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John-Clark and Alex Trebek
His appearance aired in October of 2012
Themeless Saturday puzzle by John-Clark Levin

Today is the first John-Clark Levin Saturday LA Times puzzle. This was John-Clark's gracious reply for info on him and his puzzle:

Hi Gary,

A few words of introduction to readers of the blog... I am a native of Ojai, California, and currently a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge in the UK. My research focuses on how governments can do a better job of anticipating the impacts of artificial intelligence. I also work as an author and journalist at the intersection of technology, politics, and security. Among more lighthearted pursuits, I’ve been known to perform stage magic, and will take even the flimsiest excuse to sing Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements.” (This is linked below the grid and highly recommended! - hg)

For seed entries, I was glad to debut ITS A MATCH, the Tinder notification transformed dating for my generation—and sparked unions whose precocious offspring are in some cases just a few years away from becoming crossword puzzle fans themselves. SUGAR RUSH has less social relevance, but is just the kind of evocative phrase that I love to see livening up a grid. But my favorite entry is NOT THE ONION. There's been so much absurd news over the past few years that people in my newsfeed have to constantly use that as a preface!

Rich Norris suggested some edits to the fill, and I'm much happier with the way the final version turned out, although I wish I could have avoided a few somewhat awkward entries like CRIER and TBILLS. I love the clues Rich added for ISLANDS, ITEM, ACH. So big thanks to him, Patti Varol, and the rest of the editorial team both for the acceptance and improvements. They're a pleasure to work with.

I love seeing so many lovely comments from solvers—getting to entertain and challenge so many amazing people on a Saturday morning is a genuine privilege. I hope you enjoyed today's puzzle!

All the best,


I managed to move right along in this puzzle and admired the word sights along the way. BTW, John-Clark assured me there is no intrigue to his hyphenated first name and that he enjoys its uniqueness. He added, "And let's just say nobody calls me "John" if they want an answer!"


1. Author Allende: ISABEL - A Chilean author of "magical realism"

7. Counter proposals?: ISLANDS - Hey, they're not just in kitchens! 
14. Still ahead: TO COME.

15. 2003 disaster movie about a mission to Earth's center: THE CORE.

16. Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe is one: SALOON - A chance to take a break, sit down in a/c, get a cool drink and see a show at The Magic Kingdom

17. Mr. Rogers catchword: NEIGHBOR 

18. Car loan figs.: APRS 

19. Leaf pore: STOMA - A highly magnified open STOMA on a rose leaf

21. Tolkien being: ELF.

22. Champagne with a diaeresis - 
MOËT - the diaeresis is the punctuation mark over the E that tells the vowels are pronounced separately not as one. Z
OË rhymes with snowy not snow

23. Lion, say: CAT 

24. Govt. securities: T-BILLS - Here's a million dollar one

27. Handy program: APP.

28. Suggests to the palate: TASTES OF - Does bad wine TASTE OF vinegar?

30. Join forces: TEAM UP.

32. Help a vacationing friend, maybe: HOUSE SIT - We paid our granddaughter big bucks to HOUSE/KITTY SIT for us

36. Old news source: CRIER.

37. No WNBA players: MEN - Hence the W

38. Clam or lobster: SAUCE.

39. Crunchy cantina fare: HARD TACO - My shell preference 

41. Became one company: MERGED and 37. 2006 Verizon acquisition: MCI.

42. Rockford's home: ILLINOIS - JFK visiting Rockford, Illinois in 1960. Life magazine called Rockford 
 "as nearly typical of the U.S. as any city can be."

44. Include in the mix: ADD - We enjoy Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and are sometimes amazed at what ingredients chefs ADD to their creations 

45. Court rival of Roger: RAFAEL - Recent numbers 

48. Iraq War danger: Abbr.: IED - A horrible abbreviation we all have learned 

49. Hub near de Gaulle: ORLY - A 34-min. drive

50. Broadway's Burrows: ABE His IMDB

51. Crystal-lined rock: GEODE - For $16.95 you can break open your own

53. Chesapeake delicacy: CRAB - Home of the Maryland/Chesapeake Blue Crab 

54. Pull out all the stops: GO TO TOWN.

57. Perspicacious: ASTUTE - A person can be called "
sesquipedalian" if they choose words that are way bigger than necessary

59. Prince of Darkness: EVIL ONE.

60. Midday nap: SIESTA.

61. Trips taken mostly in the dark: RED EYES - We took a RED EYE flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles on New Year's Eve in 1986

62. Leash: TETHER.


1. Tinder notice: IT'S A MATCH - Gotta be better than, "Hey, what's your sign?"

2. Show labeled for its early sponsors: SOAP OPERA.

3. Fix for an injured knee: ACL REPAIR - Doctor to an athlete with an Injured Anterior Cruciate Ligament: 26. Lead-in to bad news: "I FEAR your career may be over"

4. Increase: BOOST.

5. Broody rock genre: EMO Here's an example entitled Miserable At Best

6. Blank photo cause: LENS CAP - Oops!

7. Couple of People: ITEM.

8. Massage technique: SHIATSU - I can choose SHIATSU or Rolling massage 

9. Race stage: LEG.

10. Hamburger beef?: ACH - Love this clue. This Hamburger is a resident of the German city and the beef is a complaint. ACH du lieber! is what you might say if you 58. "Sprechen __ Deutsch?": SIE.

11. Prize founder: NOBEL.

12. Like some humor: DROLL 20 of Steven Wright's best jokes

13. Russia's Alexander II emancipated them in 1861: SERFS.

17. Disclaimer for sounds-absurd-but-it's-real news content: NOT THE ONION - THE ONION is a famous satirical site. NOT THE ONION is said of a real story that seems like it could only be satire like you see here

20. Many Ph.D. candidates: TA'S - Teaching Assistants

25. Supervisors: BOSSES.

28. Symbol of slowness: TURTLE.

29. Ages and ages: EON.

31. Press and such: MEDIA.

33. Consequence of too much sweetness?: SUGAR RUSH - John-Clark's evocative entry

34. Refreshing coffeehouse order: ICED LATTE - $3.95 and 130 calories for a grande at Starbucks®

35. Focus of a former Florida museum that featured a Hug Club: TEDDY BEAR Now closed after being bought by the Naples, FL. YMCA

40. Expended: ALL GONE.

41. Region of long-frustrated peace efforts: MIDEAST - It seems like EONS

43. Its Jan. 2018 additions include "hangry" and "mansplain": OED.

What could possibly go wrong?
45. Abandoned party: RAGER - U.S. - A student party where large amounts of alcohol are consumed and riotous behavior occurs. Throwing a RAGER in an abandoned house leaves no one to press charges - USA Today (John-Clark told me this was Rich's clue)

46. Where the stars are: ABOVE.

47. Rank: FETID - A line from a song in the play 1776 You see, we piddle, twiddle, and resolve, Not one damn thing do we solve. Piddle, twiddle, and resolve, Nothing's ever solved in Foul, FETID, fuming, foggy, filthy Philadephia!

49. G7, before Russia's suspension: OCTET.

52. Farm girls: EWES.

55. La Liga cheer: OLE - The League of soccer teams in Spain

56. Yorkie's group designation: TOY - dog

For further insight into John-Clark, listen to his rendition of The Elements from the 2014 from the Harvard Kennedy School Talent Show 2014. What a hoot!

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