Thursday, July 30th 2020 Roland Huget

Theme: Planetary Craft - the puzzle is crafted so that four planets - aka worlds - are split across two theme entries. To wit:

17A. Flirts with: MAKES EYES AT and 19A. Coffee server: URNSaturn. I've made eyes at a coffee urn in early-morning meetings when the coffee has just arrived and I've not had my morning caffeine fix.

23A. All thumbs: INEPT and 24A. Nefarious: UNETHICAL. Neptune.

36A. Square things: GET EVEN and 38A. Put many miles on: USE A LOT. Venus. My car came to end-of-lease last week and is going up for auction next month. Whoever gets that car is going to be happy - it's three years old with less than 15,000 miles on it and looks brand-new. So I didn't use it a lot.

51A. Where to find a hammer and anvil: MIDDLE EAR. and 53A. Unifying idea: THEME. Earth.

and the reveal:

59A. Not remotely on the same page ... and what can literally be found in four puzzle rows: WORLDS APART.

A "bridge the gap" theme from Roland - a clue to these themes is where the reveal mentions "puzzle rows" rather than "puzzle entries".  I filled in "MIDDLE EAR" and "THEME" and "Middle Earth" jumped out at me - then I got to the reveal itself and all became clear. I liked a lot that "THEME" was part of the theme; I'm sure that wasn't just a happy coincidence.

Good job all round from Roland - there's some great fill around the theme entries, and a couple of new ones too, which helps to keep things fresh. Let's take a look:


1. Vitamin amts.: RDA'S. The clue implies an abbreviation, it appears that "RDA" without the periods is now accepted usage. Makes punctuating this entry a lot simpler!

5. Come by: OBTAIN.

11. Pancake syrup source: SAP. The sap of the maple tree. I don't eat breakfast pancakes so I'd never eaten maple syrup until recently where a recipe I was using called for it. I was surprised it wasn't just sweet, it had a depth of flavor that I didn't expect.

14. Isn't informal?: AIN'T. I like these clues.

15. Southwestern community: PUEBLO.

16. __ Fáil: Irish coronation stone: LIA. The Stone of Destiny. Last used for a coronation around 500AD.

20. Picks up gradually: GLEANS.

21. Type of wave or spree: CRIME.

28. Web address feature: DOT.

29. Enliven, with "up": SPICE.

30. Parker and Waterman: PENS. I used Parker fountain pens at school - we had to write with pen and ink, woe betide you if you tried to sneak a ballpoint in there. Consequently all our fingers were ink-stained from refilling the darn things.

31. Sanford of "The Jeffersons": ISABEL.

34. Amusement park shuttles: TRAMS.

42. Catch on: SEE IT.

44. Lily's role in "All of Me": EDWINA. Lily Tomlin co-starred with Steve Martin in this 1984 comedy.

45. Smoothie berry: ACAI. Goji or Acai? Wait for the crosses - the "I" doesn't help you.

48. YouTube journals: VLOGS. Video Logs, formally. I subscribe to quite a few YouTube channels, you can lose yourself down some very quirky rabbit holes very quickly!

50. Water source: TAP.

55. "Caveman" diet: PALEO.

56. Chicago suburb: AURORA. It seems mean to describe it as a suburb, it's a city in its own right and in the top 115 most populous in the country. Here's the William B. Green residence. Familiar-looking architecture? Yes indeed, it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

58. New Haven Ivy Leaguer: ELI.

64. Barbecue piece: RIB.

65. Surpass: EXCEED.

66. Allergic reaction: ITCH.

67. Slalom shape: ESS.

68. Speech platforms: ROSTRA. Thank you, Latin lessons of yore. Nouns ending in "-UM" are generally neuter, and pluralized with "-A".

69. Radar's favorite soda: NEHI. You can still get this stuff. Anyone know what it tastes like?


1. The one for ewe?: RAM.

2. Figure out: DIAGNOSE.

3. Art that may be covered by a sock: ANKLE TAT. This is new fill. It appears that no-one gets a tattoo any more, they get "ink" or a tat. On one of our trips to England not so long ago, we stopped off in Blackpool, an old resort town on the Irish Sea. We parked across the street from a place which proudly had "TATTOO'S" writ large on the storefront. I don't think I'd trust them with punctuating my tat.
4. Allow to soak, as tea: STEEP.

5. Conducting business: OPEN.

6. Purchases all of: BUYS UP.

7. Informal top: TEE.

8. Crunch targets: ABS.

9. Dockworkers' org.: I.L.A. The International Longshoremen's Association.

10. V-shaped slit: NOTCH.

11. Gold miner's water trough: SLUICE.

12. Lindbergh, e.g.: AIRMAN. Amongst many things. This one wins Obscure Random Clue of the Day award, very Thursday-like.

13. Discussion groups: PANELS.

18. Perched: SAT.

22. Tool for cutting with the grain: RIPSAW.

23. "Gotcha, man": I DIG. I doubt either have been heard in daily life since ... oh ... the jazz era? Woodstock? A while ago, anyway.

25. Small point: NIT.

26. Neutral shade: ECRU.

27. Pokes fun at: TEASES.

29. Record holder: SLEEVE. With vinyl making a mini-comeback, record sleeve printing firms are back in business!

32. Next to: BESIDE.

33. Night before: EVE.

35. __ school: MED.

37. Khartoum's river: NILE. You can't argue with that. Khartoum is at the confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile, which together form the Nile.

39. Knowledgeable, as in a particular field: LITERATE.

40. Protesting, maybe: ON A MARCH.

41. Sticky stuff: TAPE.

43. Ode title words: TO A. Keat's "Ode to a Nightingale" is a little long to post here in full, but the first verse is well known (or at least, the first few lines):

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
         My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
         One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
         But being too happy in thine happiness,—
                That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
                        In some melodious plot
         Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
                Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

45. Current unit: AMPERE.

46. Viagra competitor: CIALIS.

47. Deviates from the script: AD LIBS.

49. Landscaping equipment: GRADER.

52. Farther down: LOWER.

53. Singing syllable: TRA. la la.

54. Hitchhiker's welcome: HOP IN. Do people still hitchhike? My buddy and I took a trip when we were 17 from the UK to the south of France and Spain and back in the days when it was still a thing.

57. Food safety org.: USDA.

60. Good Grips utensil brand: OXO.

61. Coke alternatives: RCS. RC Cola. I suppose you can pluralize it, you can have Cokes and Pepsis, so why not (although "pepsis" sounds like a some kind of infection!)

62. Court call: LET. "Let the Prisoner Go"? Nah, tennis. I don't watch a lot of tennis, but the last tournament I saw there were no net-cord judges anymore. When did those folk get phased out? They were a fixure at Wimbledon.

63. How-hot-it-feels stat.: T.H.I. The Temperature Humidity Index. I like LA's dry heat, I get grumpy in humid places unless I'm on vacation in a pair of beach shorts.

And I think that's about it. Here's the grid with the theme entries highlighted in what my MacBook paint tool calls "Banana".