Thursday, August 6th 2020 John Lampkin

Theme: Missplaced - like this puzzle's theme.

18A. *Scout leader's unit: BROWNIE TROOP.

35A. *Ragtime pianist's number: CAKE WALK. A great excuse to link Dire Straits and "Tunnel of Love" simply because it includes the words "cake walk". This was filmed at Wembley Arena in 1985 - I was there.

44A. *Analyst's infographic: PIE CHART.

12D. *Arbitrary error allowance: FUDGE FACTOR.

26D. *Boot sole material: CRÊPE RUBBER. But wait - is all crêpe rubber, or is all rubber crêpe? Or is there no overlap in the Venn Diagram of soles? Whichever way, "Rubber Soul" was a great Beatles album. "Crêpe Soul" didn't make the charts. Maybe it was cr ... not very good.

62. Appropriate reward, as often misspelled ... and what the starts of the answers to starred clues might be: JUST DESSERTS.

Alrighty then, I think I might be a little off-base here, but I'm going to play the role of "The Editor" for today's puzzle:

Scene: The Editor's Office - Enter John

Ed: Hi John, what have you got for me?
JL: Nice theme, probably Thursday-level, and oh, it's a 16x15

Ed: Why the 16?
JL: Because I needed the extra room for the reveal, it's a 12-letter entry "JUST DESSERTS".

Ed: You know you spelled that wrong?
JL: Yep, but the clue tells you I spelled it wrong.

Ed: OK, so the theme entries are spelled wrong too?
JL: No, they're fine, but they're all desserts, not deserts.

Ed: You know that "deserts" in the phrase alludes to neither arid areas nor post-dinner sweet treats?
JL: I know, but ...

Ed: OK, let me look - wait. CRÊPE SOLES? I've had crêpes for breakfast - mushrooms and cheese if I recall - and PIE CHART? "Pie" isn't just a dessert, you can have steak pie, chicken pot pie, shepherd's pie, cottage pie, oyster p...
JL: I know, I know. I didn't mean that the reveal literally meant that the theme entries were "just" desserts.

Ed: But you misspelled "desert", the reveal says "just desserts" and you're telling me the themers aren't spelled wrong and they aren't only dessert dishes? And the grid is a funny shape?
JL: Yep, that's about the long and short of it. "Long" - see what I did there? A long across? That's funny! And I covered myself with the reveal clue, I said "might be", not "are".

Ed: John, I'm not sure that's a good excuse, maybe you've caught me at a bad time. And who is "TAL"?
JL: Aha! He's a famous Russian chess player who won the World Chess Championship in 1960 and held it for six months.

Ed: Does he have a famous defence named after him? Or a great attacking style? Or insisted on playing in Iceland and claimed he was an alien?
JL: Not really. He did blame his short "Champion" reign on his kidneys though. He was a superstar.

Ed: In 1960? I was one year old. How many people have heard of him? Other than crossword editors, not including me?
JL: LOTS of people know Tal. Ask any grandmaster chess player, they'll tell you all about him. They'll tell you he had bad kidneys and won a championship in 1960.

Ed: What's his first name?
JL: I've no idea, can I look him up on Wikipedia and get back to you?

Ed: OK John, thanks. We'll be in touch. I'm not sure how to explain this one away though.


Right, let's see what we can find in the rest of the puzzle.


1. Spirited French commune?: COGNAC. "Commune" in the sense of "region" in France. The Cognac commune sits predominantly on the left bank of the river Charente in Bordeaux. Santé!

7. Like Wicca, say: PAGAN.

12. Not many: FEW.

15. Dawn goddess: AURORA.

16. Coffeehouse draw: AROMA.

17. Hagen of the theater: UTA. Who? Thank you, crosses. A few of these today for me.

20. UPS rival: DHL.

21. Take top prize for: WIN AT.

22. Hauled: DRAGGED.

24. Specialized job: NICHE.

27. Try a new color on: RE-DYE. I parsed this as "red eye" first. I just had my annual eye exam today, I blame that.

29. Claudius' successor: NERO.

30. Another, in Acapulco: OTRA.

31. Excessive: UNDUE.

32. U.K. fliers: R.A.F. The Royal Air Force.

33. Father's Day pin: TIE TAC. I thought these were "tie tacks". I had a couple, back in the day of three-piece-suits in London's Financial District, the "City". To think I wore them and couldn't spell them. Shame on me.

39. AOL or MSN: ISP. Internet Service Provider

40. A lot of hooey: CLAPTRAP.

43. Hoodwink: CON.

46. A bit much: TOO, TOO. Is this a thing? I would say that "too, too" was a lot too much, not a bit,

48. Manta __: RAY.

49. Like some perfume: MUSKY. These are the ones that hang around like an unwelcome house guest.

52. Blog entry: POST. This! Yay!

53. One of the basic tastes: SOUR. Sweet, sour, salt, bitter and that extra "savoriness" usually referred to nowadays as "umami", mostly by food writers who can't stop saying "umami".

55. Sans-serif font: ARIAL. Not this font. We're Times New Roman on this blog and proud.

56. Tackle box assortment: LURES.

57. Warm greeting: EMBRACE. Not right now. I know it's been a few months since I've seen you, but a polite elbow-tap is as close as I'm getting.

59. Tibet neighbor: NEPAL.

61. Capture: NAB.

67. That yacht: SHE. This beauty? She. That lovely yacht over yonder? She. That rusty hulk messing up the view on the riverbank over there? It. or He.

68. Pianist Rubinstein: ARTUR.

69. Comparable to a pin: AS NEAT. It's pretty hard to be an untidy pin. What do you have to do to attain scruffy-pin status? We should be told.

70. Bud's place: EAR. Behind the ear? Just ready to be fired up by ....

71. Many a Bob Marley fan: RASTA. Ya man. Respect.

72. They're often at the bottoms of columns: TOTALS.


1. Popular red: CAB.

2. Group possessive: OUR.

3. Garden adspeak word: GRO. I fed my kitchen basil plant Miracle-Gro a few weeks ago to perk it up a little. It should be called "Miracle-Eradicate". The plant was not impressed at all.

4. "Another problem?!": NOW WHAT?

5. Golf icon Palmer: ARNIE. Strictly, Arnold. If you're going to refer to a nickname, then "Golfer with an Army" would be better. In my humble opinion.

6. Genesis farmer: CAIN. Thank you, crosses.

7. Stroked gently: PATTED. I tried "PETTED" first. Not quite right.

8. Flight info abbr.: ARR.

9. Michelin rival: GOODYEAR. I had a weird dream last night that the Goodyear Blimp was performing aerobatics and crash-landed upside-down in front of Winchester Cathedral where I was watching. I helped the crew turn it the right way up, they inflated it again and took off. I've NO idea what that was all about.

10. Love, in Pisa: AMORE.

11. Source of much 1-Down: NAPA.

13. Bygone anesthetic: ETHER.

14. Guy found in kids' books: WALDO. Nice clue this one, made me smile. "Where's Waldo?"

19. Bring home: EARN.

23. Chew (on): GNAW.

24. Payback for lousy service: NO TIP. I'm torn. It would have to be truly terrible service for me to leave no tip at all. The only time I can recall doing it was eating at a restaurant in LA shortly after it opened, and the previous night George Clooney had eaten there. The wait staff were so buzzed by the prospect of maybe having another "star" visit that us mere mortals were completely ignored. The only person who paid attention to us was the busser. He got a cash tip which the wait person would have got, the wait person got nothing, I did explain why, but I fear due to the eye-rolling the explanation fell on deaf ears. Whatevs.

25. Formal "Just me": IT IS I.

28. Tear dispenser: DUCT.

31. Pac-12 team: UCLA.

32. Default takeback: REPO. Another nice clue. Default on your loan, we take back your car.

34. Sore from a workout: ACHY.

36. Singer Perry: KATY.

37. __ cannon: LOOSE.

38. Rustic pine features: KNOTS.

41. Loveseat sides: ARMRESTS. I found this a little odd, but OK.

42. Spitting sound: PTUI. Gross.

45. Novelist Caleb: CARR. Who? Thank you, crosses.

47. Swank: OPULENT.

50. Oh of "Killing Eve": SANDRA.

51. "Cat and Bird" artist: KLEE. Who? Thank you, crosses.

53. Taste, for one: SENSE. Umami? Say it one more time, I dare you.

54. Nebraska city: OMAHA.

55. High-end Honda: ACURA. The last car I owned in England before I moved here was a Honda Integra. When I got to LA, it was called an Acura. That was different.

56. Cowboy rope: LASSO.

58. Slightly open: AJAR.

60. Exam for jrs.: PSAT.

63. Tsk relative: TUT.

64. "The Crying Game" actor Stephen: REA.

65. 1960-'61 chess champ: TAL. Who? Thank you, crosses.

66. GPS displays: STS. I'm assuming "States" which you might get displayed on a map on your GPS device, but that is a total stab in the dark from me. I'll be prepared to be entirely wrong on this one, but it seems an appropriate clue/answer combo to finish this on.

Here's the grid - I didn't highlight the "desserts", I figured there's no need today.