Thursday, June 4th 2020 Christopher Adams & Michael Sharp

Theme: Carb-on Footprints. The word "CARB" is found in three theme entries.

Grouch Alert: The following blog contains grumpiness.

18A. Speculation before awards season: OSCAR BUZZ

43A. Lima family legumes that yield vanilla: MADAGASCAR BEANS. No. Flat-out wrong. Madacascar beans are lima beans, but vanilla does not come from a lima bean, the vanilla bean is a completely different legume. Yes, the best vanilla beans are grown in Madagascar, but that doesn't excuse the error here.

21D. Kids' furniture that may have checkered-flag sheets: RACECAR BEDS

26D. Bane of a ketogenic diet, and what three long puzzle answers contain: HIDDEN CARBS

Let's get straight to it. I can't see the point of this puzzle. The grid has mirror symmetry only, presumably to cope with the single 15-letter themer, which itself is clued completely wrong, and all this to conceal twelve letters in two across entries and one down entry? I'd have put the grid-spanner in row 8, or find another 15-letter entry to balance. SCARBOROUGH FAIR would have fit the bill. And sprinkled a few more CARB's around.

And the reveal? "three long puzzle answers" so forget SHANIA TWAIN and THESE DREAMS which apparently are there just to take up space.

I do hate having to put on my Oscar the Grouch hat, but the concept of this puzzle left me cold. I would love it if I'm missing something clever and someone can point out the error of my ways. I even squinted at the grid pattern to see if it looked like the chemical structure of a carbohydrate, so I did try. I think I'll just move right along and I'll wait for someone to take me to task for my theme-ignorance.

It's a shame, because there were some nice moments in the fill:


1. Order to go: BEAT IT

7. Settle early: PREPAY

13. Nuts: BANANAS

15. Heat sources: BOILERS

16. Fireplace sound: CRACKLE

17. Like some mice: OPTICAL. I'm using one right now, in fact I had to change the battery because it just died this morning. There'a little on/off button on the bottom, but I never remember to use it.

20. Part of AMPAS: ARTS. Did you know this acronym? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They award Oscars (the non-grouchy kind)

23. Take by force: USURP

24. 1975 Wimbledon winner: ASHE

28. With 28-Across, sad trombone sound effect: WAH. I like this little entry, I don't think I've seen a self-referential clue like this before.

29. Labyrinth-building king: MINOS

30. Friendly exchanges: HI'S

31. Crushed, as a final: ACED

33. __ Plaines: Chicago suburb: DES

34. Fistfuls of dollars: WADS

35. "That makes sense now": YES I SEE

38. Equal rival: SPLENDA

41. Surrendered: CEDED

42. American Eagle intimate apparel brand: AERIE. Makes sense. The Aerie line is new to me (BTW, American Eagle is the brand), but didn't take long to figure it out with the help of some crosses.

48. Bruins legend: ORR

49. Taunting phrase from internet trolls: U MAD BRO? I think this was my favorite fill today. Rich tends to be pretty conservative with new "in the language" phrases but they can give the fill sparkle.

50. Horned Frogs' sch.: TCU. Texas Christian in Fort Worth.

51. Past pudgy: OBESE

53. Back again: FRO. I'd like to try to order a "To and Fro" air ticket and see what the agent had to say. Or return from a trip and say "Hi! I'm Fro!" and see what the reaction is.

54. Pacifist's demand: NO WAR

56. Candidate's goal: SEAT. After all that campaigning, stumping, kissing babies, knocking on doors, striding about stages at debates and orating at town halls, you need to take a seat, that's for sure.

57. Crystal-filled formation: GEODE

59. Stable parent: MARE

60. Type of computer monitor cable: HDMI. Of course the nerd in me had to go and look up the acronym. High-Definition Multimedia Interface if you're interested.

61. High points: ACMES

62. They're put to paper: NIBS. Ah, the fountain pen, bane of a grammar schoolboy's existence. You'd put it in your blazer pocket, the cap would come loose, and ten minutes later you've got a huge ink stain all over your shirt. You got in the neck from the teacher of the next class as you had to beg some ink for a refill, and you got it doubly in the neck from your mom when you got home and she had to try to wash your shirt.

63. Mir launcher: Abbr.: U.S.S.R.

64. Group of associates: POSSE

65. Part of MIT: Abbr.: INST.


1. "Doctor Who" network: BBC

2. AirPod spot: EAR. I've said before, this is one of those inventions that Apple should have left on the drawing board. And have you seen the price of the things? People walk around with them stuck in their ears so they don't lose them and just look silly.

3. Gasteyer of "Wine Country": ANA. Good cast, bad reviews.

4. Stuffed shells: TACOS. Food! I slow-roasted and smoked a beef chuck last weekend for barbacoa. I've got a little left over for tacos tonight. I love the little "street taco" size tortillas, some chopped onion and cilantro, a dab of smoky chipotle salsa, a squirt of crema and a squeeze of lime juice. I'm making myself hungry!

5. Tattoo artist's array: INKS

6. Friction-reducing substance: TALCUM

7. Infield fly rule flies: POPUPS

8. Big name in crackers: RITZ

9. "Hamilton" role for Tony nominee Phillipa Soo: ELIZA. Eventually, I'll get to remember the character names and the Broadway cast of "Hamilton", but for now it's crosses all the way.

10. Delt neighbor: PEC. I had "LAT" first which held me up a little.

11. Hall of Famer Parseghian: ARA. The legendary head coach of Notre Dame Football, and, often forgotten, Northwestern before that. Ara brought the Notre Dame football program back from the brink of extinction.

12. DKNY competitor: YSL

14. Boardwalk location: SEASIDE

15. Painter known for "happy little trees": BOB ROSS. Never heard of him, nor his trees. Certainly a cultural thing, as Google turns up a ton of stuff and links to videos on YouTube. Solid crosses helped here.

19. Mysterious letter: RUNE

20. Not home: AWAY

22. Heart hit song with the lyric "Every second of the night I live another life": THESE DREAMS. Not a big "Heart" expert, but this was reasonably easy to deduce.

25. "Come On Over" singer: SHANIA TWAIN

27. She, in Italy: ESSA

32. __ double take: DID A

34. "We __ Soldiers": 2002 Mel Gibson film: WERE. The book on which the film is based is titled "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young". Joe Galloway, who co-authored the book with Col. Hal Moore worked as a reporter for UPI in the early days of the Vietnam war in 1965 and was awarded the Bronze Star for his bravery during the Ia Drang battle. He, David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan, Malcolm Brown and Peter Arnett together did an incredible job to get the truth of what was happening in Vietnam out to the world, all the time working to support each other while competing for news.

36. "That reminds me ...," e.g.: SEGUE

37. Mild cheese: EDAM

39. "The Incredibles" family name: PARR. Thank you, crosses.

40. Simon of Duran Duran: LE BON. He, along with fellow crew-members and the skipper were pulled out of the English Channel by a rescue helicopter when his racing yacht "Drum" lost its keel and capsized in severe weather during the Fastnet race in 1985. Le Bon was trapped below when the boat turned over. His hair didn't look this good:

43. Chinese pork dish: MOO SHU. Food! 木須肉 first started appearing on Chinese restaurant menus in the USA in the 1960's.

44. Seattle's former __ Field: SAFECO. Now called T-Mobile Park. You lose a little romanticism when you cash in on the stadium naming rights. Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium, Camden Yards and others have some cachet. Minute Maid Park? T-Mobile Park? Anycorp Stadium presented by EvilCorp?

45. Data media: CD ROMS

46. Quarters: ABODES. Abodes tend to be "humble" in screenplays and novels. Here's the Duke of Marlborough's abode in Abingdon, just north of Oxford in England. Nothing too humble about this place, and that's just the house. The grounds are not humble either! Winston Churchill was born here, and the place was saved from ruin by the 9th Duke who married Consuela Vanderbilt, her of a quite large railroad fortune. I'm sure the Duke had no idea of her wealth. (ya right!)

47. Like the best bet: SUREST

52. Swizzle: STIR

55. Old Dodge: OMNI

57. Break: GAP

58. Minneapolis-to-Milwaukee dir.: ESE

And with that, I think it's a wrap - like the moo shu pork! Here's the grid: