Jan 10, 2019

Thursday January 10th 2019 David Poole

Theme: Read My Lips. As the reveal explains:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

14. Eagerly accept: LEAP AT.

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

19. __ out a living: EKE.

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

22. "Kidding!": NOT!

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

30. Flaps: ADOS.

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

33. Hot under the collar: IRATE.

36. Canadian coin: LOONIE.

41. Disney's Montana: HANNAH.

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

43. See 27-Down: URGE.

44. Whole lot: SCAD.

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

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

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

58. See 40-Across: TEA.

62. Tailor's measure: INSEAM.

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

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

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

67. Frowny-faced: SAD.

68. Chicken: SCARED.


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

2. S'pose: RECKON.

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

4. Prefix with graph or gram: EPI-

5. "Groundhog Day" director Harold: RAMIS.

6. Mid-Mar. honoree: ST PAT.

7. Trite saying: BROMIDE.

8. Sheep prized for its wool: MERINO.

9. Power unit: WATT.

10. Kiosk with a camera: PHOTO BOOTH.

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

12. Miracle-__: GRO.

13. Mac platform: OS X.

16. In vogue: CHIC.

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

25. Flutist Herbie: MANN.

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

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

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

31. Blackthorn plum: SLOE.

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

35. Rhine whines: ACHS.

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

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

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

40. Not as current: OLDER.

41. Busy airport: HUB.

42. Hand-dyed with wax: BATIKED.

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

47. Filmmaker with a unique style: AUTEUR.

48. Anxiety: UNEASE.

49. Disgraced: SHAMED.

51. Go sour: TURN.

53. "Hasta mañana": ADIOS.

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

57. Avant-garde sorts: NEOS.

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

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

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

63. RR stop: STA.

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