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

Mar 15, 2018

Thursday, March 15 2018 Bruce Haight

Theme: Beware the herds of March. A hidden word theme from Bruce, with "herd" being the concealed noun, as the reveal explains:

61A. Certain investor ... and, based on the word hidden in each, what 17-, 26-, 37- or 50-Across is? : STOCKHOLDER

And we have:

17A. Dual-purpose machine : WASHER/DRYER. I had one in my London flat, there was no room for anything bigger. When I moved to the US I was taken about by the size of the appliances, particularly that you could fit more than a six-pack of beer and a pint of milk in the fridge.

26A. End of the end of "Gone With the Wind" : ANOTHER DAY. Tomorrow is ..

37A. Lower : FURTHER DOWN. Tricky clue, could be something to do with a cow, something to do with a sail, all kinds of options.

50A. Place to order matzo ball soup : KOSHER DELI. "All kosher delis are Jewish, but not all Jewish delis are kosher". Discuss. My favorite, Katz's in New York is "kosher style".

Straightforward theme from Bruce today, the theme entries are all solid and there's some nice fill too. Let's dig in and see what we've got:


1. Croquet surfaces : LAWNS. Did you know that the full name of Wimbledon (not Wimbleton, please) where the tennis championships are held is "The All-England Wimbledon Tennis and Croquet Club?" Wimbledon is a great place. There's a golf course I've played on Wimbledon Common where golfers have to wear a red shirt or sweater so that those strolling on the Common can see them coming and be alert for miss-hit balls whistling around their ears.

6. Chic : SMART

11. Christopher A. Wray's org. : F.B.I.

14. Roundish : OVATE

15. Course without much challenge : EASY "A"

16. Neurotic cartoon dog : REN and his buddy Stimpy.

19. Trauma ctrs. : E.R.S

20. Airport limo driver's concern, briefly : E.T.A. I'm glad I didn't have a limo driver meeting me at LAX on Tuesday from Chicago. There was an engineering problem with the plane that needed to be fixed, then a snowstorm that suspended operations for a while, then a de-icing, then Air Force One was flying into LAX which always causes delays for commerical traffic, then we had to wait 20 minutes for a gate to open up. The joys of travel. Added up to about three hours late. I've had worse.

21. "Later, dude" : PEACE

22. Scrawny : GAUNT

24. One in the woods? : BABE. I had "TREE" first. I was wrong, obviously.

28. Water filter brand : BRITA

30. Socialite adopted by the media : "IT" GIRL

31. In-house trial : TEST RUN

36. Cool drink : ADE

40. Court org. : A.B.A. American Basketball Association which merged with the NBA in 1976. Coincidentally I took this picture at the NBA office in Secaucus a couple of weeks ago of a poster which shows a few of the old ABA franchises. Miami Floridians, Oakland Oaks anyone?

42. Shut the door on : EXCLUDE

43. "How pathetic!" : SO LAME!

46. "Tree of Smoke" novelist Johnson : DENIS. Unknown to me, thank you, crosses.

55. Facebook entry : POST

56. Yarn coil : SKEIN

57. Words of urgency : I MUST. There was a breast augmentation exerciser marketed in the UK when I was growing up (I'm being serious) which had the advertising tag line "I Must, I Must, Improve My Bust". I learned this from reading my mom's copy of "Woman's Own" magazine.

59. WWII battle site, for short : IWO. Jima.

60. Rock concert effect : FOG

64. Tokyo-born artist : ONO. Yoko. Food! Ono is also an alternative name for the Hawai'ian wahoo fish.

65. Jazz pianist Chick : COREA

66. Flash of light : GLEAM

67. Word with cell or cent : RED

68. Vacuum attachments : HOSES

69. Like R.L. Stine stories : SCARY. "The Stephen King of children's writing". He looks pleasant enough.


1. Serious state of decline : LOW EBB

2. Personification : AVATAR

3. Pungent condiment : WASABI. Most wasabi you find is simply horseradish with a green food coloring. I get the genuine stuff from my local Japanese market, the flavor is a little more subtle.

4. __ degree : NTH

5. Flow slowly : SEEP

6. Four-door ride, usually : SEDAN. They call 'em "saloons" in the UK.

7. Call in a pool game : MARCO. Took me a while here. I was thinking bank shot, swerve, massé, something along the billiards lines.

8. Until now : AS YET

9. Manhattan liquor : RYE

10. Walmart rival : TARGET

11. Like some revealing slips? : FREUDIAN. Not wardrobe malfunctions.

12. Name associated with alpine rescues : BERNARD. St. Bernard rescue dogs. Don't forget the schnapps!

13. Fashion magazine : IN STYLE

18. Actor Stephen : REA

23. Tango land: Abbr. : ARG. Don't cry for me.

25. Words to a traitor : ET TU? Very apt for today.

27. Vishnu worshiper : HINDU

29. Fizzy prefix : AER-

32. Take the wheel : STEER

33. Appreciative text : THX

34. __ hall : REC

35. Bus. card address : U.R.L. Universal Resource Locator.

37. Baal : FALSE GOD

38. Like 2017 : ODD. 2017 was so last year. Odd number.

39. Lose it, in a way : WEEP

40. Requests : ASKS FOR

41. Trilogy starter : BOOK ONE

44. Sushi fish : AHI

45. Decent sort : MENSCH

47. "Darned if I know" : NO IDEA

48. "Cross my heart!" : I SWEAR!

49. Tempestuous : STORMY

51. Some designer gowns : DIORS

52. Award show VIP : EMCEE

53. Haas of "Witness" : LUKAS. First came to notice playing the role of the Amish boy in this movie. He's had a pretty successful acting and music career since. I'm not sure this is the most flattering picture though:

58. Outfits : TOGS

62. And : TOO

63. Business letters : LLC. Limited Liability Company.

And - the grid.


Notes from C.C.:

Argyle had surgery yesterday. He's stable right now. I'll let you know more information soon. Please continue keeping him in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you!

Mar 8, 2018

Thursday March 8th 2018 Brian Thomas

Theme: The Shape of Water - Best Picture Oscar shout-out! H2O is the theme, the entries moving from "H" to "O", left-to-right.

18A. *Hobbyist's broadcasting equipment : HAM RADIO "describes the use of radio frequency spectrum for purposes of non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, private recreation, radiosport, contesting, and emergency communication." So now we know, which just begs the question - what is "radiosport"?

27A. *Drama in the Nielsen top 10 four times during the '70s : HAWAII FIVE-O. "Book 'em Danno. Murder One". Here are the opening credits, containing at least two continuity goofs.

47A. *Ball of fire : HUMAN DYNAMO. I don't think this comic book character scaled the dizzy heights of the other superheroes from Marvel and D.C. Comics:

60A. *"Oh boy, it's starting!" : HERE WE GO! British soccer fans would sing this to the tune of "Stars and Stripes Forever". "Here we go, here we go, here we go, here we go, here we go, here we go-oh". Repeat ad nauseam.

69A. Liquid whose chemical formula is a homophonic hint to the answers to starred clues : WATER

Neat puzzle today from Brian - one of those simple yet satisfying themes which almost make you wonder why you didn't think of it yourself. The theme entries are nice and fresh, and there are some lovely longer entries in the downs which I always enjoy. Let's explore the fill:


1. Vaccine pioneer Salk : JONAS. I confidently had JONAH, which had me wondering what "HIN" was doing when that showed up.

6. Biblical verb : HATH. Went with HAST. Should have waited.

10. Sever, with "off" : LOP

13. "The Good Wife" wife : ALICIA. Thank you, crosses. I'm hopeless with most TV and movie-related fill.

15. Irrawaddy River locale : ASIA. Myanmar, formerly Burma. My father was posted to Burma for part of WWII, he spoke fondly about the country, even though he wasn't there in exactly the best circumstances.

16. Hubbub : ADO

17. Grilled sandwich : PANINI. Panini are also a company that publishes sports stickers and trading cards. I'm not quite sure how, but I got sucked into collecting all the players, badges and stadia of the last soccer World Cup in 2014. It became quite an adventure.

20. Checked out : EYED

21. Gather : REAP

23. Domestic sock eater? : DRYER. I've got one brown sock sitting lonely and forlorn on the top of my dresser right now. I didn't even know I had brown socks.

24. Storied climber : JILL. Heading up the hill with her compadre Jack. I'm still confused as to why you would head up a hill to collect water, surely you're more likely to find it in the valley below? The things that keep me awake at night ..

26. Little limb : TWIG

32. Special __ : OPS

35. Mets modifier of 1969 : AMAZIN' They won the World Series in only their eighth season as a Major League Baseball franchise. I was at MLB HQ last week - here's part of the main lobby:

36. Noggin : BEAN

37. Case in Lat. grammar : DAT. Dative. In order - nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative. Thank you, grammar school Latin class.

38. Twit : DITZ

39. Cuts and pastes, say : EDITS

41. Trellis climber : VINE

42. Corner PC key : ESC Didn't even have to look! What does a Mac have in the corner?

43. Expert : WHIZ

44. Mysterious girl on "Stranger Things" : ELEVEN. Thanks again, crosses.

46. "Zip it!" : SHH!

49. "No __!": "Sure!" : PROB!

51. Lose one's coat : SHED

52. Moves to the melody : SWAYS

54. "__ Encounter": SeaWorld show : ORCA. A somewhat discredited destination now.

56. Shakespearean "You as well?" : ET TU? Brutus becomes Brute in the vocative. Latin class today.

62. First words : INTROS

64. Muffin grain : OAT

65. Believe : HOLD

66. Wind farm blades : ROTORS

67. Like some grins : WRY. Also broad grins. Any other offers of grin descriptors?

68. People : ONES. What? This is obscure, to say the least.


1. Zinger : JAPE

2. Body wash brand : OLAY. I didn't know this was a body wash, I only know the brand for face cream.

3. Largest single-digit square : NINE. One, four and nine.

4. Genre incorporating elements of funk and hip-hop : ACID JAZZ. New to me. Fresh fill to the LAT.

5. Transgression : SIN

6. "LOL" : HA HA

7. "Right away!" : ASAP!

8. Dickens boy : TIM. Tiny Tim, a character in the novel "A Christmas Carol".

9. Taxing and successful : HARD WON

10. Coventry rider : LADY GODIVA. Here's a statue representing the legendary ride in the city itself.

11. Dog that licks Garfield : ODIE

12. Low-quality : POOR

14. Where many missed connections occur : AIRLINE HUB. I''m generally pretty lucky making my connections. I came close to missing my flight to Delhi last month, my inbound from LAX to Newark arrived almost 90 minutes late, eight of us were running through the airport from one end of Terminal C to the other. No chance of that today, I'm on an up-and-back to San Francisco.

19. MLB's D-backs : ARI. Arizona on scoreboards.

22. 2003 holiday film : ELF

25. IV lead? : III. Roman numeral progression, I, II, III, IV. Nice clue.

26. Bouffant feature : TEASED HAIR

27. Flame-haired villain in Disney's "Hercules" : HADES. More help from the crosses.

28. Mennonite sect : AMISH

29. Super Bowl gathering, e.g. : WATCH PARTY. I think this expression is new to me. I've heard of a gamewatch event, but not a watch party. Fresh fill, this hasn't been used in the LAT before.

30. Mediterranean vacation island : IBIZA. A popular destination beginning in the 80's for house music aficionados. Most of the nightclubs play house.

31. Zoo doc : VET

33. "The Hunger Games" land : PANEM. Thank you, crosses.

34. __ pad : STENO

40. Barely lit : DIM

41. Blood feud : VENDETTA

43. List of notables : WHO'S WHO. Most industries have a "vanity" Who's Who publication that you can pay a fee to have your profile included.

45. Soap chemical : LYE

48. Defense advisory gp. : N.S.C. National Security Council.

50. __ whiskey : RYE

52. Thing to put on : SHOW

53. Put on : WEAR

54. Look bad? : OGLE. Fun clue. I think I might have written it as "Bad look".

55. Slender cylinders : RODS

57. Budweiser Clydesdales' pace : TROT

58. Shredded : TORE

59. TASS country : USSR. The news agency TASS from the now-defunct USSR

61. Many years : EON

63. "Spring the trap!" : NOW!

I think that's it from me today. I just need to post the grid and I'm finished!


Mar 1, 2018

Thursday, March 1 2018 Craig Stowe

Theme: Monty Python's Flying Circus - The Man Who Speaks in Anagrams.

OK, so strictly speaking these are not anagrams, they are scrambles, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to link a sketch from the classic comedy.

Back on topic, as the reveal explains:

62A. Whole new person who can literally be found in the answers to starred clues: CHANGED MAN. 

This picture is a shot of a competitor in annual TT motorcycle races on the Siel fo Amn. The road course can unscramble a rider as surely as you can unscramble the name of the island.

As we work our way down the theme entries, we find that each man has a MAN scramble in his name, and the first clue has "Man" to start, just for fun.

17A. *Man Booker Prize winner for "Life of Pi" : YANN MARTEL. Great book, on my all-time favorites list.

27A. *Star of '70s TV's "Good Times" : JOHN AMOS. Who? Thank you, crosses.

47A. *Actor in two "Jurassic Park" films : SAM NEILL. Vaguely remembered this chap. I needed plenty of crossing help though.

11D. *Gomer Pyle portrayer : JIM NABORS. Another who? for me, I'm sure all you US denizens didn't even stop to think, but again I needed all the help I could get.

34D. *"Atonement" novelist : IAN MCEWAN. There's no doubt he's a great writer, but I recall this novel as being awfully bleak.

Neat theme from Craig, I liked that all the theme entries were men, and there was a pretty solid letter count from the them all. I like seeing the theme entries in both the acrosses and downs, it changes things up a little. Usual Thursday-level cluing and misdirection. For the second week running the NE corner was my problem area, but eventually everything fell into place.

Clunker of the day: SRTAS. I know it's acceptable, but I never like it it when I see it.

Let's see what else jumps out:


1. Tell target : APPLE. The legend of William Tell. I can't remember why he had to shoot an apple from his son's head, but I do remember being told that the Swiss hero was Austrian by birth.

6. Look for : SEEK

10. Letting in some air : AJAR. Almost my last fill, took a while to see this, but it did unlock the unknown JIM NABORS for me.

14. Dakota natives : SIOUX

15. Lyft alternative : TAXI. First impulse here is UBER.

16. Record, in a way : TIVO. Darn, I had TAPE first which slowed down my progress in the NE.

19. Put out : EMIT. Another tricky one that required some teasing out.

20. When the fewest pieces are on the chess board : ENDGAME

21. Detoxification diet : CLEANSE. I've done what is called the Jedi Cleanse, it was the longest month of my life.

23. Lean-__: sheds : TO'S

24. [Boring!] : YAWN!

26. "Letters From Iwo __": Eastwood film : JIMA

29. "Thwack!" : BAM!

32. Less ingenuous : SLIER. I prefer the SLYER spelling, but this is accepted as an alternative. I read it as "SLEE-ER" though.

35. __ window : BAY

36. Through : DONE. I'm done. Actually, I'm not through yet, I've still got quite a lot of the write-up to go.

37. Scuttlebutt : HEARSAY

40. Souvenir shop display : T-SHIRTS

42. Farm sound : OINK

43. Farm animal : NAG. An old horse. I don't really associate a nag with a farm animal, but I guess it's fine. I recall that the carthorse Boxer from Orwell's "Animal Farm" became a broken down nag towards the end. It didn't finish well for the horse.

45. Watering hole : OASIS

46. Brimless hat : TAM

50. Steamboat fuel : COAL

52. Inflates, as expenses : PADS

53. Significant time : ERA

56. Eurasian plains : STEPPES

59. ADHD medication : RITALIN

61. Fuzzy fruit or fuzzy bird : KIWI. The fruit doesn't have a lot of flavor, but it makes a nice contrast in a fruit salad or garnish for a dessert.

64. OPEC member : IRAN

65. 2-point G, e.g. : TILE. Scrabble, of course. Wasn't my first thought when I was trying to figure out the clue.

66. Dreadlocks wearer : RASTA

67. Island goose : NENE

68. Zipped : SPED

69. Sp. titles : SRTAS. I just think this is clumsy. Spanish señoritas.


1. Up to now : AS YET

2. Composer John Cage's "Suite for Toy __" : PIANO. Schroeder from the "Peanuts" strip famously played the toy piano, but he preferred playing Beethoven.

3. Cold cream name : PONDS. This was lurking somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind, I'm not sure why I even knew it at all.

4. Organ with alveoli : LUNG

5. Richard M. Daley and Ed Koch : EX-MAYORS. I liked this one, fresh fill. Daley in Chicago, Koch in New York.

6. Scattered : STREWN

7. Put down a hero : EAT. This one was fun to figure out. A hero sandwich.

8. Corp. head : EXEC. Yeah, I suppose so. More usually the head of a corporation would be the president or CEO.

9. Party poopers : KILLJOYS

10. Elite squad : "A" TEAM

12. Driving company that sounds more like a flying company : AVIS. Now this one bothers me. Is Avis a "driving" company? No, it's a car rental company. If you took a poll on the street to describe Avis, Hertz or Enterprise, "driving company" would be about 1,000th on the list.

13. "Thy love did read by __, that could not spell": "Romeo and Juliet" : ROTE. Friar Lawrence telling Romeo that Rosalind knew very well that Romeo was not truly in love with her.

18. Eastern nurse : AMAH. Known to me only from crosswords.

22. Frozen Wasser : EIS. German lesson for the day.

25. Capture : NAB

27. __ chicken: Jamaican dish : JERK. Food! I love making jerk chicken, I get to chop a whole chicken into about 16 pieces with my bad-ass cleaver. My friend can't watch, she's convinced I'm going to chop my fingers off some day.

28. Floor covering : MAT

30. Start to trust? : ANTI- I liked this one.

31. Fool (with) : MESS

32. Worn out : SHOT

33. "The Last Jedi" general : LEIA. I keep forgetting Princess Leia was a general towards the end of the series of movies. Crosses usually reveal it pretty quickly

36. First antibacterial soap : DIAL. Didn't know this was the first, but it came pretty easily.

38. Confucian text, with "The" : ANALECTS. "Never give a sword to a man who can't dance." I like that one.

"Analects" in Chinese. Seal script at the top, traditional in the middle and simplifed at the bottom.

39. November tuber : YAM. What did the sweet potato say to the turkey at Thanksgiving? "I yam what I yam".

41. Oater belt attachments : HOLSTERS. You need to know that "oater" is an industry slang term for one of the many cowboy movies that flooded out of the Hollywood studios back in the day.

44. Economic fig. : G.N.P. Gross National Product. If recall correctly from my school economics, the total value of goods and services produced by a country.

47. Plant juice : SAP

48. Made : EARNED

49. "With ya so far" : "I DIG"

51. State one's views : OPINE

53. Slasher film setting: Abbr. : ELM ST.

54. Western prop : RIATA. Often clued as "oater prop" but we just had that above.

55. Actresses Gunn and Kendrick : ANNAS. Gunn best known for her role in "Breaking Bad", Kendrick won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "Up in the the Air".

56. Hide : SKIN

57. Wear out : TIRE

58. Armada unit : SHIP. There must be a minimum number of ships before you can describe the force as an armada, right? 20, 30? There were 130 in the Spanish Armada of 1588. Didn't do them a lot of good, though.

60. Purim month : ADAR

63. Full Sail Amber __ : ALE. Took me a while to see this, and I've even drunk the beer, which is brewed in Oregon.

Well, that about wraps it up for me. Back in Manhattan this week, heading back to LA and hopefully some warm weather tomorrow in time for the weekend. Maybe I'll crack open a bottle of the Amber Ale. Cheers!

Oh, and here's the grid!


Feb 22, 2018

Thursday February 22 2018 Mark McClain

Theme: Timber Trickery - as neatly explained by the reveal, but can you see the wood for the trees?

63A. Primitive area, and what's literally found in this puzzle's circles : BACKWOODS

The circled letters, reading backwards, contain the timber:

17A. Longtime PBS news anchor : JIM LEHRER. Elm. Most of the elm trees in the UK were wiped out by an outbreak of Dutch Elm disease brought into the country by a shipment of logs from Canada. It literally changed the face of the country.

23A. Site for a railroad signal : GRADE CROSSING. Cedar. Moths hate cedar, hence the cedar planks in your sock drawer to stop the buggers from chewing holes in them. The term "grade crossing" was new to me when I moved to the US. I knew them as "level crossings".

39A. Statistic including farmers and their neighbors : RURAL POPULATION. Poplar. Here's a fine stand of them on a roadside in France:

51A. Kielbasa : POLISH SAUSAGE. Ash. Most baseball bats are made of ash, although MLB also sanctions maple, hickory and bamboo.

Nice theme and nice crunchy theme entries concealing the wood. This was quite a challenge for me for some reason, I had to stare down the north-west corner for some time before I started to unravel the mystery up there. Let's see what else we've got:


1. Word with rose or road : BED

4. AMA part: Abbr. : ASSOC. American Medical Association.

9. __ Bornes: card game : MILLE. I finally remembered this from a prior crossword. The NE corner gave me a lot of trouble today. It translates from the French as "Thousand Milestones" according to my French colleague, but the French name is used for the English version.

14. Caen comrade : AMI

15. Thick-skinned herbivore : RHINO. Is the "-ceros" redundant now?

16. Big Apple stage honors : OBIES. I simply could not remember this. Off-Broadway awards, hence the name. The Tony awards are for Broadway theater.

19. Open, in a way : UNZIP.

20. Delon of cinéma : ALAIN. Came easily, but I'm not sure I've seen any of his movies.

21. Exactas, e.g. : BETS. Pick the horses to win and place, in exact order (hence exacta). An "exacta box" bet allows the horses to come in any order, which rather blows the "exacta" definition.

30. Part of __ : A SET

31. Hawk or eagle : RAPTOR

32. Tic-toe link : TAC

35. "That was close!" : PHEW!

38. Buckwheat dish : KASHA. Food! Putting "PASTA" here didn't exactly help matters in this section of the puzzle. Kasha can refer to the grain itself, or the porridge-like dish made from it.

43. "25" album maker : ADELE. Very talented artist. She won the "Album of the Year" Grammy for this one.

44. Wedding invitation encl. : SASE.
45. Yellowknife is its cap. : NWT. Canada's Northwest Territories.

46. Mournful artwork : PIETAS. Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus in Christian art. The most famous is the Michelangelo sculpture in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

48. Abhor : HATE

55. Anorak part : HOOD.

56. Really cool place to live? : IGLOO. Nice clue.

59. Grouchy look : SCOWL

66. Ventricular outlet : AORTA

67. Thar Desert country : INDIA. Never heard of it, so thank you, crosses. It forms part of the natural border between India and Pakistan.

68. JFK Library architect : PEI. Nailed it! Thank you, crosswords past.

69. 180-degree river bend : OXBOW. When a meander breaks through from one side of the loop to the other, the remains is an oxbow lake.

70. __ Heights: Mideast region : GOLAN

71. Serpentine letter : ESS


1. Mexicali's locale : BAJA. Baja California. The town on the other side of the US/Mexico border is Calexico, fittingly.

2. Oscar winner Jannings : EMIL. More crosses to the rescue.

3. Joltin' Joe : DIMAG. I was all down the caffeine route with this one, and couldn't find anything to fit. It didn't help that I'd never heard the "DiMag" moniker before. Writing this up, I just went to do a Google search, and DiMaggio doesn't show up until half-way down the second page. I think that might be a little obscure for non-Yankees fans.

4. Bull-riding venues : ARENAS

5. Warning to a chatty theatergoer : SHH!

6. Chivalrous title : SIR

7. Year not designated as such until centuries later : ONE BC. ONE and wait for the crosses. It could quite easily be ONE AD.

8. Kitchen gizmo : CORER. I've got a lot of kitchen gizmos, but I don't own one of these things. I'm amused that the soundalike Iron Chef Cat Cora is sitting next to moussaka, one of her go-to dish styles. She has a Greek background.

9. Greek menu staple : MOUSSAKA. Food! Eggplant-layered ground lamb dish.

10. Hebrew : Ben :: Arabic : __ : IBN. I tried BIN first which again messed me up in the North-east.

11. Lemon on "30 Rock" : LIZ. Crosses all the way. I was at a meeting at 30 Rock last week - here's the rather gloomy view out of the window of the conference room.

12. Floral neckwear : LEI

13. Clairvoyant's gift : ESP. Extra-sensory perception.

18. Turkish dough : LIRA. I can never remember LIRA or LIRE. I wait for the cross.

22. Only Canadian MLB team : TOR. The Toronto Blue Jays.

24. "Murder on the Orient Express" (2017) actor : DEPP. I didn't see the movie, so solid crosses necessary.

25. Value system : ETHOS

26. Irritated words : SPAT

27. "__ the bag" : IT'S IN

28. "Not gonna happen" : NO HOW. Tried NO WAY, was wrong.

29. Researcher's request : GRANT

32. "The Sound of Music" name : TRAPP. Strictly, the name is actually Von Trapp, but it's pretty obvious what is being asked for here.

33. Sound : AUDIO

34. Fish basket : CREEL. One of these things:

36. #TestforRadon org. : E.P.A. Not heard the hashtag before, but it didn't take a lot of figuring out.

37. Chinese martial arts : WUSHU. Learning moment for me. Looks pretty dangerous!

40. Meter opening? : ALTI-

41. Rule governing intentional walks? : LEASH LAW. Nice one. I enjoyed the punning here.

42. Open fields : LEAS

47. "Ray Donovan" network, briefly : SHO. I had the "O" and was tempted by HBO, but I refrained from jumping in with both feet.

49. Ang Lee's birthplace : TAIWAN

50. Its main product was originally given the portmanteau name "Froffles" : EGGO. French toast and waffles. Who knew?

52. Ferber novel : SO BIG

53. Hersey's "A Bell for __" : ADANO. A crossword staple. Has anyone actually read this book?

54. Skip church? : ELOPE. Nice one. Skip the church wedding.

57. Pindaric verses : ODES. Pindaric: "Relating to or characteristic of the Greek lyric poet Pindar or his works".

"I will not steep my speech 
in lies; the test of any man lies in action."

58. Malady suffix : -OSIS

59. __ Paulo : SÃO

60. Regatta chief : COX. The smallest and lightest person you can find to steer the boat, and, optionally, depending on experience, call the stroke rate.

61. Marble, e.g. : ORB

62. Geneva-based commerce gp. : W.T.O. World Trade Organization.

64. XLV x X : CDL. Simple Roman math. For some reason it always takes me a minute to dig the letter for "500" out of my head.

65. Sedona, for one : KIA. Took me a while to cotton on to this one. Nice misdirection.

That about wraps it up for this week. I've been on terra firma this week which makes a nice change. Back in the air next week though!

And  ... here's the grid ....!


Feb 15, 2018

Thursday, February 15 2018 Elliot M. Abrams

Theme: Hole Foods. Perhaps inspired by the grocery store sometimes known as "Whole Pay Check"?

The nicely-placed reveal tells us what to look for in the theme entries:

54A. Component of balanced health ... and what each answer to a starred clue looks like it should be part of? : HOLISTIC DIET. "Hole-istic" if you're still at a loss.

And we have *drum roll*

20A. *Beer hall snacks : HARD PRETZELS. This is the outlier - three holes in a hard pretzel, one hole in all the other theme entries.

29A. *Deli snacks : BAGEL CHIPS. Yum. The best part of Gardetto's mix. I make a home-cook gluten-free version for my gluten-intolerant friend.

35A. *Bakery snacks : CHOCOLATE DONUTS.

43A. *Diner snacks : ONION RINGS. I've tried making onion rings at home. I think I am onion ring kryptonite. You wouldn't recognize my efforts as onion, let alone rings.

So ... I'm wondering why the asterisks today? The convention is that if the theme entries are not obvious, then you highlight them, but these all follow the rules - they're the longest entries in the grid, across and down, and, to boot, linked by the common "snacks" in the clues. Maybe one of my fellow constructors/bloggers can shed some light?

Nice puzzle though - I was off to the races with the first few entries and then stalled somewhere in the middle. I like when that happens.

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


1. Día de San Valentín flowers : ROSAS. Plenty of these sold yesterday, I'm sure.

6. California's __ Gabriel Mountains : SAN. I can see these from my window most days.

9. Construction rod : REBAR

14. Remove from the bulletin board : UNPIN

15. Blood type letters : ABO. Apparently this is just one of 35 different blood type classification systems currently recognized. We'll have a pop quiz on the other 34 shortly.

16. Like 36 piano keys, traditionally : EBONY. That leaves room for 52 ivories on a traditional piano keyboard.

17. Lewis with 12 Emmys : SHARI. Amazing what a cute sock puppet will do for your career.

18. "That '70s Show" exchange student whose nationality isn't revealed : FEZ. I watched the show, I never realized there was a secret nationality gimmick.

19. Lessen : ABATE

23. Surf and turf, say : ENTRÉE

24. NASA vehicle : L.E.M. Lunar Excursion Module. Also the Apollo 13 "lifeboat"for the crippled command module.

25. Tempe sch. : A.S.U.

28. Time for action : D-DAY

33. Actress Neuwirth with Tonys and Emmys : BEBE. Very talented TV and stage actress, two very different disciplines. She graduated from Juillard.

34. Slim craft : CANOE

41. "Tempt not a desperate man" speaker : ROMEO. He was not long for this world when he spoke these lines - in Hamlet's words he was about the "shuffle off the mortal coil".

"I must indeed, and therefore came I hither.
Good gentle youth, tempt not a desperate man.
Fly hence and leave me. Think upon these gone.
Let them affright thee. I beseech thee, youth,
Put not another sin upon my head
By urging me to fury. O, be gone!
By heaven, I love thee better than myself,
For I come hither armed against myself.
Stay not, be gone. Live, and hereafter say
A madman’s mercy bid thee run away."

42. Pretty good : OKAY. I'd say "Okay" was middling, rather than pretty good. More "mas a menos" or "comme çi, comme ça".

46. California wine valley : NAPA. I recently got to taste a bottle of Chateau Montelena chardonnay, the wine that launched the global recognition of Napa wines when the '73 won a blind tasting in Paris, much to the chagrin of the French. A bottle of the famous vintage is in the Smithsonian. It would be undrinkable by now.

50. Favorite : PET

51. One of three rhyming mos. : DEC. Rhymes with those famous crossword months "Pec" and Sec". Wait - no. Maybe "September" and "December"?

52. Pavement cloppers : HOOVES. Two half-coconut shells do the trick for foley artists. I was told than snapping a carrot in half is useful when a broken finger is called for, and abusing a cabbage with a knife gives you a "crunching stab sound". The wonderful world of sound effects.

57. Lose one's cool in a big way : PANIC. The nerd in me loved the Tesla in the SpaceX capsule with a copy of "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" in the glove compartment. "Don't Panic" is writ large on the cover. "Life on Mars" on the stereo was super cool too.

60. Murmur : COO

61. Lift with force : HEAVE

62. Car or tree feature : TRUNK

63. Tote : LUG

64. Film with lots of shooting stars? : OATER. Six Shooters.

65. Ships : SENDS

66. Stat for Clayton Kershaw : E.R.A.

67. Flexible Flyers, e.g. : SLEDS. Capitalization hints that you are looking at a brand name.


1. Blitzed, in football : RUSHED

2. In stock : ON HAND

3. Peloponnesian War victor : SPARTA. Athens V. Sparta. It lasted for 27 years, and nothing good came out of it.

4. Put on the line? : AIR DRY

5. Wading bird : SNIPE. I tried STORK first, and was gradually rebuffed.

6. No-risk : SAFE

7. Help with an inside job, say : ABET. Apparently you can't just "abet" in law, you have to "aid and abet".

8. Gas pump part : NOZZLE

9. Genuine article : REAL MCCOY. Per the interwebs "the phrase has been the subject of numerous false etymologies". Google and Wikipedia at your peril.

10. Flows out : EBBS

11. Feathery wrap : BOA

12. House pest : ANT. The moment you see one of the little buggers in the kitchen you need to act fast, otherwise 10 bazillion will follow.

13. Bread with caraway seeds : RYE. Food! Mmmm, Pastrami! I'm in New York - Katz's Deli sounds awfully tempting right now.

21. Insurgent : REBEL

22. Charged fish? : EEL. The electric kind. Apparently they do kick out a pretty good shock.

25. Indigenous Japanese : AINU. Thank you crosses, and a learning moment. Japanese/Russians

26. Notice : SPOT

27. Multi-tools have many : USES

30. Old hoops org. : A.B.A. American Basketball Association

31. Board : GET ON

32. Solo with a Wookiee co-pilot : HAN. "Star Wars" character portrayed by Harrison Ford.

33. Nowheresville, with "the" : BOONDOCKS. I'd have said "boonies", but I guess there's a proper designation.

35. Cut closely : CROP

36. Sharpen : HONE

37. Skip over : OMIT

38. Board bigwig : CEO. Bored bigwig - the CEO listening to the financial forecast from the CFO.

39. Heart test letters : EKG

40. Broth that's the base of miso soup : DASHI. If you have a handy supply of kelp and dried tuna, you can make your own. I get the stuff in a jar, much easier.

44. Cath. or Prot. : REL. Catholics, Protestants. Religion. Stir together and stand well back.

45. Christmas eave decor : ICICLE. Nice! Clue of the day for me.

46. "The agreement is off" : NO DEAL

47. Take wing : AVIATE. Here we go again - the verb.

48. Rather put out : PEEVED

49. Starlike flowers : ASTERS

53. Figure-eight steps, in an Argentine tango : OCHOS

54. Posterior : HIND

55. Acidic : SOUR

56. Draped garment : TOGA

57. FG's three : PTS. Three points for a field goal on the gridiron.

58. Exist : ARE

59. Many a "Call the Midwife" character : NUN. I saw a couple of episodes of this BBC series, then completely forgot about it. Thank you, crosses.

So there we are, another Thursday in the books. Back to the west coast tonight and my home timezone, at least for the weekend. According to my chums at, I've already flown 40,129 miles in 2018, and that doesn't include the Delhi-Mumbai return on local airline Indigo. My trip back to LA today will put me right around the 43,000 mile mark. That's a lot of airline snack bag hard pretzels!

I've never seen anything like this though - a United flight from Honolulu to San Francisco yesterday. Google engineer Erik Haddad gets the "cool humor under stress" award of the day for this tweet:

And with that gem, here's the grid!


Feb 8, 2018

Thursday, February 8 2018 Susan Gelfand

Theme: Nova Ova - as the reveal tells you - anagrams of types of eggs:

36A. Breakfast order ... and a hint to the last words of 17-, 26-, 51- and 58-Across : SCRAMBLED EGGS. Food! Time for a "Full English" breakfast!

17A. Aerialists' insurance : SAFETY NETS. NEST Eggs.

26A. Porsche Boxster, e.g. : TWO-SEATER. EASTER Eggs.

51A. Like some pizza ovens : WOOD FIRED. FRIED Eggs.

58A. Conflict in Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade" : CRIMEAN WAR. RAW Eggs.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

Those of you with long memories might recall the theme title I've re-used today. This was a 2014 puzzle from Gareth Bain which I blogged, and I mentioned I'd been trying to come up with a "scrambled eggs" theme and failed, where Gareth had used "ova" instead and succeeded. Susan comes up with a totally different approach, and anagrams the types of eggs, not the eggs themselves. Very nice indeed.

Nothing really bothersome about the fill, it actually seemed a little easy for a Thursday, but your mileage may vary. Let's see what pops out:


1. Color changers : DYES

5. Allowing for the uncertainty of the future : SO FAR

10. Fairy tale bear : MAMA

14. Set : JELL

15. Greenland coin : KRONE. I've seen a lot of banknotes, but I'd not seen one of these before:

16. Holiday lead-ins : EVES

19. Days in Durango : DIAS

20. Side by side? : AREA. Nice clue. Multiply the lengths of the sides of a rectangle together and you get the area.

21. Medical priority system : TRIAGE

23. Visually transfixed : AGAZE

29. Mauritania neighbor : MALI. The West African country kerfuffle reminds me of the hubbub of states in the north-east US.

30. Make a big stink : REEK

31. Immobile : INERT

32. Lining fabric : FLEECE

34. Zebra hunter : LION. Lioness, actually. the guys just lay around while the women do all the work. Typical.

41. Loaves that may be seeded : RYES

42. Printing goofs : ERRATA

44. Narrow groove : STRIA

48. Take to heart : HEED

50. "Yikes!" : EGAD!

53. Decorative draperies : SWAGS. I never knew these things had a name. Thank you, crosses.

54. Brand name for the sleep aid zolpidem : AMBIEN.

55. Culture starter? : AGRI-

57. Tropical tuber : TARO

64. Tiny bit : ATOM

65. Broadcaster : AIRER

66. Sticking point : TINE. One of a number on a fork.

67. Many Christmas presents : TOYS

68. Involuntary muscle contraction : SPASM

69. Jet black : ONYX


1. Wedding reception VIPs : DJ'S

2. Vote for : YEA

3. Cookie baker in the Hollow Tree : ELF. Keebler's enchanted little person.

4. More disreputable : SLEAZIER

5. Terrier breed from Scotland : SKYE. There are quiet a few territory breeds in Scotland. Scottish Terrier, West Highland Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Border Terrier .... it's quite a list.

6. Richly decorated : ORNATE

7. Rival : FOE

8. Colony crawler : ANT

9. Stops working for a while : RESTS

10. Highway divider : MEDIAN

11. Pilot : AVIATE. The verb, not the noun. Thursday-level clue.

12. Scanty : MEAGER

13. State strongly : ASSERT

18. Little Italian number : TRE

22. "Stand By Me" director : REINER. The famous Rob. Stephen King wrote the original book from which the screenplay was developed.

23. Bowling alley initials : AMF. Chain of bowling alley operations and bowling equiment. Boomer would know. I needed crosses.

24. Some square dancers : GALS

25. Baldwin brother : ALEC

27. "Maybe" : WE'LL SEE

28. 1930s migrant to California : OKIE

30. Beverage company __ Cointreau : REMY

33. Coffee server : CARAFE

35. Binged (on) : OD'ED

37. Paint brand sold at Home Depot : BEHR

38. Got big enough for : GREW INTO

39. "Born This Way" Lady : GAGA. She's just announced she has to cancel her last ten UK tour dates due to pain from fibromyalgia. It's sad she's suffering from this debilitating condition.

40. Antlered animal : STAG

43. Program interruptions : ADS

44. Try to hit, as a fly : SWAT AT

45. Minestrone ingredient : TOMATO

46. Drink named for a Scottish hero : ROB ROY. Vermouth, Scotch Whisky and Angostura bitters. First made at the Astoria hotel in New York in honor of the premiere of the operetta.

47. Make a scene and act up : IDIOMS

49. One of a '50s singing quartet : ED AMES. One of the Urick brothers, the others were Vic, Gene and Joe.

52. Ancient empire builders : INCAS

53. Madrid Mrs. : SRA. Senora.

56. Start of an idea : GERM

59. Fabric flaw : RIP

60. Yo La Tengo guitarist Kaplan : IRA. Here's their melodious cover of The Cure's "Friday I'm in Love" with a truly bizarre video to accompany it.

61. Break the tape : WIN

62. Whichever : ANY

63. King of ancient Rome : REX. Oedipus, et al.

That's about it for me, back to LA today after eating copious amounts of curry in the UK.

This was yesterday morning in the middle of London. When I say "in the middle of London" I mean the exact center. I'm standing on a brass plaque marking the geographic center of the city from where all distances to and from the capital are measured. The gentleman over my shoulder is Admiral, Lord Nelson atop his column in Trafalgar Square.


Feb 1, 2018

Thursday, February 1st 2018 Mark McClain

Theme: Price Hikes - Common phrases fall prey to inflation, as the reveal suggests:

59A. Economic factor that affects three puzzle answers : INFLATION RATE

So we get:

20A. Really cheap : QUARTER A DOZEN. Up from "dime a dozen". Apropos of Sunday's "Big Game" (shh, you can't say $üperßøw£ without getting sued by the NFL!):

37A. Precisely : TO THE NICKEL.Up from "to the penny." Accountants need to tie their books to the penny, especially in the corporate world.

44A. Worthless item : PLUGGED DIME. Up from "plugged nickel". A plugged nickel is a coin where the center disc has been removed, reducing the value of the metal in the coin. Used as a colloquialism for "worthless".

I liked this theme - "TO THE NICKEL" gave it away for me, so then it was a simple matter to backtrack and fill in 20A then I was off and running.

The puzzle is also a pangram today - all the letters of the alphabet appear. When you start to collect the higher-value Scrabble letters like X, Z, Q, K and J you know you're probably in for a full set.

A couple of nice longer downs kept things moving along nicely too. Let's see what else jumps out:


1. Rankles : IRKS

5. Go higher : CLIMB

10. Burgoo or ragout : STEW. Food! One of my favorite recipe sites Epicurious has a recipe for Kentucky burgoo with bourbon in it. Sounds worth a try to me!

14. Harvest : REAP

15. Speeder spotter : RADAR. Nice alliteration in the clue.

16. Dance for a lei person : HULA. I like the play on "lei".

17. Cornstarch brand in a yellow-and-blue container : ARGO. I've got a tub of this in my pantry but I had no idea what the brand name was! Thank you, crosses.

18. String in a kids' song : E-I-E-I-O. Old MacDonald earworm .... I'll spare you a link.

19. African antelope : ORYX. There's a few four-letter antelopes in Africa. You need to be careful before jumping in.

23. Baltimore's __ Harbor : INNER

24. Enjoy Vail : SKI

25. Podded plant : PEA

28. Fountain output : SODAS

32. Sully : TAINT. Because "Nickname of US Airways pilot who ditched in the Hudson" doesn't fit.

34. Rest area freebie : MAP. Do they still give these out? Gas stations stopped handing them out for free years ago.

40. Mother Nature's balm : ALOE

42. "The Glass Lake" writer Binchy : MAEVE

43. Trillion: Pref. : TERA- I have a 2 terabyte external hard drive for backups. When I started my computer career that kind of capacity was pure science fiction. The IBM mainframes I first worked on had disks with a capacity of 300MB. My external drive holds more than 6,500 times that much data.

47. "Mamma Mia!" number : S.O.S. Catchy stuff from from those Swedish pop-tastic greats Abba. The videos have a fantastic Seventies look too.

48. Slow movement : LARGO

49. Move through muck : SLOSH

51. Kennedy twins? : ENS. Two of 'em in the name. I wanted "EES" first. Was wrong.

52. Luthor of the comics : LEX

55. Infield fly : POP-UP

64. Naan relative : ROTI. Food! I had a couple of them with my first dinner in Delhi earlier this month.

66. Demand and obtain, as vengeance : EXACT. Or revenge. Nice clue.

67. Adopt-a-Pet pet : MUTT

68. "Dilbert" intern : ASOK. He's one of my favorite characters in the strip.

69. Comparatively friendly : NICER

70. Geek Squad client : USER

71. LGBT Pride Month : JUNE

72. 2017 A.L. MVP José Altuve, for one : ASTRO. Houston ball team. I was changing planes in Houston on Monday. I like the airport, it's one of the NICER ones I pass through.

73. Zip : ZERO


1. Kirkuk native : IRAQI

2. "Seinfeld" episode, now : RE-RUN. I could watch every episode all over again.

3. See 53-Down : KAGAN

4. Reproductive bodies : SPORES

5. Hudson Bay nation : CREE. Nailed it! Thank you, crosswords past.

6. Bear's home : LAIR. Tried CAVE. Obviously a bad idea.

7. One may be called bright when it isn't : IDEA. Lovely.

8. "Downton Abbey" figures : MAIDS. We recently binge-watched all six seasons of Downton on Amazon Prime. Totally got into it.

9. Forest babbler : BROOK

10. Christian Louboutin creation : SHOE. Barney's has a men's shoe with his trademark red soles for $850 a pair. I think I'll stick to the outlets.

11. Tolls are taken on them : TURNPIKES. Nice. Took me a while to see this one.

12. Bridge expert Culbertson : ELY

13. Candle stuff : WAX

21. Easy gait : TROT

22. Tubular pasta : ZITI. Food! My kind of puzzle today.

26. Summer month in Uruguay : ENERO. January, in the Southern Hemisphere. More of a tricky Thursday-level clue for this Spanish month.

27. Book with 11-Down : ATLAS. Another one a long time a-coming. Turnpikes, among other things, are represented in a road atlas.

29. St. Paul's feature : DOME. The famous cathedral in London designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren. As recently as 1967 it was the tallest building in the city. I'm off to London tomorrow, the flight path into Heathrow passes above St. Paul's. and the rest of Central London. You get a great view of all the landmarks if the weather is clear. The dome gets a little lost among the tall buildings, but I've outlined it here:

30. Minimally : A TAD

31. Drops, as pounds : SHEDS

33. Part of ACA : ACT. The full name is The patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, familiarly known as Obamacare.

34. Scott Joplin's "__ Leaf Rag" : MAPLE. I learned this on the piano when I was a kid. I loved Scott Joplin's music after first encountering it in the movie "The Sting".

35. Literary middle name : ALLAN

36. Goes all out : POURS IT ON. Took me a while to parse this.

38. Downright nasty : EVIL

39. "Finding Dory" character : NEMO

41. __ salad : EGG

45. Club sport : GOLF. Nice clue. Could refer to the institution or the equipment.

46. "Around the Horn" channel : ESPN

50. Strait of __: Persian Gulf outlet : HORMUZ

53. With 3-Down, justice since 2010 : ELENA

54. Graph line : X-AXIS. Could be Y- or Z- so wait for the cross to confirm it.

56. Hesitation : PAUSE

57. Unmitigated : UTTER

58. Chemical prefix? : PETRO-

60. Maker of LeBron 15 basketball shoes : NIKE. More expensive footwear. Foot Locker has them for $185/pair. Not bad for a pair of sneakers.

61. Delicate handling : TACT

62. Pastry prettifier : ICER

63. Other, in España : OTRO. Second Spanish reference today.

64. British rule in India : RAJ. "Raj" is the Hindustani word for "Rule".

65. The Cowboys of the Big 12 Conf. : O.S.U. Oklahoma State University.

And with that, I think I'm done. Here's the grid - and I'll see you all next week from Blighty!


Jan 25, 2018

Thursday January 25th 2018 C.C.Burnikel


16A. *Tony Hawk legwear : SKATE PANTS. They look like a pair of jeans to me.

36A. *Stick in the snow : SKI POLE. When we used to ski the Courcheval couloirs in the Alps, a fall near the top meant a long, long slide before there was any chance of getting back on your feet. By that time, you had usually strewn both skis, both poles, your sunglasses and your beanie down hundreds of meters of steep slope. We called it "having a yard sale".

56A. *Drawing needs : SKETCH PADS

10D. *Medicated dermal strip : SKIN PATCH. Here's one with some mighty claims:

31D. *Military chaplains : SKY PILOTS. Fun expression.

and the reveal:

41d. Search dogs' target ... and a phonetic hint to the answers to starred clues : ESCAPEE - Ess-Kay-Pee

Third Thursday in a row for C.C. and a nice theme again. I like the across-and-down theme style, with the reveal coming in well towards the end. Solid theme answers too, so a lot to like. Let's see what else jumps out:


1. Apple Store display : MACS

5. Centipede developer : ATARI. Classic arcade game of the 80's. If you want a walk down memory lane, here's an official Atari Centipede emulator.

10. Farm digs : STY

13. Tennis legend for whom a "Courage Award" is named : ASHE

14. French upper house : SÉNAT. It even has its own logo:

15. Hershey bar : SKOR. Hershey's has the recipe on their website. You can substitute the Hershey's chocolate chips with something that tastes more like real chocolate.

18. Helps out : AIDS

19. Unpretentious : HUMBLE

20. Turned it down : SAID NO

22. Nadal's birthplace : SPAIN. Rafa, the tennis idol.

23. Snatch, as a toy? : DOGNAP. I'd never heard of this term to pinch someone's toy, so I Googled it to get the skinny, and all I could come up with was that genuine dog-theft crime, which leads me to believe the "toy" in the clue must refer to real dogs in the "toy" breeds group. Nicely obscure, if I'm reading this correctly.

24. Composer Franck : CESAR. After a rocky start to his musical career, he became a respected professor at the Paris Conservatoire.

26. Luggage attachments : ID TAGS

29. Soak up the sun : BASK

32. Blue Grotto resort : CAPRI. You can bask on Capri.

34. Boy king : TUT

35. "That's gross!" : ICK!

38. Premier __: wine designation : CRU. For Bordeaux red wines, there are only five wines classified as Premier Crus: Château Lafite, Château Latour, Château Margaux, Château Haut-Brion and Château Mouton Rothschild

39. Word before watch or window : BAY

40. Signs away : CEDES

41. Israeli politician Barak : EHUD. Thank you, crosses.

42. Nurses, as a drink : SIPS ON. Not something I tend to make a habit of. Maybe if it's a Premier Cru Bordeaux.

44. Chills out : RESTS

47. "No harm done" : I'M OKAY

49. Waited nervously, perhaps : PACED

52. Wheat protein : GLUTEN

53. Tree with durable wood : ACACIA

55. Fellas : BROS

59. Inauguration words : OATH

60. Dairy mascot : ELSIE

61. Canal completed in 1825 : ERIE

62. Belly dance muscles : ABS

63. Kennel cries : YELPS

64. "Hairspray" mom : EDNA. I took my daughter to a live performance of Hairspray at the Hollywood Bowl a few years ago. At the intermission she informed me that I was apparently the only heterosexual man in the entire audience. I think she was right.


1. British side : MASH. Food! This is the traditional dish of pie, mash and liquor - eel pie, mashed potatoes and parsley sauce. Blue-collar chow from east and south-east London.

2. Words on a help desk sign : ASK US

3. Ring leader? : CHAMP

4. Reversal of fortune : SETBACK

5. Trees of the species Populus tremula : ASPENS

6. "Eat Drink Man Woman" drink : TEA. Ang Lee's first critical and box office success released in 1994.

7. Former Texas governor Richards : ANN

8. "Midnight Cowboy" con man : RATSO. I always want "RIZZO" first, then talk myself down.

9. Delivery room cry : IT'S A GIRL!

11. Fuss : TO DO

12. Cen. components : YRS. 100 years in a century.

15. 1978 Peace co-Nobelist : SADAT. Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Israel's Menachim Begin.

17. Tahari of fashion : ELIE

21. Many a low-budget flick : INDIE

23. Decorator's choice : DRAPERY

25. Corrosive liquid : ACID. I think alkalis too?

27. Expert : GURU

28. Drywall support : STUD

29. Spill catchers : BIBS

30. Smoothie berry : ACAI

33. Sit for a snap : POSE

36. Hurry along : SCOOT

37. Creator of Randle McMurphy and Chief Bromden : KEN KESEY. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".

43. Flatten : SMUSH

45. Garage units : SPACES

46. Dash dial : TACH

48. A high-top hides it : ANKLE

50. choice : E-CARD

51. Bumped off : DID IN

52. Snatch : GRAB

54. On the Pacific : ASEA

55. Showgirl's accessory : BOA

57. Course for intl. students : E.S.L.

58. Lead : TIP

That about wraps things up from me. Here's the grid:


Jan 18, 2018

Thursday, January 18 2018 C.C. Burnikel

Theme: Hidden Critters: Some charming little folk nesting in the theme entries:

18A. *Acting like the locals : GOING NATIVE. Gnat. I'm in India this week. I've eaten nothing but curry this week, so I guess I've gone native. I love Indian food.

61A. *Try not to look bored : STIFLE A YAWN. Flea. Many meetings. Yikes, check out this guy!

3D. *Google Code of Conduct motto : DON'T BE EVIL Bee. Some people say that they've gone away from this ideal just a tad.

30D. *"The Imitation Game" subject : ALAN TURING. Ant. A brilliant man and a sad outcome.


54A. Software glitches ... and, in a broad sense, small things hidden in the answers to starred clues : BUGS. Of course, I never introduced a bug into any code I wrote, ever. Well, maybe one or two.

39D. Trial run designed to catch 54-Across : BETA TEST. The net is never fine enough, a bunch always slip through.

Second Thursday in a row for C.C. and a nice-looking grid, especially top and bottom of the across theme entries. Nary a clunker to be found either. Let's see what else we've got:


1. It doesn't go off : DUD. Happily for someone, I'm sure.

4. Dugong or manatee : SEA COW

10. Friskies sister brand : ALPO

14. "Lookee here!" : OHO!

15. Turkey's second-largest city : ANKARA. I'm not sure if I can think of a third-largest. I know  Galatasaray are Turkish soccer team, but when I looked them up they're in Istanbul, so I'm still stuck.

16. Enjoyed People : READ. Note the capital "P" in "People".

17. Singer Fogelberg : DAN. Now why on earth did I want to put ANN in here?

20. Toughness : GUTS

22. Stage great Hagen : UTA. Thank you, ghosts of crosswords past.

23. White __ : NOISE

24. Site of Napoleon's exile : ELBA. "Able I was, ere I saw Palindrome." No, wait ....? I didn't know until fairly recently the pint-sized Emperor didn't stay exiled on Elba. He had a Bonaparte 2.0 reboot and returned to Paris as head of state, but that didn't work out either and ended up as a prisoner of the British and banished to the island of Saint Helena, his final abode.

25. Accessories for many lawn mowers : GAS CANS

27. Engrave with acid : ETCH

29. Dalai Lama, for one : TIBETAN

32. Sport with clay pigeons : SKEET

34. Canapé spread : PATÉ

35. Husky follower : SLED

37. Part of SASE: Abbr. : ENV.

38. Wartime prez : ABE. Not HST, which is the first guess.

40. Sci-fi aviators : ETS

42. Shapiro of NPR : ARI

43. Exertion : TOIL

45. Suburban trees : ELMS

47. Picker-uppers? : HANDS

49. Hole's starting point for skilled golfers : BLUE TEE. I wanted BLACK TEE, because that's the tee at the very back. I generally play from the blues, and I'm certainly not skilled!

51. Many a college graduate's burden : DEBT

52. Reel : STAGGER

57. Trouble greatly : EAT AT

59. LG competitor : RCA

60. First name at Woodstock : ARLO

64. Lithium-__ battery : ION

65. Pakistani tongue : URDU

66. Scoresheet slashes : SPARES. Bowling. Boomer would have had this filled without a thought. I don't bowl, so waited for some help from the crosses.

67. Find fault to a fault : NAG

68. Mandarin discard : PEEL

69. Siberian expanse : TUNDRA. "The Frozen Tundra" is an affectionate name for the Green Bay Packers field in Wisconsin. You can see why:

70. Some hot rods : GT'S


1. Sidestep : DODGE

2. Penske rival : U-HAUL. I had U and through UNSER for the motor racing teams, but something made me hesitate.

4. Succumb to gravity : SAG

5. "Cut it out already!" : ENOUGH

6. Curly-tailed dog : AKITA

7. Rummy game played with two decks : CANASTA

8. Suffix for NPR's website : ORG. Two NPR mentions today.

9. "You sure of that?" : WANNA BET?

10. Gallery VIPs : ARTISTS

11. Hawaiian wedding rings : LEIS

12. Tar : PAVE

13. Neruda's "__ to My Socks" : ODE

The moral
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
and what is good is doubly
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool

in winter.

19. Top-ranked : A-ONE

21. Make full : SATE

26. Credits as a source : CITES

28. Commuter org. in the Loop : C.T.A. The Chicago Transit Authority, which is how these fellows started out before they decided it was too much of a mouthful:

31. Comic-Con attendee : NERD

32. Ready : SET

33. Door opener : KNOB

34. Pequod co-owner : PELEG

36. Belittle : DIS

41. "__ Walks in Beauty": Byron poem : SHE

44. Satyrlike : LUSTFUL

46. "You've Got Mail" co-star : MEG RYAN

48. "Fernando" pop group : ABBA

50. Letters replacing unlisted items : ET AL

51. Bureau unit : DRAWER

53. Internet greeting : E-CARD

55. Be a bad sport : GLOAT

56. iTunes downloads : SONGS

57. Raison d'__ : ÊTRE. ÊTAT fits nicely in there too, but it's usually clued as COUP DE ___, not RAISON DE ___

58. West Wing staffer : AIDE

61. "How're things?" : 'SUP?

62. "The Simpsons" clerk : APU

63. Fort Meade org. : N.S.A.

As I mentioned, I'm in India this week. I'm taking a break from the Delhi smoke (AQI 188) for the Mumbai smog (158). This is the historic Mahalaxmi Racecourse from the Star TV building, not that you can see much. It's about 500 yards to the cellphone tower in the foreground according to Google Maps:

My lungs think I've smoked a pack of cigarettes a day since I got here. I can't believe in hindsight that I actually did used to smoke a pack a day, thank goodness I kicked that habit.

Have a good day all!

And here's the grid!