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

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".


Mar 14, 2019

Thursday, March 14th 2019 Alan Olschwang

Theme: Scrambling - the four theme entries contain scrambles of the word "EIGHT", as the reveal succinctly explains:

63A. Simple card game, and what's hidden in the answers to starred clues: CRAZY EIGHTS

17A. *Like power lines: HIGH-TENSION. There's some debate around whether living close to power lines is bad for your health. They can look pretty in the right setting though:

24A. *End an engagement?: GET HITCHED. The best way to end an engagement.

38A. *Teddy kin: NIGHTIE. I'm not sure I knew the difference between the two, but arduous research over an extended period of time on various lingerie websites reveal that a teddy combines a top and panties. The things I go through for this blog.

51A. *Feature items in some annual sales: WHITE GOODS. Refrigerators and the like, although sometimes used to describe linens.

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, it was quite a challenge. I didn't check my time, but I know it took longer than most Thursdays. I like having to slowly work through, unpicking as I go. The theme reveal definitely helped with a couple of the white spaces which were left. Some smart cluing, nothing in the fill I'd call a clunker, some nice longer entries - definitely an "A" today. One of my favorite puzzles of the year so far, Alan checked all the boxes. Let's see what else:


1. Grammy category word: ALBUM. Album of the Year at this year's Grammys - Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves

6. "And here it is!": VOILA!

11. Pickup spot, perhaps: BAR

14. Take a break: PAUSE

15. "Return of the Jedi" forest moon: ENDOR. The moon Endor is forested, and the home of the Ewoks.

16. Fashion or sense preceder: IN A

19. Band booking: GIG

20. Conspiring (with): IN LEAGUE

21. Cake invitation Alice accepted: EAT ME. The grow-tall cupcakes.

23. Does, say: DEER. The noun, not the verb. I like these kinds of misdirections.

27. Alternative rock genre: EMO

29. "Come on in!": ENTER!

30. Any member of ABBA: SWEDE

33. What a birdie beats: PAR. Golf, one under par.

34. Aromatic herb: DILL

37. '90s game disc: POG

42. One of the fire signs: LEO

43. Pull a fast one on: FOOL

45. Served, as time: DID

46. Brilliance: ÉCLAT. From the French éclater - to burst out.

48. One-footer, e.g.: TAP-IN. I've seen them missed. I've missed one (at least!) myself.

50. Gray shade: ASH

55. World-weary words: AH ME!

59. Up: RISEN

60. Babe __, only woman in ESPN's Top 10 North American Athletes of the 20th Century: ZAHARIAS. Quite the athlete. She won gold at the 1932 Olympics in the 80-meter hurdles with a world-record time, and also won Javelin gold with an Olympic record throw. She won silver in the high jump with a world-record equaling effort. She then moved on to professional golf where she won 10 LPGA major championships, which ranks her 4th all-time.

62. Life-saving pro: E.M.T.

66. __-disant: self-styled: SOI. From the french. The French also use it in the "so-called" sense, e.g. a so-called improvement.

67. Ancient Aegean region: IONIA

68. "The Wreck of the Mary __": DEARE. I read the book by Hammond Innes when I was young and I was rapt - I went on to read quite a number of his novels. The movie is probably better-known. I love the tag line in the center of the poster, rather dates it!

69. Channel that airs many RKO films: TMC. Turner Classic Movies. The one above doubtless shows up from time to time.

70. __ closet: LINEN

71. John of "The Addams Family": ASTIN. He's also Sean Astin's father - Sean played Samwise Gamgee in "The Lord of the Rings" and Rudy in the eponymous movie of the Notre Dame football walk-on.


1. Agricultural pest: APHID

2. "Rawhide" singer: LAINE. Let's have us some Frankie.

3. Taps player: BUGLE

4. Brought (in): USHERED

5. Like a footnote that explains footnotes: META. The crosses filled this in for me. I'm sure some of you are familiar with "meta" crossword puzzles which feature a hidden (often very hidden) theme and unifier.

6. Locale: VENUE

7. Early stage: ONSET

8. Dictator played by Forest: IDI. Amin, as portayed by Whitaker.

9. Leicester toilet: LOO

10. Journalist Peter: ARNETT. The ex-CNN reporter was one of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists for his Vietnam war reporting for the Associated Press. He, David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan were all contrarian members of the press corps who repeatedly questioned the official line.

11. Time of one's life: BIG THRILL

12. Cartoon genre: ANIME. It has a very distinct style.

13. Continued unabated: RAGED

18. "The one who makes it, takes it" breakfast brand: EGGO

22. Breezed through: ACED

25. Recipe verb: HEAT

26. Crucifix letters: INRI. From the Latin "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum" - "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews".

28. Fellows: MEN

30. Beach letters: SPF. Sun-tan lotion's protection factor.

31. Try to attract: WOO

32. Lacking humility: EGOTISTIC

33. Third deg.?: PH.D. I like the clue, I think it was used recently if I recall correctly.

35. Verdant patch: LEA

36. Auction unit: LOT

39. "Gotcha!": I DIG!

40. Singer Vannelli: GINO. Canadian singer from the 70's & 80's. He had some big hair!

41. Some RIT grads: E.E.S. I'm guessing Electrical Engineers from Rochester Institute of Technology?

44. After-hours: LATE

47. Supplies power to: CHARGES

49. #2, for one: PENCIL. I know them as "HB" pencils from the European grading system.

50. '60s-'70s tennis great Arthur: ASHE

51. Extract forcibly: WREST

52. Bleachers sign: HI MOM!

53. David and Ricky's dad: OZZIE. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, as I'm sure you all know.

54. Israeli hero Moshe: DAYAN. "He would wake up with a hundred ideas. Of them ninety-five were dangerous; three more had to be rejected; the remaining two, however, were brilliant." Ariel Sharon

56. Drum kit part: HI-HAT

57. Motherly introduction?: MATRI-. Matriarch, for example.

58. German steel center: ESSEN. I learned this from school German classes. Our textbook Mr. Müller and his family lived in Essen. You never know when this stuff is going to come in handy.

61. Operatic princess: AIDA

64. Versailles monarch: ROI

65. Taylor of fashion: ANN

I didn't come across anything "terribble" this week, but then again, I didn't last week either, that was the problem!

Just let me double-check I've got the correct squares highlighted ...... yup, all's good .... and I'm done!


Mar 7, 2019

Thursday, March 7th 2019 Gary Larson

Theme: The Great Divide - four rows of the puzzle contain theme words divided by the black squares, as the reveal tells us what to look for:

61A. #3 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time (as of 2016) ... and a hint to what the black squares are doing in four rows of this puzzle: BREAKING BAD

Firstly ...

17A. Teacher on call: SUB. Our friend Husker Gary knows all about this.

18A. John D. Rockefeller's company: STANDARD OIL

... followed by ...

23A. Record: ENTER

24A. Umbrella part: RIB

26A. Grace word: BLESS

... also ...

38A. Woodland goat-man: FAUN. Be careful doing an image search for this, you might get more than you bargained for.

41A. Arraignment answers: PLEAS

42A. Kitchen pests: ANTS

... and finally

52A. Calf-length skirts: MIDIS

53A. 61-Across kingpin __ Fring: GUS. Cross-referencing the reveal, nicely done.

56A. Subtle shade: TINGE

Well, I liked the theme, one of those which doesn't become apparent until you've filled most of the grid and read the reveal. I did think the reveal was clued in a really clunky way "... (as of 2016)" - surely there's a cleaner and more elegant way to refer to the show rather han a clue which is date-specific.

I watched the first few episodes of the show and got bored with it, I know it garnered all kinds of awards and critical acclaim, but it just didn't grab me.

A couple of clunkers/obscurities in the fill, but mostly OK. Let's take a tour.


1. Cleared (of): RID

4. Tote bag material: CANVAS

10. Down-to-earth: REAL

14. Chemical suffix: -IDE

15. Even though: ALBEIT. I think this was my word-of-the-day, there's something very satisfying about it.

16. Wrinkly hybrid fruit: UGLI. Also known as a Jamaican tangelo. Ugli is a proprietary name, which really is a play on the word "ugly". It's a grapefruit/tangerine hybrid.

20. Cutlery collection: KNIFE SET

22. Moo __ gai pan: GOO. Food! A stir-fry with chicken and veggies.

30. Bilingual "Sesame Street" Muppet: ROSITA. I didn't know this, but it seemed reasonable that it would be a latino or latina name. I had ROS- in place, and the rest came naturally.

32. Bath sponges: LOOFAHS

34. Most babbling: GASSIEST. Really?

37. Bunk: ROT

43. Racing Unsers: ALS. Al Unser Sr, and, very inventively, Al Unser Jr. Of course, there's a III as well.

44. Preparation period: LEAD TIME

46. German mathematician Bernhard: RIEMANN. Who? I was terrible at math in school, so I never came across this gentleman.

48. Softening: EASING

57. Glass lip: RIM

59. Speed trap equipment: RADAR GUN

65. Check out: EYE

66. "Star Trek" race: BORG

67. Mariner's patron: ST ELMO. He of the fire. He likes to mess with airplanes as well as ship's masts:

68. __ Lingus: AER. The Irish national carrier.

69. Pineapple center: CORE

70. "Mercy me!": OH DEAR!

71. Genetic material: RNA. -NA and wait for the cross.


1. One who agrees to a dare: RISKER. Yuk. "You risker, you!" said no-one, ever.

2. "Got me": I DUNNO

3. Ledger entries: DEBITS

4. Italian city whose Royal Palace has been used as a set in two "Star Wars" films: CASERTA. I'd never heard of it. 76,000 people live there though, so at least they've heard of it. It also hosted the Eurobasket basketball tourney in 1969, so that's a righteous claim to fame. The palace is big though, it looks like all 76,000 residents could live in it and they could host the tournament in the driveway.

5. Hgts.: ALTS. That's an abbreviation for "heights", apparently, so "altitudes" is the answer. I'd be interested in anyone coming up with an example of Hgts or Alts being used. Washington Hgts or other place names don't count

6. Net or Knick: NBAER. Basketball player, although some fans of those teams might grumble that their players don't play basketball of much quality. They'd probably have done OK at Eurobasket in 1969 though.

7. Starbucks order: VENTI. I can never remember the sizes in Starbucks. I just go for small, medium and large. They seem to understand what I'm looking for.

8. Give a leg up: AID
9. Antlered animal: STAG

10. Ballet great Nureyev: RUDOLF

11. Psychoanalysis subject: EGO

12. Actor Mahershala __: ALI. Talented dude. Two Oscars, a slew of other awards and a studio rap album to boot. I'm catching up with "House of Cards" on NetFlix, he has a big role in the show.

13. Rapper __ Jon: LIL' Two rappers in close proximity.

19. High-tech worker: ROBOT

21. Affect: FEIGN

25. Pasture cry: BLEAT

27. Pull down: EARN

28. Opportunity: SHOT

29. Former Air France jets: SSTS. The supersonic Concorde. British Airways had them too, part of a joint venture between the British and French governments. When BA retired their fleet, Richard Branson tried to buy them for Virgin, but BA refused to sell. Odd, considering they didn't pay for them in the first place, the taxpayers did. Branson was livid.

31. Colorado snowboarding mecca: ASPEN

33. "Cotton Comes to Harlem" director Davis: OSSIE

35. Urban Dictionary content: SLANG. You come across some very weird things in there. Much like searching for "faun".

36. Iraq War weapon: Abbr.: I.E.D. Improvised Explosive Device. Usually a roadside bomb triggered underneath vehicles in a convoy in that conflict.

38. One to grow on: FARM

39. Et __: and others: ALII. I had ALIA first, I'm not sure I'll ever know whether to use ALII, ALIAE or ALIA. The first is masculine, the second feminine, and the third neuter. In this clue context, "others" would refer to masculine things. Gender-specific languages really make things difficult!

40. Hand-me-down: USED

42. Group at Asgard: AESIR. Not really, the AE is a diphthong or ligature - it's a single letter, Æ. Anyway, the æsir are a group of gods in Norse religion who reside at Asgard.

44. Cornea-reshaping surgery: LASIK. I can never remember which is which between lasik and lasix, the anti-asthma drug given to racehorses, so I wait for the cross.

45. One facing charges?: MATADOR. Nice clue.

47. Desert illusion: MIRAGE

49. Ready to roll: IN GEAR

50. Vietnamese-American poker star Scotty: NGUYEN. Never heard of him, but with the G and Y in place it was an easy guess.

51. Biological subdivisions: GENERA

54. Implored: URGED

55. Black: SABLE

58. Japanese soup: MISO

60. Lady of Spain: DAMA

61. Eng. channel: B.B.C. The state broadcaster in the UK, affectionately known as "the Beeb" or "Auntie".

62. Pal of Piglet: ROO. The Ashdown Forest, the real-life home of the Hundred Acre Wood, was scorched by wildfires recently. The temperatures in the UK reached 70F in February. What climate change?

63. Goof up: ERR

64. Extreme: NTH

Here's the grid, with the theme words highlighted in fetching pale yellow. And with that, I think I'm done!


Note from C.C.:

As a few solvers noticed, there's an extra B in TERRIBLE. Rich Norris, editor for our L.A. Times Daily Crossword editor, apologized for the mistake.

Rich has fixed the mistake. Please click here for the puz file. Here for the PDF.  Below is the new Answer Grid.


Feb 28, 2019

Thursday, February 28th 2019 Bruce Haight

Theme: Pun like a Pirate Day - the five theme answers all have a nautical punning groove going on:

17A. Spot to spread out a ship's map, maybe?: BRIDGE TABLE. The map of the ship itself, not a chart. Those already have a chart table to be spread on.

25A. Sailors dealing with a ship's cargo?: HOLD HANDS

37A. Awesome things near the front of a ship?: BOW WOWS

47A. Backwards glance on a ship?: STERN LOOK

57A. Strength measure of the ship cook's spirits?: GALLEY PROOF. Technically, a galley proof is a proof that's been printed out. Electronic versions are "uncorrected proofs", but no-one's going to argue if you call it a galley. Interesting that "galley" is also a type of ship in keeping with the nautical theme. Here's a Roman one;

I found this a little tougher going than the usual Thursday, it took me a little while to get a foothold in the top half, but then things started falling into place. I liked the puns by and large, I think HOLD HANDS was my favorite.

The grid is nicely done with the stacked 8's in the downs at the NE and SW and the fill is fresh and lively. Nicely done.

However, I do have one major gripe today, but we'll get to that in due course.


1. Hornet and Matador: AMCS. I didn't know this and needed all the crosses. 1970's vehicles manufactured by AMC.

5. Tech-savvy school gp.: A.V. CLUB. The Audiovisual Club.

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

14. Fail to save one's skin?: MOLT. Nice clue, this one, it made me laugh.

15. Bring back to the firm: REHIRE

16. 35-state Western org.: O.A.S. The Organization of American States. All 35 independent states in the Americas are members of the organization.

19. "The Racer's Edge": STP. Originally, it stood for Scientifically-Treated Petroleum. Who knew?

20. "American Gods" actor McShane: IAN. He also starred in a gentle BBC comedy-drama Lovejoy in the 80's, he played the eponymous roguish antiques dealer.

21. Shell material: NACRE

22. Milk by-product: WHEY

23. Yale's Mr. Yale: ELIHU. Nailed it! Thank you, Crosswords Past.

28. Most warm: NICEST

30. Barbershop staple: RAZOR. I talked myself out of YAZOO, I was thinking along the musical lines at first.

31. Industry mogul: CZAR

32. Seedy abode: RAT HOLE. The first flat I lived in in London was above a sweatshop and had no hot water. A rooster lived next door, and the landlord would drop off a pound of bacon, a loaf of bread and two dozen eggs each week so that he could claim he was running a B-and-B (no rent control). We had breakfast, so we're a B-and-B? I moved, eventually, but after a lot of early-morning awakenings from the rooster. I was broke. I was working two jobs (marine insurance filing clerk by day, bartender in an Irish pub by night) but it still a struggle. We've all been there.

36. Sushi choice: EEL

38. Sweetie, in slang: BAE. Short for "babe" or "baby". I don't think you call someone a "bae", you describe someone as your "bae". I think. Check with your nearest teenager.

41. Snore: SAW LOGS

42. Numerous: MANY

43. Gave one's word: SWORE

45. Often recyclable tech products: EWASTE. Electrical or electronic devices.

51. Adams who shot El Capitan: ANSEL I have an Ansel Adams print in my home office of the memorial at Manzanar. He took some wonderful photographs of the camp and the internees.

52. Tiny parasites: LICE

53. Secluded valleys: GLENS

55. __ Lanka: SRI

56. artist: ONO

60. Ref's call: TKO. I tried OUT first, was wrong.

61. "Her cheeks are rosy, she looks a little nosey" girl in a 1962 #1 hit: SHEILA. I'd never heard of this song by Tommy Roe. I'd never heard of Tommy either. This contributed to my gripe, of which more at the bottom.

62. Like crazy: A LOT

63. Sun, in Ibiza: SOL

64. Use a combine: THRESH

65. Soccer followers?: MOMS


1. Restaurant review factor: AMBIENCE

2. Get all preachy: MORALIZE

3. Kind of psychology: CLINICAL

4. Criterion: Abbr.: STD

5. Neighborhood: AREA

6. Climbing plant: VETCH. Part of Swansea City's old soccer ground, Vetch Field, was quite fantastically re-purposed to a wild flower haven when the club outgrew the facilities and moved to a new stadium. Usually these spaces are redeveloped for commercial or mixed-use properties. Kudos to Swansea for preserving some of the open space.

7. One-named "Hollywood Squares" panelist: CHARO

8. Defamation in print: LIBEL

9. Web address: URL

10. Spelling event: BEE

11. "Jeepers, I wouldn't think of it!": GOSH, NO!

12. Not for kids: RATED R. Be careful with R-RATED and RATED-R - I went with the former initially.

13. 2018 awards event hosted by Danica Patrick: ESPYS

18. African herd: GNUS. What do you call a herd of wildebeest that arrive two hours before midnight? The Ten O'Clock Gnus. I'll get my coat, thank you, I'm here all week.

22. GPS navigation app: WAZE. Is this a first in the LA Times? I can't find another reference.

24. QE2 designation: HER. I wanted "HMS" first. I was wrong. The QE2 was an ocean, later a cruise liner, owned by Cunard, based in Southampton. Her predecessor, the Queen Mary, is permanently-moored in Long Beach. We stayed on board a couple of years ago. My family went to wave her off from Southampton on her final voyage. I never thought all those years later I'd be staying on the ship in California. You never know what life will bring.

26. Drift off: DROWSE

27. Dutch artist Frans: HALS. When I was a kid, we had a print of "The Laughing Cavalier" in our entry hallway - odd because we had very few, if any, prints hanging on the wall. My mother said she "liked his smile".

29. Gardening tool: TROWEL

33. Punching tool: AWL

34. With 42-Down, like some bobsleds: TWO-man or four-man bobs.

35. Harley Davidson's NYSE symbol: HOG

37. Stable environment?: BARN

38. Jazz improv highlight: BASS SOLO. The drum solo is usually a good time to head to the bar for a refresher.

39. Waiting area: ANTE ROOM

40. Some cosmetic procedures: EYE LIFTS

41. Hot under the collar: SORE

42. See 34-Down: MAN

43. Hammered: STINKO. Drunk, badly (and slangily) - in the UK we were "paralytic" - not that I ever was, obviously.

44. "No hard feelings, dude": WE COOL Used in Pulp Fiction, one of my all-time-best-favorite movies. Not to everyone's taste.

46. Winged stinger: WASP

47. Vegas attraction: SLOTS. Took me a while to talk myself off STRIP.

48. Rubberneck: OGLER. Now this presumes that there is a noun for a rubbernecker - oh, wait, there is! It's "rubbernecker". To rubberneck is the verb. One demerit point for this.

49. Stan's slapstick pal: OLLIE. Abbott and Costello. No, wait - who's on first? Laurel and Hardy.

50. Naval bases?: KEELS. Nice clue, made me think a while.

54. Gloating word usually repeated: NYAH. Not NAH? I'm not a fan of these "spell it how you like" words. See also AHH/AAH.

57. Setting at 0 degrees long.: G.S.T.. So her we arrive at my gripe. I'm assuming that GST is supposed to be an abbreviation for Greenwich Standard Time, but that's the problem. The time at the zero meridian is Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT. The only reference to "Greenwich Standard Time" I can find is a source on the web that says it's the time zone in Iceland and Liberia, but when you search "Iceland Time Zone" it comes up as GMT. Ditto for Liberia, furthermore neither of which are on the zero meridian. So I'm calling this out as wrong. If SHEILA had been a little less obscure, maybe I wouldn't have minded so much, but this left me with a DNF, I just couldn't see past GMT.

58. "This is so relaxing!": AHH! Could equally be spelled AAH!

59. West Coast athlete: RAM. Los Angeles NFL player.

And to the victor, the spoils. Not me today, I was done in by GST, SHEILA and spell-it-how-you-like AHH.

Here's the grid!


Feb 21, 2019

Thursday, February 21st 2019 Peter A. Collins

Theme: Drink Up - the four theme entries conceal a juice read from bottom to top - as Peter more succinctly puts it in the reveal:

25D. Supercharge, and a hint to what's literally hiding in the four longest Down answers: JUICE UP

3D. Grand Prix, for one: MOTOR RACE. Carrot. Interestingly, Formula One racing cars don't use superchargers, you'd think they would. They use electrically-assisted turbochargers. Here's the famous Monaco Grand Prix in 2018

5D. Edible elephant, say: ANIMAL CRACKER. Clam. I think the sheep is something of an outlier in the Animal Cracker "family".

19D. Skillet dish with ham and peppers: WESTERN OMELET. Lemon. And Food! Officially, it shouldn't have cheese in it, but who makes the rules?

36D. FAQ spots: HELP PAGES. Apple. FAQ is one of those words that used to be written as an abbreviation, now it's a thing of itself. Frequently Asked Questions was the origin.


1. '90s-'00s Olympic soccer notable: HAMM. The great Mia on the US Women's National Team.

5. Literary captain: AHAB. I bet Starbuck wished he'd thought of opening a coffee shop rather than risk life and limb on a whaling ship.

9. Leaks slowly: SEEPS

14. Burn soother: ALOE

15. Zippo: NADA. If the downtrend in smoking continues, Zippo will eventually sell zippo.

16. Computer text code: ASCII. The American Standard Code for Information Interchange, which is something of a mouthful.

17. They're not loyal: RATS

18. Unyielding: IRON WILLED

20. Golfing group: TWOSOME. There's a course near me that sends out fivesomes at the weekend. I hated playing there, it was grindingly slow.

22. Base for money: TEN. I was tempted by "tin" as the base for a coin. No, the decimal number system. When I was growing up in the UK, the currency system was crazy - one pound was made up of 20 shillings, and there were 12 pennies in a shilling. The smallest coin was a farthing, which was a quarter of a penny. Learning money mathematics was a slog. The UK converted to decimal in 1971, incredibly recently if you think about it.

23. Swallowed: ATE

24. "Harry Potter" reporter __ Skeeter: RITA. Compete guess, but this worked out for me.

25. Not much: JUST A TAD. Or a farthing!

27. Anthem contraction: O'ER

29. Blue, on the Danube: BLAU. Strauss' The Blue Danube used in the soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ends a little abruptly here!

31. Noir hero: 'TEC

32. Lose oomph: FLAG

34. Movie SFX: CGI

35. Purim heroine: ESTHER

39. Centers of attention: FOCI

40. What unfixed malfunctions usually do: RECUR

42. Flight-related prefix: AERO-

43. "Burnt" color: SIENNA. Could be "umber", except for here. Not enough letters!

45. Coastal bird: ERN

46. Sound of an angry exit: SLAM

47. LSU conference: SEC

48. Chicago-style pizza chain, informally: UNO'S. Uno Pizzeria and Grill. Creator of the Chicago-style deep dish pizza in 1943, causing arguments with New Yorkers ever since.

50. Education org.: P.T.A.

51. Started, as a conversation: STRUCK UP. You can strike up a conversation or a band.

55. Car dealer's abbr.: M.S.R.P.

57. Acct. that may be rolled over: I..R.A.

58. Half a numbers game: KEN. KenKen. I just tried it for the first time. Fun!

59. Seattle pro: SEAHAWK. NFL player.

62. Going back, in a way: TIME TRAVEL

65. Arch type: OGEE

66. Often harmful bacteria: E.COLI

67. Basmati, for one: RICE. Food! I love basmati, I get it in 10lb sacks from the local Indian market, way cheaper than the supermarket brands. I cooked some just last night to go with tandoori-style chicken and garlic lentils.

68. "What, will these hands __ be clean?": Lady Macbeth: NE'ER. Lady M. bemoaning the fact she can't seem to get Duncan's blood off her hands.

69. Thick: DENSE

70. "Futurama" creator Groening: MATT

71. "Baseball Tonight" channel: ESPN. ESPN started so that some people on the East Coast could watch Hartford Whalers hockey games via satellite. Look how far it's come.


1. Roxie __, "Chicago" role: HART

2. "There oughta be __": A LAW

4. Soccer superstar Lionel: MESSI. Subject of furious debates among fans - who is better, Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar?

6. Fabled also-ran: HARE

7. Hubbub: ADO

8. Xhosa's language group: BANTU

9. French holy women: SAINTES

10. Bilingual subj.: E.S.L.

11. Grand display: ÉCLAT

12. Mary-in-mourning sculpture: PIETÀ. Here's Michelangelo's original in St. Peter's in Rome:

13. Agreed (with): SIDED

21. Wagering shorthand: OTB. Off-Track Betting. There's at least one bookies on every English high street.

26. Take the role of: ACT AS

27. Does in: OFFS

28. Morlock victims: ELOI. The two races in H.G.Wells' novel "The Time Machine". Ties in nicely with 62A.

30. Memorable time: AGE

33. Infomercial brand: GINSU. Knives you can cut soup cans with. Quite why you'd want to subject your knives to that treatment I have no idea.

37. Q.E.D. word: ERAT

38. Type of tomato: ROMA. I chop a couple of 'em into my garlic lentils.

41. Spigoted server: URN. Time for tea.

44. Suit go-with: NECKTIE. Less and less nowadays. I have quite a collection of ties but rarely seem to wear one any more.

49. Fed. benefits agency: S.S.A.

51. Located: SITED

52. Jiffy: TRICE

53. Hispanic penguin in "Happy Feet": RAMON. I only know this from crosswords, but it's ingrained now.

54. Render harmless: UNARM. I prefer "disarm", but I think we've had this conversation before.

56. Lake Geneva river: RHONE. Second European river today. The Rhone valley is a beautiful part of France, and home to some great wineries.

59. Religious offshoot: SECT

60. Bawl: WEEP

61. "Ol' Man River" composer: KERN. "There's an old man called the Mississippi ..." 

63. Raised trains: ELS. I particularly associate the El with Chicago.

64. Through: VIA

Which brings us to ... the grid. See you all next time!


Notes from C.C.:
1) Dave 2 is finally back to his assisted living place today. Hopefully he'll be on the blog soon.

2) Last night I got an email from Malcolm, longtime friend of  Fermet Prime (Lorraine Foster). He told me Lorraine "fell in the night a couple of hours ago in her bathroom, it took her 3 hours before she was able to reach her phone and get the paramedics to come. She’s in a local hospital and is going to have an operation for her broken hip this evening at 9:30 (I’m writing his at 5:10 PM on Wednesday February 20, 2019)."

Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. I've asked Malcolm for an address to send Lorraine cards. Will let you know.

Feb 14, 2019

Thursday, February 14 2019 Bruce Haight

Theme: Tool Box - all the answers around the edge of the puzzle are tools, as the reveal explains:

35A. Takes a casual drive ... and a literal description of 10 puzzle answers: TOOLS AROUND

In clockwise order, starting from the top left:

1A. Queen, e.g.: RULER. Measure twice, cut once.

6A. Fell for the joke: BIT.

9A. Put away for future reference: FILE. I'm terrible at filing; if I file something away I'm almost guaranteed to forget about it.

16D. Work (out) with effort, as an agreement: HAMMER ... closely followed by ..

45D. Swindle: CHISEL

63A. Fire __: DRILL

62A. Spied: SAW

61A. Laryngitis symptom: RASP

37D. Polo need: MALLET

1D. Wi-Fi conduit: ROUTER. Any network, as a matter of fact, not just a wireless one.

Nice theme from Bruce today. Even with the puzzle completed it took me a few beats to notice all the tools around the edge of the puzzle, I was looking for entries with a tool wrapped "around" the word at first. The trick of this theme is to clue the entries other than referencing the tool itself. The only one which comes close to breaking this rule is the MALLET entry - a polo mallet is very close to the tool.

Some fresh entries in the fill including TURNOVERS, USB DRIVES, CK ONE and UPRATE. Let's see what else we've got to discuss:


13. purchase: OPERA. "The source for classical music" according to their website.

14. Sch. with a Tempe campus: A.S.U. Arizona State.

15. Flooded: AWASH

17. "Little Book of Mind-Power" author: URI GELLER. Didn't take long to guess this one once the UR was in place. Huckster of the highest order, this chap. Pretended to bend spoons all with the power of his mind.

19. Battery inventor Alessandro: VOLTA. I wonder why "volt" dropped the final "a"? After all, Ohm and Ampère kept their last letters. We should be told.

20. Stand food: TACO

21. Danish city named for a Norse god: ODENSE. Not ODESSA then, as I confused myself.

23. Place for a shot: ARM

24. Gate info: E.T.A. Estimated Time of Arrival. An aircraft arriving at the gate within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time is considered to be "on time". Incidentally, departure time is when you push back from the gate, so as long as you're off the gate, you've departed on time, even if you then spend an hour getting de-iced and another hour waiting in line to take off.

25. Conversation stumbles: ERS, along with ahs, ums and fillers "you know", "kind of" and all the other irritants.

26. Gives the nod: OK'S

27. Hasty escape: LAM. Interesting, I'd not seen the verb form like this before, I was more familiar with "on the lam".

28. Superman specialty: RESCUE

30. Wrigley Field feature: IVY. Baseball's famous Chicago landmark. If a ball gets stuck in the ivy, it's ruled a double; a runner at first can't advance beyond third base.

31. Like beds in cleaned hotel rooms: MADE

32. Peter of "9-1-1": KRAUSE. Crosses all the way. He's been seen a lot on TV, but I don't think he ever crossed my path of consciousness:

34. Tunisian currency: DINAR

37. Bearings: MIENS

39. Casual eatery: BISTRO

40. Ending to avoid?: -ANCE. I'm not a big fan of these types of fill, neither the suffix nor the prefix variants. There's a prefix example at 59A also.

41. Interject: ADD

42. Touchdown site: TARMAC

46. "Well, __-di-dah!": LAH

47. Shooting initials: SLR

48. "Jeopardy!" record-setter Jennings: KEN

49. Spa emanation: AAH

50. Source of some '60s trips: LSD

51. 1840s-'50s home to Liszt: WEIMAR

53. End of an old boast: VICI

54. Military camp: ÉTAPE. Specifially, a place to camp after a day's march. Étape is also used to describe a day's stage in a cycle race, particularly le Tour de France.

56. Luxury accommodations for bigwigs: VIP SUITES

58. Church offering: TITHE

59. Prefix with warrior: ECO-

60. 1960 Wimbledon champ Fraser: NEALE. More crosses. I'd never heard of this chap, but he's got a very impressive grand slam tournament record, not just at Wimbledon. He won the men's singles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, doubles at all four majors, and mixed doubles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open. Not bad for an amateur!


2. Raise from three to four stars, as a hotel: UPRATE. I like the word. I've seen it used more in a performance-improvement context, but it works for me here too.

3. Classic cameras: LEICAS

4. So: ERGO. Cogito, Ergo sum. I think, therefore (so) I am.

5. Singer Carly __ Jepsen: RAE. I know her from the crosswords now. Her music isn't really to my taste, but I'm sure Carly Rae doesn't care.

6. Gets thinner on top: BALDS. Balds? Nope, doesn't work for me. "He is balding" sure. "He balds?" Not likely.

7. "So THAT's what's going on here!": I SEE

8. Hoops goofs: TURNOVERS. I was trying to make AIR BALLS work somehow.


10. __ Jima: IWO

11. Space cadet's world: LA LA LAND. "And the Oscar goes to ......" Ooops!

12. Erik of "CHiPs": ESTRADA

18. Cosmetics giant: L'OREAL

22. What's up?: SKY. Cloudy skies here today.

25. Pierre's bills: EUROS

29. Designer fragrance: CK ONE. Calvin Klein cologne.

30. "To repeat ... ": I SAID ...

31. Trivial: MINOR

33. PC storage options: USB DRIVES. I tried "STICKS" first, that didn't work out so well.

34. "Hands of Stone" boxer Roberto: DURAN

35. Fortune 500 IT company: TECH DATA. I know I should have, but oddly I've never heard of this outfit. For a company with revenues last year of $37bn, that's quite a surprise.

36. Frisky whiskered critters: OTTERS. Clever, too. They've been seen to use stones as tools to open shellfish.

38. Excited: IN A STIR

41. Tap outflow: ALE

43. Tiki bar cocktail: MAI TAI. Second Thursday in a row that we're drinking mai tais.

44. Small battery: AA CELL

47. Win the first four World Series games: SWEEP. The last time it happened was 2012 when the Giants swept the Tigers.

48. "Whammo!": KAPOW!

52. Flaky mineral: MICA

53. Contender: VIER. "She is vying for the title".

55. Acidity nos.: PHS

57. German conjunction: UND. "Donner und blitz", thunder and lightning.

Here's the grid, colorfully identifying the theme entries around the edge, and with that I'm done.


Feb 7, 2019

Thursday February 7th 2019 Paul Coulter

Theme: Minor to Major - The nouns at the start of the theme entries age gracefully:

16A. Mature gentle treatment?: GOAT GLOVES. Kid Gloves

26A. Mature sprightly piano classic?: CAT ON THE KEYS. Kitten on the Keys. This was new to me. I discover it's a ragtime piece by the splendidly-named Zez Confrey.

35A. Mature young infatuation?: DOG LOVE. Puppy Love. Then-teenybopper Donny Osmond broke into the UK pop charts with this Paul Anka song which reached number 1 in 1972, much to my disgust. I was growing my hair and putting my head between the speakers listening to rock, much to the disgust of my father. Happy days!

45A. Mature news newbie?: BEAR REPORTER. Cub Reporter. I like that old reporters are sometimes described as "grizzly" which aligns nicely with this theme entry.

59A. Mature "Agnus Dei" translation?: SHEEP OF GOD. Lamb of God. Food! Wait, no, sorry.

Nicely done by Paul. It was the newshound entry that tipped me off as to the theme, so a quick job was made of the blanks in the themers to that point. Plenty of sparkly fill to keep us happy too.


1. Correspondence sign-off: BEST. "Best wishes, Steve". What happened to worst and average wishes?

5. Musical series set at McKinley High: GLEE. Didn't see the show, but it pretty much filled itself in.

9. "Wealth of Nations" author Smith: ADAM. The father of economic theory. Published in 1776 this was required reading in my Economics class. We all read the Cliff's Notes version, naturally.

13. Pot for paella: OLLA. Crying foul here. Nothing wrong with the word, but the clue. Paella is made in a pan, not a pot which is more for casseroles.

14. Speaks up?: PRAYS

15. Bit of folklore: TALE

18. B'way hit signs: SROS. What? Is this a thing? "Standing Room Only" in the singular. As an aside, do they still have standing areas in Broadway theaters? I guess it depends on the production.

19. News letters: UPI. Our old (or new friend from last week) United Press International.

20. "Have some": EAT!

21. Decides not to dele: STETS. Used as a verb - I stet, you stet, he/she/it stets.

22. Bodega miss: SENORITA

25. Roe-producing fish: SHAD

30. Canaanite deity: BAAL

32. Half a cocktail: TAI. The Tai-mai. Lime juice, pineapple, orgeat syrup, curaçao, rum. You mix the ingredients in the reverse order for a Mai-tai. Just kidding.

33. Handler of "Sex and the City": EVAN

34. Costa del __: SOL

39. Taking a sick day, presumably: ILL. Because "ditching work to go to the beach" doesn't fit.

40. Trivial, as talk: IDLE

42. Versailles ruler: ROI

43. Mouselike animal: VOLE

49. Salty margarita glass spots: RIMS

50. Low-alcohol beverage: NEAR-BEER. Beer-flavored soda in other words. Sounds very appetizing.

54. Dries gently: BLOTS. Here's an great example of how crossword clues make you re-adjust your thinking. "Dries" in the passive voice leads you to the likes of "evaporates". In the active voice you find yourself blotting a spill. Little clue, small word, great stuff.

56. French menu word: JUS. One of my pet peeves is hearing someone saying "with au jus". Steak au jus already means "with the juice". You don't say "steak with au poivre" so quit with the with. So to speak. Grumble over.

57. Singer Grande's perfume brand: ARI. Ariana was in the news last week showing off her new tattoo, which was intended to be "7 Rings", the title of one of her hits, in Japanese. Unfortunately, the tattoo artist missed out a character, with the result that she was sporting something that read "Small charcoal grill". She tried to fix it, and today now reads "Small charcoal grill finger ♡". She's getting tired of people laughing about it.

58. "__ move": YOUR

63. Air: TUNE Another echo from last week. Do you think you don't know "Londonderry Air"? Yes you do.

64. Word with offering or officer: PEACE

65. "Who __ knows?": ELSE. If more than one person knows, it's no longer a secret.

66. Scandinavian literary work: EDDA

67. Lie next to: ABUT

68. Wedding couple?: DEES. Double-D. Nice clue.


1. Phony: BOGUS

2. Run secretly to the chapel: ELOPE

3. Dispatched, as a dragon: SLAIN. Or a Jabberwock:

And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? 
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy! 
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” 
      He chortled in his joy. 

Lewis Carroll, "Jabberwocky"

4. Ankle pic: TAT. Painful spot for a tattoo, I'm told.

5. Cavern: GROTTO

6. Brit's facilities: LAV. Tried LOO, was wrong.

7. Bud on a spud: EYE. The start of a new potato plant.

8. Snaky curve: ESS

9. On the line: AT STAKE

10. Stunt performer, say: DAREDEVIL. I get queasy watching people do things at a height, just watching gives me vertigo.

11. Boatloads: A LOT

12. Food in a hall: MESS

14. Braid: PLAIT

17. Notable Ford of the '70s: GERALD. Of course, I was on the Mustang muse at first. Nice clue.

21. "__ Persisted": children's book about inspirational women: SHE

23. Andean tuber: OCA

24. Pit-digging insect: ANTLION. I've never come across this little beastie before. The larva are the pit-diggers to trap their prey. The adults are pretty lacewing types.

25. Handmade blade: SHIV. Especially one made in prison.

27. Eastern "way": TAO

28. Second-oldest Ivy: YALE. Here's another one you might just pre-print in the grid with a clue like this. How many Ivies have four letters? Just one.

29. NBC show since 1975: SNL

30. Portend: BODE

31. Versatile: ALL-AROUND. To me, this has one specific use - it relates to the gymnastic competition. I'd call someone versatile as an "all-rounder". Slightly different.

34. Bro or sis: SIB.

36. Rich rocks: ORES

37. Political initials since 1884: GOP. I started toying with presidents' initials, then the penny dropped with a clang.

38. Exceedingly: EVER SO

41. Asmara's nation: ERITREA. Asmara is the capital. Did I know that? No, nary a clue. Thank you, crosses. I'll try and remember for next time. I won't though.

44. Poetic sphere: ORB

46. Rental ad abbr.: RMS. Rooms.

47. Veto: REJECT

48. Brownish gray: TAUPE

51. Birdie topper: EAGLE. In the golf world, a birdie is one under par, an eagle is two under on a hole.

52. Jagged, as a leaf's edge: EROSE. My word of the day, I think. File under "new vocabulary".

53. Carnival attractions: RIDES. 

54. Data unit: BYTE. I like to think the Apple logo has a "byte" taken out of it. I know, I'm a geek.

55. Musician's forte?: LOUD. The pianoforte, to give it its "grand" name, is literally a soft-loud.

59. Place for a chemical peel: SPA. It sounds so brutal. A peel is horrible enough thought, then you add chemicals to the process. No thank you.

60. Lang. of the Torah: HEB. 

61. __ minérale: French spring supply: EAU. Mineral water to the non-francophones.

62. Gratified: FED. I can see this being a trap word for an ESL speaker - being "fed up" doesn't mean you're full of gratification.

And on that note, I'm fed by this puzzle. Here's the grid, and here's me saying toodle-pip.


Jan 31, 2019

Thursday, January 31st 2019 Ed Sessa

Theme: Snow Day - the theme comes from the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening":

19A. With 63-Across, ending lines of a poem by 72-Across: AND MILES TO GO

63A. See 19-Across: BEFORE I SLEEP

and the unifier:

72A. Poet who used the starts of 24-, 41- and 55-Across to describe the woods: FROST. Robert Frost, of course. The anniversary of his death was on Tuesday, I wonder if that had anything to do with the puzzle appearing this week?

This then kicks off a new set of theme answers:

24A. Alice Sebold novel, with "The": LOVELY BONES

41A. Harmful spells, in the Potterverse: DARK ARTS

55A. Really cool place?: DEEP FREEZER

Slick puzzle from Mr. Sessa. I was impressed with how the reveal of the author's name sent you back to look at the three seemingly-unrelated entries.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

You might also have noticed that the grid is stretched to 16x15 to accommodate the 12-letter theme entries at 19A & 63A.

There's a couple of nice long downs to tie this all together. I enjoyed the solve today; I couldn't recall the final lines of the poem and so had to unpick those entries letter-by-letter. Let's see what else we can find:


1. Word that appears four times in a 1963 film title: MAD. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. If I listed the stars credited, I'd be here until Christmas. There's a lot.

4. Roof tiles: SLATES

10. Deadens, as a piano string: DAMPS

15. Media agcy.: U.P.I. United Press International, UNIPRESS in the days of reporting news via telegram.

16. Roadster in the Henry Ford Museum: MODEL A. The museum is wonderful, I had the opportunity to visit a few years ago when I was doing some business with Ford in Dearborn. My rental car on that trip was a fire-engine red VW Jetta. I was actually embarrassed when I drove onto the parking lot - my highly-visible car was the only non-Ford or Lincoln to be seen for miles.

17. How sardines are packed: IN OIL I prefer them packed in brine, the fish is oily enough already.

18. Mythical bird: ROC

21. Hydrocarbon group: ALKYL. The "Y" almost had me stumped, I could not for the life of me remember the crossing "YEGG". I stared it down in the end with an alphabet run.

23. 1995-2006 New York governor George: PATAKI

27. The W in kWh: WATT. Kilowatt Hours.

31. Athlete's peak performance: A GAME

32. Wines and dines: REGALES. I didn't associate this at all. I'd use "regale" to describe telling an entertaining story. I didn't know the alternative definition.

34. Thrill: BANG

36. Credits list: CAST

39. Place for spectacles: ARENA

40. __ Navy: discount retailer: OLD

44. Gen-__: X'ER. Roughly speaking, born from the mid-60's thru the 70's between the boomers and the millennials.

45. Like universal blood donors: O TYPE. Shouldn't it be TYPE O? You don't have an "A Model" Ford or a "Type E" Jaguar. Just sayin'

47. Nantes notion: IDÉE. French.

48. Drill parts: BITS

49. Symbolized: TOKENED. This is my clunker of the day.

52. Roof features: EAVES

54. WWI battle river: YSER

60. "Indubitably!": IT IS SO!

62. Hot pot spot: STOVE

68. __ Van Winkle: RIP

69. Tolkien ringbearer: FRODO. All Sam Gamgee seemed to say in the movies was "Mr. Frodo! Mr. Frodo!" It got a little wearisome.

70. Tell: RELATE

71. Sheep's call: BAA

73. Old-Timers' Day VIP: EX STAR. Hmmm. Not convinced by this one either.

74. Unspecified amount: ANY


1. Diego Rivera creation: MURAL. According to Wikipedia, his full name is Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez. Not sure quite how accurate that is, but I'm repeating what I read. Amazing artist.

2. Speed skater Ohno: APOLO

3. "Mary Poppins" and "Mary Poppins Returns" actor: DICK VAN DYKE. I wonder if his cockney accent has improved in the new movie? It was pretty shocking in the original.

4. Component of the "at" sign: SMALL "A"

5. Chaney of horror: LON

6. Toss in: ADD

7. Beat: TEMPO

8. Cuban boy in 2000 headlines: ELIAN

9. One curing meat: SALTER. When I've got my salting boots on, I use Prague Powder #1, aka "pink salt". Pastrami and Irish bacon. Yum!

10. Saucer, e.g.: DISK. I went for DISH at first, which made a very odd-looking NYC mayor at 23-across.

11. Like many '60s-'70s protests: ANTI-WAR

12. __ juice: MOO. Cow's milk.

13. Trough guy: PIG. Very nice clue

14. Road sign caution: SLO. SLO - MISSING "W" AHEAD.

20. Move gently: EASE

22. Safecracker: YEGG. With the Y cross in ALKYL, came close to foxing me.

25. Initial disco hit?: Y.M.C.A.

26. Smokey, for one: BEAR

28. 1964 Anthony Quinn role: ALEXIS ZORBA. Here's a nice rendition of the famous dance, unsuccessfully attempted by Greek taverna-tourists ever since. It seems to be a law in tourist towns in Greece that the taverna plays this at least twice a night.

29. Religious belief: TENET

30. Dynasts of old Russia: TSARS. TS or CZ? Wait for a cross.

33. What H, O or N may represent: GAS. Hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.

34. Pirate riches: BOOTY

35. Choir group: ALTOS

37. __ lift: SKI

38. Tiny bit: TAD

41. Lair: DEN

42. Great Barrier __: REEF. You might as well print the letters with the grid for this one. The same might be said for SKI LIFT too.

43. Hot streak: TEAR

46. Stretches: PERIODS

48. Sweet root: BEET. Sweet? I'd call them more peppery than sweet.

50. Actress Falco: EDIE

51. Itch: DESIRE

53. Evening star: VESPER. The planet Venus when it appears in the evening sky. The Romans named the morning incarnation of Venus as "Lucifer" even though they recognized it was the same celestial body. The Vesper is also the cocktail that James Bond orders "shaken, not stirred". Gin, vodka and Kina Lillet.

56. Southend-on-Sea's county: ESSEX. Easy for me, probably not for the majority of you. Dick Van Dyke's cockney character would call it "Sarf-end"

57. Focus group surveys: POLLS

58. Water brand: EVIAN

59. Give back: REPAY

61. Harness race pace: TROT

63. Fave pal: BFF. Bestie or"Best Friend Forever".

64. Be in the wrong: ERR

65. Egg __ yung: FOO. Foo! I mean Food!

66. "Mangia!": EAT!

67. Zeta follower: ETA. The initial reaction is that zeta is the last letter in the Greek alphabet, but it's not by a long way - a long way from omega.

With that, stick a fork in me, I'm done. Here's the grid:


Jan 17, 2019

Thursday, January 15 2019 Jeffrey Wechsler

Theme: Axed - The five theme entries all relate to our tree-felling brethren:

17A. Lumberjack's favorite pirate phrase?: SHIVER ME TIMBERS. Walking the plank springs to mind here too.

22A. Lumberjack's main interest in naval records?: CAPTAIN'S LOG. Did you know that the Enterprise had two captains in the first season of Star Trek - Captain James T. Kirk and Captain Slog? He made the opening announcement in every episode "Captain Slog, Stardate 22117.1 ....."

36A. Lumberjack's way to punch an opponent?: RIGHT IN THE CHOPS.

45A. Lumberjack's preferred ABC News reporter?: DIANE SAWYER

55A. Lumberjack's reaction to an overly hard crossword?: I'M REALLY STUMPED. Happily, I didn't echo the lumberjack today.

Smooth theme today and with a lot of theme squares in the grid. Often that density can lead to a somewhat scrappy fill, but Jeffrey managed to stay away from the clunky stuff for the most part.

Let's take a mosey through the rest:


1. Fear of spiders, usually: PHOBIA. Arachno. Me. Those little buggers bother me.

7. Google Earth predecessors: ATLASES

14. Aesthetic feature?: SILENT A. This didn't really work for me, I sound the "A", more like "ace-thetic". I'm not sure if that's a British English thing or just me mispronouncing.

16. Hillary supporters: SHERPAS. Sir Edmund Hillary, who jointly made the first ascent to the summit of Everest back in 1953 with Sherpa Tenzing.

19. Theater award: TONY. The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre. Note the spelling of the last word! I go to the movie theater, but to the theatre to see a stage show.

20. Actor Holm: IAN. A good excuse to play the theme from "Chariots of Fire", Ian Holm took the role of athletics coach Sam Mussabini in the movie.

21. Slender Olive: OYL

27. Eero Saarinen's father: ELIEL. Crosses all the way! He was an architect too, I discover.

30. Many Sinatra recordings: LPS

31. Pipe shape: ELL

32. Quick cuts: TRIMS

33. Gig gear: AMPS

35. "__ pinch of ... ": recipe words: ADD A

39. Reverberate: ECHO

40. Baltic capital: RIGA

41. Store __: HOURS

42. Small matter: NIT. Very few in the crossword today.

43. Toon crime-fighter __ Possible: KIM. I didn't know this, but it was a fun guess that made me grin.

44. Check phrase: PAY TO

49. Civil War soldier: REB

50. __ of the woods: mushroom type: HEN. Such an odd name. Funniest-looking hen I've ever seen:

51. Athlete who wrote a history of African-American athletes: ASHE. Tennis legend Arthur.

60. Track foundation: ROAD BED. Usually ballast. They call it a track bed in the UK because, well, it's the bed for the track. Odd folk, those Brits.

61. French's product: MUSTARD. Where would we be without French's mustard on a hot dog? I do use Coleman's English Mustard for dipping asian foods like dim sum though - it's got a nice fiery quality to it.

62. Bottomless pits: ABYSSES

63. Ignore: PASS BY


1. Sideways whisper: PSST!

2. Crackers once sold in a red box: HI-HO. I tried HO-HO for absolutely no good reason and was happy until SOLENTA looked odd.

3. Actress Lena: OLIN. She crops up in the crosswords quite frequently. Swedish actress. She probably makes the "Shortz List" of a celebrity who appears more often in the crossword than in the regular paper. ERLE Stanley Gardner leads the list.

4. Quail group: BEVY

5. Having four sharps: IN E

6. Pertaining to a heart chamber: ATRIAL

7. PEI setting: AST. Prince Edward Island up there on Atlantic Standard Time.

8. Meteorologist's scale: Abbr.: THI. This one I had to look up once I'd solved the puzzle. Temperature-Humidity Index. Seems a tad obscure.

9. Veal piccata chef's needs: LEMONS. I wanted CAPERS so badly that it took me ages to see this one.

10. Contrary to popular belief, its name is not derived from its trademark sandwich: ARBY'S. The popular belief is that "RB's" is from "Roast Beef". It actually comes from Leroy and Forrest Raffel, the founders - the Raffel Brothers.

11. Described in detail: SPELLED OUT

12. "For all in vain comes counsel to his __": Shak.: EAR. The Duke of York, advising John of Gaunt to keep his breath for staying alive, rather than giving advice which will be dutifully ignored by Richard II,

13. Old draft org.: SSS. Selective Service System. The website is still up and running though, seems odd.

15. Jane Hamilton's "__ of the World": A MAP

18. Med. specialist: E.N.T.

22. "__ la vie!": C'EST

23. A, as in Athens: ALPHA

24. __ dixit: unproven claim: IPSE

25. One who knows the ropes: OLD PRO

26. Tumbler, e.g.: GLASS

27. 13th-century Norwegian king: ERIC II

28. Sensor that detects objects using closely spaced beams: LIGHT ARRAY. This was tough to parse - I had RAY in place and tried to find some kind of ray to fit.

29. Texter's modest intro: IMHO

32. How things are going: TREND

33. Jungian concept: ANIMA

34. Corp. get-together: MTG.

35. Mate's greeting: AHOY! Lots of nautical timber-shivering and hailing going on today.

37. Bearded flower: IRIS

38. Burn a bit: CHAR

43. Food on sticks: KEBABS. Food! Also kabobs, kebobs and any variation between. The Kebab Machine was a chain of fast-food places in London (a couple still exist) which were open late at night to catch the pub crowd turning out after 11PM closing. The doner kebab in a pita bread with shredded cabbage and hot sauce was a favorite. I woke up with one stuck to my face once, but that's a story for another day.

44. Repressed: PENT UP

46. Cries out for: NEEDS

47. "Please explain": WHY? Parental reply: "Because."

48. Cowpoke's polite assent: YES'M

51. Tsp. and oz.: AMTS

52. Places to unwind: SPAS

53. Cilantro, e.g.: HERB

54. Watery swirl: EDDY

55. Nest egg acronym: IRA. Three musicians in close proximity: Herb Alpert, Nelson Eddy and Ira Gershwin.

56. __ rule: MOB

57. Novelist Harper: LEE

58. Mormon initials: LDS. Latter Day Saints.

59. Mex. neighbor: U.S.A.

Picket line duty for me again this morning.

Here's the grid:


Jan 10, 2019

Thursday January 10th 2019 David Poole

Theme: Read My Lips. As the reveal explains:

59A. Common campaign promise, and what four black squares in this puzzle create: TAX BREAK.

Four pairs of theme entries conceal a type of tax, broken up by the intervening black square:

17A Pinch pennies: SCRIMP.
18A. Strictly religious: ORTHODOX. Import tax.

23A. Toklas' life partner: STEIN.
24A Cupid cohort: COMET. Two of Santa's reindeer. I was looking for something to do with Eros at first. Income tax.

38. Lowbrow stuff: KITSCH.
40A. 58-Across type meaning "black dragon": OOLONG Learning moment regarding the tea.  School tax.

50A. Hallowed: BLEST.
52A. Starters: A-TEAM. Another little misdirection. I was trying to come up with a word for "appetizers".

It's a little easier to see the taxes looking at the grid at the foot of the blog, but there you have it.

This is one of those themes where it's extremely unlikely you're going to spot it while you're mid-solve, the challenge is to look back over the puzzle once you're done until you get the "Aha!" moment. Nicely done by David. Let's look over the fill:


1. Online shopping units: ORDERS. I get it, but "online" seems a little specific for something very generic.

7. 8 Series automaker: BMW. The base model for 2019 sets you back a cool $113,000 before you start adding upgrades. It's a good-looking car though, just a little outside my price range.

10. Comics possum: POGO. Cute little critter. I wasn't sure of the name, but the crosses quickly helped out.

14. Eagerly accept: LEAP AT.

15. Dinner table boors: REACHERS. Plain bad manners. My mom would have had a fit if any of us had tried that, along with eating off our knife, eating peas using the "shovel" technique and a myriad of other dire sins at the table.

19. __ out a living: EKE.

20. "My bad": I ADMIT IT. Difficult to parse at first.

22. "Kidding!": NOT!

28. "The Hunger Games" president Coriolanus __: SNOW. I think I should know this by now, it's pretty common in the puzzles Crosses to the rescue! Speaking of snow, did you see that Robert Frost's "Stopping by woods on a snowy evening" is now out of copyright, along with hundreds thousands of other works across the creative spectrum?

30. Flaps: ADOS.

32. "A Little Nightmare Music" composer P.D.Q. __: BACH. PDQ was my parent's version of stat! -pretty darn quick". This is an opera in one act by Peter Schickele - PDQ Bach is his pseudonym.

33. Hot under the collar: IRATE.

36. Canadian coin: LOONIE.

41. Disney's Montana: HANNAH.

42. Lamb's lament: BLEAT. I thought about Charles Lamb as my thought process's first port of call. I didn't stay there too long. "Lawyers, I suppose, were children once".

43. See 27-Down: URGE.

44. Whole lot: SCAD.

46. Hamburger's home: HAUS. The citizen, not the sandwich.

55. Durham sch.: U.N.H. University of New Hampshire. I got all confused here, jumping in with UNC, which was all kinds of wrong. Firstly, Duke is the school in Durham, NC - UNC is at nearby Chapel Hill.

56. '70s-'90s Pontiacs: SUNBIRDS. Why did I go for Sunfire? Some missteps for me today.

58. See 40-Across: TEA.

62. Tailor's measure: INSEAM.

64. Person-to-person: ONE-ON-ONE.

65. Rather thick: OBTUSE. I see obtuse more as being "stubbornly refusing to understand" than "thick". The dictionary doesn't agree with me though.

66. See 38-Down: MARX. Another one to annoy the x-ref dislikers.  Here's the memorial in the "new" cemetery. The "old" cemetery is across the road and is a nature reserve. It's a beautiful place.

67. Frowny-faced: SAD.

68. Chicken: SCARED.


1. Mary-Kate, Ashley and Elizabeth: OLSENS.

2. S'pose: RECKON.

3. "Do I __ eat a peach?": Eliot: DARE TO.

4. Prefix with graph or gram: EPI-

5. "Groundhog Day" director Harold: RAMIS.

6. Mid-Mar. honoree: ST PAT.

7. Trite saying: BROMIDE.

8. Sheep prized for its wool: MERINO.

9. Power unit: WATT.

10. Kiosk with a camera: PHOTO BOOTH.

11. Ref. work whose 2018 Word of the Year is "toxic": OED. Toxic environment, toxic workplace, toxic masculinity all got a good workout in 2018, along with the environmental toxicities.

12. Miracle-__: GRO.

13. Mac platform: OS X.

16. In vogue: CHIC.

21. First word in titles by Arthur Miller and Agatha Christie: DEATH. Death of a Salesman, and Death on the Nile for example.

25. Flutist Herbie: MANN.

26. Vaper's need, informally: E-CIG.

27. With 43-Across, feeling often fought: THE. The urge.  This one seems a little forced to me, but here it is.

29. British courtroom fixture: WITNESS BOX. I hadn't really considered that the witness box was typically British. I guess you take the witness stand here. Here's the interior of the Old Bailey in London, more properly the Central Criminal Court, scene of some famous trials:

31. Blackthorn plum: SLOE.

34. Bloemfontein's land: Abbr.: R.S.A. Republic of South Africa.

35. Rhine whines: ACHS.

37. Ipanema greeting: OLA. Portuguese drops the "H" in "Hola!".

38. With 66-Across, German philosopher buried in London's Highgate Cemetery: KARL.

39. "Bus Stop" dramatist: INGE. William Inge, the playwright. The 1956 movie of the same name with Marilyn Monroe was only loosely based on it.

40. Not as current: OLDER.

41. Busy airport: HUB.

42. Hand-dyed with wax: BATIKED.

45. Place to put on a suit: CABANA. A bathing suit. Cute clue.

47. Filmmaker with a unique style: AUTEUR.

48. Anxiety: UNEASE.

49. Disgraced: SHAMED.

51. Go sour: TURN.

53. "Hasta mañana": ADIOS.

54. "The Beat with Ari Melber" network: MSNBC. I never watch it. Seems popular though.

57. Avant-garde sorts: NEOS.

59. Hiddleston who plays Loki in Marvel films: TOM. Thank you, crosses. I'm pretty bad with proper names in film and TV.

60. Santa __: ANA. A sure-fire way to start an argument among southern Californians is to aver that the "Santa Ana Winds" are not Santa Anas at all, but "Satanás" from the Spanish for "winds".

61. Boomer's kid: XER. Generation X.

63. RR stop: STA.

Which brings us to the grid, laid out in all its colorful glory with the tax breaks. Hasta!