Apr 20, 2017

Thursday April 20 2017 Mike Peluso

Theme: Clecho Cluster - two closely-related pairs of clues.

17A. Breakdown : CATEGORIZED LIST. Like my monthly spending report from BofA. I won't tell you how each category breaks down, but I'm sure you can guess that "Food!" is a significant slice of the pie chart.

25A. Breakdown : ENGINE FAILURE. In all the flying I've done I've thankfully only experienced one engine failure - on a 737 climbing out of Las Vegas. There was a "pop" sound and the plane seemed to slide backwards for a second. Caused a few raised eyebrows, but no-one was heard to ...

42A. Break down : WEEP IN ANGUISH.

55A. Break down : CHEMICALLY DECAY. Aluminum 26 has a half-life of 720,000 years, whereas the isotope Aluminum 29 has a half-life of 6.6 minutes. I have absolutely no idea why.

Fun offering from Mike today. The theme is nicely done; the grid has eight "cheater squares" (Rich calls them "helper" squares) but four of them are the result of the two 13-letter entries so you can't do anything about those. There's some lively fill, two or three new words for me and some canny cluing to keep us on our toes. Throw in a smattering of French, Spanish and Portuguese and it all adds up to a good Thursday challenge. Let's see what jumps out.


1. Prepare for a car trip : GAS UP

6. Sack : BAG

9. Swedish autos : SAABS. The company went out of business in 2012.

14. Nearly half of New England : MAINE. With GAS UP atop MAINE I was looking askance at some odd letter progressions for the downs but it all came good in the end.

15. In the fashion of : A LA.  For example, the cajun dish Blackened Catfish a la Mer. Food!

16. St. __ Fire : ELMOS

20. Orlando-to-Miami dir. : S.S.E.

21. Hosp. staffer : L.P.N. Licensed Practical Nurse.

22. Ebbs : ABATES

23. Ready : SET

24. Corrida cry : OLÉ!

32. Island near Java : BALI

34. 1945 conference city : YALTA. Where Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill carved up post-war Europe.

35. Snitch : RAT

36. Leche, across the Pyrenees : LAIT. Your café con leche in Spain turns into café au lait in France.

37. "The Fall" novelist : CAMUS

38. Italian beach resort : LIDO. This was my last fill. I couldn't remember RADO and I wasn't sure of the actor URICH so I had to stare this one down. We had an open-air swimming pool in the town where I grew up called The Lido, so something jogged my memory regarding the source of the name.

39. Chicago destination, on airline tickets : ORD. O'Hare was originally named Orchard Field, hence ORD.

40. Higgs particle : BOSON. A Higgs Boson walks into a bar and asks everyone to join in an act of penitence. "What are you doing?" asks the barman. "Giving mass."

41. Object of devotion : ICON

46. Balderdash : ROT

47. Angel dust, initially : PCP. Phencyclidine. I knew this! From the movie "Trading Places", just to be quite clear.

48. Round drill : TREPAN. I think this was new to me - it looks vaguely familiar so perhaps I've seen it before. I find it's a pretty scary-looking piece of surgical equipment.

51. Purpose : USE

52. Clothing dept. letters : SML Small, Medium, Large sizes.

58. It may cause a financial crisis : PANIC

59. Coral __ : SEA. Site of a pivotal naval battle in the Pacific War in 1942.

60. Fast Bolt : USAIN. The world's fastest man holds the world records for both the 100m and 200m sprint.

61. Long range : ANDES. Nice clue! The range is 4,350 miles long from Venezuela in the north to Chile in the south.

62. Half a score : TEN

63. Ltr. holder : P.O. BOX


1. Acadia and Terrain : GMCS. SUV's.

2. Remote inserts : AAAS. Batteries for your remote control.

3. Location : SITE

4. Article in Arles : UNE

5. Pirate stereotype : PEG LEG. Avast, me hearties!

6. Amish project : BARN

7. Louisville slugger? : ALI. Another nice clue. Muhammad Ali hailed from Louisville.

8. Mediterranean strip : GAZA

9. Missouri State Fair city : SEDALIA. I confidently entered ST. LOUIS when I had the "S" and was singing "Meet me in St. Louis, meet me at the fair" to myself. Then I discovered I was wrong.

10. 2009 Verizon acquisition : ALLTEL. I don't recall these folks. They were headquartered in Little Rock so that might have something to do with it.

11. Lyon gal pal : AMIE. Funny coincidence with Arles also appearing in a clue today - I got a flyer for a Lyon to Arles wine-tasting river cruise with my wine shipment yesterday.

12. Company leader : BOSS

13. Erstwhile flier : SST

18. __-Free: contact lens solution brand : OPTI. Thank you, crosses.

19. WWII torpedo launchers : E-BOATS

23. Foul mood : SNIT

25. Neglect to say : ELIDE. Another nice clue.

26. Tanzanian border lake : NYASA. I went windsurfing on this lake when I visited Malawi years ago. There are both hippos and crocodiles in the water, so you need to focus on not falling in!

27. Irish statesman de Valera : EAMON. His career had mixed reviews.

28. Heaved : FLUNG

29. "Vega$" actor Robert : URICH

30. Rolex competitor : RADO. Must try and remember this name.

31. 007's alma mater : ETON. 007's creator, Ian Fleming went to Eton. His housemaster disapproved of many things, including "his attitude, his hair oil, his ownership of a car and his relations with women." Not bad for someone yet to turn 18.

32. Lose a big lead in : BLOW

33. Bern's river : AARE

37. Cold + Flu maker : CONTAC

38. Speech therapy subject : LISP. I had speech therapy as a kid to try to correct a stammer that I developed when I was six. It didn't help at all. I finally began to get it under control in my twenties.

40. "Ali" and "Milk," e.g. : BIOPICS

43. Early arrival : PREMIE

44. Daisy preceder : UPSY

45. Got slick after sleet : ICED UP

48. "More __ a Feeling": Boston hit : THAN. Classic ballad. Little late in the blog for a music link but it's too good to miss.

49. Tear : REND

50. Tweed lampooner : NAST. Boss Tweed of the Tammany Ring as portrayed by Nast in 1871.

51. __ Bator : ULAN. One of my school friends was recruited into the British Secret Service. She found it "quite fun" until they wanted to post her to Ulan Bator. Mongolia wasn't quite what she had in mind so she quit.

52. Wound protection : SCAB

53. Spring month in Porto : MAIO. Our Portuguese lesson for the day.

54. Forest feline : LYNX

55. Tax pro : CPA. I hope we all met the tax day deadline this week.

56. Loser to Meade at Gettysburg : LEE

57. That, in Barcelona : ESO. Home of the amazing Sagrada Familia Church. "Que *** es eso?" It's still not finished.

Just time to post the grid, and I think I'm done!