picked from the deck: DREW

9. Find a place for: USE

10. Keith Haring genre: POP ART. We had Op-Art last week. What's next week - Impressionism? I'm taking bets.

12. French postcard word: AVION. "Par Avion" - or Air Mail.

13. Graph line: X-AXIS

21. "I wouldn't lie": TRUST ME

24. Is really boiling: SEETHES

26. Mining find: ORE

27. Hurdle for a future Ph.D.: G.R.E. Or the Graduate Record Examinations test to give it a long name.

29. Red Muppet: ELMO. Ticklish chap.

30. Frost, e.g.: POET

31. Goes (for): OPTS

32. Too: ALSO

33. Amazon Fire TV Stick alternative: ROKU

36. Hathaway of "Ocean's 8": ANNE

37. Take charge of: LEAD

39. __ plug: SPARK

41. Plum-apricot hybrid: PLUOT. I'm sure it's a thing, I've just never seen one, nor, to my knowledge eaten one, cooked with one or written one down.

46. Where bubble tea originated: TAIWAN. AKA boba tea. The upcoming ban on plastic straws here in California is causing some consternation. Now what?

47. Persistently haunt: OBSESS

49. Little laugh: TEHEE. Not sure how to punctuate this. I guess I'll leave it alone.

50. "Start the music!": HIT IT!

51. Carrot or turnip: ROOT. I cooked roasted parsnips on Sunday with a roast chicken. Kind of a carrot-turnip hybrid root. I love the caramelized sugars when you roast root vegetables.

52. "My bad": OOPS

53. Follow orders: OBEY

54. "Top Gun" enemy planes: MIGS

55. "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" group: ABBA. Late in the day, but here's a music link. ABBA were great listening to when I was a teen. Perfect pop music. Of course, we were all too cool for school to admit it.

56. Ship's backbone: KEEL

57. Glamour rival: ELLE

58. Mobile-to-Knoxville dir.: N.N.E.

61. Dr. Mom's skill: T.L.C.

A couple of abbreviations to wrap things up, and with a background of ABBA - Mama Mia! Here's the grid:


Nov 8, 2018

Thursday, November 8th 2018 Robert E. Lee Morris

Theme: Acting out - or as the reveal nicely explains:

55. Therapy technique ... and a hint to what's hidden in 17-, 24-, 34- and 45-Across?: ROLE-PLAYING

Scramble ROLE and you’re off to the races:

17A. Cara cara or Washington fruit: NAVEL ORANGE. Originated at Hacienda de Cara Cara and believed to be a hybrid from the Washington navel and the Brazilian Bahia navel. Now we know.

24A. Where I-30 and I-40 meet: LITTLE ROCK. Interstate geography lesson.

34A. Traveler's rest: MOTEL ROOM. There's probably a couple in Little Rock.

45A. Actor who appeared in nine films with Sydney Greenstreet: PETER LORRE. What better way to namecheck the actor than remember this great 70's track from Al Stewart, played live on the BBC's "Old Grey Whistle Test" music showcase.

Straightforward enough theme, one that you need to go back and look for when you see the reveal. Nicely consistent with the even two-letter split across the two words of each theme entry.

I found the top-center section a little tricky and had to go back to finish up at the end. I actually didn't finish this one correctly - I had a personal Natick with LILA and ALL, both unknown to me. I guessed "Y" instead of "A" for no good reason.

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


1. Spinal segment: DISC

5. One without a permanent address: NOMAD

10. What sit-ups strengthen: ABS

13. College World Series home: OMAHA. NCAA Baseball. I never watch it, but I knew the location. Funny how that works.

15. Offer one's two cents: OPINE

16. Burst: POP

19. Poirot's street: RUE. Agatha Christie's character Hercule Poirot is Belgian, and some detective work suggests he was born and grew up in Spa, which in the French-speaking part of Belgium, and therefore his street would be a "rue", rather than a "straat".

20. "Open: An Autobiography" subject: AGASSI. Tennis star André.

21. Blintz topping: ROE

22. Actress Meyer of "Saw" films: DINA. Never saw them. Thank you, crossses.

23. Hue: TINT

27. Tonsillitis-treating doc: E.N.T.

28. IV units: CC'S

29. Roman goddess of agriculture: CERES

30. __ Moines: DES

31. "Down Came a Blackbird" country singer McCann: LILA. As aforementioned, she's not familiar to me. Handy crossword name though, I'll endeavor to remember.

33. Committee leader: CHAIR

36. Boat filler: GRAVY. I think my favorite clue/answer of the day.

38. Passed-down tales: LORE. Passed-down tales of an actor in this puzzle? Lorre lore.

39. Convened: SAT

42. Pool table slab: SLATE

43. Part of Q&A: AND. Question-and-answer session

44. Pub potable: ALE

49. Pierce player: ALDA. "Hawkeye" portrayer Alan in "M*A*S*H"

50. Crew pair: OARS

51. Poet's preposition: ERE

52. Cubs pitcher Jon: LESTER. I didn't even notice this one until now, it filled itself in. I wouldn't have had a clue either.

54. "Suits" TV network: USA

57. Liberal arts maj.: SOCiology

58. Battery terminal: ANODE

59. Car opening?: RENTA

60. Compass pt.: E.N.E.

61. Parsonage: MANSE. Usually for Baptist. Methodist or Presbyterian ministers.

62. Light shirts: TEES


1. Gave: DONATED

2. Picture: IMAGINE

3. Learned ones: SAVANTS

4. Trunk: CHEST

5. Country partly in the Arctic Circle: Abbr.: NOR.

6. Tricky genre: OP ART Here's one that doesn't make your head spin too much at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt:

7. Annual North Dakota State Fair site: MINOT. I quite confidently filled in "FARGO" with no crosses to confirm any of the letters, and spent some time trying to convince myself it had to be right. They two places are more than 280 miles apart, so not even close!

8. Mike Trout, notably: ANGEL. What happens next year if he gets traded?

9. See 56-Down: DEE. 

10. Like some knowledge: A PRIORI

11. Bar employee: BOUNCER

12. Represents, with "for": SPEAKS

14. Gore and Michaels: ALS

18. Original Pennsylvania headquarters of Quaker State: OIL CITY

22. Journal subject: DREAM

25. "__ of Dogs": 2018 animated film: ISLE

26. Reverberated: ECHOED

28. Well-off, after "in": CLOVER

32. Free Clear detergent maker: ALL. No clue, as previously mentioned.

33. Ithaca campus: CORNELL. Now I know where Cornell is. Learning moment.

34. Partners: MATES

35. Laugh good and loud: ROAR

36. "The Hustler" actor (1961): GLEASON

37. Grind: RAT RACE

39. Soup cracker: SALTINE

40. Ristorante request: AL DENTE. I'm not sure you request pasta "al dente", that's how it comes. If it's not, you send it back.

41. Riot squad's supply: TEAR GAS

42. Partner, perhaps: SPOUSE

46. Hotelier Helmsley: LEONA. Quite a figure. "The Queen of Mean" was jailed for tax evasion, allegedly saying "We don't pay taxes; only little people pay taxes".

47. Sweater fabric: ORLON

48. Clarinetist's supply: REEDS

49. So far: AS YET

53. Sound catcher: EAR

55. More than bump into: RAM

56. With 9-Down, river of the Carolinas: PEE. Unknown to me, I'll try to remember the Pee Dee for the next time it crops up.

And with the grid, that about seals it for this outing:


Nov 1, 2018

Thursday, November 1st 2018 Jeffrey Wechsler

Theme: Monthly Planner - as the reveal nicely explains:

38A. Today, e.g. ... or what is found in 12 puzzle answers: FIRST OF THE MONTH

It's that time of the year when I usually buy a new planner, and those JAN, FEB, MAR tabs down the pages are pristine and speak to a new year of possibilities. Jeffrey comes up with a great way to represent all twelve of those with each entry's "first" letters being the month abbreviation, and in calendar order to boot. So, here they are, one after the other:

1A. Keys sound: JANGLE

7A. Running a temperature: FEBRILE

16A. Coldplay lead singer Chris __: MARTIN. He seems to be a polarizing character, I've had quite a few people tell me that they like Coldplay, but don't like Chris. I'm not sure why, I've looked through the interwebs for pictures of him being mean to puppies or stories of him buying an island and evicting all the residents, but I came up blank. Anyway, great music and here's an example. Maybe a tad over-produced, but I don't think that's his fault.

21A. Home Depot employee garb: APRON

25A. Yucatán native: MAYAN

28A. Deep-sixes: JUNKS. I tried SINKS before I saw the theme.

45A. Minty cocktail: JULEP. The Derby, "My Old Kentucky Home", hats and juleps.

47A. Drilling tool: AUGER

51A. Calyx part: SEPAL

61A. Rating at a pump: OCTANE

66A. Catholic devotions: NOVENAS. Decades, Novenas, Forty Days, it always seems a long, long process being a Catholic. How long was Moses wandering around the desert?

67A. Irregular paper edge: DECKLE. I know a different DECKLE, and this is my favorite - it's the point cut of the brisket - the piece that you don't get if you buy brisket in the market, you get the flat cut. There's a reason why you don't get the deckle - it's the tastiest, fattiest cut and it goes to the deli. Solution? Buy the entire brisket and brine/corn/pastrami it yourself. If you want to get technical with your butcher, you want the IMPS cut "119", not the "120". I'm not sure how I know that.

Wow, that was a lot of theme! Congratulations to Jeffrey for a great construction job on this. I always avoid the theme reveal if I glance down and see where it is, and this one I had no clue that I was filling in month abbreviations from top to bottom. Well concealed, and a happy moment when the grid-spanner had me looking.

Let's see what else (what else is left?!!).


14. Become too old to qualify: AGE OUT

15. Howled: ULULATED. Awesome word. Usually funeral-related, as in howling in grief.

17. Lamp fuel: KEROSENE

18. Dude: BRO

19. Quarter: AREA

22. Italian thing: COSA. Many people know it from the Mafia-related "cosa nostra", literally "our thing/"

24. Farm enclosure: STY

31. "Wayward Pines" actress Melissa __: LEO. Lovely crosses, thank you. I'd no clue - I've never seen the show, I had no idea about the actress. My favorite LEO works works in production at CBS. Here's to you, Victoria Leo.

34. Cooler in an apt. window: A/C UNIT

36. Bridal bio word: NÉE

37. Suggestion: HINT

41. Having a fancy for: INTO

42. On the __ vive: QUI. "Who lives?" or "Who goes there?" To be on the alert.

43. Just this far: TO HERE

44. Govt. prosecutors: AG'S. Attorneys General, don't get the "S" in the wrong place or I'll be coming for you to give you a lesson in pluralization.

48. Usher family's creator: POE. The Ushers of the collapsing house. I once wondered why they didn't get some engineers in to shore up the foundations, then realized that underpinning wouldn't solve the family problems.

49. Long-dist. weapon: I.C.B.M. Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile, if I recall correctly.

54. Lyft rival: UBER. I'd call this one the other way around, but point taken.

56. Mix with a horse: TOM


64. Suffered greatly, in Sussex: AGONISED. Take out a Z, slip in an S unnoticed, and suddenly you're 6,000 miles and a common language apart. Now, there are the counties of Sussex and Essex, there's a historical county of Wessex, mostly now Hampshire and Dorset, and there is Middlesex, which may or may not be a county any more, although it still has a cricket team. But nowhere is there a Northsex, or a Norsex, or anything relating to being north and a county. There's south - Sussex - West - Wessex - East - Essex - in the middle - Middlesex - but the atlas is silent on anything north of London. "Here be demons" - or William Wallace, although he was 300 miles further north.

65. Hard-to-take complainer: WHINER. We all know one.


1. Doorway side: JAMB. We had a whole discussion about stairway parts a while ago. What's the top of the doorframe called? I forget.

2. Bio lab gel: AGAR

3. Archie's boss, in detective fiction: NERO. Archie Goodwin, the narrator in the Nero Wolfe stories by Rex Stout. I sound awfully clued up about these people. 15 seconds on Wikipedia makes anyone an expert. Thank you, crosses.

4. Understood: GOT

5. That guy, to Guy: LUI. Guy Maupassant springs to mind. "Him" in French.

6. Old lab burners: ETNAS. We called 'em Bunsen burners back in the old country. Much the same thing, I'm sure.

7. Bug with bounce: FLEA

8. U.K. locale: EUR. Some Brexiters will disagree, but geography doesn't lie.

9. Swells up: BLOATS

10. Hoarse: RASPY

11. Ancient Roman road: ITER. Ancient or not, they're still in use. One of the scariest rides I've taken was from Rome to Fiumicino Airport in a taxi when I made the mistake of telling the driver I was running late for a flight home. He channeled his Formula 1 Driver alter ego. This was in a Fiat about the size of my suitcase.

12. Car-collecting comedian: LENO. He's a common sight around here. Most notably driving his Stanley Steamer - you don't see many of those.

13. Early venue for nudists?: EDEN

15. Luau strings: UKE

20. British rule in India: RAJ

22. Childish response to a dare: CAN SO!

23. "Will do!": ON IT!

24. Sport invented by hunters: SKEET

25. Criminal group: MAFIA. See "cosa nostra" earlier.

26. Delivering excellent service to?: ACING. Tennis, the perfect serve. "THWOK!". Pause. "Fifteen Love".

27. Asian tents: YURTS

29. Loosen, as a bow: UNTIE

30. O.T. book: NEH. Handy things, those bilbical abbreviations.

31. Where to claim miscellaneous credits on a W-4 form: LINE G. Ach - I'd have turned somersaults to avoid this one - yes, it's a thing, yes, it's accurate, but where, ever is this used in common parlance? "Did you file in time?

"Yes, but that LINE G was troublesome

"On your W-4? You should have called me

"I will, next year, thanks".

Said no-one, ever.

32. __ nous: ENTRE

33. Survey choice: OTHER

35. Culinary topper: TOQUE. I think these are quietly going the way of cream sauces on everything and cheese on lobster.

37. Hardly stimulating: HO HUM. "Meh." I do love how the language continues to evolve. I love "meh.

39. Ending with hand or fist: -FUL

40. Utah city with a Biblical name: MOAB

45. Baseball's __ Joe: JOLTIN' Congratulations to the Red Sox for a very well-deserved World Series win. One day, Dodger Stadium will be the venue when the home team clinches. Joe DiMaggio, of course, was the clue/answer.

46. Dessert slice: PIE

48. "These are the times that try men's souls" writer: PAINE

"The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Those of you who can, please go out and vote on Tuesday.

50. Lots of people: CROWD

51. Phillips of "I, Claudius": SIAN

52. Logician's word: ERGO. "Therefore". There is a logical fallacy, "Post hoc ergo propter hoc", or "after that, then this happened" which is a handy way to cloud causation with correlation. I refer you to my comment on 48A.

53. B.C. or P.E.I.: PROV. Oh Canada! The provinces of British Columbia and Prince Edward Island.

54. Sport-__: vehicles: UTES

55. Garden area: BED

56. Propane container: TANK

57. Turow memoir: ONE L. Harvard Law.

58. Just: MERE

60. Simile words: AS A

62. Guerrilla Guevara: CHE. Let's have the iconic portrait, just for fun:

I did dig a little deeper - this was the original photograph taken by Alberto Korda in Havana in 1960 - I'm not sure I've ever seen the original:

63. Little jerk: TIC

Ok, muchachos, I think that's me done for the week. Here's the grid! I hope you survived tricks, treats and candy overload.


Oct 25, 2018

Thursday, October 25th 2018 C.C. Burnikel

Theme: Military Maneuver - as the reveal at the "foot" of the puzzle tells us:

53D. Spring time ... or a military procession involving a word sequence hidden in 15-, 31-, 41- and 61-Across: MARCH

15A. Trying to overcome a late start, say: PLAYING CATCH-UP

31A. "Any minute now": IT WON'T BE LONG

41A. Critical shuttle maneuver: EARTH RE-ENTRY

61A. NBC soap since 1965: DAYS OF OUR LIVES. That's 13,455 episodes I need (?) to catch up on, as of today.

A neat theme from C.C.; the hidden words are all nicely scattered around in the theme entries, and the "THREE" spans a word divide and a hyphen to obscure things a little. I don't think it would be possible to see the theme without the reveal, which is placed nicely at the bottom of the puzzle in the down entries.

Two pairs of stacked 8's in the downs, and two 14's and two 12's in the theme make for a nice construction job; C.C.'s definitely an expert at that.

There might be a shout-out to some puzzle bloggers - ARGYLE for sure, and "Splinter" group and STEVIE almost make it. She's been a MENTOR to a lot of puzzle constructors and bloggers, so that works nicely too.

Let's see what else we've got:


1. Smudge: BLOT

5. Splinter group: SECT

9. Instagram or Snapchat: APP. I still don't know quite what the point is of these two. Apparently I have an Instagram account, it came with something, I have no idea what.

12. Past time: YORE. Days of.

13. Union agreements?: I DO'S. Nice one.

14. "Get outta here!": SHOO!

18. Clemson's conf.: A.C.C. The Atlantic Coast Conference. Now includes some schools from the Midwest and the Northeast.

19. Silicon Valley setting: BAY AREA

20. Hoops net holder: RIM

22. Deli order: SALAMI

24. New York prison in 1971 headlines: ATTICA

26. Wine glass feature: STEM. My daily use wine glasses are stemless. I kept breaking them off in the dishwasher. I keep the stemware for special bottles, then break them off in the dishwasher.

27. Suffers from: HAS

30. Prince Harry's alma mater: ETON. Harry is an "old boy" of Eton, an "Old Etonian". I'm an "Old Symondian", from Peter Symond's School in Winchester.

36. Org. with Jays and Rays: M.L.B. It's World Series time, and neither the Jays nor the Rays are anywhere to be seen.

39. Elastic bikini top: BANDEAU

40. Org. with an annual Codebreaker Challenge: NSA

44. Skier's pick-me-up?: T-BAR

45. Summer hrs.: DST

46. Archipelago part: ISLE

50. Sweater pattern: ARGYLE

53. Salieri, to Liszt: MENTOR

55. Streaming delay: LAG

56. Spiritual leader of Nizari Ismaili Muslims: AGA KHAN

60. Actress Mendes: EVA

64. Mineral sources: ORES

65. Poolroom powder: TALC

66. Gimlet garnish: LIME

67. ACLU concerns: RTS

68. Cross with a top loop: ANKH

69. Creepy glance: LEER


1. Go around: BYPASS

2. Humorous feline meme: LOLCAT. A lolcat's language is "lolspeak".

3. Prophecy source: ORACLE. Every self-respecting Greek city should have one. The best-known Oracle was at Delphi, she cornered the market in predictions to the great and the good.

4. "The Daughter of Time" novelist: TEY

5. Six-Day War peninsula: SINAI

6. Pushing boundaries: EDGY

7. Soft-drink word since 1886: COCA. COLA went in without a thought, then had me wondering, and rightly so.

8. Deposed Russian ruler: TSAR

9. "That feels good": AHH!

10. Pull out all the stops: POUR IT ON

11. Katy Perry and Mariah Carey: POP ICONS

14. "Get outta here!": SCAT!

16. Watson creator: IBM

17. Beverage with dim sum: TEA. I love dim sum. On my first trip to Hong Kong my first stop was a dim sum restaurant in Kowloon for Sunday lunch. There was a slight snag in that there were no carts, and the menu was all in Cantonese. Pointing at plates on other tables got me fed. I learned all the names of the dishes after that. The tea came without me asking, so that part was simple.

21. Comics read vertically: MANGA

23. Montréal mate: AMI. Or a Canadian-South American fusion cimarrón, but that wouldn't fit.

25. __ Aviv: TEL

27. Perfected: HONED

28. Mints brand with mountain peaks in its logo: ANDES. I did not know that. Now I do.

29. Surgical tube: STENT

32. "Speaking frankly," in texts: TBH. To Be Honest - and, to be honest, why wouldn't you be?

33. Armed conflict: WAR

34. Home run hitter?: BAT

35. Spain's cont.: EUR

36. Like virtually all golf club heads nowadays: METAL. I can't remember when I last saw a persimmon club head. My first set of clubs had persimmon for the driver, three- and five-woods.

37. __ retriever: LABRADOR

38. Blowhard: BRAGGART. I always forget that the final "T" isn't a "D". As I did in this case.

42. Push to the limit: TRY

43. Yang's opposite: YIN

47. Memorable guitarist __ Ray Vaughan: STEVIE

48. 2009 Justin Bieber hit: LOVE ME. Awkward neighbors; Stevie Ray and the Biebster.

49. Correction device: ERASER

51. Highlands girl: LASS

52. Big 38-Down feature: EGO

54. Bigger photo: Abbr.: ENL.

57. Mennen lotion: AFTA. After-shave lotion. Simple enough to remember it once you've heard what it is.

58. Zen question: KOAN

59. "Incredible" hero: HULK

62. "Of course!": YES

63. Not well: ILL

And that's about it from me. Back in New York for a couple of days - what happened to the nice LA weather? Oh, I left it in LA, silly me.

Here's the grid, nicely tricked out with the theme words highlighted for y'all.


Oct 18, 2018

Thursday, October 18th 2018 Roger & Kathy Wienberg

Theme Three-Card Monte - as the reveal tells us:

55A. Vegas device used literally in three puzzle answers: CARD SHUFFLER

Which leads us to:

20. They may be added to soup: SODA CRACKERS. I had a little bit of a mental block with this one - I wanted SALT, not SODA and so things wouldn't work too well in this area. The reveal put me straight.

32A. Recognition event: AWARD CEREMONY

40A. Camp activities: ARTS AND CRAFTS

A simple but slick theme with plenty of weight in the theme answers. Add to that a couple of 10-letter across entries and two 11's in the downs and that's a pretty weighty grid to fill around. Roger & Kathy have done a great job with the fill, there's nary a clunker in sight, and where there are some very common fill words, the cluing is often fresh. Excellent stuff.


1. Cartman on "South Park": ERIC. There are websites where you can make your own "South Park" avatar - this is one of mine from the start of a Premier League season a couple of years ago:

5. John follower: ACTS. New Testament of the Bible. The Acts of the Apostles follows The Gospel according to St. John.

9. European farewell: ADIEU

14. Default takeback: REPO

15. Formal agreement: NOR I. I can't stop parsing this as NORI, the dried seaweed wrapper for sushi rolls.

16. Two-time Argentine president: PÉRON. Interesting use of "two-time" here - Juan Péron actually served three terms as president, but two were consecutive from 1946-1952 and 1952-1955.

17. Famous __: AMOS

18. Keys for Elton: GRAND PIANO

22. Tennis' Open __: ERA

23. Smooth-talking: OILY

24. Fight: COMBAT

28. "25" album maker: ADELE

30. Federal URL ending: GOV

31. Lennon's lady: ONO

36. Prop for Frosty: PIPE

38. Crown installer's org.: ADA. American Dental Association.

39. Short strings?: UKES

45. Inventor's monogram: TAE. Thomas Alva Edison, natch.

46. Head for Vegas?: LAS

47. Carpenter's joint: MITER

49. Like Justice League members: HEROIC

51. Stub __: A TOE

53. Stroke that doesn't count: LET. Tennis serve that hits the net cord before landing in the service court. I noticed last year at Wimbledon that they no longer have judges sitting at the side of the net with the finger on the net cord. When did that stop?

58. Prime hotel time: HIGH SEASON

61. Assessment: LEVY

62. Comforting words: I CARE

63. Support at sea: MAST

64. Destructive Greek god: ARES

65. Genres: TYPES

66. Watch pair?: EYES

67. Sly attention-getter: PSST!


1. Rub out: ERASE

2. Rider on a shark: REMORA. I'd never heard of these guys before. They're not parasitic as they do no harm to the shark, other than hitch a free ride. They're not really symbiotic either, as the shark doesn't really get much benefit from having them around. The sharks just seem to enjoy the company.

3. Audio system connector: IPOD ADAPTER. I fitted one of these gadgets in my last car to supplement the AM/FM and CD options. Then I lost the iPod.

4. Cuban thing: COSA

5. Hotter: ANGRIER

6. Color named for a sea animal: CORAL

7. Detective role for Beatty: TRACY. Dick Tracy. Didn't Warren co-star with Madonna in that movie? I think that led to something of a fling between them.

8. Cleaning area: SINK

9. Say yes: APPROVE

10. Reason-based faith: DEISM

11. Lyricist Gershwin: IRA

12. Many ages: EON

13. Mattel game since 1992: UNO

19. Furnishings and such: DECOR

21. Root beer alternative: COLA. See "Dad's" below.

25. Proprietors for word lovers: BOOKSELLERS. I love bookstores. If you want to drop me off somewhere and know exactly where I'll be by the time you get back, however long that is, leave me at a bookstore.

26. Diarist Frank: ANNE

27. Elves' output: TOYS

29. Ram fans?: EWES. The Rams fans are all around here.

30. Camping stuff: GEAR

33. Root beer since 1937: DAD'S. You can buy an original, empty bottle on eBay right now for $15.

34. Epidemic-fighting agcy.: CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

35. You won't see one at Westminster: MUTT. You will at Westminster Cathedral, they have a Pet's Corner. Oh wait, Poet's Corner, slight difference.

36. Trail: PATH

37. Requiem Mass hymn word: IRAE. Dies Irae, or "Day of Wrath".

41. They're assumed: ALIASES

42. Mother-of-pearl: NACRE

43. Bottom lines: AMOUNTS

44. Feudal estate: FIEF

48. John Wick portrayer: REEVES. My neighbor Keanu.

50. Natural clay pigment: OCHRE

51. Evaluate: ASSAY

52. More of that: THOSE

54. Secret rendezvous: TRYST

56. Title for Helen Mirren: DAME. "Der ain't nuttin' loik ..."

57. Flutter: FLAP

58. Baseball stat: HIT. Plenty of hits at this time of year. My Dodgers hoping for one better than last year, but have to get past the Brewers first! 5-1 tonight, so 3-2 in the series ...

59. Standoffish: ICY

60. Mountain pass: GAP

Wow - tempus fugit - time to call it a wrap!


Oct 11, 2018

Thursday October 11, 2018 Susan Gelfand


17A *They're for the dogs: LEASH LAWS. Shale oil

39A. *Enter on the sly: SNEAK IN. Snake oil

11D. *Two-time women's soccer Olympic gold medalist: ABBY WAMBACH. Baby oil.

Abby is one of my sporting heroes, she took the world of soccer and shook it by the ears, was instrumental in helping build a winning national team and twice carried off Olympic gold medals. My goodness, she was a factor in so many great moments. She has one of the "Greatest Goal" headers in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final game against Brazil to tie the game at 2-2 at the death in overtime and send the tie to penalty kicks which the USA won 5-3. Carli Lloyd's feed to Megan Rapinoe and her 45-yard cross was instrumental in the strike. What a great team that was.

Enjoy it here

25D. *Gravlax: CURED SALMON.Crude oil. Food! Dill, salt, sugar, pepper and bury it in the ground :)

and the unifier, and the start of the sleuthing:

60A. Jiffy Lube service, and a hint to the start of the answers to starred clues: OIL CHANGE

Wow. I was an email second away to ask for help from my fellow bloggers to figure out what on earth this them was all about, then I decided to look at the short entries first. ABBY:BABY. Oh, wait - anagrams - then CURED:CRUDE. That's another. SNEAK:SNAKE and finally .... LEASH:SHALE. In all the years I've been doing this I've never been even close to crying UNCLE finding the theme, but this one just about had me waving the white flag. The solve was straightforward, but back-tracking to find the theme - not so much.

I'd call this a meta - a puzzle solvable on its own, but you can have fun looking back to try to figure out the theme. If that was the intent, then well done, but if that is not the intent, that's a problem. The puzzle should stand up on its own as a themeless, and this doesn't really hit the mark.

There's some high spots though, let's go look for those.


1. Moment of remorse: PANG

5. Portrayer of a big scaredy-cat: LAHR. Lion, of the cowardly sort.

9. One thing on top of another: STACK

14. Saucony rival: AVIA. Running shoes. The clue is interesting. In the "obscure running shoes" category.

15. Resort town near Santa Barbara: OJAI. Up in the hills not too far from me. There's a spa/hotel which has a good reputation.

16. Buffalo hockey player: SABRE. "ER" or "RE"? Figure it out and move on.

19. French clerics: ABBÉS

20. Make rough: COARSEN

22. __ tick: disease carrier: LYME

23. Open, as toothpaste: UNCAP. "Oh, just let me uncap this toothpaste" - said nobody, ever.

26. By any means: SOME WAY

28. It may be proper: NOUN

29. Start to mature?: PRE-

32. Poll gathering: DATA

33. Lancelot and Mix-a-Lot: SIRS

34. "La Cage __ Folles": AUX. You might as well just print this in the grid as a freebie.

35. Bleak: DISMAL

38. Linguistic suffix: -ESE

41. Word before and after "oh": BOY. Boy-oh? Really? I know the Welsh affectionate "boyo", not sure about this one.

42. Freshwater minnow: RED FIN. Not a lot of meat on a red fin. Now a bluefin, you're talking sushi.

44. Chaps: MEN

45. 2002-'03 viral outbreak, briefly: SARS. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Makers of white surgical face masks have never been so happy to extend their market to the general population.

46. Together, so to speak: SANE

47. Droop: SAG

48. Plasm prefix: ECTO-

49. Followers of shots: CHASERS

52. Taj __: MAHAL. Oh, I thought it might have been Taj Smith, the famous (?) American football player, or Taj Forer, the photographer. Shame on me for overlooking the obvious.

53. Put the brakes on: HALT

54. Phantom: SPECTER

58. "Mental Illness" Grammy winner Mann: AIMEE. Thank you, crosses.

64. Engagement ring centerpiece: STONE

65. Lackluster: DRAB

66. Like some U.S. mail: CERT. Ach. Please. "I'm sending this U.S. Mail, Cert." said nobody, ever.

67. Belarus capital: MINSK

68. Start of a decision-making rhyme: EENY-

69. Actor Miller of "Justice League": EZRA. Thank you crosses. Ezra, meet Aimee.


1. Bud: PAL

2. Park in NYC, e.g.: AVE. This one made me think, and I walk up and down Park at least once a month; two of my clients have their head offices on the street. The Helmsley Building built over the top of the street at Grand Central never fails to make me smile.

3. Long of "NCIS: Los Angeles": NIA. Thank you, crosses. Nia, meet Aimee and Ezra.

4. Garage containers: GAS CANS

5. "Copacabana" showgirl: LOLA. Let's go with the other Lola, who "walked like a woman and talked like a man".

6. Open a bit: AJAR

7. Verbal hesitations: HAWS

8. Reacts to yeast: RISES

9. ID issuer: SSA. I didn't punctuate the SSA because ID is now a word, and not just a Latin one.

10. Laptop alternatives: TABLETS

12. Espresso foam: CREMA

13. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" novelist: KESEY

18. Short trip: HOP

21. Dropping (off): NODDING

23. Indy racing family name: UNSER

24. Din: NOISE

27. Key: MAIN

29. They go for the gold: PANNERS. Yep, I'm in a picky mood today. "He was a panner in the '49 California gold rush" - said nobody, ever.

30. Feel remorse for: RUE

31. Finals, say: EXAMS

36. Major artery: AORTA

37. Germ-killing brand: LYSOL

39. Triangle ratio: SINE. What was the aide-memoire we learned back then - soh-cah-toa? Sine = Opposite over Hypotenuse .... Mathematics exams redux.

40. Hawaii's Mauna __: KEA. Loa or Kea. Not Koa which was my first try. I have a koa wood ring and bracelet from Maui, so I excuse myself.

43. Buckles, as a seat belt: FASTENS

45. Yachting event, e.g.: SEA RACE

49. Great divide: CHASM

50. French-speaking Western Hemisphere country: HAITI. Not France then? Now this is oddly cunning - the Western Hemisphere is divided at the zero meridian and the 180 line at the antimeridian. France straddles the zero mark, and as such is disqualified from being a candidate answer, notwithstanding having too many letters. The only other possibility in literal terms would be Canada, but than you're talking about a minority population in Quebec, plus too many letters. A+ for educational.

51. Fine English china: SPODE. Wedgwood 1, Spode 0 in the Five Towns derby, sadly. Wedgwood cornered the marked in pale blue brooches and ornamental pottery, but Spode produced some wonderful hand-painted gold-banded white china plates. I'm with Spode - you can eat off their plates, you'd never think of serving food on a Wedgwood dish. Those bands really are painted by hand.
52. "So-so": MEH

55. Kerry locale: EIRE

56. Extended family: CLAN

57. Frozen dessert chain: TCBY. Their website has them as "The Country's Best Yogurt". Praise the Lord for correct apostrophe usage.

59. "Yikes!": EEK

61. Pince-__ glasses: NEZ

62. Watchdog's warning: GRR

63. ORD posting: ETA. Take a three-letter airport code and attach it to ETA, and voila! A crossword clue. See also ARR, and LGW, LHR, SYD, LGA, JFK, LAX, SFO, ORD, IAH, oh - who did I miss? Of course - BUR, PHX, DEN, MIA, SEA, CDG, FRA. And another hundred or three. I think I've made my point.

And's the ETA for the CWD GRD! Right on time! And a genuinely-square 15x15, things are returning to normal in LAT XWD VIL


Oct 4, 2018

Thursday, October 4th 2018 Wendy L. Brandes and Martha Jones

Theme: Car Wars - auto-fighting for parking spots.

20A. Spotify category for courageous Motown lovers?: INTREPID SOUL. Dodge Intrepid (Thanks for the correction, Big Easy) and a Kia Soul. I like the fresh "Spotify" reference in the clue - a music streaming service where you can pick your flavor of playlist.

28A. One hiking in a Maine national park?: ACADIA EXPLORER. GMC Acadia and a Ford Explorer. I'm not sure I was familiar with "Acadia", neither the park nor the vee-hick-el, but crosses filled it in for me just fine. Beautiful spot here in the park:

47A. Weekend in the Hamptons, say?: SUBURBAN ESCAPE. Chevy Suburban, Ford Escape. Dearborn gets 50% of the auto sales in this puzzle, I'm sure they'd be delighted if that was the case in the real world.

53A. Like a delivery truck blocking your car, maybe ... and a hint to 20-, 28- and 47-Across: DOUBLE-PARKED

Oh no - things were going so well until the reveal. There are two cars, fore-and-aft in each theme entry and .. they're tandem parked, not double-parked. Double-parked in the puzzle would be stacked, above and below. Still possible in a crossword construct - tricky, but possible. Just changing the reveal entry to TANDEM PARKED and everyone (well, pedants like me!) would be even happier.

Wendy and Martha are, I believe, a mother-daughter partnership and are certainly debutants in the LAT. They were published this last August in the WSJ which I'm pretty sure was their first "major". Congratulations to them on their LAT opening salvo - we look forward to many more. Stop by and introduce yourselves if you have time!


1. Abruptly end a relationship with by ignoring texts, calls and such: GHOST. A fresh new term from the "yoot". But "... with by ..."? I thought that was a typo at first. If the relationship involved a Norwegian named "Frøm", you could have said "... end a relationship with Frøm by avoiding ..", thus making more sense and nailing the ablative with a trifecta. Maybe a comma for readability would help?

6. European airline: SAS. Scandinavian Air Services. Not the only airline to do this, but they had a chain of hotels in Europe also; they figured if they needed hotels to overnight their aircrews, they might as well own the hotels.

9. Uninspiring: VAPID

14. Pizazz: OOMPH

15. Flightless bird: EMU

16. Not in the dark: AWARE

17. Prickly shrub: BRIAR

18. Prefix with match or fire: MIS-

19. One with no hope: GONER

23. Alpine lake: TARN. More a pond, but I'll let it go. Tarn Geneva?

24. Fair-hiring initials: EOE

25. "The Waste Land" monogram: TSE. T.S. Eliot - "Let's not be narrow, nasty and negative". Wise words, pay attention out there.

32. Org. for the Williams sisters: W.T.A. Women's Tennis Association. Founded by the redoubtable Billie-Jean King in a bid for more equitable prize money as offered to the men. That certainly worked out.

33. Blood fluids: SERA

34. Damascus native: SYRIAN

35. Says 22-Down, perhaps: ERRS

37. Octane Booster brand: STP. Is every car and driver in NASCAR sponsored by STP? Or just my brief forays into that world make it appear so?

39. Loan figs.: A.P.R'S Annualized Percentage Rates. I've never fathomed out the difference between interest paid annually at a certain rate, and an APR, but that's just me finding more interesting things to do.

40. "Field of Dreams" actor: LIOTTA. Actor Ray.

43. Cy Young stats: ERA'S

46. Final: Abbr.: ULT

50. Pinafore letters: H.M.S. Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta, one of their most popular, certainly on the "Greatest Hits" list. I'd pay good money to see a performance of "The Pirates of Penzance" if any impresario is reading. If only for the Major General with an sly reference to "Pinafore".

51. Hebrew for "day": YOM

52. Small fruit pie: TART

58. Gulf States inlet: BAYOU. Linda Ronstadt is going back to a blue one.

61. Bagel go-with: LOX

62. Flower child's greeting: PEACE

63. Track meet part: EVENT

64. Cooperstown winter hrs.: E.S.T.

65. Legally bar: ESTOP. Seen the word, understand it, still hate it.

66. Sees regularly: DATES

67. Rehab issue: DT'S

68. Angioplasty implant: STENT


1. Mongolian desert: GOBI

2. Traffic sound: HORN. Hoot, honk, howl (of an engine?) would also fit, so wait for the crosses.

3. Jump over: OMIT

4. Ancient Peloponnesian state: SPARTA

5. Winds (one's way) through: THREADS

6. Some advanced college courses: SEMINARS

7. Surrounded by: AMID

8. Prince Harry's dukedom: SUSSEX. Sussex had to stagger along, dukeless, between the death of Prince Augustus Frederick in 1843 and Prince Harry just this year picking up where Fred left off. Now Sussex is proudly re-Duked, with a Duchess thrown in for good measure. I'm sure the honest burghers of Brighton are dancing on the streets, on the pier, and jauntily on the nude beach.

9. Without much detail: VAGUELY

10. MPs' concern: AWOL

11. Bad review: PAN

12. Steam: IRE

13. German article: DER. The D on it's own isn't enough to choose which gender article you need.

21. __-dieu: PRIE. I call it a kneeler. I like that you can get padded versions to take the pain out of prayer.

22. Unwelcome word from a barber: OOPS

25. Catch in a lie, say: TRIP UP

26. NutraSweet developer: SEARLE

27. Accounting giant __ & Young: ERNST

28. Courtyard that may feature glass elevators: ATRIUM. A bank I worked at in London was owned by a Scottish family, the Flemings (Ian Fleming was part of the family). The building had a lovely glass-enclosed atrium where a bagpiper would play each morning to serenade you into work. The building also had it's own pub, the "Scottish Pound", with a street entrance for the general hoi-polloi, and a back entrance directly from the offices into the bar for the staff. Ah, happy days ... the pub is no more - the bank was sold to Chase in the early 2000's.

29. Pod-bearing trees: CAROBS. Carob is turned into a quite pleasant chocolate substitute to be ...

30. Consumed: EATEN

31. 60 minuti: ORA

32. __ corgi: WELSH

36. R-V link: STU. You either like this one, or dislike it intensely. An alphabet progression with the subtle misdirection in the R-V clue.

38. Excuses: PRETEXTS. Very nice.

41. Casting calls: TRYOUTS

42. "__ Ben Adhem": ABOU

"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head, 
And with a look made of all sweet accord, 
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord." 
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so," 
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low, 
But cheerly still; and said, "I pray thee, then, 
Write me as one that loves his fellow men." 

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night 
It came again with a great wakening light, 
And showed the names whom love of God had blest, 
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest. 

Leigh Hunt

"Write me as one that loves is fellow men" is the epitaph on Hunt's gravestone in Kensal Green cemetery in London. It's not the most peaceful place in the world, the main railway line from London to the midlands and Manchester is just over the fence.

44. "Stat!": ASAP!

45. Skins, as a knee: SCRAPES

48. Strolled: AMBLED

49. Taking it easy: AT REST

53. Finished: DONE. At rest when you're done. Some nicely-done proximal answers today.

54. In need of guidance: LOST

55. "This Is Us" role for Chrissy Metz: KATE. No clue, thank you crosses.

56. Micro or macro subj.: ECON. I took an Economics class at school and loved it. Back then, an economics degree was a BA, not a BSc. It wasn't viewed as "proper" science, more, as Disraeli put it, "Lies, damn lies and statistics".

57. Cabinet div.: DEPT. Dept. of Econ?

58. __ Bath & Beyond: BED. They send me "20% Off" coupons every week. They officially have an expiry date, but in actual fact they never expire.

59. "Selma" director DuVernay: AVA

60. Nevertheless: YET

I'm done - yet, here is the grid:


Sep 27, 2018

Thursday, September 27th 2018 Jeffrey Wechsler

Theme:  Golf Fever - it's the Ryder Cup beginning tomorrow, Tiger's back to winning ways, and we have an aptly-timed theme for this Thursday.

1A. *Top selection: TEE SHIRT. You can't wear a t-shirt to play golf on most courses in the UK, they're very sniffy about dress code. You used to not be able to wear sneakers, but now that all the latest golf shoes look like sneakers, it mush be causing must angst and "what is the world coming to?" wailings from the old buffers in the clubhouse.

Nike have recently been dressing Tiger and Rory McIlroy in collarless shirts - I wonder if they'd be tossed off the course? I highly doubt it.

22A. *Preliminary sketch: ROUGH OUTLINE

36A. *Overly defensive stance: BUNKER MENTALITY. Bunkers on golf courses were originally natural depressions in the links that sheep used to scratch out to huddle from the wind whipping in over the dunes.


63A. *Stud poker element: HOLE CARD. From whence "ace in the hole".

and the unifier:

54D. What a sequence of single strokes from the start of each starred answer to the next often adds up to: PAR.

So, on a par-4 golf hole, you skew a tee shot into the rough, muscle it out into a bunker, splash a sand wedge onto the green and make the putt. Not a bad par save.

I once played a par 4 when my ball never even touched the grass. I teed it up, drove straight into a bunker, found a greenside bunker with the next shot and chipped straight into the hole without touching the green. Sheer fluke. I bought drinks.

Nice go from Jeffrey, slick work with the stacked 8's and 6's top and bottom and solid themage. Nothing particularly to cringe about in the fill either.

Let's examine further:


9. Bring pleasure (to): APPEAL

15. Horror film line that usually gets its speaker in trouble: I'LL GO SEE

16. With conviction: FIRMLY

17. Final Yahtzee roll, e.g.: LAST TURN. Took me a moment. The player who rolls "Yahtzee" has the final roll of the game.

18. Defies: FLOUTS. One of those words often mis-replaced, in "flouts" case by "flaunts".

19. Omaha-to-Milwaukee dir.: ENE

20. Epidermal flaw: ZIT

21. Its practice doesn't make it perfect: LAW. Odd clue, I think I must be missing something punny about "perfect" law?

28. Cowboy leggings: CHAPS

30. Quite small: WEE

31. __ culpa: MEA. My bad!

32. Indian noblewoman: RANI

33. Utopia: EDEN

35. Degrees of creativity, briefly: BFA'S. Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. Two or more of these degrees are BFA's, two or more degree holders are Bachelors of Fine Arts - what would they be - B's.F.A? We should be told.

39. Track calculation: ODDS

40. Very long time: EONS

41. Support for a stroller: CANE

42. Seminarian's subj.: REL. Not nuclear physics? I'm surprised.

43. __ bran: OAT

44. Stun gun brand: TASER

49. Kareem, once: LEW. Lew Alcindor, UCLA basketball legend. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as an LA Laker.

50. Interoffice PC connection: LAN. Local Area Network.

51. Vehicle that really moves?: VAN

54. Canal zone: PANAMA

57. "Lives of the Mayfair Witches" trilogy author: ANNE RICE. I'd not heard of the trilogy, but it didn't take me long to slot her name in. I read her "Interview with a Vampire" and loved it.

60. Video game figure: AVATAR

61. Agonize about: STEW OVER

62. Deal with a bounced email: RE-SEND


1. Roofing unit: TILE

2. Vigorous spirit: ELAN

3. "Got anything __?": ELSE

4. Mil. three-striper: SGT.

5. High on the Scoville scale: HOT. Chili heat scale. I've got some fresh ghost peppers in the fridge, I chop them wearing latex gloves. They are not to be messed with!

6. Rodeos, e.g.: ISUZUS. Made me pause for a few seconds. It's an SUV from Isuzu.

7. Equip anew: RE-RIG. A couple of "re"-dos today.

8. Back nine opener: TENTH. More golf!

9. Wealthy: AFFLUENT

10. "Ecce homo" speaker: PILATE. "Behold the man".

11. Hunt stealthily: PROWL. Here, Kitty Kitty!

12. Source of lean red meat: EMU.

13. PC key: ALT

14. Fleur in heraldry: LYS. Lys vs. Lis. Let the debate re-begin.

22. Assigns relative value to: RANKS

23. Mayberry kid: OPIE

24. 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Terrell: OWENS. Known simply as "T-O" for a lot of his career.

25. "It's just a scratch": I'M FINE. I remember reading a quote from a claim form submitted to an Australian auto insurance company. "I told the other motorist I was not injured, but on removing my hat I discovered I had fractured my skull". There's stoic for you.

26. Not as messy: NEATER

27. "Nothing to it!": EASY

28. Less refined: CRUDER

29. Deal with: HANDLE

33. Put on quite an act: EMOTE

34. Cubs' digs: DEN

35. Heck of a party: BLAST

36. Swedish tennis great: BORG. Björn. He was fast around the court. I hear he was "Björn To Run".

37. Astern: REARWARD

38. Amazon berry: ACAI

43. Kind of band: ONE-MAN

44. Mine feature: TUNNEL

46. Please mightily: ELATE

47. Be at loggerheads: CLASH

48. Cost: RAN TO

51. Brawny rival: VIVA. I get Brawny from Costco. They do the job for me. I do go through a lot of them, though.

52. Big name in PCs: ACER

53. Bookish sort: NERD

55. Thoroughfare: Abbr.: AVE.

56. "Life Is Good" rapper: NAS. Grammy Award-nominated album in 2013.

58. Farm girl: EWE

59. Dungeons & Dragons bird: ROC. Muscle car: I-ROC. Fast food billionaire: KROC. LA-based music station: K-ROQ.

Rocking or not, here's the grid!


Sep 20, 2018

Thursday September 20th 2018 Paul Coulter

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

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

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

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

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

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

The reveal?

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

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

And ..... the fill.


1. Have a sudden inspiration?: GASP

5. Embryonic membranes: CAULS

10. "Good going!": NICE!

14. Ancient Andean: INCA

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

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

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

20. Ring leader?: TORERO

21. Parenthesis, e.g.: ARC

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

23. Largest division of Islam: SUNNI

26. Alpine transport: T-BAR

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

29. Grassy stretches: LEAS

32. Map line: ROAD

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

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

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

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

44. PBS science series: NOVA

45. Small racer: KART

46. Barbershop part: BASS

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

54. Jungle vine: LIANA

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

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

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

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

64. Fuss: TO-DO

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

66. Instead: ELSE

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

68. Block: DETER

69. Sunflower edible: SEED


1. They're kept under wraps: GIFTS

2. Pear variety: ANJOU

3. Contempt: SCORN

4. Raises: PARENTS

5. Guitarist's gadget: CAPO

6. "Aladdin" prince: ALI

7. __ nerve: ULNAR

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

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

10. Often-cosmetic procedure: NOSE JOB.

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

12. Sound from a tree: CHIRP. 

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

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

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

25. Chamber music group: TRIO

27. Storied craft: ARK

29. "__ Miz": LES

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

31. Light hair color: ASH BLONDE

33. Brouhaha: ADO

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

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

Dover Beach, Matthew Arnold

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

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

39. Ornamental band: SASH

40. Talk: JAW

43. Belgian language related to French: WALLOON

45. Deli snacks: KNISHES

47. Ra, in ancient Egypt: SUN GOD

49. Cosmetic additive: ALOE

50. Rejects suddenly: JILTS

51. Jerk: IDIOT.

52. Mr. Magoo, for one: MYOPE

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

55. Whac-__: A-MOLE

56. Rope loop: NOOSE

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

60. Scorch: CHAR

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

Got Grid?


Sep 13, 2018

Thursday September 13th 2018 Joe Deeney

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

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

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

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

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

and the reveal:

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

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

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


1. Minimally: A TAD

5. Oversight: LAPSE

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

13. One and only: SOLE

14. Fads: MANIAS

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

18. "__ we there yet?": ARE

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

20. French assent: OUI

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

22. Make a face, say: REACT

26. Loan application section: DEBT

27. Badgers: NAGS

28. Staff helper: AIDE

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

30. West Coast athletic footwear company: LA GEAR

36. Got close to empty: RAN LOW

37. Area to lay anchor: COVE

38. High style: UPDO

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

40. Opt out: PASS

47. Goldfinger's first name: AURIC

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

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

50. Post-workout lament: I'M SORE

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

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

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

57. "Makes sense": I SEE

58. Conclusion: END

59. Increase: ADD TO

60. Typically round-neck shirts: TEES


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

2. Head cover: TOUPEE

3. Window-switching keyboard shortcut: ALT-TAB

4. Catch a scent of: DETECT

5. Yellow __: LAB

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

7. Trial episodes: PILOTS

8. French toast: SALUT!

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

10. More like Oscar the Grouch: CRABBIER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30. Tax: LEVY

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

32. Big name in juice pouches: CAPRI SUN

33. Hot: IN DEMAND

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

35. Home Depot purchase: TOOL

36. Burst: RUPTURE

39. Ready to sire: AT STUD

40. Test limits: PUSH IT

41. Excite: AROUSE

42. Yes or no follower: SIRREE!

43. Drama segments: SCENES

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

46. Leveled, with "up": TRUED

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

50. Form W-9 org.: IRS.

53. Explosive stuff: TNT. Boom!

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

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

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

Grid? Gridded!