Friday, February 17, 2023, Jeff Stillman



Good morning, cruciverbalists.  Malodorous Manatee here with today's puzzle recap.

Let's jump right into things with the reveal:

36 Across:   Ones fated to fail, or what the answers to the starred clues are, initially?: BORN LOSERS.

At four successive places in today's grid, starred for our convenience, our puzzle setter, Jeff Stillman, has removed the letters B, then O, then R and finally N from otherwise well-known brand names.  So, taken together, we lose BORN.   In each case, the Stillman-omitted letter "stands alone" in the name in that all but a single letter of a word has been omitted in the brand name itself.  So first, the marketing departments pared words down to a single letter, or initial if you will (in two of the four cases, the letter coincidentally also happens to be the initial letter of the word).  Then Jeff came along and removed those vestigial letters.   It is far simpler than I have made it sound.

Coincidentally, BORN is an appropriate word of the day as we will see at the end of this recap.

Here are the themed clues and answers:

*18 Across:  Children's apparel company: OSH KOSH GOSH.  Bye, bye B for By.

*27 Across:  Candy with a bee on its wrapper: BIT HONEY.  No O for Of here.

*51 Across:  Superstore for new parents: BABIES US.  That backwards R for aRe has been banished.

*61 Across:  Snack brand with Buttery Toffee and Almond Supreme flavors: CRUNCH MUNCH.  No N for aNd to be found,


1. Metric unit: GRAM.  Back in the sixties and seventies I became quite adept in working with the metric system.  I told my mother that I had learned it all in chemistry class.

5. Some workplace discrimination: Var.: AGISM.  Often spelled with the e not removed.  AGEISM.

10. Icy street risk: SKID.

14. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" detective Diaz: ROSA.  A TV show reference.

15. Good-natured teasing: BANTER.  BANTER is often modified, as in the clue, with the descriptive "good-natured".

17. Pre-stereo: MONO.  An audiophile reference.  Then came quad and surround sound.

20. Swivel around: SLUE.

21. Avenue that's the eastern border of Midway Airport: CICERO.  Easier if you knew your Chicago geography.  Not too hard to figure out even if you did not.  Thanks, perps.

22. Basilica recesses: APSES.

24. Consumed: 

25. Bewitches: ENAMORS.

Ella - Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

29. Russo of "Thor": RENE.  A frequent visitor - or is that Magritte?

30. Shampoo ad buzzword: BODY.  A somewhat undefined term.  Not here.  In shampoo marketing.

32. Campus security?: TENURE.  Not security as in physical safety.  Job security.

33. QB stats: YDS.  A football reference.  QuarterBack is abbreviated so YarDS is also.

34. Sunday seating: PEWS.  A Sunday-go-to-meetin' reference.

35. Dealer's inventory: AUTOS.  Ah, it's not a drug reference.

40. Like some diets: VEGAN.  Hand up for first thinking of the trendy PALEO diet.

43. Barrels into: RAMS.

44. Half of cuatro: DOS.  A Spanish and math lesson mashup.

47. Roma locale: ITALIA.  An Italian lesson.  ROMA not ROME so ITALIA not ITALY (which would not fit in any event).

49. Remain undecided: PEND.

50. Landlord's income: RENT.

53. Herbal drink: SAGE TEA.  Personally, this is a type of tea that I have never (knowingly) tasted.

55. Kid: RIB.  Not a baby goat this week.

56. Math functions: 

58. File menu option: SAVE AS.  It is always a good idea to periodically save one's work.

59. "C'est la vie": ALAS.

63. Jamboree shelter: TENT.  A scouting reference.
64. Put under: SEDATE.

65. French 101 verb: ETRE.  In French the verbs are conjugated with either ETRE (to be) of Avoir (to have).

66. Voiced: ORAL.

67. Jumps up and down to music: POGOS.

Paul Reubens Shows Us How

68. Origin: 
SEED.  As in the germ of an idea.  Both are biology metaphors.


1. Grub hub?: GROCERY.  Nice word play.  A nexus for food.

2. Prepared for use, as a violin bow: ROSINED.  Or a fiddle.

3. Depth charges, in navy slang: ASH CANS.  I learned this term as a child from watching WWII movies.  Manatees are not fond of depth charges.  Wait a minute.   Do manatees watch movies?

4. Defiant response: MAKE ME.

5. Shock __: ABSORBER.  Hand up for first trying something along the lines of Shock and Awe.  An automobile suspension parts reference.

6. "This is a disaster!": GAH.  Today's punt,  GAH!

7. "Young Frankenstein" role: INGA.

8. Visit: STOP BY.

9. 2022 World Cup Golden Ball winner Lionel: MESSI.

10. Texting letters: SMS.  Short Message Service is a protocol used by cellphones to send and receive text messages.

11. Caffeine source for some soft drinks: KOLA NUT.

12. Prenatal: IN UTERO.  Also, a Nirvana album.

13. Makeup trend that imparts an innocent look: DOE EYES.

16. "Country Again" Grammy nominee Thomas: RHETT.  I wonder if he has a butler.

19. Spanish gold: ORO.  Another Spanish lesson.

23. Shrub cutters: SHEARS.  Garden SHEARS are cutting hedge technology.

26. Scattered, as seeds: SOWN.

28. Heavy load: ONUS.

31. ISP option: DSL.  Internet Service Provider.  Digital Subscriber Line.  For transmitting digital data over telephone lines.

34. Stable figures: PONIES.   A bit of word play.  Stable as in, well, a place to house horses.  Not as in a stable economy.

36. Island east of Java: BALI.

37. Redstone in Minecraft, e.g.: ORE.  Minecraft is a video game franchise.

38. __-serif: SANS.  Fonts without the little dashes at the ends of each letter.

39. Punctuation marks that set off a series within a phrase: EM DASHES.

40. Singer's wavering tone: VIBRATO.

41. Entity with net income?: E-TAILER.  Not net income as in what's left over after costs and taxes.  Net as in internet.

42. Dolce & __: GABBANA.  An Italian luxury fashion house.

44. Cold War warmup: DETENTE.  Not as in warming up before starting something,  Warmup as in a thaw or easing.

45. Plot size, perhaps: ONE ACRE.

46. Hidden: STASHED.

48. #LiveUplifted sneakers brand: ASICS.

49. Not genuine: PSEUDO.

50. Some Broadway fare: REVUES.  REVUES are variety shows with topical sketches, songs, dancing and comedians.

The New Zoo Revue

52. General Assembly figure, for short: UN REP United Nations REPresentative

54. Whale group: GAM.

57. Hitch: SNAG.

60. Mo. city whose MLS team will play its first game in 2023:  STL.  Missouri and Major League Soccer are abbreviated in the clue.  Therefore the answer is, too.  Jeff is also riffing on the name of the team with the "Mo. city" bit because the soccer team is calling itself the Saint Louis City Soccer Club.  More often, STL is clued with reference to the SainT Louis Cardinals baseball team.

62. Exec at a gaming startup, e.g.: CTO.  Chief Technology Officer.  EXECutive is truncated in the clue, therefore . . . .

Here is the completed grid:

That wraps things up for today . . . except for one last thing.  A usually reliable source informs me that today is the birthday of my fellow Friday blogger (I tried to come up with something alliterative but could not), Chairman Moe!  Thirty-nine, right?


Notes from C.C.:

1) As Joseph mentioned, today's the Chairman Moe's birthday. A big milestone. Happy 70th birthday, Chris! Here he is with his love Margaret.

2) Big Easy just sent me this picture of him and his wife Diane at their Mardi Gras pickleball tournament.

3) Happy 57th anniversary to our incomparable Husker Gary and his wife Joann. Here's a picture of them with their grandson Hawkin three years ago. 

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