Thursday, 12/24/09

NYT untimed (Amy)
CS untimed (Janie)/4:16 (Amy)
Tausig 7:10 (Jeffrey)
LAT 6:14 (Jeffrey)

Nancy Salomon’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 32I was indeed solving this puzzle in the applet, and it didn’t take long at all to uncover the rebus—4D: [Cavaliers’ home] with some crossings had to be CL{EVE}LAND—but then I slowed down to remember how to enter multiple letters in the applet (typing ++ puts the next three letters into one box). And then I kept goofing up the rebus entry. And then my kid needed help on the Patrick Blindauer “Puzzlefest” job I had assigned him. If I’d been alone in a room and just typed E for {EVE}, the puzzle would’ve taken me no more than two minutes. (That’s a lie.)

Anyway! Nancy’s got those nine rebus squares plunked willy-nilly in this grid, sometimes one and sometimes two in the longest answers, plus a stealth {EVE} in the lower left corner. It’s Christmas Eve, so maybe there are eight rebus squares for Santa’s main team of reindeer, plus one for Rudolph.

Let’s go with elEVEn clues in our roundup tonight:

  • 15A. [Spanish pot] clues ACAPULCO GOLD. No, just kidding. It’s our old friend, the OLLA.
  • 17A. [In perpetuity] is FOR{EVE}R AND {EVE}R.
  • 29A. The MAIN {EVE}NT is a [Fight night highlight].
  • 36A. Wow, old-school crosswordese: REE is a [Dakota Indian]. You may also see Arikara mentioned in a REE clue. OTOE is our [Plains Indian] today.
  • 41A. [One in the charge of un instituteur] is an ELEVE. An élève in French is a student, I beliEVE one who is “elevated” by the teachers.
  • 59A. Peter [Pan’s place] is N{EVE}R N{EVE}R LAND.
  • 64A. [Olympian ___ (classical works)] are ODES.
  • 5D. 26D: [Tube] is a TV SET, so [26-Down adjustment: Abbr.] clues HOR., short for horizontal. Do TVs still have that? The ObsoleteSkills site says that went out in the ’70s.
  • 9D. OAR is clued with [It may be part of a bank]. A bank of oars? That’s a new one on me.
  • 31D. [Flight support] is a NEWEL, not a RISER. Both are parts of staircases.
  • 44D. Jimmy BRESLIN, I presume? [“The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” novelist]. 1969 book, 1971 movie, both unknown to me.
  • 47D. PAR{EVE} is [Made without milk or meat] and thus easy to be made kosher.
  • That’s twelve, so let’s keep going. 53D: Paul R{EVE}RE is the [Midnight alarm giver].
  • 56D. The weird-looking ONEO is clued [“___’Clock Jump” (Count Basie hit)]. A less common answer than the TEN O’clock scholar.

Updated Thursday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Role Reversal”—Janie’s review

Taking a page from the cryptic-style cue book, Bob has concocted a beauty of a puzzle in which the which the word role is embedded in four familiar phrases–in reverse. I’ll be the first to confess that I didn’t figure this out until I’d finished solving. Ah, well, better late than… Here’s how he did it:

17A. NAVEL ORANGE [Fruit that contains a fruit]. I always wondered about that “extra” inside the navel orange. Now I get it! This Wiki piece explains how navels came into being, how they’re propagated and how, essentially, all navels are clones.

27A. QUICHE LORRAINE [Brunch selection named for the region in which it originated]. Whether or not real men do eat it, it remains a tasty dish indeed.

42A. THE LORD’S PRAYER [Words that unite all Christians]. I was in public high school in the early ’60s and every school day started with a recitation of this prayer. Even for students like me, who were Jewish… Seems bizarre to me now.

57A. BARREL ORGAN [Calliope cousin]. Calliope is the Greek muse of epic poetry, so I kept thinking this was going to be muse-related fill; but even though TERPSICHORE (muse of dance) has the requisite number of letters, that’s where the possibility of a fit ends. Here’s a link to the calliope in question, and here’s a link to its relative.

There’s some STERLING fill of the non-thematic variety, too, such as RED SERGE [Mounties’ dress uniform material] and DOG-EARED [Bookmarked, in a way], “DON’T MOVE!” [Freeze order?] and “GAY PAREE” [“Victor/Victoria” song] (elegantly presented by Robert Preston)–among others.

And then there’s the way the cluing, like [Potter’s field?], works its MAGIC. There are the intentional clue pairs, where a word in one clue is repeated in the next: [Enough to wet one’s whistle] and [Word with wet or dry] for TASTE and CELL; [Without a leader?] and [C.S.A. leader] for TIED (that one took some cogitatin’) and DAVIS; and [Body language experts?] and [Without body] for MIMES and LIMP (think of lifeless hair…). There’s rhyme in [As low as you can go] followed by [They were louses as spouses] for NADIR and EXES; or opposites in [Cool, in rap speak] followed by [Where to get hot merchandise?] for PHAT and FIRE SALE.

The non-proximate pairings also shine, like: [“Paws off that bone!’] and [Cat’s paw] for “GRR!” and TOM, and even [Tornado Alley state] and [“If ever a ___ there was…”] for KANSAS and WIZ. The first example ups the stakes by balancing the house pet representation (one dog, one cat), then really makes you think about that word paw. Second time around it does not refer to (what Fats Waller calls) the “pedal extremity,” but to lineage. The second example summons up The Wizard of Oz.

And then there’re the clue/fill pairs that are colorful in their own right:

  • [Laugh and a half]/HOOT;
  • [Jazz riff]/LICK;
  • [Steamy]/EROTIC;
  • [Strongest man on the Planet]/KENT (the Daily Planet, i.e. …);
  • [Put the kibosh on]/SCOTCH (love both kibosh and scotch);
  • [Fuzzy green New Zealander]/KIWI;
  • [Helper with a hunch]/IGOR (but not always a great idea man…); and, a reminder of the occasion this evening and tomorrow:
  • [Like “sanity clause”]/PUNNY. Ho-ho-ho!

Hope you’ll enjoy the holiday however you celebrate it–and cheers, all!!

Ben Tausig’s “Implants” crossword  – Jeffrey’s review

Hi. Jeffrey here. The Scooby-Fiend gang will be popping up here and there throughout  the holiday period to give our esteemed leader a well deserved break.

No,  “Implants” is not about that. We’ve got spys hiding all over the puzzle.

41A. [Agent “embedded” in this puzzle’s theme answers] –  SPY
17A. [Sports honor since 1993] –  ESPY AWARD
24A. [Fast food sandwich staple] – CRISPY CHICKEN
54A. [Car James Dean died in] – PORSCHE SPYDER
66A. [Smooth jazz band since the 70’s] – SPYRO GYRA

Other stuff:

1A. [Billy Bragg’s “I Dreamed I Saw Phil OCHS Last Night]
13A. [Milne’s bear] is (Winnie the) POOH
30A. [Braxton with “Un-Break My Heart”] is TONI.
72A. [Jaw trouble, briefly] is TMJ. This is short for Total Mystery to Jeffrey. Or Temporomandibular joint disorder. If you look hard enough,  every 3 letter combination can be clued as an abbreviation.
11D. [Brasserie list] – CARTE. Brasserie is a type of French restaurant and CARTE is French for menu.
22D. THOM [Yorke featured in the documentary “Meeting People is Easy”.] Of the band Radiohead.
27D.  [Flower made of rock] – LAVA. Flower is a verb here, rhymes with rower.
34D. [Typist’s stat] is WPM. Words Per Minute. Used to be important, when we still had stenos.
36D. [Reunion question]. I put Who Are You instead of HOW ARE YOU. I was thinking of my high school reunion. Don’t ask.
47D. [Zhané hit of 1993].  Tried Hey Jude. It is HEY MR DJ.
55D. [“I like every kind of music except rap, country, and]  OPERA”.  For some reason, this makes me want to play Gilbert and Sullivan.

For Pat lovers:

16A. [Pole at the South Pole, say] – EX-PAT.
57D. [Mar. 17th honoree] – St. PAT.

Elizabeth A. Long’s Los Angeles Times Crossword Jeffrey’s review

OOH EEH OOH AAH AAH. LAT Dec 24We’ve got extra-long theme entries with an extra vowel added to each:

20A. [Too long a ride?] is a STRETCH LIIMO.
37A. [Too many relatives?] is an EXTENDED FAAMILY.
54A. [Too much information?] is a SPREADSHEEET. I’ve been known to create a spreadsheet or two. I made one to sort out who is blogging which puzzle over the next couple of weeks. Which I then expanded to determine…well, I’ll explain on New Year’s Day.

Other stuff:
1A. [Spare underwear] – THONG. I had no idea where this one was gooing.
24A. [Presidential pollster John] ZOGBY. I had ROPER for a loong time.
41A. [Inscribed monument] – STELA. Thought it was STERE for soome reason.
46A. [Columnist Barrett] – RONA. She retired in 1991 but is still the go-to for RONA cluees.
2D. [Roaring Camp chronicler] – HARTE. “The Luck of Roaring Camp” by Bret Harte. Anyboody know this? I didn’t.
5D. [Thyroid problem] – GOITER. A woord I both like and hate.
8D. [DXXX ÷ X] = LIII. 530 divided by 10 equals 53. I’m going to start a trend of blooging the Roman numeral clues.
9D. [Mexico neighbor] – BELIZE.
38D. [City SSE of Las Cruces, NM] – EL PASO, TX. Alsoo a Mexico neighbor.
59D. [“Royal Pains” network] – USA. Alsoo a Mexico neighbor.
More from me (and others) toomorrow.

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12 Responses to Thursday, 12/24/09

  1. This is the kind of juicy Thursday puzzle we used to have a lot of. Thanks, Nancy!

  2. John Price says:

    An extremely fun puzzle. Was anybody else tripped up like I was and chose IRREVERTIBLE / TES?

  3. Gareth says:

    The NYT was a delight. Each time I get to solve a rebus I seem to enjoy them more. 9X rebus squares makes for an elegant construction IMO. REE/NEWEL is pretty tough crossing, though! Last letter to fall was indeed the “stealth {eve}” in the bottom-left.

  4. Carla Keith says:

    That bottom-left was last for me, too, but when I saw it, it was an “Of course!” moment.

  5. John Haber says:

    The ninth (at the SW, the last part of the puzzle I got around to working, as it happens) was a surprise. Did anyone else have mixed feelings about the break in symmetry in placing theme entries, after the three big across entries with two squares each and the two big down entries with one square each?

  6. Aaron says:

    @John, I had mixed feelings about that break in symmetry, too. I filled it in, reluctantly, after I realized there was nothing else that fit. REE/NEWEL, however, remained a blank for me. If not for those two squares, it would have been a 12-minute puzzle for me….

  7. Spencer says:

    Galleys (biremes, triremes, etc) have “banks” of OARs. See

    Also, see, which begins with “In large pulling boats, oarsman are divided into two divisions called “banks,” referring to the side of vessel they are on, LARBOARD or STARBOARD.”

  8. ArtLvr says:

    I was looking forward to Janie’s comment on the possible Klahn answer to the 34A Bill Clinton clue — sex! But it turned out to be SAX… LOL. It came right after the EVER-loving at 33A!

  9. John Haber says:

    BTW, I’d misremembered (or misguessed) the actress as Babe, part of why stumbling on the very unexpected ninth theme square gave me a slow time on an otherwise unusually easy Thursday. However, I do realize why it had to appear on Thursday, given a certain eve….

  10. I’ve noticed a tradition in rebus puzzles over the years to throw in an asymetrical fill (except in rebus puzzles in which the rebus squares are perfectly symmetrical), providing an “ahaha!” to go with the “ahas!”

  11. janie says:

    oh, artlvr — i honest to god *was* going to mention the SAX/SEX thang, but i found myself mentioning so very much i opted to let that one go. thank you for stepping in!!

    great minds. same gutter…


  12. Bruce Abernethy says:

    Re: Klahn’s Role Reversal, you didn’t address the biggest question mark for me: the clue Like Many Campaign Contributions with the answer “UNITEMIZED.” That one seems like cruel and unusual punishment – and doesn’t make much sense.

    I enjoy your work.

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