Dec 27, 2014

Saturday, Dec 27th, 2014, Barry C. Silk

Theme: Saturday Silkie~!

Words: 70 (missing J,K,Q,X,Z)

Blocks: 32

  I figured we would be finishing up a year of Saturdays with a Silkie, and I expected it to be difficult at that - well, I was spot-on.  There was little to be had in the first pass of across and downs, but I managed to get a foothold in the SE, then crept my way up and left from there.  However, the top right was just not going to budge, and I am kicking myself for missing 7a. - oh well.  Yes, Red-Letter help today, and some of my fool-proof solving methods proved me a fool.  One 13-letter climber is all we have in lengthy fill:

15d. Group label further popularized by a 1991 self-named documentary : MTV GENERATION - I'm of the MTV Generation, but I did not actually have MTV growing up - we did not have cable, so I used to soak it up when I was at my friends' houses; one of the first videos I ever saw;

Men At Work

O - N - 2 - W - 0 - A - 1 - R - 5 - D~!


1. 2014 high-tech release using the slogan "Bigger than bigger" : iPHONE - I am not an Apple person, though I did hear they're coming out with a fan to compete with the Dyson bladeless - it's called the iBLOW

7. 1987 sci-fi film : ROBO-COP - Dah~! I am SO disappointed with myself for not nailing this one - and I have not seen the remake yet, to boot

14. Pointer, perhaps : BLAMER - I was in a 'dog' frame of mind

15. Soften : MODULATE

16. Feeding trough : MANGER - yeah, this time of year, you tend to forget what its original purpose was for

17. Opinion : TWO CENTS - ugh - took too long to dawn on me, but clever - and a**hole was not long enough - because everybody has one

18. Qantas' main hub, in itineraries : SYDney - I knew what we were looking for, but I was not 100% sure it was that straight-up; for example, the code for MacArthur airport around the corner from me is ISP - because it's located in the town of Islip

19. Winner of the 1997 and 1998 Super Bowls : DENVER - I like that there are a limited number of answers for this type of clue, but I was a bit irked because it was not the team, like RAIDER or NINERS, but the city/location

21. Little shaver : TOT - dah~!! - I went with TAD first

22. DJ Alan Freed's nickname : MOONDOG - perps and WAGs

24. Seething : ABOIL

26. 14-Across' concern : FAULT

27. 1959 Bobby Rydell hit : WE GOT LOVE

30. Luncheon follower? : ETTE - LuncheonETTE

31. Concede : OWN UP TO

32. Pickle : MESS - the dilemma, not the dill

33. Meeting focus : THEME - Agenda wouldn't fit

34. Big name in lingerie : OLGA - new to me, I gotta go check out the website

38. Knight wear : TABARDS - I knew this because I want to add another "B" to the spelling; here I am wearing mine for a wedding

40. Hunny lover : POOH - the spelling here was a give-away; Winnie the honey-eating bear

41. Body exhibiting sudden increases in brightness : FLARE STAR - dah!! - I tried SUPERNOVA, which is "technically" correct. I was left with the "key" clue ( see below ) and a WAG at Blare, Glare, and Flare; guess which one I did not pick first....

44. Monterrey jack? : PESOS - Mexican "money"

45. Navigation acronym : SONAR - Once the ---AR was there, I filled in the rest - and then my clever 'solving short-cut' betrayed me; see below

46. Rose in a big way : TOWERED

48. O, at times : HUG - X O X O in cards; one of these days....

49. 1944 Pacific island battle site : SAIPAN - dah~!!! Anyone else put in TAIPAN, or am I the only one who is confused = q.v.

51. __-eared : LOP - DAH~! Who else went with "DOG"~?

53. Against : AVERSE TO

56. Cuddles : SPOONS - one of these days....

58. Trusts : RELIES ON

59. Features of many impromptu speeches : PAUSES

60. "Something wrong?" : "PROBLEM~?"

61. Least honest : SLIEST


1. Some old notebooks : IBMs

2. Kid's bud : PLAYMATE - My buddy Adam, who owns the restaurant,  is a daddy again - Pearl Snow, 7lbs-7ozs, born Dec 7th, 2014 - and they had picked Pearl as a name before the anniversary

3. Fliers, maybe : HAND-OUTS

4. Shocked letters : OMG - Text-speak for "Oh My God"

5. "You __ bother" : NEEDN'T - I read this as bRother my first pass

6. Fumbled, say : ERRED

7. "Lady Jane Grey" dramatist : ROWE - I would have preferred "Mike from Dirty Jobs" for a clue

8. Sign of something gone bad : ODOR

9. Raymond James Stadium NFLer : BUC - Rrrr....I went with RAM, and should have paid attention to the abbr. in the clue

10. Encouraging word : OLÉ

11. Playground retort : CAN TOO - I tried YOU too & ARE too

12. Holy Roman emperor, 1209-'15 : OTTO IV

13. Grinder : PESTLE - argh~! I keep missing this one, as well

20. Exasperated words : "NOW WHAT~!?!?"

23. Fat substitute : OLESTRA - I remember seeing this on "healthy" potato chips

24. Brief creator: Abbr. : ATTorney - because Fruit of the Loom did not fit

25. Goof : BLOOPER

26. Like La Niña, e.g.: Abbr. : FEMinine

28. Gingerbread house adornment : GUM DROP - some day I hope to build a gingerbread house in the style of a castle with kids of my own

29. Reveals, poetically : OPES

31. Some parlors, briefly : OTBs - Off-Track Betting

35. Hopeless : LOSE - LOSE

36. Joker's array : GOOD ONES - got stuck thinking of the jokers found in a deck of cards

37. Relaxed responses : AHs

39. __ Lingus : AER

41. Key of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 24 : F SHARP - OK, so I proudly filled in -M--OR, then waited....and got duped - not A MINOR, not D MAJOR, etc. - I think Mr. Silk checks in and tries to out-wit us

42. Vent part : LOUVER - ARGH~~!!  Took way too long to come to me

43. "Measure for Measure" deputy : ANGELO - Learning moment for me - did not know this was Shakespeare - the Wiki

44. Prison buddy? : PEN-PAL

47. Small flying predators : WASPS

49. Zaire's Mobutu __ Seko : SESE

50. Quark locale : ATOM

52. "Hey!" relative : psst~!

54. Needle : RIB

55. Pierre's pinch? : SEL - Frawnche "salt"

57. Pierre's permission : OUI - more Frawnche, this time "yes"


Notes from C.C.:

1) To reader Bob Niles: You made a comment on Dec 24 saying your newspaper has no circles for the "Silent Night" puzzle. Can you let me know the name of your newspaper? You can email me Also, to our blog regulars, if anyone knows how to get in touch with Bob Niles via his Google Plus profile, please let me know. I can't find his email address.

2) Happy Birthday to Dudley our Handsome Pilot! Dudley has been with the blog for almost four years and is an avid fan of Downton Abbey & Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!  Dudley met the great Karl Kasell in a private meeting, if I remember correctly. Click here for more photos of him. They were taken during Montana's visit to Northeast in September, 2013.

Left to Right: Marti, Dudley, Hondo & Montana

Dec 26, 2014

Friday December 26, 2014 David Poole

Theme: Signed On - The animal in each theme entry is replaced by its corresponding Zodiac sign.

17A. Certain pickup, to an astrologer? : ARIES TRUCK. Ram truck.

27A. Gorton's product, to an astrologer? : PISCES STICKS. Fish sticks. We got some freshly caught crappie yesterday.

44A. Stubborn, to an astrologer? : TAURUS-HEADED. Bullheaded.

58A. Courageous, to an astrologer? : LEO-HEARTED. Lion-hearted.

Bonus entry: HOROSCOPE (11D. Daily reading for many). Its grid counterpart SET UP SHOP (33D. Hang out one's shingle, say) is not related to the theme, so HOROSCOPE must come up at the filling process.

C.C. here, giving Lemonade a well-deserved honeymoon break. I like the theme. Don't remember seeing this approach before. I just told D-Otto the other day how I value originality in themes.


 1. 45-Down component : BEAD. And 45D. You can count on it : ROSARY. Nice clue for ROSARY.

5. Sunday service component : CHOIR

10. RWR successor : GHWB. Bush Sr. Neither are known for their initials. Price to pay for HOROSCOPE & GLUTEI,

14. Humdinger : LULU

15. Hamlin of NASCAR : DENNY. Not familiar with the guy.

16. "Firecracker" singer Lisa : LOEB

19. Eurasian border river : URAL

20. Peer : NOBLE

21. Some are smooth : OPERATORS. Love Sade's "Smooth Operator".

23. CBS franchise since 2000 : CSI

24. Canadian loc. of the fictional Green Gables : PEI (Prince Edward Island)

26. Chicago suburb : NILES. Known for what, TTP/Abejo? We also have CDT (5D. Summer hours in Chi.)

31. Where to find MSFT : NASDAQ. OK, Microsoft.

34. Delinquency result, perhaps : REPO

35. Galeón cargo : ORO. Spanish ship.

36. Not kosher : TREF. Dictionary says it's literally "torn" in Hebrew.

37. Dawn goddess : EOS

38. Tea serving? : SPOT

39. Word with paint or blanket : WET

40. Risks : BETS

42. People with a maize god : AZTECS. First encounter with this maize god. We don't have rice god in China.

47. Entrance to la maison : PORTE. French for "door".

48. San Francisco's __ Hill : NOB

49. Guitar wood : ASH

52. Richard Crenna played him in the TV miniseries "On Wings of Eagles" : ROSS PEROT. Unaware of this series. True story?

55. Unstable : ROCKY

57. Dept. of Labor arm : OSHA

60. Othello, for one : MOOR

61. Vegged out : LAZED

62. Transvaal settler : BOER

63. Make out : ESPY. Clue works for SPOT as well.

64. O's, for one : ALERS. Baltimore Orioles. American Leaguers.

65. Mex. title : SRTA


1. Vin choice : BLANC

2. Greek capital : EUROS. Easy elimination of ATHENS due to letter count.

3. Cover for a crime : ALIBI

4. Two-person contest : DUEL
6. Intrepid : HEROIC

7. "Movin' __": "The Jeffersons" theme : ON UP

8. Tees off : INCENSES

9. Cracker brand since 1904 : RY KRISP. Based here in MN.

10. Squat targets : GLUTEI

12. Grow tiresome : WEAR

13. Energy-related units: Abbr. : BBLS (Barrels)

18. Antique tone : SEPIA

22. __ flute : ALTO

25. Legal title: Abbr. : ESQ

27. Email attachment : PDF

28. Jagged, as a leaf's edge : EROSE

29. "Grinding It Out" autobiographer : KROC. I sure need "Ray" or "McDonald" in the clue.

30. Barflies : SOTS

31. Food package amt. : NT WT

32. Flooring calculation : AREA

37. Heavenly : ETHEREAL. Nailed this entry with one letter in place.

38. Benchmark: Abbr. : STD

40. Do a new parent's job : BURP

41. Pip's romantic interest in "Great Expectations" : ESTELLA. Never read "Great Expectations". You?

42. Stir : ADO

43. Donkey relative : ZEBRA
46. Pollen bearer : ANTHER

49. Woods or Irons : ACTOR. James Woods. Jeremy Irons. Not CLUB.

50. Shooting sport : SKEET

51. Monster slain by Hercules : HYDRA

52. Spanish Steps site : ROME

53. Spanish bears : OSOS

54. Exude : OOZE

56. Mars and Saturn : ORBS

59. Money mgrs.? : EDs. Money magazine.


Note to Barry G:

Irish Miss asked if you could share your seafood linguine recipe.

Dec 25, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014 John Lieb

Theme: "Santa's Helpers"

Merry Christmas, everyone! This was a very fun puzzle, hiding Santa's little helpers in the grid.

18. Eponymous Detroit exec : EDSEL FORD.

19. Speaks for __ : ITSELF.

31. Keebler cookie brand : E.L. FUDGE.

32. "Go right ahead" : FEEL FREE. Help yourself to another E.L. FUDGE cookie, Santa!

54. Actress Jenna et al. : ELFMANS. I remember her from "Dharma & Greg."

55. Third quarters? : TWELFTHS. 1 quarter is a quarter, 2 quarters are eighths, and 3 quarters are twelfths?

36. Seasonal children's book about a watchful worker, who is graphically represented eight times in this puzzle : THE ELF ON THE SHELF. The book comes with a posable elf.
Unusual grid, with 16 columns instead of the typical 15.  And unusual theme, but really cute with all those ELFs posing on their 3-black-square-shelves! (See diagram at the bottom.) I found this one to be Friday-tough in certain sections. I'm curious to see if you had the same problems I did, so let's go over them one by one: 


1. Resting places : CAMP SITES. Not sure how the two are necessarily related, but perps forced me.

10. Port south of Hamilton, Ont. : ERIE, PA. Shout out to Abejo!

16. Approximately : ON OR ABOUT.

17. One in a shower : METEOR. Great clue. I was picturing something like this.

20. "Gnarly!" : RAD.

21. Lean-__ : TOs. In your resting place?

22. Bit of baby talk : GOO.

23. Vine genus : CLEMATIS. A couple perps gave me this one - I grow them every summer on a trellis in my garden.

27. Gains : PROFITS.

33. Star Wars letters : SDI. Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative.

34. Author Fleming : IAN.

35. Swiss river : AAR.

43. Feminine principle : YIN. Male is Yang.

44. Guitar, slangily : AXE. This took three perps. But the ELF nailed it, I bet.

45. __ green : PEA.

46. Dives : PLUMMETS.

50. Gives a hand : DEALS TO.

56. '80s Peppard co-star : MR. T. On "The A-Team."

57. Pres. after JAG : CAA. James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur.

58. Canada's smallest prov. : P.E.IPrince Edward Island.

59. 1962 Best Picture title locale : ARABIA. Lawrence of.

62. Refuel, as red blood cells : OXYGENATE. I filled it in immediately.

66. House speaker before Boehner : PELOSI. She, on the other hand, took a couple perps.

67. House flipper, e.g. : RENOVATOR. The ELF did a Mickey Mouse job on his kitchen reno.

68. 2002 eBay acquisition : PAYPAL.

69. False claims : PRETENSES.


1. Pressure : COERCE.

2. Still __: nonetheless : AND ALL.

3. Rapper who played Chuck Berry in "Cadillac Records" : MOS DEF.

4. Calculus lead-in : PRE.

5. Pitcher Maglie : SAL.

6. Pugilists' org. : IBFInternational Boxing Federation. Of course, the ELF nailed it.

7. Schoolmate of Blair, Jo and Natalie on "The Facts of Life" : TOOTIE. The brace-wearing, roller-skating girl who always said "We're in trouuuu-ble!"

8. Barcelona bread : EUROS. So much easier to remember the currency of all the European countries now, isn't it?

9. Criteria: Abbr. : STDS. Standards.

10. Ellis Island arrival : ÉMIGRÉ.

11. Update the workshop : RETOOL. Santa promised that next year, the ELF would actually get some power tools.

12. Cancellation notice : ITS OFF.

13. Big shoes to fill? : EEE.

14. Beltway insider, for short : POL. The Capital Beltway in Washington, D.C., that is.

15. Sound from the pound : ARF.

24. Deliberate : MUSE. The verb, not the adjective.

25. Extra: Abbr. : ADD'L.

26. "I've waited all week for this!" : TGIF. My regular comment every Friday.

27. Phnom __ : PENH.

28. Requiem title word : IRAE. "Dies Irae," or "Day of Wrath."

29. Blue-green shade : TEAL.

30. Medieval peon : SERF. I kept reading this as "Medieval POEM."

32. The way it goes : FATE.

34. "New Sensation" band : INXS. I always used to pronounce this as "inks," until I found out it should be "In ex-ESS."

36. Kind : TYPE.

37. Incline : HILL.

38. Ample, informally : ENUF. Have you had ENUF with the ELF, already?

39. Feed in a stable : OATS.

40. Sport with blades : EPEE.

41. Elite commando : SEAL. Acronym for SEa, Air and Land.

42. Word with mile or marathon : HALF.

47. 1997 Hanson #1 hit : MMMBOP. Never heard this one. It reached #1 in 27 countries, including the US.

48. Tomei of "My Cousin Vinny" : MARISA. Ah, MARISA, good to see you back!

49. Require : ENTAIL.

50. Wrestler Johnson known as "The Rock" : DWAYNE.

51. March observance, for short : ST. PATS.

52. Hall of Fame placekicker Lou Groza's apt nickname : THE TOE. I totally forgot this one.

53. Basketry twigs : OSIERS.

55. One imposing levies : TAXER.

57. Inc. cousin : CORP.

59. Online store offering : APP.

60. Stephen of "In Dreams" : REA.

61. Prince __ Khan : ALY.

63. Grasped : GOT.

64. Christmas __ : EVE. Bad ELF!  You get coal in your stocking this year.

65. Indian flatbread : NAN.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good...morning?

Marti Elf

Notes from C.C.:

1) Please click here for a special "Gift Exchange" puzzle from Erik Agard, who made two of my favorite LA Times Monday puzzles last year. Quite a few bloggers, crossword constructors, top solvers contributed to the clues. 

2) Happy Birthday to our always positive and caring Yellowrocks (Kathy). Hope you have a fantastic visit with your son, grandson and daughter-in-law today. We also say Happy Birthday to our math professor Fermatprime, who's been with the blog since 2009. Happy Birthday also to car expert Zcarguy, who pops in to the blog from time to time. I faintly recall Zcarguy grew up in Lebanon. 

Kathy & Buddha, Japan, 2008. Kathy speaks Japanese.
Fermatprime (Lorraine)

Zcarguy & his wife

Dec 24, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014 Don Gagliardo

Theme:  All is calm, all is bright.  The circled letters, in order, spell the word NIGHT; and each letter is silent in both of the down and across words in which it appears.   If you didn't get the circles, I don't know how you'd deal with it.

Silent N:
20 A. Spreadsheet figure : COLUMN TOTAL.  Typical spreadsheet math.
6 D. "Ave Maria," e.g. : HYMNA religious song.

Silent I:
25 A. Take by force : SEIZE.  Suddenly and Forcibly take hold of something.
11 D. Stereo components : RECEIVERS.  They convert broadcast signals into visible or audible form.

Silent G:
33 A. Prosecutors, at times : ARRAIGNERS.  They bring someone [a perp, perhaps] before the court to answer a criminal charge.
10 D. Station identification letters : CALL SIGN.  Unique alphanumeric designations of  transmitting stations.  They are used in commercial radio, amateur radio, transportation and the military.

Silent H:
37 A. Cheering word : RAH.  Perhaps shortened from hooray/hoorah, 'cuz we're just that lazy.
32 D. Present day? : CHRISTMAS.  The day when Christians commemorate the birth of Jesus.  The Magi brought him gifts, and so we give each other gifts.  The "present" day can be either today, Christmas Eve, as we celebrate with the Bumpa clan, or Christmas day, as we celebrate with my mom and sister.

Silent T:
54. Clever remark : MOT.  Actually BON MOT,  the French designation for a witticism.
32 D. Present day? : CHRISTMAS.  Making a second appearance, 'cuz - why not?  It's that kind of day.

And the unifier:
55 A. Classic 6-Down suggested by this puzzle's circles : SILENT NIGHT.

One might quibble, perhaps, with the degree of silence some of these letters actually present.  But let's just go with it.  Who but Hard G Don Gagliardo could so exploit the vagaries of the English language, to bring us such a brilliant and timely construction?  This is his present day present to all of us.

Hi gang, JazzBumpa here, happy to present you with Don's holiday greeting, and a whole bunch of music.


1. Flexible lunch hour : ONE-ISH.  More or less 1 O'clock, kinda, sorta. 

7. PC speed unit : M-SEC.  Millisecond.  1/1000 second.

11. D.C. United's __ Stadium : RFK.  Home of the soccer team, named for former attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

14. Marvel Entertainment parent company : DISNEY.  Entertainment empire.

15. Cinders of old comics : ELLA.   Here is her introductory panel from 1925.  You might need to blow it up to make it readable.  Read more here.  Turn her name around to suss the inspiration.

16. Reef dweller : EEL.  Any of 800 species of elongated, mostly predatory fish.

17. Needing to be bailed out, maybe : IN A JAM.  Some sort of tough spot, possibly jail.

18. "Double, double, __ and trouble": "Macbeth" : TOIL.  "Fire burn and cauldron bubble." Witches' incantation.

19. DCIV ÷ IV : CLI.  Roman numerals.  604/4 = 151.   How did the Romans ever master division?

22. Individual : SSN :: corp. : __ : E I NEmployer Identification Number.

23. Hospital fluids : SERA.  Fluids separated from clotted blood, unlike plasma, which comes from unclotted blood.  Did anyone besides Marti know that?

24. "Impressive!" : OOH!  Like this puzzle.

27. Happen afterward : ENSUE.  Does this imply cause and effect?

29. Capital on the Dnieper River : KIEV.    Capital and largest city of Ukraine.  I've heard they have a Great Gate there.

30. Tot's recitation : ABC'S.   1-2-3's, too.

38. Nod from the maestro : CUE.  Indication you can start playing now.  And much appreciated after 179 bars of rest.

39. Short or gross measure : TON.   A short TON is the 2000 lb. measure we are used to in the U.S.   A gross TON is the same as a long TON, 2249 lbs. 

40. See 59-Across : RAP.
59. With 40-Across, trumped-up charge : BUM.  A BUM RAP is a false charge resulting in a miscarriage of justice.

41. Ones making the rounds? : BAR TENDERS.  Mixologists preparing rounds of drinks.  Clever!

44. "The Thin Man" pooch : ASTA.  Movie dog.

45. Dot on un mapa : ISLA.  A Spanish island.

46. Capital of Senegal : DAKARUn Mapa.

48. Debate subject : ISSUE.  Topic under discussion.

50. Bon __: Comet rival : AMI.  Scouring powders.

51. Sports fan's factoid : STATistic.

60. Holiday purchase : TREE.  Yo, Tannenbaum!

61. Remove all doubt : BE SURE.

62. A, in Oaxaca : UNA.  Spanish indefinite article.

63. Gremlins and Matadors : AMC'SAmerican Motors Corp. automobileS from the past.

64. Lustrous fabric : SATEEN.   A fabric made with satin weave structure using spun yarn instead of filament.

65. Mag staff : EDS.  Abbreviated editors.

66. "... be good for goodness' __!" : SAKE.    Pam provides the details, with  a little help from her friends.

67. Determined ahead of time : PRESET.


1. Like many Keats poems : ODIC.   He wrote the most ODIC of odes.  Fortunately, most of them are neither odious nor oddities.

2. Bogotá boys : NINOS.  Boys in Bogotá speak Spanish.

3. Online transaction : E-SALE.   A unit of E-Tail.

4. Harms : INJURES.

5. Crew member : SEAMAN.  In the Navy

7. Copycat : ME-TOOER.  Conveniently constructed, but a welcome reprieve from the ubiquitous APER.

8. A deadly sin : SLOTH.  For those too lazy to indulge in gluttony and lust.

9. Oscar-winning director Kazan : ELIA.   Gentleman's Agreement, On the Waterfront.

12. "__ Navidad": Feliciano song : FELIZ.   Merry Christmas in Spanish.

13. Kevin of "Dave" : KLINE.

21. Took the show on the road : TOURED.

26. Poetic time of day : E'EN.  Even I know this is evening, thus eventually evening me with all of you.

28. Post-workout destination : SAUNA.  Steam bath.

29. Mall stand : KIOSK.

30. Wall St. hedger : ARB.  Slothful way of indicating an arbitrageur,  one who attempts to profit from price inefficiencies in the market by making simultaneous trades that offset each other and capturing risk-free profits.

31. Cote cry : BAA.

34. Transport in an Ellington classic : A-TRAIN.   The quickest way to Sugar Hill in Harlem.

35. Informant : RAT.

36. Hotel amenity : SPA.

38. Instruments that sound similar to glockenspiels : CELESTAS.  But with a softer and more subtle timbre.  It was invented by Auguste Mustel in Paris in 1886.  Tchaikovsky was the first major composer to use it in an orchestral setting, first in The Voyadova, then - most famously  - in the Sugar Plum Fairie's dance in The Nutcracker.  You can hear one starting at about 6:40 of this video.

42. The Tigers of the Ohio Valley Conf. : TSU.  Tennessee State University.

43. Attorney general under Ronald Reagan : ED MEESE.   Not related to Mickey, as far as I know,

44. Entertainer : ARTISTE.

47. Equally hot or cold? : AS NEAR.   I don't quite get this one.

48. Inspire deeply (with) : IMBUE.  As with a particular feeling or quality.

49. In good shape : SOUND.  Hale and hardy.

50. Smart guy? : ALECK.   My comrade at arms.

52. Fits of fever : AGUES.   Fever and shivering.

53. French hens count : THREE.   You know the song.

56. "__ la Douce" : IRMA.  The story of a Parisienne prostitute.

57. Recipe meas. : TBSPTaBle SPoon.  Alternatively, to make out in the kitchen?.

58. Hiker's shelter : TENT.  Portable lodging.

Beautiful start to the holiday with this brilliant puzzle from Don G.  Hope you all enjoyed it, and are happy, healthy and ready to dive into the new year.

Cool Regards and Feliz Navidad, Happy Kwanzaa, Fabulous Festivus, a not very Saturnine Saturnalia, or joy at whichever near-solstice celebration you prefer.

Note from Constructor "Hard G":
During this past July, I thought of the book title, “Silent Spring”, and decided to make a puzzle with circles where the circled letters are literally silent S-P-R-I-N-G.  After starting the puzzle, I realized that there was also the possibility of “Silent Night”, and that there was enough time to submit a Christmas-themed puzzle before the end of the year.  So I started looking for silent N-I-G-H-T letters in words, and came across CHRISTMAS as having a silent T.  Then it struck me that what a coincidence, the H is also silent, and these are the last two letters of the silent NIGHT.  It was then a matter of arranging CHRISTMAS so that I could place the other three silent letters higher up in the grid, and SILENT NIGHT would go in the bottom right corner.  It was a lucky day that I put all this together.

Dec 23, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke

Theme: Blue Christmas - My wish is that none of you are affected by these conditions for Christmas.

21A. Hitchhiked : BUMMED A RIDE

39A. Aid in driving uphill : LOW GEAR

57A. At some future date : DOWN THE LINE

3D. Deplorably bad effort : SAD ATTEMPT

30D. Sharp-billed game fish : BLUE MARLIN

Santa here but I feel a bit like Scrooge; there's no reveal for you today. Gail and Bruce didn't even provide stars...but it is a fine present anyway. A tight theme, very little dross and several CSO's (and no ice). Several entries were definitely déjà vu.


1. Hushed "Hey!" : "PSST!"

5. PC image file format : JPEG. (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

9. Quaint word of dismissal : PSHAW

14. Obsessed whale hunter : AHAB

15. Guthrie of "Alice's Restaurant" fame : ARLO. A Thanksgiving song.

16. Mozart's "Don Giovanni," e.g. : OPERA

17. Cribs and cradles : BEDS

18. Navy mascot : GOAT

19. Prey grabber : TALON

20. Place for a flock : LEA and around the corner, 24D. Meadow mom : EWE
23. Big name in taco sauce : ORTEGA

25. Remote button : MUTE

26. Handles deftly, as a baton : TWIRLS

29. __ Sapphire: gin brand : BOMBAY. Acceptable, Tinbeni?
33. Joyful shout : CHEER

35. Like wines aged in certain barrels : OAKY

37. "On the Waterfront" director Kazan : ELIA

38. Sing without words : HUM

42. Address in an online favorites list, e.g. : URL. (uniform resource locator)

43. Chalet backdrop : ALPS. One for Marti.

45. Tiny chirp : PEEP

46. Past pudgy : OBESE

48. Sound of little feet : PATTER. For all those grandkids out there.

50. "2 Broke Girls," for one : SITCOM. (situation comedy)

52. Pre-med subj. : ANAT.

54. "Shoot!" : "OH DARN!"

62. Fish delicacy : ROE

63. Fill with wonder : AMAZE

64. Silent approvals : NODS. "...And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!"

65. Singer Fitzgerald : ELLA

66. Control tower device : RADAR

67. Eins und zwei : DREI. Something in German.

68. Harbor structure : PIER

69. Bit of salon litter : TRESS

70. Freezer bag feature : SEAL

71. "What You Need" band : INXS. What you need is more Blue Christmas/Buon Natale.


1. Painter Picasso : PABLO

2. Like some cliffs and stockings : SHEER. We know who this is for.

4. "Cougar Town" network : TBS. (Turner Broadcasting System)

5. Rain forest cat : JAGUAR

6. Senior moment? : PROM

7. Jack of old oaters : ELAM. Just one of the many screen deaths of Jack Elam.

8. Informal response to "Did you buy those items I asked for?" : "GOT 'EM"

9. Picnic salad ingredient : POTATO

10. "Skip the sordid details" : "SPARE ME". TMI

11. Prefix with port or pad : HELI

12. 14-time A.L. All-Star : A-ROD

13. Diminish slowly : WANE

21. Old nightclub employee : B GIRL

22. 2000s White House nickname : DUBYA. George "Dubya" Bush

27. Rob of "Parks and Recreation" : LOWE. He has some strange DirecTV ads on the air now.

28. Learned ones : SAGES. Three sages from the East doesn't sound right.

31. Broadcasts : AIRS

32. Prestigious New England law school : YALE. It was hard to believe Splynter missed Yale Men's Ice Hockey, 2013 NCAA Champions, last Saturday's puzzle.

33. Fellow : CHAP

34. Hippy dance : HULA. Even a shout out to our Islanders.

36. Foreign Legion cap : KEPI

40. Talk show tycoon : OPRAH

41. Valium maker : ROCHE

44. Poem divisions : STANZAS

47. Gym specimen : BOD

49. Types into the database : ENTERS

51. Throat tissue : TONSIL

53. Looks after : TENDS

55. High-end watch : ROLEX

56. Gets within a stone's throw of : NEARS

57. Sticker in a tavern target : DART

58. Actor Sharif : OMAR

59. Cross a creek, say : WADE

60. Anecdotal wisdom : LORE

61. Brainstorming contribution : IDEA

65. Prefix with center : EPI


Note from C.C.:

I'm excited to share with you three gorgeous pictures from Lemonade's wedding. They're such a beautiful couple.

Dec 22, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014 Roger Wienberg and Jeff Chen

Theme: A Royal Monday - I'll forgo the pictures because some don't like that first one.

17A. Vietnam War chopper : COBRA HELICOPTER. King Cobra

24A. Supernova named for its apparent resemblance to a crustacean : CRAB NEBULA. King Crab

40A. Publisher with an Antarctic bird logo : PENGUIN CLASSICS. King Penguin

50A. Shade similar to coral : SALMON PINK. King Salmon

60A. Lion, and a hint to critters that begin 17-, 24-, 40- and 50-Across : KING OF THE BEASTS

Argyle here. A lot of themeage for a Monday; three grid spanners, wow! Plus, it appears to be a debut for Roger Wienberg.


1. Address for a Southern belle : MA'AM

5. California wine county : NAPA

9. Chip-in at a doc's office : CO-PAY

14. __ mater : ALMA

15. Preschool basics : ABCs

16. Where to hear high C's : OPERA

20. Measuring stick : RULER

21. Sigh of delight : "AAH!"

22. Atlanta-based news channel : CNN

23. Reverent poem : ODE

29. Caesar's "vidi" : "I SAW". (veni, vidi, vici/I came, I saw, I conquered)

30. Pierre's "Done!" : "FINI!"

31. "Scram, cat!" : "SCAT!". I said, "It can't be SCAT" and yet....

34. Bounty alternative : VIVA. Paper towels.

37. Knife hyped on infomercials : GINSU. No Z.

43. Arrive by corporate jet : FLY IN

44. Sandstorm residue : GRIT

45. Eight, en español : OCHO

46. Pharmaceutical product : DRUG

48. Blessing : BOON

53. "Then what happened?" : "AND?

56. Cunning : SLY

57. Fleur-de-__ : LIS

58. Magazine copy : ISSUE

65. "Too rich for my blood" : "I'M OUT!". Poker, when the bet is too high.

66. Ecstatic review : RAVE

67. Dispense, with "out" : METE

68. Pond critters : NEWTs. The juvenile is called an eft. Both are crossword staples.

69. Was in debt : OWED

70. River of Hades : STYX


1. Close-up lens : MACRO

2. Not whispered : ALOUD

3. Walk leisurely : AMBLE

4. Mature filly : MARE

5. "Not for me" : "NAH"

6. President in a stovepipe hat, familiarly : ABE

7. Techie training site : PC LAB

8. Himalayan, e.g. : ASIAN

9. Murmur lovingly : COO

10. Like across and down: Abbr. : OPP. (opposite)

11. Place for animal vaccinations : PET CLINIC

12. Competition setting : ARENA

13. Entertaining story : YARN

18. Parts of circles : ARCs

19. "Hell's Kitchen" contestant : CHEF

25. Sitarist Shankar : RAVI

26. Bowling over : AWING

27. Major leagues, in baseball slang : BIGS

28. What singers sing in when they don't harmonize : UNISON

29. Trendsetting socialite : IT GIRL

31. Sunblock letters : SPF. (sun protection factor)

32. Cartoon frame : CEL

33. Words said with impatience : ANY DAY NOW

35. DVD predecessor : VCR

36. Suspect's need : ALIBI

38. Org. with .edu addresses : SCH. (school)

39. Support gp. for troops : USO. (United Service Organizations)

41. E pluribus __ : UNUM

42. Like __ of bricks : ATON

47. Game often involving a cart : GOLF

49. Dust Bowl refugee : OKIE

50. "Ghostbusters" goo : SLIME

51. The "N" in TNT : NITRO

52. "Fiddle-faddle!" : "PSHAW!"

53. Balance sheet item : ASSET

54. Off-the-wall : NUTTY

55. Spay or neuter : DESEX

56. Tattooist's surface : SKIN

59. Wal-Mart warehouse club : SAM'S

61. Belly : GUT

62. Extra-play qtrs. : OTs. (overtime)

63. Time for last-minute Christmas wrapping : EVE. Almost!

64. Stream bottom : BED


Note from C.C.:

Today we celebrate the 70th birthday of our sweet Misty! On and off the blog, she's gentle and caring. "Gimme a break" for some unfair clues is the harshest thing she's ever said on this blog.

Misty and her husband Rowland

Dec 21, 2014

Sunday December 21, 2014 Mike Peluso

Theme: "It's a Start" - A? is added to the start of the second word of each theme entry. The ? repeats the starting letter of the original phrase, so essentially "A" sound is inserted.

25A. Speech at a revival? : TENT ADDRESS. Tent dress.

27A. Variety of stars on a clear night? : COSMIC ARRAY. Cosmic ray. Four of the phrases have ARR structure.
56A. Only matchmaker in town? : LONE ARRANGER. Long Ranger. (Lone Ranger! Thanks, Owen!) My parents' marriage was arranged, so were the marriages of all my three aunts and uncle. Zi You Lian Ai (Free Choice of Romantic Love) came to us in early 1980s. Quite a western concept then.

83A. Approval from above? : HEAVEN ASSENT. Heaven-sent.
114A. St. Louis tourist? : ARCH ARRIVAL. Archrival.

119A. Rap sheet listing? : BACK ARRESTS. Backrests.

36D. Ambush during a "wrestling" match? : THUMB ATTACK. Thumbtack. Three of the original phrase are one-words. No odd man out.

41D. Extra clothes? : SPARE ATTIRE. Spare tire.

Just when you think the letter addition/deletion/alteration options are exhausted, Mike came up with this creative approach.

The grid is expertly laid out. Mike places 6 theme entries Across and 2 Down. He also makes sure his longest non-theme entries are shorter than his shortest theme entries.

Also, no cheater square (very difficult to achieve on Sundays) and only 67 black squares.


1. Anjou relative : BOSC. I loved the juicy pears Don G sent me via Harry & David.

5. Sleeveless garment : VEST

9. Chimú conquerors : INCAS

14. Give credit for : OWE TO
19. Russian city near the Ukraine border : OREL. Go eat a worm if you miss this city again. Our third encounter with it this week. See it?

20. Will-wisp connector : O'- THE

21. Fed. security : T-NOTE

22. Preferences : LIKES

23. Black Sea region : ASIA MINOR. Four of Mike's 9 non-theme entries intersect.

 29. Indulged : CATERED TO

30. 1969 Three Dog Night hit : ONE. I got via crosses. I just kept thinking that annoying "Who Let the Dogs Out" song. The Baha Men.

31. Alley prowler : TOM. Poor D-Otto!

32. Protected whale : SEI. It's not clued as "Italy six" because we also have SEIS (3D. Ocho menos dos) in the grid.

33. Scand. kingdom : NOR (Norway)

34. Neaten again, as a mustache : RE-TRIM. I just had my hair trimmed again yesterday. 2 inches off, as usual. Some day I'll get courageous and cut it really short like Marti's.

37. Putting up : ERECTING

40. "Sorry to hear that" : SO SAD

44. Essen exclamation : ACH

45. Primary : MAIN

47. Metz milk : LAIT

48. Grand venue : OLE OPRY. Feels like a partial to me.

50. Tag announcement : YOU'RE IT

52. Transp. to the Hamptons : LIRR (Long Island Rail Road)

53. Like Vivaldi's "Spring" : IN E. I filled in IN?, then waited.

54. First name in spydom : MATA

55. "My treat" : ON ME

60. Angling tool : ROD

61. Ora pro __ : NOBIS. Pray for us.

63. Gershwin's "Rialto Ripples," e.g. : RAG. Difficult clue for me.

64. Gobi abode : YURT. Look at this polling yurt.

65. Missouri NFL team : CHIEFS. Oh, Kansas City Chiefs.

67. "... some kind of __?" : A NUT

69. Rum __ Tugger: "Cats" character : TUM

71. More, on a score : PIU. Tricky little word.

72. Prefix with decimal : HEXA. Oh, another six.

73. Send with an email : ATTACH

75. Mosque leader : IMAM

77. Hush-hush maritime org. : ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence). Navy's CIA. Not well-known, but important.

79. Bit of mischief : ANTIC

82. Word with bird or call : CAT

87. Aleutian island : ATKA. And 120D.  Nautical rope : TYE. Both gimmes for Spitzboov. ONI too, of course.

88. Financial pros : CPAs

90. Jeanne d'Arc, e.g.: Abbr. : STE

91. Buck ending : AROO

92. Like trees in the wind : SWAYING

94. Badminton item : RACQUET. Lovely 7-letter entry.

96. Query indicating betrayal : ET TU

97. Mil. addresses : APOs

98. Sturgeon delicacy : ROE

99. Invite to one's penthouse, say : ASK UP

100. Club for a short par-3, perhaps : NINE IRON. Nailed it, though I need at least a 7 iron for a short par-3.
103. Cunning : SHREWD

105. I problem? : EGO

107. Frau, across the Rhine: Abbr. : MME

108. That, in Tampico : ESA

109. Eastern path : TAO. Or DAO in Mandarin.
110. Bart Simpson catchphrase : AY, CARAMBA. Sparkling!

121. Heathrow lander : AEROPLANE. And 1D. Former Heathrow lander : BOAC. British Overseas Airways Corporation.Read more here. It ceased existence in 1974 but merged with another airline and became today's British Airways.

122. Raise : BREED

123. No-brainer course : EASY A

124. Milieu for Sharks and Penguins : RINK. For JD & Splynter.

125. Nevada city on I-80 : ELKO. We have an ELKO in MN also. They have a big flea market.
126. Literature Nobelist Gide : ANDRE

127. Expensive : STEEP

128. Barrie baddie : SMEE

129. School official : DEAN


2. About : OR SO

4. Din : CLAMOR

5. Message medium : VOICE MAIL

6. View from Catania : ETNA. I did not know Catania. Wiki said it's the "second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy".

7. Edit, in a way : SHORTEN. What Rich does to my clues. I'm not a wordy person, but sometimes I can't express what I want to say concisely.

8. Intense fear : TERROR
9. __-bitty : ITTY

10. Shreveport-to-Little Rock dir. : NNE

11. Vanity : CONCEIT

12. Reach : ATTAIN

13. It may be saved : SEAT. I thought of FILE first.

14. Grayish-pink color : OLD ROSE. Stumped me last time it appeared in our puzzle. I'd like to be a red rose in my next life. You? What kind of flower do you want to be?

15. Teletype machine area : WIRE ROOM. New term to me. We need our newswoman PK back.

16. Barely managed, with "out" : EKED
17. Try out : TEST

18. Bologna bone : OSSO

24. Villainous "Austin Powers" alter ego : MINI-ME. I don't like his picture. Please don't link.

26. Wide-screen TV spot : DEN

28. Florida's __ Island : AMELIA. Never heard of it. I thought it's named after Amelia Earhart. Nope.

32. Saddle attachment : STIRRUP

34. Synthetic silk : RAYON

35. Budget prefix : ECONO
38. Have in stock : CARRY
39. Old game show prop that contestants didn't want to hear : GONG. I'll try Gong Li next time. Rich probably will change the clue. He might not if he sees this picture. Gong Li is the most recognizable actress in Asia.

42. Fromm's "The __ Loving" : ART OF. Have any of you read the book?

43. Twosomes : DYADS

46. "Use __ lose ..." : IT OR
49. Freeloader : LEECH

51. Isabella, por ejemplo : REINA

52. Pea, e.g. : LEGUME
53. Pitched properly : IN TUNE

57. Indigenous : NATIVE. Xi'an has it own dialect. Much easier than Cantonese but outsiders can't understand it.

58. Melodious piece : ARIOSO. Rooted in Aria.

59. Ostrich's cousin : RHEA

62. Similar items : SUCH

66. Slangy veto : IXNAY. Zippy 5-letter entry.

68. More than just this : THESE

70. Dugong relative : MANATEE

73. Gulf of Guinea capital : ACCRA

74. __ bar : TAPAS

76. Cuban patriot José : MARTI. Hey, our Marti got a rare shout-out! Thanks, Mike.

78. Javert's rank: Abbr. : INSP.  Javert is that jerk inspector in ' "Les Misérables".

80. "You don't have to tell me" : I KNOW

81. Behind bars : CAGED

84. Business letter abbr. : ATTN

85. More like a lemon : SOURER

86. Like some golf penalties : TWO-STROKE. Hate when this happens. One stroke is enough.

89. Narrow victory : SQUEAKER

93. B-flat equivalent : A-SHARP

95. Go from coach to business, say : UPGRADE

96. As one : EN MASSE

97. Angels' home : ANAHEIM. Mike's team is Mariners.

101. "What a long day!" : I'M BEAT

102. Glitzy winter event, with "the" : OSCARS

104. Muddied : ROILED

106. Crew member : OAR

110. "The Winner Takes It All" singers : ABBA

111. It may be spun, in more ways than one : YARN. Indeed.

112. Kept in the loop, briefly : CC'ED. Oh me!

113. Mil. rations : MREs

114. Ominous letters after "See me" : ASAP. I had ??AP very early on.

115. Secretary of Education Duncan : ARNE

116. Low-lying area : VALE

117. "My Way" lyricist : ANKA

118. Spanish province or its capital : LEON. No idea. But its Google images are gorgeous.

Congratulations to Lemonade, who's getting married today. Lemonade has been blogging for us since March 2010. I can count the days he missed his write-ups. So happy to see him find his soul mate and settle down.