Thursday, October 7, 2021, Michael Paleos


Good morning, cruciverbalists.  Malodorous Manatee here with Buck Henry & Mel Brooks' Maxwell Smart and The Chief to introduce today's puzzle.

If my research is correct, today's constructor Michael Paleos made his L.A. Times Debut on June 28, 2019.  He has also had puzzles published in the L.A. Times on March 12, 2020 and, more recently on June 10, 2021.  Apologies in advance if I have missed one or more.

The Cone Of Silence seemed appropriate today because Michael riffs on those silent letters that are not uncommon in the English language.  The reveal comes at 54 Across:

54  Across.  Cold shoulder . . . and a hint to four circled letters, individually and as a unit: SILENT TREATMENT

The interesting twist here is that the four circled letters spell, in order from top to bottom, MUTE.  That is an impressive twist on an otherwise pretty straightforward theme.

17 Across.   Aids for retrieving things: MNEMONIC DEVICES   MNEMONIC DEVICES are tools used for memorizing a string of words.  Well-known ones include HOMES (for the Great Lakes), King Philip Came Over For Great Spaghetti (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family Genus, Species) and ROY G BIV (for the colors in a rainbow and, yes, Indigo has been dropped by some).

28 Across.  Hendrix's "Star-Spangled Banner" at Woodstock, for one: GUITAR SOLO

33. Made bad news easier to take: SOFTENED THE BLOW

41. Bond of the '70s and '80s: ROGER MOORE.  Not a T-Note or a Junk Bond, but a British spy.

. . . and now for the rest of the story:


1. Something going to the dogs: ALPO.  Right "off the bat" a bit of misdirection.  Not the idiom for a crumbling situation but literally something you would give to a dog.

5. Chirpy sci-fi critter: ARTOO.  R2 D2 aka ARTOO DEETOO from the Star Wars franchise.  R2 D2 visited us last Friday, also.

R2 D2 Noises

10. Joe by another name: JAVA.  Slang for coffee.

14. Welsh actor Roger: REES.  Unknow to this solver.  Diolch, perps.

15. Domain: REALM.

16. Kalahari-like: ARID.  The Kalahari Desert.

20. Hunted ones in a 2016 craze: POKEMON.  POKEMON GO

21. Rare forecast: HAIL.  Less frequent than sunny skies, overcast skies, rain or snow.

22. Teeing off: IRING.  Alternative clue:  What this clue is to solvers.  Irking?  Okay.  But the present participle of IRE?   

23. Provider of colt comfort: MARE.  Not Cold Comfort.  Nice wordplay.  No, not jeu de mots.

24. "On the Road" narrator __ Paradise: SAL.   Jack Kerouac's (nee Jean Louis Lebris de Kerouac) thinly-veiled self in the book.

Cassidy (Cassady / Dean Moriarty) - 1977 - Grateful Dead

27. Zippered shelter: TENT.  Looking at the local streets, other clues come to mind.

31. One might be slipped: DISC.  Hands up for having had L5 / S1 or something similar added to your vocabulary at some point.

32. Some urban pollution: NOISE.

39. Word with box or light: IDIOT.  Two idioms.  IDIOT box for television and IDIOT light for the lights on an automobile dash board that illuminate to tell the driver that something has gone amiss.

40. Bush hoppers: ROOS.  Bush is used to indicate Australia and hoppers provides a slangy hint for KangaROOS.

44. Part of CSNY: NASH.  Crosby Stills NASH and Young.  DSGN work not work as well.  A local school once held a charity auction featuring Graham NASH's Nash Rambler automobile.

48. Its returns were never sales: Abbr.: IRS.  Tax Returns.

49. Strong lobby for seniors: AARP.  This clue requires no explanation here.

50. Game with scratching: LOTTO.  Scratch off that ticket.  You might be a winner.

51. 2019 Broadway biomusical: TINA.  TINA Turner.

52. Big squeeze: BEAR HUG.  Again, nice wordplay.

58. Rapper-turned-actor: ICE T.  Alternatively, Rapper-turned-actor who often visits crossword puzzles.

59. Something one may be dying to hide?: ROOTS.  Hair Dye.  Nice pun.

60. Pro foe: ANTI.

61. Smart-alecky: CUTE.  CUTE, real CUTE.  Do we detect a note of sarcasm?

62. Affected: ARTSY.  As used here, too, too pretentious.

63. Zap: LASE.  Zap often turns out to be Nuke, as in microwave.

Zap Comix #0


1. Axilla, commonly: ARMPIT.  Today's let's skip the graphics moment.  The A from ALPO at 1 Across proved helpful as, initially, I had no idea about 14 Across.

2. Lost love in "The Raven": LENORE.  Edgar Allan Poe.

James Earl Jones and Friends

3. Spy, in a way: PEEK IN.  LOOK IN was, briefly, considered as was PEER IN.

4. "Pay It Forward" actor Haley Joel __: OSMENT.  Unknown to me.  Thank you, perps.

5. River in Tuscany: ARNO.

The Arno River at Night - Firenze 2015 - Photo By MM

6. Bit of equestrian gear: REIN.

7. Tic __: TAC.  A bit surprised that it didn't turn out to be Tic Tok.  What do you get if you cross some ants with some tics?  All sorts of antics.

8. So last year: OLD HAT.  Idiom meaning passe.  It may have developed during the time when women often wore hats and the styles changed annually.

9. 1998 Masters winner Mark: O'MEARA.  In 1998, golfer Mark O'MEARA became the oldest to win two majors in the same year.  He was 41.

10. Monopoly corner: JAIL.  Do not pass GO.  Do not collect $200.

11. Parabolic path: ARC.

12. Contend: VIE.

13. They pop up too often: ADS.  Online Pop-up ADS.

18. IM gasp: OMG.  Instant Message gasp = OMGod!

19. Sábado preceder: VIERNES.  Today's Spanish lesson.

23. Emphatic end to a killer performance: MIC DROP.

24. Lowe's bagful: SOIL.  Lowe's home improvement centers sell bags of SOIL in the Garden Department.

25. "And another thing ... ": ALSO.

26. MGM co-founder: LOEW.  Marcus LOEW.  Not to be confused with Lowe's from 24 Down.

28. Gimlet option: GIN.  2.5 ounces of GIN, 0.5 ounces of Simple Syrup, a squeeze of fresh lime and a lime wedge to garnish.

29. One of a Swiss Army knife's many: USE.  Many uses.

30. Blubber: SOB.  To cry.  Not, in this case, flab.

31. Disembark, maybe: DETRAIN.  Not to be confused with DEPLANE.


33. Aide to millions: SIRI.  A modern-day reference.  My girlfriend asked me why I was whispering at home.  I told her that I was worried that Mark Zuckerberg was listening.  She laughed.  I laughed.  Aexa laughed.  SIRI laughed.  We all laughed.

34. It could be fishy: ODOR.  

35. Cookie fruit: FIGS.  Fruit, as with fish, can be singular or plural.

36. __ the mark: TOE.  

37. NBA's Raptors: 
TOR A National Basketball Association team.  TORonto.  Canadian, eh?

38. Groundbreaking invention: HOE.  Quite literally.

42. Watchword: MANTRA.  There was an indecisive Buddha.  His mantra was, "ummmmmmmm...."  

43. Address provider: ORATOR.  A nice play on words.  Why did Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address?  Because the Gettysburg was naked.

44. Not odd: NORMAL.  Not EVEN.  Not even what?

45. She turned Arachne into a spider: ATHENA.  I did not know this but the assumed that it would be an ancient goddess and the perps made it fairly easy to guess correctly.

46. Action film fodder: STUNTS.

47. Stymie: HOGTIE.

50. GPS finding: LAT.  LATitude.  For a modern take on location-finding take a look at the What Three Words app.  What Three Words

51. It's under un beret: TETE.  Today's French lesson.  TETE = head.

52. Risks: BETS.  This makes more sense as a couple of verbs than it does as a couple of nouns.

53. "Nothing to it!": EASY.

54. Attack, to Rover: SIC.  (Not my error)

55. RN workplace: ICU.  Registered Nurses work, sometimes, in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital.

56. Tennis call: LET.  A serve that hits the net and lands in the correct court.

57. Rubbish: ROT.  Another idiom  Used as a noun not a verb.  I was once on an airplane and found myself seated next to a man who held a backpack full of ROTting meat.  He said that it was his carrion luggage.

. . . and on that note . . .