Dec 28, 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018, Tracy Bennett and Victor Fleming

Title: Themeless Friday with a Mini-Theme

I have been doing puzzle blogging here for close to nine years, Friday for 7 years, I think. I have never been faced with a themeless puzzle, so I have spent a very long time looking for a theme in this cooperative effort from Tracy Bennett and Victor Fleming. We had our debut for TRACY on a Wednesday blogged by Steve. He commented she was getting into themeless puzzles. She had one here on a Saturday with Erik Agard recently. In a comment on xwordinfo, she mentioned that Victor Fleming was her "mentor." I really do not know how to write-up a themeless. There are lots of long, sparkly fill FINITUDE,  IT CAN'T BE, NOT A HOPE, TRAWL NET,  PULLAPART, SATIN DOLL, BULL MARKET FAIR ENOUGH and the mini-theme ALMOST HEAVEN /WEST VIRGINIA. Splynter, where are you when I need you? Here he is suggesting that concept in a C.C. SATURDAY.  So here I go...

5. Like 22-Down, according to a song by John Denver (born 12/31/1943): ALMOST HEAVEN. 22D. See 5-Down: WEST VIRGINIA.


1. Caesar's fault: CULPA. In the incomparable luck of the puzzle, hopefully you all saw IM's mea culpa in yesterdays comments.

6. Big box office success, slangily: BOFF. I do not like this fill, as I always thought it was BOFFO, but says "Theater. a box-office hit.; a joke or humorous line producing hearty laughter. a loud hearty laugh; belly laugh."

10. PC scroll key: PGUP. Page up.

14. Rental brand with a hyphen: U-HAUL. Rental was so unhelpful.

15. Like the 1998 Pikachu Illustrator card: RARE. There’s an old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and this card sold at auction in 2016 for more than FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS.

16. Source of fizz: SODA. That is backasswards to me.

17. Stock up time?: BULL MARKET. When stocks are going up it is considered a bull marker; when down a bear market.

19. Does sum work: ADDS. A tiny pun.

20. Hebrew wishing well?: SHALOMשלום is such an important word in Hebrew, and the pun here is wonderful, worth the 25 cents you need to throw in.

21. Shrimper's catcher: TRAWL NET.

23. More than dream: ASPIRE. To direct one's hopes or ambitions toward achieving something

25. Atlanta campus: EMORY. The University.

26. Dreamt, perchance: SLEPT. Shakespeare.

29. Monument Valley features: MESAS. A natural wonder in Utah.  and the clecho 53A. Hilly terrain features: RIDGES.

31. Zero chance: NOT A HOPE.

33. Starfleet Acad. grad at the helm: LT. SULU. Our friend...

38. Woman in the picture: ACTRESS. A tricky generic clue.

39. Old duple-time dances: PAVANES. Duple meter (or duple metre, also known as duple-time) is a musical metre characterized by a primary division of 2 beats to the bar.

40. Some religious sculptures: PIETAS.

41. Limited state: FINITUDE. A finite state or quality. For example, one quickly senses the finitude of his patience.

42. Event with a horse: VAULT. Actually, this is no longer true, as it has been replaced with the vault TABLE.

44. "How Do I Live" singer: RIMES. LeAnn

45. Binary pronoun: HESHE. Is this now an accepted unique pronoun?

49. Quit: RESIGN.

51. "Unbelievable!": IT CAN'T BE. It reminds me of a commercial but I can't remember the product.

57. Retreat: LAIR.

58. Negotiation-ending words: FAIR ENOUGH. This is ridiculously hard, as I have never seen a negotiation end this way.

60. __ hack: LIFE.

61. Hathaway of "Rachel Getting Married": ANNE. Very popular actress, not so much the MOVIE.

62. Willing offer: I'LL GO. Also not easy. But with 64A...

63. Not likely: SLIM. And none.

64. Big name in little bricks: LEGO. We see GO often in this puzzle;  55D. "Too good not to share" breakfast brand: EGGO.

65. Permit: ALLOW.


1. Chicago's "North Siders": CUBS. Baseball- CUBS to the North, WHITE SOX to the South.

2. "Don't think so": UH UH.

3. __ land: LA LA. A CSO to our friend Linda who I hope is doing well now.

4. Separate: PULL APART.

6. Cold reaction: BRR.

7. Symbol of might: OAK TREE. There have been many POEMS extolling the Oak.

8. Famille members: FRERES. Brother, in French families.

9. Cheese served with kalamata olives: FETA. Made from sheep and goat milk. READ.

10. One of a Biblical 150: PSALM. These are poems of praise originated in Hebrew literature and revered also by Christians.

11. "What terrible news!": GOD NO. Oddly placed.-

12. Whence milk: UDDER. A very literal answer.

13. Irish pub pie: PASTY. A pie or turnover, especially one with a savory filling including seasoned meat, fish, or vegetables. These are popular in more places than Irish pubs.

18. Energize: AMP. If you think of being "amped" this makes sense.

24. Provocative little ones: IMPS. Next to amp, this is a cute use of a common fill.

26. __ bean: SNAP.

27. Math points: LOCI.

28. Marion's conclusion: ETTE.

30. Actor Thicke on Canada's Walk of Fame: ALAN. Alan Thicke was born on March 1, 1947, in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada as Alan Willis Jeffrey. He died in 2016.

32. Mountain near Pelion: OSSA.  Tough unless you are up on your Greek geography or mythology. Pelion a wooded mountain in Greece, near the coast of SE Thessaly, which in Greek mythology was held to be the home of the centaurs, and the giants were said to have piled Mounts Olympus and Ossa on its summit in their attempt to reach heaven and destroy the gods. This story has given rise to the phrase pile Pelion on Ossa, meaning to add an extra difficulty or task to something which is already difficult or onerous.

34. Ellington classic: SATIN DOLL.

35. Coined word?: UNUM. E Pluribus...cute clue.

36. News article intro: LEDE. Often mistaken for "lead"

37. Avails oneself of: USES.

39. Drupe remains: PITS. A drupe is any fruit, such as a peach, cherry, plum, etc., consisting of an outer skin, a usually pulpy and succulent middle layer, and a hard and woody inner shell usually enclosing a single seed, or pit.

41. Hardly turning oneself in: FLEEING. The fleeing felon.

43. Polished: URBANE. Thin David Niven.

45. Roman septet: HILLS. Septet = 7. Seven Hills of Rome, the group of hills on or about which the ancient city of Rome was built. The original city of Romulus was built upon Palatine Hill (Latin: Mons Palatinus). The other hills are the Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian, and Aventine (known respectively in Latin as the Mons Capitolinus, Mons Quirinalis, Mons Viminalis, Mons Esquilinus, Mons Caelius, and Mons Aventinus).

46. Much cashless commerce: E-TAIL.

47. Ursula K. Le Guin's genre: SCI-FI. This acclaimed AUTHOR died in 2018.

48. Polyamorous anime subgenre: HAREM. I understand the words but knew nothing about this graphic genre of anime where there is a possibility of a polygamous romantic relationship. It is a reverse harem when it is more than one boy involved. You can look it up yourselves.

50. Wrath: IRE. Maybe the most common fill in crosswords.

52. Pan name: T-FAL. Also very common fill. Lots of hyphens today.

54. Seaside soarer: GULL.

56. Take third: SHOW. WIN/PLACE/SHOW. Easy if you bet on horses.

59. __ Speedwagon: REO. I will leave you with some music and a sincere thanks to Tracy and Victor providing my first themeless review, C.C. and the rest of our bloggers for help and reassurance in my efforts and to all of you I wish healthy, happy, successful 2019.

Dec 27, 2018

Thursday December 27th 2018 Bruce Haight

Theme: Corner Crossing Crowd - the first and last name theme entries connect with each other in one corner:

1A. Popular peck picker: PETER 
1D. ---: PIPER. This one's a bit of an outlier as the other theme entries emerge - a character from a rhyme, rather than from a cartoon or a movie.

6A. Sinister "Smallville" supervillain: LEX.
6D. ---: LUTHOR. Superman's nemesis.

9A. Ghastly gargantuan gorilla: KING.
9D. ---: KONG.

31A. Conniving carrot cruncher: BUGS.
31D. ---: BUNNY.

35A. Fantastic Four foe: DOCTOR.
35D. ---: DOOM. This was all crosses for me, but not too much of a struggle.

50A. Tall toon toothpick: OLIVE.
50D. ---: OYL. The focus of Popeye's affections.

54A. Flirty Fleischer flapper: BETTY.
54D. ---: BOOP. Oddly, these cartoons were played on British TV in the children's programming. In retrospect, a strange place in the schedule considering the subject matter.

60A. Dedicated DC damsel: LOIS.
60D. ---: LANE. Another from the Superman comics.

Impressive alliterative theme today. I wonder if Bruce played with PETER PARKER rather than PIPER as he would have been more of a fit with the rest of the theme entries, but that would mean stacking 6's in those corners, not always easy.

Let's see what else we've got:


13. Peaceful: IRENIC. A new word for me today. Derived from the greek word for "peace".

15. Wire service initials: UPI. United Press International. The HQ is in Florida.

16. Music halls of old: ODEA. Odeon in the singular.

17. Black-and-white bears: PANDAS.

18. Like the most rarefied air: THINNEST.

20. DFW postings: ETDS. You need help to decide between ETA, ETD and ARR.

21. Queens tennis stadium: ASHE. The legendary Arthur Ashe. The arena is home to the US Open.

23. Small type size: AGATE. 5.5 typographical points.

24. Seafood delicacy: ROE.

25. "I'm Free" musical: TOMMY. The composer, Pete Townsend, would object to the term "musical". He composed it as the first "rock opera". Here's Elton John as the Pinball Wizard.

27. White House foreign policy gp.: NSC. National Security Council.

30. __ school: PREP. Prep schools in the US prepare the students for college. In the UK, they prepare them for a school (which are private). Go figure.

38. Self-disqualification: RECUSAL.

40. Camden Yards team: ORIOLES. Baltimore ball club.

42. Fret (over): AGONIZE.

43. Like a short report: ONE PAGE.

44. Acted badly: SINNED.

45. Sticky situation: MESS.

46. "You said it": AMEN.

49. NFC East team, on crawl lines: NYG. New York Giants.

51. Big Pharma watchdog: Abbr.: FDA. Food and Drug Administration.

58. "Me? Never!": NOT I!

61. Scenic viewpoint: OVERLOOK.

63. Certifying exams: BOARDS.

65. Wine opener?: OENO-

66. It may be brown or golden: ALE.

67. Ball State University city: MUNCIE. Something else I didn't know today. The crosses were solid.

68. Soft call: PSST!

69. "Criminal Minds" agent: FED. I've never seen the series, which currently runs to 309 episodes. I don't think I have time to catch up on all those.

70. Chilly temps: TEENS.


2. Millay's muse: ERATO. The muse of love poetry. Edna Millay was a poet and Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

"What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, 
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain 
Under my head till morning; but the rain 
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh 
Upon the glass and listen for reply, 
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain 
For unremembered lads that not again 
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry."

3. Leanings: TENDENCIES.

4. Objectives: ENDS.

5. Narrow inlet: RIA.

7. Transitory things: EPHEMERA. Lovely word.

8. Number between I and XI?: XII. Tricky one, this. The number 12 sits between 11 and 1 on a clock face. Inverting the two clue numbers makes it even more obscure.

10. Creative spark: IDEA.

11. Fit together, as matryoshka dolls: NEST. Russian dolls, more informally.

12. Portal: GATE.

14. One side in "Gone With the Wind": Abbr.: CSA. Confederate States of America.

19. Word of dissent: NAY.

22. Indy brand: STP. Octane-boosting additive. I'm sure there are others, but STP seems to have the monopoly on race car sponsorship.

26. Digital video files: MPEGS. For the Moving Pictures Expert Group, a standards organization for audio and video compression.

28. Dots on a transit map: STOPS.

29. Pop genre?: COLA.

32. What may be resorted to when words fail: USING FORCE.

33. Long look: GAZE.

34. Downhill racer: SLED.

36. Writer Sarah __ Jewett: ORNE. An writer new to me.

37. Majestic: REGAL.

39. Element of change?: COIN. Fun clue/answer combination.

41. Florida State athlete: SEMINOLE.

47. Called forth: EVOKED.

48. Safety device: NET.

52. Brought to ruin: DID IN.

53. Horse relatives: ASSES.

55. Pre-revelry nights: EVES. There's a couple of them at this time of year!

56. Teller's stack: TENS.

57. Leisurely pace: TROT.

59. "Let's put smart to work" company: IBM. Pure guesswork, but I got this first time.

62. Buffoon: OAF.

64. Last word of "Casey at the Bat": OUT.

"But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out."

And I think that's the cue for my last out of the day. I'll be back on the west side of the Atlantic by next week. Here's the grid!


Notes from C.C.:

Happy 59th Birthday to our adventurous pilot Dudley, who started "Rabbit, Rabbit" tradition on our blog. This picture was taken during Montana's visit to Northeast in September, 2013.

Left to right: Marti, Dudley, Hondo & Montana

Dec 26, 2018

Wednesday December 26, 2018 David Poole

Theme - It's In The Cards -- You Can Bet On It.  The final letters of the theme answers spell out the names of playing cards that, when taken together, will surely give you the winning hand.  And they are presented in ascending order  - a nice, elegant touch.

17 A. Bullied: BROW BEATEN.  Intimidated, coerced, pressured, terrorized, usually into doing something.  The card rank and hand description explanations will follow.  Vide infra.

23 A. Breakfast fare: FLAPJACK.   Here in the U.S. this is another term for the pancake, and that is the intended sense of the clue.  In the U. K. this terms refers to a tray-baked bar made of rolled oats, butter and brown sugar - which sounds like a pretty good granola bar.

29 A. "12 Years a Slave" director Steve or "Bullitt" star Steve (not the same person): MCQUEEN.  Steven Rodney McQueen [b 1969] is a British film director and screen writer.  Terence Steven McQueen [1930-1980] aka "The King of Cool" was nominated for an Oscar for his role in The Sand Pebbles.  He appeared in several block-buster films, and is probably best know for Bullit.  He lived hard and fast and passed too young at the age of 50.  This pair of QUEENs also gives us a small branch off the main theme.

43 A. Stirring up, as resentment: STOKING.  literally, to STOKE means to add fuel to a fire. So, by extension, the word also means to fire up emotions - especially those that are hot anyway, like resentment or anger.

47 A. Commoners: POPULACE.  A collective noun for the inhabitants of a region or country.  A "commoner" is an ordinary person, without rank or title.  It's a bit of a stretch to see equivalence here.

And the unifier:  54. What's hidden at the ends of 17-, 23-, 29-, 43- and 47-Across--if all are in, say, 38-Across: ROYAL FLUSH.  In poker, hands are ranked in reverse order of the probability of their occurrence. Thus, the least probable holding in any round of play will be the winner.  A STRAIGHT is any hand containing five cards in order, say 3-4-5-6-7, frex.  A higher ranking hand is a FLUSH, in which all of the cards are in the same suit. Next, in ascending order are the full house - three of a kind plus a pair; and four of a kind. Ranking above all of them is the STRAIGHT FLUSH - five cards, not only in order, but also all in the same suit.  Within a suit, cards are ranked by their numbers, with face cards above, and the the ACE highest of all [usually.]  So, a STRAIGHT FLUSH consisting of TEN, JACK, QUEEN, KING, and ACE of any suit, aka a ROYAL FLUSH, is the highest ranking example of the least likely, and therefore most powerful holding.

Plus, we get a nice, centrally-located theme extra -- 38 A. See 54-Across: CLUBS.  These are cards in one of the four suits in which a ROYAL FLUSH might occur; the others being diamonds, hearts and spades.

In each of the major theme clues, the hidden card name has a completely different meaning than it does in the context of the unifier - another nice touch.  So - a really well constructed puzzle.

Hi gang, JazzBumpa here wishing you all a happy Kwanza, Boxing Day and/or feast of St. Steven.  Let's see what other gifts this puzzle offers.


1. Campus VIP: DEAN.  the head of faculty in a department

5. __ East, Chicago-based pizza chain: GINOS.  Started in 1966 by two taxi drivers.

10. Remove politely, as one's hat: DOFF. Late Middle English contraction of "do off."  Contrast "don," as, frex, gay apparel.

14. Entreat: URGE.  Attempt to convince someone without resorting to actual BROWBEATING.

15. "__ Mio": O SOLE. A Neapolitan song written in 1989 by Giovanni Capurro, Eduardo di Capua and Alfredo Mazzucchi, and usually sing in the original Neapolitan language.  The title translates as "My Sunshine."

16. Malevolence: EVIL.

19. Word processor command: SAVE.

20. World Golf Hall of Famer Aoki: ISAO.  [b 1942] He was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004.

21. Used TurboTax, perhaps: E-FILED.  Submitted your tax return electronically.

27. Actor Mineo: SAL.  Salvatore Mineo, Jr. [1939-1976] was an American singer and actor nominated for Acadamy Awards for best supporting actor in Rebel without a Cause and Exodus.

28. Take to a new planter: REROOT.  Plant in a new pot?  To reroot means to generate a new, identical plant from a stem cutting.  Not the same thing at all.

33. Farewell that is bid: ADIEU.  Buh-bye.

34. Pumps and platforms: SHOES.  Different shoe styles.

36. Sorbonne article: UNE.  I suppose it means "The."

37. Black-plumed pond swimmer: COOT.  Coots are small water birds that are members of the rail family, Rallidae. They constitute the genus Fulica, the name being the Latin for "coot".  Coots have predominantly black plumage, and—unlike many rails—they are usually easy to see, often swimming in open water. They are close relatives of the moorhen. [Wikipedia]

39. "__ glad to!": I'D BE. Expressing eager willingness to do something - without being BROW BEATEN.

40. Hung. neighbor: AUS.  Hungary and Austria, two Eastern European Countries.

41. Gives the heave-ho: BOOTS.  Kicks out of something

42. Rebuke: SCOLD.  Harsh verbal criticism - could also involve BROW BEATING.

45. Solid alcohol: STEROL.  A complex organic alcohol, C17H22O, found in plants and animals.  It is the eponym for a class of chemical compounds with related molecular structures.  Cholesterol is one example.

46. Circle segment: ARC.

49. Like Dagwood's wife: BLONDE.

52. Ottawa-based flying gp.: RCAF. Royal Canadian Air Force.

53. Material flaws: RIPS.  Tears and/or holes.

60. "Fantastic Beasts" actor Miller: EZRA.  [b 1992] Portraying Credence Barebone.

61. Twitter troublemaker: TROLL.  One who invades comment sections for the purpose of disrupting conversations and causing general mayhem.  Also found on FaceBook and Blogs.

62. "Off the Court" autobiographer Arthur: ASHE.  Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. [1943-1993] was an American professional tennis player who won three Grand Slam titles.

63. __ and means: WAYS.  The methods and resources at someone's disposal for achieving something.  Also the name of the chief tax writing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

64. Gumbo pods: OKRAS.  The edible seed pods of a flowering plant of the mallow family.

65. Cameo stone: ONYX.  A variety of the silicate mineral chalcedony having parallel bands of various colors.


1. Name: DUB.  Provide an unofficial or nickname to someone or something.  Traces back via late Old English, meaning to make someone a knight, to Old French adober - to provide with armor.

2. Throw wildly, say: ERR.  In baseball, any mishandling of a batted ball by a fielder is considered to be an error.

3. Fourth word in the "Star Wars" intro: AGO.  "A long time  .  .  . "

4. Part of four state names: NEW.  - Hampshire, -Mexico, -Jersey, and -York.

5. Attacks: GOES AT.  A physical or verbal attack.  May involve BROW BEATING or actual BEATING about the head and shoulders.

6. Fashion designer Mizrahi: ISAAC.  [b 1961] An American fashion designer, TV presenter, and eponym for a line of clothing since 1987.

7. Unacceptable: NOT OK.  Incorrect, inappropriate, inadmissible, or simply not good enough.

8. World Cup cry: OLE.  Among Spanish-speaking fans.

9. Grows old: SENESCES.  Not just that, but deteriorates with age.  As old as I am [and to be honest, that's pretty old] I don't believe I have ever encountered this word before, and had to rely completely on perps.

10. Arnaz-Ball production company: DESILU.  Founded by the husband and wife team of Desi and Lucy, best known for the TV shows I Love Lucy, Star Trek and The Untouchables.

11. Racecourse shape: OVAL.

12. Dave Brubeck classic "Take __": FIVE.  In the unusual time signature of 5/4, it was originally released on the 1959 album TIME OUT, which featured other songs in odd or mixed meters, and is the only song on the album written by Paul Desmond.  Two years later, it became a hit, and is the biggest-selling jazz single ever.  According to Desmond, "It was never supposed to be a hit. It was supposed to be a Joe Morello drum solo." Yes, I have played this song -- improvised using the 4th mode of the harmonic minor scale.  Might not have been your choice.   It worked OK.

Pretty aggressive tempo in this live performance

13. Took off: FLED.  Or FLEW.  Needed perp help.

18. Exquisite trinket: BIJOU.  Something small and elegant,  French - from Breton bizou, finger ring, from biz, finger.

22. Web help pgs.: FAQSFrequently Asked QuestionS.

23. Skirmish: FRACAS. A noisy disturbance, brawl or quarrel, from Italian fracassare, to make an uproar.

24. Escorted to the exit: LED OUT. Or SAW OUT, needed even more perps.  Does LED OUT suggest the exit might not be voluntary?

25. Melodic passage: ARIOSO.  A solo instrumental or vocal piece occurring in an opera or oratorio.

From Cantata No, 156 by J.S. Bach

26. Auden, Blake or Coleridge: POET.  Versifiers.

29. Tough crowds: MOBS.  An large, unruly, disorganized crowd, that might be prone to causing trouble, mayhem or violence.

30. "Why I Live at the P.O." author Welty: EUDORA.  Eudora Alice Welty [1909 - 2001] was an American short story writer and novelist who wrote about the American South. Her novel The Optimist's Daughter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. Welty received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Order of the South. [Wikipedia]

31. As a whole: EN BLOC.  Doing something all together, or separately, but at the same time.  More French.

32. Acupuncture tool: NEEDLE.  Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine in which thin needles are inserted into the body. It is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine. The theories and practices of TCM are not based upon scientific knowledge, and acupuncture is a pseudoscience. [Wikipedia]

34. Tough going: SLOG.  Like a trek, but worse.

35. Crude shelter: HUT.  A small, roughly constructed structure serving as poor-quality lodging.   Alternatively, a place to get pizza.

38. Any one of Bach's Brandenburgs: CONCERTO.  The Brandenburg Concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach are a collection of six instrumental works presented by Bach to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, in 1721. [Wikipedia]  It is unlikely that the Margrave would have had the complement of musicians necessary to perform these works, so they sat unused for a long period.

There's no such thing as too much Bach
39. Most sparsely populated Eur. country: ICELand.  I have a little difficulty considering this remote island nation to actually be a part of Europe.

41. Owl or osprey: BIRD.  Raptors, to be more specific.

42. Odds and ends: STUFF.  This and that.  Things.

44. "Dust in the Wind" band: KANSAS.

Bach did NOT write this in 1977

45. Stone chips: SPALLS.  We also use that word for chips and flakes off of glass or ceramics.  Anyway, potato chips might be less crunchy, but they taste better.

47. Richard who played "The Wiz" in 1978: PRYOR.  [1940-2005] American stand-up comedian, actor, and social critic.

48. City west of Daytona Beach: OCALA.  'Cuz "De Leon Springs" doesn't fit.

49. Make, as beer: BREW.  Via a process of soaking, boiling and fermentation.

50. Oscar winner Minnelli: LIZA. [b 1946]  Judy Garland's daughter.  The oscar is for her performance in the 1972 movie Cabaret.

51. Nashville venue: OPRY.  The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly country music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee founded on November 28, 1925, by George D. Hay as a one-hour radio "barn dance" on WSM.

55. Mork's planet: ORK.  Mork was exiled to Earth from ORK, where humor is not permitted.

56. Vientiane language: LAO.  Lao is the language of Laos.  Vientiane is it's capital and largest city.

57. Org. with admirals: USNUnited States Navy.

58. Far from forward: SHY.  Reserved, timid or nervous in the company of other people.

59. Jinx: HEX.  A jinx is a curse or spell cast on someone to cause bad luck.  A Hex is more general, and not necessarily negative, but potentially much more severe.

I had some nits wit the cluing, but overall, a fine puzzle and a fun, rather challenging solve.  Hope you didn't think it was NOT OK.

Cool regards!

Dec 25, 2018

Tuesday, December 25, 2018 Mark McClain


17. Film character #1 (played by George C. Scott in 1984): EBENEZER SCROOGE.

25. Film character #2 (played by Leo G. Carroll in 1938): JACOB MARLEY.

43. Film character #3 (played by Kermit the Frog in 1992): BOB CRATCHIT.

55. Novella that introduced the three film characters: A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Why Does Charles Dickens Use Staves Instead of Chapters in A Christmas Carol ?

An appropriate puzzle for the day. 


1. Clever or stylish: SMART

6. October gem: OPAL.

10. Most eligible, draftwise: ONE A in crossword puzzle answers.  1-A in the Selective Service classification system that was used from 1948 - 1976.  

14. Temple scroll: TORAH.

15. "The X-Files" agent Scully: DANA.

16. Gym specimens: BODS.

20. Non-commercial TV commercial: PSA. Public Service Announcement

21. Order (around): BOSS.

22. Canadian province with a French motto: QUEBEC.  Figured Quebec, but didn't know the motto.  It is "Je me souviens" which translates to "I remember."

23. New Mexico art hub: TAOS.

24. Little bears: CUBS.

29. Polished off: ATE.

32. Go along (with): AGREE.

33. Spot for an AirPod: EAR.

34. The Grinch's dog: MAX.

35. Meadow bleats: BAAS.

36. Fronts of hands: PALMS.

38. __ torch: party light: TIKI.

 Mele Kalikimaka

39. Commercial URL suffix: BIZ.  Phonetic abbreviation for business.  This Top Level Domain ( TLD. e.g. .com, .edu, .gov, .net etc), was introduced in 2001 to relieve some of the demand for the .com (commercial) TLD. 

40. Sac fly result: RBI.

41. Makes simpler: EASES.

42. No particular one: ANY.

46. Like many breakfast bars: OATY.

47. Resound: ECHO.

48. Long-eared dog: BEAGLE.  "Large dogs in small packages"

51. Height: Pref.: ALTI. Altitude

52. Fed. law known as Obamacare: ACA. Affordable Care Act.

58. Shade provider: TREE.

59. Jog: TROT.

60. Geometric truth: AXIOM.

61. Totals: SUMS.

62. Drink with sushi: SAKE.

63. Plumbing issues: LEAKS.


1. How-to instruction: STEP.

2. Unruly crowds: MOBs.

3. Geometric product: AREA.

4. Sought office: RAN.

5. George Herman Ruth's nickname: THE BABE.

6. Ukrainian city: ODESSA.

7. Golf scorecard numbers: PARs.

8. Q&A part: Abbr.: ANS.

9. Glossy coatings: LACQUERs.

10. Orchestral reeds: OBOEs.

11. Rookie, in gaming: NOOB.

12. Sharp part of a sheet of paper: EDGE.

13. "Just __!": A SEC.

18. Repeated Mazda ad word: ZOOM.

19. Shade of red: RUBY.

23. Wiggled digits: TOES.

24. Chowder morsel: CLAM.

25. Hutt in "Star Wars": JABBA.

26. "Time and __": illustrated Jack Finney novel: AGAIN.

27. Outlandish, as an idea: CRAZY.

28. Artifact: RELIC.

29. Barn-raising sect: AMISH.

30. "Oh Myyy!" memoirist George: TAKEI.

31. Be real: EXIST.

36. Some public demonstrations: PROTESTS.

37. First name in advice: ABBY. "Dear Abby..."  Syndicated advice column started in 1956.  

38. Tex-Mex snack: TACO.

41. Principled: ETHICAL.

43. Indonesian resort island: BALI.

44. "I can __": words of empathy: RELATE.

45. Doesn't just sit there: ACTS.

46. Fairy tale beasts: OGRES.

48. Dugout rack items: BATS.

49. Earth tone: ECRU.

50. "Excuse me ... ": AHEM.

51. Run __: go wild: AMOK.

52. Puccini solo: ARIA. Let's have some Bach instead

53. Kitchen worker: COOK.

54. Help for the poor: ALMS.

56. Refrain syllable: TRA.

57. Firefighter's tool: AXE.

Notes from C.C.:

1) Happy Birthday to dear Yellowrocks (Kathy), whose strength and persistence have been a source of inspiration for me over the years. Thanks for being here for us, Kathy!
Yellowrocks and son David, Sept 2016
2) Happy 80th Birthday also to Lorraine (Fermatprime), who's been with the blog since Nov 2009. 

Thanksgiving, 2015
3) Have to share with you this sweet picture JD sent me last night. JD lost her Blogger password and could not get back to the blog. If any of you know how, please let us know in the Comments section.

Brothers and Cousins: Truman, 11, Dylan, 5, Cameron, 8, Grady, 9

Dec 24, 2018

Monday December 24, 2018 Robert E. Lee Morris

Theme: SUGAR SUBSTITUTE (38. Artificial sweetener ... and what the end of 17-, 26-, 48- and 58-Across is, literally) - The first word of each theme entry is a type of sugar.

17. Pieman meeter of rhyme: SIMPLE SIMON. Simple sugar.

26. Toronto NHL team: MAPLE LEAFS. Maple sugar.
48. Iconic hat-shaped L.A. restaurant: BROWN DERBY. Brown sugar.

58. George Washington hairpiece: POWDERED WIG. Powdered sugar.

Boomer here.  
"Beat the drum, and hold the phone, the sun came out today." (John Fogarty, "Centerfield")  Left out Beet sugar, but that is spelled differently. I would get kicked off this blog. 

I am back bowling again!! Good news and bad news. Monday I shot a three game set of 599.  Thursday I ran into a dry condition on the lanes, left a lot of splits, and only managed 424 (I used to get that in two games). But I am not discouraged, but extremely happy to be back participating in the sport I love.  Plus my Thursday teammates cut me some slack.  They are happy to have me back, and "I'm happy to be here … I just want to help the ball club".  (Crash Davis to Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham).

And at this joyful time of year it is my pleasure to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas from C.C. and me.  Fa la la la la , la la la la. 


1. Pumpkin-growing place: PATCH.  "Down by the river that flows by the graveyard"  Dickie Lee said Patches lived there.

6. Bitter: ACRID.

11. Heat in the microwave: ZAP.  Have you ever seen those cages with a goofy light in them?  You hang it outside on the deck and it zaps mosquitoes.

14. How a timely stage entrance is made: ON CUE.

15. Letter after eta: THETA.  I had to think.  This was Greek to me.

16. "Strange Magic" band: ELO.

19. Jack of "Barney Miller": SOO.  Nick Yemana was a favorite of mine on a great show.  Sadly he passed away in 1979. 

20. Persian Gulf ship: OILER.  I believe this is an NFL Houston player, or a skater for Edmonton eh.

21. Croc's cousin: GATOR. University of Florida teammate.

23. Bovine baby: CALF.

29. Upper crust groups: ELITES.  No team name that I can think of, however the New York Yankees were fairly elite in my lifetime.

31. Corp. kingpin: EXEC.  Kingpin is an all time favorite for me.  I loved Woody Harrelson, and hated Bill Murray.

32. Baseball's Doubleday: ABNER.  Absolutely!  And he was not 'Lil.

33. Pad __: Asian noodles dish: THAI.

35. Bank acct. addition: DEP. I think the clue should tell us if it is an abbreviation. Or should I read "acct." into it ?

42. Moody music genre: EMO.

43. Scheme: PLOT.  If you scheme a mobster you may need a plot.

44. Capital of Morocco: RABAT.

45. Motown music genre: SOUL.  I used to enjoy the Platters, Temptations, and other Motowners.  Sorry, I do not like the Rap of today.

47. Highly adorned: ORNATE.  Has everyone "Ornated" their Christmas tree?

53. Hershey's nibble: KISS. I am not a big fan of commercials, especially insurance and drugs.  But I am overjoyed by the ten Hershey's Kisses playing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

54. Goldbricks: LOAFS.

55. "Fame" singer Cara: IRENE.  Good night.

57. Six-pack muscles: ABS.

64. Tiny source of teen angst: ZIT.

65. __ Lauder: ESTEE. I'm sure their sales are good this time of year.

66. Debonair: SUAVE.

67. USN rank: ENS. "He joined the Navy to see the world.  But what did he see, he saw the sea."

68. Light beer brand: COORS.  I never acquired a taste for beer.  I cannot tell the difference between Coors and Miller...Unless we're talking ball parks.

69. Binge: SPREE.


1. Stamp sellers: Abbr.: POS. Post Offices.

2. Singer DiFranco: ANI. Monday word?

3. Film buffs' channel: TCM.  Turner Classic Movies .

4. Brit's hot "spot": CUP OF TEA.  I had one with my meal tonight.  (It makes C.C. happy).  Mine was called green tea, but it looked brown to me.

5. Prefix with port: HELI.  Where choppers park.

6. Totally lost: AT SEA.  See 67 Across.

7. Nest tweet: CHIRP.  Do birds tweet on their cell phones?

8. Sleep stage: REM.

9. Simpson trial judge Lance __: ITO.  I don't know how many cases this magistrate heard, but this one made him forever famous.

10. Hang down: DANGLE. "Your head Tom Dooley, Hang down your head and cry."  Kingston Trio.

11. Keebler cracker: ZESTA.  I still like Ritz better.

12. Socially chilly: ALOOF. Christmas turkey stuffing.  Don't forget ALOOF of bread.

13. Standard & __: POORS.  The performance recently is making some folks Poorer.

18. Shade trees: ELMS.  I remember there was a nightmare on this street.

22. Former nuclear agcy.: AEC. Atomic Energy Commission.

23. Stop: CEASE.

24. LP record: ALBUM.

25. Jargon: LINGO.  I have heard that this is a slang term for a Brit who voted for Brexit.

27. Fewest: LEAST.

28. Way off the highway: EXIT.  Also a way out of the European Union.

30. Miscalculate: ERR.  To do this human, to forgive - divine.

33. Bridal gown netting: TULLE. I have never worn a bridal gown.  How an I supposed to know this?

34. "The Deuce" network: HBO.  Old time acronym for Home Box Office.  And you will pay to watch it!

35. Persian Gulf emirate: DUBAI.  Dubai is friendly to the U.S.  Tiger Woods plays golf there.

36. French states: ETATS.  Imagine if France spelled all English words backwards.

37. "For __ sake!": PETE'S. I have heard this.  I wonder who Pete is!

39. Tater: SPUD. "When you say BUD, you've said a lot of things that Spuds cannot say"

40. Like damaged mdse. on sale: IRR.

41. Really drunk: TANKED UP.  Don't look at me - I am on the wagon.

45. Personal ad woman: Abbr.: SWF.

46. Unsolicited, as a manuscript: ON SPEC.

47. __ and terminer: criminal court: OYER.

48. Burn brightly: BLAZE.  There's a place called "Blaze Pizza" in Minneapolis.  Funny name for a Pizza restaurant,  I have never tried it.

49. Batman's sidekick: ROBIN.  To the Bat Cave, to get the Batmobile, and drive someone Batty.

50. Brewers' kilns: OASTS. It could be in the dugout at Miller Park on a cold Milwaukee Spring day.

51. Successful hitchhiker: RIDER. Chuck Willis hit named after C.C.

52. Saints quarterback Drew: BREES.  When He goes Marchin' in, There's trouble.

56. Storied loch: NESS.  FBI famous detective Eliot

59. Baja bear: OSO.

60. Intl. commerce group: WTO.  ITOA - I'm Tired of Acronyms.

61. Basic card game: WAR.  Played this easy game for hours, then I turned 11 and discovered Cribbage.

62. "__ been thinking ... ": I'VE. been workin' on the railroad

63. "Golly!": GEE.

Dec 23, 2018

Sunday December 23, 2018 C.C. Burnikel

Theme:  "Quick Visit" - STOP spans across each theme answer.

23A. *Chances that slipped away: LOST OPPORTUNITIES.

62A. *True view: HONEST OPINION.

70A. *Often the best choice, in retrospect: FIRST OPTION.

82A. *Swindlers: FAST OPERATORS.

124A. *Ristorante appetizers: ANTIPASTO PLATTERS.

16D. *Former Chilean dictator: AUGUSTO PINOCHET.

45D. *Bending over backward, say: ANXIOUS TO PLEASE.


103. Visit briefly ... and a hint to the answers to starred clues: STOP IN.

Very simple theme, with three different STOP split.

I originally has EID in 34-Across and NEIL in 25-Down. Rich was concerned that the crossing would creative a tricky square, even if I clued NEIL as obvious as possible. So a change was made.

I do hope EID appears in LAT soon. 


1. Bowling pin wood: MAPLE.

6. Princess Charlotte, to Harry: NIECE.

11. Hornets, e.g.: WASPS.

16. 2008 TARP beneficiary: AIG. Founded in Shanghai.

19. Think tank nuggets: IDEAS.

20. "The Thin Blue Line" director Morris: ERROL. Unknown to me. Rich's clue.

21. Mexican month: ENERO.

22. Stage coach Hagen: UTA.

26. Tricky bit: GAG.

27. Type of well: ARTESIAN. I learned from doing crosswords.

28. Fulda tributary: EDER.

29. Griller's flipper: SPATULA. I use wooden ones. I stir-fry every day.

31. Bird hangout: NEST.

32. Romance novelist Hilderbrand: ELIN. Alternative to Tiger's ex.

34. Gate datum: Abbr.: ETD.

35. Windows forerunner: MS DOS.

36. Type of jam in Sacher tortes: APRICOT. Never had apricot jam.

39. One of the original Warner Bros.: SAM. Learning moment also. Rich's clue again.

41. Sporty car roof: T-TOP.

44. Long story: SAGA.

46. Way to go: Abbr.: DIR.

48. Frees: LETS LOOSE.

52. Platform site: Abbr.: STN.

53. Twitter forwards, on Twitter: RTS. Retweets.

56. Kings Peak state: UTAH.

58. Just __ bit: A WEE.

59. Ramallah-based org.: PLO. Palestine Liberation Organization.

60. Make an ad spicier, say: SEX IT UP. Husker Gary would be a great ad writer.  I still can't get over his "Squeeze Play" title for a puzzle I made for WSJ a while ago. Genius!

65. Shower unit?: RAINDROP.

67. Gives someone a hand: CLAPS.

68. Flake or Duckworth: Abbr.: SEN. Tammy Duckworth. Jeff Flake, ex-senator.

69. Gin flavor: SLOE.

74. Catcher's place: HOME. And 4. Reason to challenge an out call: LATE TAG. And 8. Boot the ball: ERR.

77. Good times: UPS. Splynter used to be very busy during this period.

79. Bring down: LOWER.

80. One often includes a colon: EMOTICON.

87. Hearing range: EARSHOT.

88. Surreal ending?: IST. Jazzbumpa hates this type of clue: Surrealist. 

89. __ song: FOR A.

90. Trash: RUIN.

91. Pronoun for a princess: SHE.

92. "Mr. Blue Sky" band: ELO.

93. They can yield immediate results: SPOT TESTS.

96. Poker great Ungar: STU.

97. PlayStation handheld game: VITA. We had this clue a few months ago.

99. Baking amts.: TSPS.

100. Autobahn winter hazard: EIS. Ice.

102. Take no side: ABSTAIN.

106. Tibetan monks: LAMAS. Some very simple truths in Tibetan Buddhism.

110. Sports radio host Patrick: DAN.

112. Editor's retraction: STET.

113. Salinger character who says to the story narrator, "I don't think I shall tell you my full name": ESME. Rich's clue also.

117. First name in exploration: AMERIGO.

119. Noteworthy stretches: ERAS.

121. Fruit-flavored frozen treat: OTTER POP. Favorite treat at D-Otto's home.

123. Showy wrap: BOA.

127. Overhead rumblers: ELS.

128. "I'm with you": ME TOO.

129. Links hero, familiarly: ARNIE. Palmer.

130. __ Blue: old laundry soap: RINSO.

131. Graphic top: TEE.

132. "Uh-uh!": I WON'T.

133. Bonkers: LOONY.

134. Packed away: EATEN. I've been enjoying these roasted Asian sweet potatoes.


1. Lombardy's capital: MILAN. Look at some of the street scenes there.

2. Place on a pedestal: ADORE.

3. Raid targets: PESTS. The spray Raid.

5. Those, in Tabasco: ESOS.

6. Sherpa, usually: NEPALI.

7. Like a typical O. Henry story: IRONIC.

9. Dove's digs: COTE.

10. Slip past: ELUDE.

11. "Mandatory Fun" parodist, familiarly: WEIRD AL.

12. Red or army follower: ANT.

13. Earthshaking event: SEISM. Hi there Jayce!

14. Gets ready: PREPS.

15. "Such a pity": SO SAD.

17. Leaning type: Abbr.: ITAL.

18. Lady on stage: GAGA. Lady Gaga.

24. Place to tie up: PIER. Also Rich's clue.

25. Court dividers: NETS.

30. "... and your little dog, too!" dog: TOTO. I just told my friend Carmen (based in Guangzhou) to watch "The Wizard of Oz". She never heard of it.

33. "Ya think?": NO DUH.

37. Medicare prescription drug section: PART D.

38. Jackson 5 member: TITO.

40. Hearty pastry: MEAT PIE.

42. Capital on a fjord: OSLO.

43. Menial laborer: PEON.

44. Big bargain: STEAL.

47. Spiteful: RANCOROUS. This one connects three themers.

49. Masters Tournament weekend groupings: TWOSOMES.

50. Qtr.-ending month: SEP.

51. Luau souvenirs: LEIS.

52. Much of Eastern Eur., once: SSRS.

54. Tough's territory: TURF.

55. Unwelcome giveaways: SPOILERS.

57. Emergency menu: HELP. Computer. Keith, it's TTP who found the diagonal puzzle for you. I merely emailed it to you.

61. Butterfingered: INEPT.

63. Tended tots: SAT.

64. Classic grape sodas: NEHIs.

66. Divide fairly: PRORATE.

71. Giant among low-cost carriers: Abbr.: SWA. Southwest Airlines. We use Sun Country for our  Vegas trip (annual Graybar retiree gathering). They have the best price. Bad service.

72. Four: Prefix: TETR.

73. Biblical builder: NOAH.

75. Dough: MOOLA.

76. Opposite of exo-: ENTO.

78. Like comfy slippers: SOFT.

81. "Three Coins ..." fountain: TREVI.

82. Punch deliverer: FIST.

83. Venomous vipers: ASPS. I wonder if ancient Egyptians ate asps. Snakes are popular food in Guangzhou. Restaurants have live snakes in cages. You just pick up the snake you want, they'll prepare for you. 

84. "The Black Cat" author: POE.

85. "On the Bus With Rosa Parks" poet Dove: RITA.

86. Slights: SNUBS.

94. Nicholas, for one: TSAR.

95. Bet money an "all in" player can't win: SIDE POT. Rich's clue also.

98. Loafer's quality: INERTIA.

101. Actress Gilbert: SARA.  Executive producer for both "Roseanne" and "The Conners".

104. Bigelow alternative: TETLEY.

105. Lead-in to girl or boy: ATTA.

107. "Scarface" setting: MIAMI.

108. '60s-'70s veep: AGNEW (Spiro).

109. __ voce: softly: SOTTO.

111. Twangy-sounding: NASAL.

114. Tuckered out: SPENT.

115. Man with a code: MORSE.

116. Nagano-based printer giant: EPSON. Ours is HP Envy 4500.

117. Provide fake cover for, e.g.: ABET.

118. Sleeper agent: MOLE.

120. Texas MLBer: STRO.

122. To be, to Benoît: ETRE.

125. Non-neutral atom: ION.

126. "Wish Tree" artist: ONO.

Happy 74th birthday to our sweet Misty! Her kindness and compassion shine through in each of her blog posts. Here is a picture of Misty and her husband Rowland celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary in 2009.

Boomer Updates:

No doctor visits the past week, though there was a glitch in getting Zytiga, which can't be refilled and needs a monthly prescription. Boomer is going to get another blood draw next Thursday. His alkaline phosphatase has been high and creatinine is a bit low. Not unusual for bone cancer patients, according to Dr. Downs' assistant.

He continues to feel better and sleeps much better. His re-starter's luck at bowling alley quickly ran out last Thursday night, Inanehiker! He'll probably share with you his scores tomorrow.


Dec 22, 2018

Saturday, December 22, 2018, C.C. Burnikel

Themeless Saturday Puzzle by C.C. Burnikel

Since 1999, December 22nd has been the day to celebrate Abilities Day. The school where I sub has a girl who lost her right forearm in a ATV accident. Here you can see her as she is competing in a recent swim meet where she won two events. If you need a hero, she would be someone you should consider.

C.C. has a Saturday themeless for the third time in two months and made me feel like I had limited abilities! It took me only 15 minutes to get to this NE corner and then I took a detour on the Natick Turnpike.  I had no shot on 10, 11 and 12 Down and 14 Across and had wrong answers on 20 and 24 Across. After another fifteen minutes, I threw in the towel and got help from the U.S.S. Google! I still had fun and humble pie is not fattening!

Personal note - It has been one year since I became the regular Saturday blogger and I appreciate C.C. giving me the chance and for you to not giving me the boot.

And now let's see C.C.'s many abilities on this wonderful Weekend puzzle:


1. Hypoallergenic wool: ALPACA While similar to sheep’s wool, ALPACA fiber  is warmer, not prickly, and has no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic (unlikely to cause an allergic reaction)

7. Chinese way of life: TAOISM 

13. Be the victim of a slaying?: ROAR AT - Good comedians are said to "slay" the audience who are probably ROARing AT them

14. Taiwanese drink originally made with milk and tapioca pearls: BOBA TEA - I had no idea but here is the finished product and a kit to make said beverage

15. Sports cheaters: DOPERS - Jose Canseco's book blew the whistle on this practice

16. Series of celebratory visits: PUB CRAWL - This ritual seems to be de rigueur for some 21st birthdays

17. Squeeze (out): EKE.

18. Fixes, as a pump: RESOLES - C.C. loves shoes and I'm sure has many pairs of pumps

20. Green span: LEA - A wonderful play on Alan Greenspan for an old cwd friend

21. Convention: NORM - The NORM at this site is educated discourse 23. Because it fits: APTLY to the subjects at hand

24. Cat's hangout: SILL - Not the cat in its LAIR but the kitty on the window SILL

25. Prominent parade brass: TUBAS - If you're a musician you probably already know which of the below is a TUBA and which is a Sousaphone. If you aren't you probably don't care. Here's the difference

27. The Cuban?: LAS - A Cuban speaking Spanish would know LAS Vegas literally means "THE Meadows"

28. Wolf in "The Jungle Book": AKELA - The Disney Wolf was voiced by this gentleman. AKELA was also the name of the leader in our cub scout pack.

29. Kicks back: TAKES IT EASY

32. Place for a frozen treat: GELATO STAND - A ubiquity in Rome

34. Response to a welcome return: WE MISSED YOU - A common sentiment when a former blogger returns to our fold 

36. Apps with errors: BETAS - Fortunately, now they've got all the bugs out 😅

39. Avril follower: MAI Les averses d'avril apportent des fleurs de MAI (April showers bring May Flowers)

40. Stopped lying: AROSE - As opposed to started telling the truth

42. Drained of color: ASHY.

43. Sharp picker-upper: TALON.

45. Put under: DRUG.

46. Early Melotone Records competitor: RCA -Melotone

47. Produce aisle option: ORGANIC - Is it really better?

49. Turn sharply: ZAG - After a zig

50. Factor in exit velocity, in baseball: BAT SPEED

52. Wore thin: GOT OLD - Remember the political ads this fall?

54. Life-saving devices, at times: EPIPENS 

55. In a calm manner: EVENLY.

56. Make drinkable, in a way: DESALT - This Carlsbad DESAL(T) plant will provide 7% of San Diego's water from the ocean

57. Two-day trip, often: RED EYE Guide to conquering Red Eye Flights


1. Deeply devoted: ARDENT.

2. Guard: LOOKOUT - Bikers must LOOKOUT in the 33. Hazardous area for a bicyclist passing a parked car: DOOR ZONE 

3. Checkout choice: PAPER BAG - Or in the Dr.'s office

4. Equal: ARE.

5. __ Fire: 230,000-acre Northern California conflagration of 2018: CARR.

6. Bewildered: AT SEA.

7. Maguire of "Spider-Man": TOBEY.

8. Early lesson: ABC'S - Here's where you can begin!

9. Boat mover: OAR.

10. Ballet's birthplace, to Parisians: ITALIE - The word ballet comes from the country of ITALIE (French for Italy) where the Italian word ballade meaning to dance. C.C. at her best!

11. "Black Beauty" author: SEWELL - My Dad said, "That is the only book I ever remember reading"

12. __ Fund: org. supporting girls' education founded by a 2014 Nobelist: MALALA - Another hero!

14. Informal discussion: BULL SESSION.

16. Side with a dog: POTATO SALAD - Substitute CHIPS for SALAD for me

19. Elmore Leonard novel whose title overlaps itself on some covers: SPLIT IMAGES - Yup.

22. Step aside: MAKE WAY.

24. "Sweet Home Alabama" band, familiarly: SKYNYRD - (Lynyrd SKYNRD). That and Georgia On My Mind are two great songs about states

26. Four-time Australian Open champ: SELES - Monica the tennis player

28. Carne __: ASADA - Literally "meat grilled" because those pesky Spanish have the adjective follow the noun

30. Finger-pointing uncle: SAM  - Now 101 years old

31. Enjoyed a roll: ATE.

35. By and large: USUALLY.

36. Like fishhooks, as a rule: BARBED.

37. Pen pals' plan?: ESCAPE - Debate continues whether these penitentiary pals make it

38. "In other words ... ": THAT IS - Fourscore and seven, THAT IS, eighty seven years ago

41. Dip popular at EasterEGG DYE.

43. 16th-century council site: TRENT - An 18 year series of meetings in TRENTo, Italy where Pope Paul III tried to end corrupt practices in the Catholic Church. Hmmm... 

44. African country with rich uranium deposits: NIGER - So far this month we have had Gabon, Burkina Faso and now NIGER

47. German auto: OPEL - 1964 Opel Ad. I wonder what the words Economisch, Rulm, Pitting and Handig below the picture mean

48. Dock setting: COVE.

51. Mother's Day destination: SPA.

53. Talk acronym: TED - Are you up to a 12 minute M.I.T.  TED talk about puzzles and constructors?