Sunday, 12/27/09

NYT –  14:31 (Jeffrey)
LAT – 20:18 (Sam)
Reagle – Untimed (PG)
BG – 11:53 (Jeffrey)
CS – Untimed (PG)

Jeffrey here.

toasting the new year

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s “Toasting The New Year” New York Times Crossword  – Jeffrey’s review

Christmas is over and New Year’s is rapidly approaching. We have another Elizabeth C. Gorski Sunday special puzzle with bonus features. We also get a lot of words I don’t know.

Theme: Getting Drunk on New Year’s Eve or Toast Without Jam

Bonus shape of grid: Wine glass
Bonus circled answers:  CHAMPAGNE BUBBLES
Bonus unchecked letter: E

Theme answers:
1A. [Common toast] – CHEERS
12A. [Sounds accompanying toasts] – CLINKS
25A. [Purported cry from 100-Across upon discovering this puzzle’s subject] – I AM DRINKING THE STARS
44A. [11:59 p.m., e.g.] – ONE TO
57A. [Titleholder] – CHAMP along with
61A. [Once more: Abbr.] – AGN. Newly invented abbreviation for again. I realize the puzzle doesn’t work without it, but AGN?!
75A. [Alternative to 1-Across] – FRIENDS.  Nope.  BOTTOMS UP.
77A. [Connoisseur of this puzzle’s subject] – WINE LOVER
100A. [See 25-Across] – DOM PIERRE PERIGNON. Pierre?
119A. [Common overseas toast] – SALUT
16D. [New Year’s Eve action] – KISS
34D. [100-Across, for one] – BENEDICTINE MONK. AGN with the 100-down.
39D. [Cry before “Happy New Year!”] – IT’S TWELVE O’CLOCK.  I would say midnight.

Stuff I did not know, or why we love crossings:

20A. [Neighborhood in Queens] – HOLLIS
29A. [Vietnamese leader NGO Dinh Diem]. –AGN, this comes up, but I never know it.
58A. [Beverage brewed naturally] – SUN TEA. Is this made up?
70A. [Late choreographer Cunningham] – MERCE. I’ll take late choreographers for $2,000, Alex.
81A.[Name of seven Norwegian kings] – MAGNUS. Did any of them know OLAF?
111A. [Italian dumplings] – GNOCCHI
115A. [Japanese porcelain] – IMARI
11D. [Rope fiber] – BAST
56D. [Flower arrangement] – RACEME. AGN, I’ve  seen and forgotten.
73D. [“The Good Earth” wife] – OLAN

Stuff I did know:

28A. [Bygone Dodge] – OMNI.  My sister had one.
35A. [“Livin’ Thing” band, for short] – ELO
46A. [LEAD A double life] – I’m Crosscan.
55A. [Sutherland of “24”] – KIEFER. His grandfather, Tommy Douglas, was voted the Greatest Canadian of all time for bringing in Medicare.
62A. [Follows the path of 19th-century pioneers] GOES WEST. Or in my case, follows the path of 20th-century older brothers.
69A. [Person on the alert for snow?] – Amy in Chicago.  Or NARC.
85A. [Beatty of “Superman”] – NED. Otis!
92A. [Terriers’ warnings] – ARFS. Warning that GRR is coming next.
116A. [Become enraged, as a comic book figure] – HULK OUT. Awesome! You wouldn’t like me when  I’m angry! (see also 81D. [“Are you MAD?”]
27D. [What the Laugh Factory produces] – HA HA’s. Use this in a sentence, please.
41D. [More restless] – UNEASIER.  From the invent-a-word program.
42D. [LAX setting ] – PST. Also YYJ setting.
Wow. I need a drink. Happy New Year!

Henry Hook’s “A Bit of Brogue” Boston Globe Crossword – Jeffrey’s review

BG Dec 27A brogue makes an “e” sound like an “a”.

Theme answers:

23A. [Bar order?] – BOURBON STRAIGHT (Bourbon Street)
32A. [“Explain these Fs!”?] – HOW ARE YOU FAILING (How are you feeling)
49A. [Silhouette?] – BLACK SHAPE (Black sheep)
60A. [Why dry grapes?] – FOR ONE RAISIN OR ANOTHER (for one reason or another)
80A. [All you can dig?] – SPADE LIMIT (speed limit)
90A. [Pub in a wheat field?] – TAVERN ON THE GRAIN (tavern on the green)
102A. [Solving time?] – PACE OF THE PUZZLE (Piece of the puzzle). 11:53

Rhymes with ate:

21A. [Kasparov coup] – MATE
74A. [Shakespeare’s shrew] – KATE
78A. [Not at all like] – HATE
108A. [Stand and deliver?] – ORATE

3A. [Resort city of British Columbia] – COURTENAY. Sad admission department. From my office, I watch a daily train from Victoria to Courtenay leave every morning. I’ve been to COURTENAY. Yet, I couldn’t get it this until I had COURTE___. Whistler? Kelowna? Trail? Hope?
6A. [They make diet cola gush] – MENTOS. What? Wow. Take a look.
28A. [Bygone toilet cleaner brand] – BLOO. Really? I’m not an expert in bygone toilet cleaner brands.
33A. [“The world will little note…what WE SAY here”] – Of course it will. This is a crossword blog!
71A. [Wellies, e.g.] – BOOTS. Slang for a Wellington boot.
75D. [Wrote off gradually] – AMORTIZED. After missing COURTENAY, it’s a good thing I got AMOTIZED or this BC accountant may have been banned from blogging forever.
79A. [Oulu natives] – FINNS. Oulu? Who knew?

37A. [“ODE TO Joy”]
52D. [Maestro Masur] – KURT
56D. [Belmonts lead] – DION
97A. [John’s “Grease” costar] – OLIVIA

107D. [This clue’s position] – END.
59A. [It never ends] – CIRCLE.  As in the CIRCLE of Life. Dedicated to my brother Mark (Dec 26, 1949 – May 7, 1995). Still deeply missed on his 60th birthday.

Barry C. Silk and Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “And Another Thing…” – Sam’s review

LAT122709A fun theme from two of my favorite constructors. Silk and Peterson (a good name for a law firm, no?) take two phrases that begin with the same word, one a two-word phrase and the other a three-word phrase with “and” as the second word. They then insert the second word in the two-word phrase after the three-word phrase. Hilarity ensues. Witness:

  • [Result of a battle of bighorns?] is BLACK AND BLUE SHEEP, the conjoining of “black and blue” with “black sheep.” I love that the clue reminds me of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, aka the last stand where you could buy custards.
  • [Fire alarm during kindgergarten?] is SHOW AND TELL STOPPER, from “show and tell” and “show-stopper.” I don’t remember much from my days of show and tell in school. Do you remember anyone telling a story or bringing something for sharing that was so cool that he or she would be a “show and tell stopper?”
  • [Attracting outdoorsy readers, say?] is FIELD AND STREAM GOAL, a wedding of “Field and Stream” magazine with a “field goal” from North American football. I like both of the phrases but this theme entry feels the most awkward to me.
  • [Crustacean with an electric guitar?] is a ROCK AND ROLL LOBSTER, and what happens when you cross good old “rock and roll” with the B-52’s classic tune, “Rock Lobster.” I was able to plunk this one down in the grid with few crossings (thank you, Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson!) and it helped me crack the theme. Check out those three consecutive L’s in the grid between “roll” and “lobster!”
  • A [Web site security expert?] is a POINT AND CLICK GUARD, from “point and click” and basketball’s “point guard.”
  • Finally, a [Kids’ puppet show script?] is PUNCH AND JUDY LINES, the mashing of “Punch and Judy” puppets with “punch lines.”

The fill features some lively triple-stacked 8s in the corners, with ETHIOPIA, SEINFELD, and SETS FREE in the NE and AL PACINO, VIOLATOR, and I DIGRESS in the SW. It helps to know your baseball in any Silk puzzle, and this grid features the Washington NATS, the Houston ASTROS, Yogi BERRA, and a reference to the 4,256 HITs by Pete Rose.

Some of my favorite clues included [Places for organ repairs, briefly?] for ORS (operating rooms) and [Pet with green fur?] for CHIA. Has anyone given or received a chia pet as a gift? I suspect chia pets are high on the list of re-gifts and white elephants.

I fell into a couple of traps, mostly of my own making. Had KISS ME as the [Tryster’s request] when it was the more benign MEET ME. Apparently I’m a little too forward in my thinking. I briefly maintained that BELLY could mean to [Secure, as a nautical rope], and since it crossed the unknown-to-me [Northeast express train] ACELA (I had ACELL, which looked just fine to me), I lost some time trying to find my error before changing it to BELAY. So I could have shaved 90 seconds or so off of my solving time, but that’s no big deal. Kudos, Barry and Doug, for the fun Sunday diversion! Champagne’s on me! (Hey, do you know what the monk who discovered champagne said when he first tried it?…)

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy crossword — PuzzleGirl’s review

Picture 23A lovely offering from Lynn Lempel today (as if she has any other kind of offering). The grid looks so simple and clean with the whole stair-step thing going on … I went into it thinking it was going to be a smooth solve. I only had a couple trouble spots, but nothing major. For some reason I immediately thought the Charles in 32A: CBS newsman Charles was a last name, which resulted in Nick and Nora stuck in my brain, so OSGOOD didn’t come easily. And I must listen to too much country music, because I thought 27A: Hollers was referring to a valley and not to noise. Even though I watched every episode of “American Idol” last season, I was tricked by 11D: Former TV judge (ABDUL). I was all “Wapner, Judy, Koch ….” D’oh!

I like the two 15s stretching across the top and bottom:

  • 17A: Fast food entrées that really measure up? (QUARTER POUNDERS).
  • 61A: Garden of Eden occurrence (LOSS OF INNOCENCE).

And I submit to you that in the corporate-run, “reality”-based, me-me-me, now-now-now world we live in, the two are undoubtedly related.

I know I haven’t said much today, but that balances out all the times I’ve been here and rambled on and on endlessly. So you guys go and ahead and take over in the comments. I’ll see you next week. (Note: This is my first time posting on Orange’s new blog and I can’t figure out how to insert the grid, so I’m going to try to find one of the other guys to help me with that. Sorry if you get here before I fix it.)

Merl Reagle’s Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “What It Is” — PuzzleGirl’s review

PI-gridThis is such a cool theme, I’m not sure I’ll be able to explain it well. Clues for the theme answers are familiar phrases that contain a verb (or verb phrase) and the word it. Each answer is something the it might stand for in another familiar phrase that’s completely unrelated to the typical meaning of the phrase in the clue. Clear as mud, right?

Theme answers:

  • 23A: *Make it (A GOOD IMPRESSION).
  • 26A: *Run for it (COVER).
  • 31A: *Hold it (A DISCUSSION).
  • 35A: *Watch it (THE BIRDIE).
  • 43A: *Take it off (A LOAD).
  • 48A: *Get off it (THE PHONE).
  • 54A: *Forget it (THE PAST).
  • 64A: *Sleep on it (YOUR OWN SIDE OF THE BED).
  • 73A: *Sit on it (THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS).
  • 93A: *Lose it (PATIENCE).
  • 89A: *Skip it (DESSERT).
  • 97A: *Get it on (A MOVE).
  • 103A: *Beat it (THE SYSTEM).
  • 108A: *Go at it (A SNAIL’S PACE).
  • 119A: *Go for it (A RIDE).
  • 121A: *Now you’ve done it! (THIS WEEK’S PUZZLE).

This is a fantastic puzzle and I’m sure I could spend hours talking about it, but I’ve got family here today and many, many things on the schedule, so I’m going to have to make this post completely inadequate especially considering what a fine puzzle this is. Sorry, Merl! One of these days I’ll be faster at this and won’t short-change your puzzles!

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13 Responses to Sunday, 12/27/09

  1. Karen says:

    Sun tea–“Put 4 to 6 tea bags into a clean 2 quart glass container. Fill with water and cap. Place outside where the sunlight can strike the container for about 3 to 5 hours.” Then you serve it like ice tea.

    I guess it would be hard to make a puzzle with a picture of a champagne flute. I would happily drink champagne from a martini glass, even if it didn’t have as many bubbles.

    MAURA knocked me out on this one.

  2. arthur118 says:

    Apparently, no one else has tracked down the 12/25 Wall Street Journal puzzle so, if you want a further workout, go to Will Johnston’s site at :

    click on WSJ, 2009, 12/25 and you will be able to receive the Natalia Shores puzzle which ran in the WSJ today, 12/26.

  3. NIce writeup, Jeffrey.

    Hand up for HOHOS @27D and ILIE @ 14D, which led me to ” I AM DRINKING SHOOTERS” for 25A. Also HARALD and RAGNAR before MAGNUS @ 81A. Only five HARALDs, actually. Slightly less than one RAGNAR.

  4. Spencer says:

    Actually, the “E” is checked because it’s part of the multi-line theme word CHAMPAGNE. :-)

  5. Dave G. says:

    Lots of words I didn’t know either, but the crosses didn’t save me.

    Crossing RACEME with MERCE was merciless. Had to Google the E.

    BTW, don’t Champagnes come in MAGNUS (plural of magnum). :-)

  6. HH says:

    Just a warning — in a few weeks you will be faced with a BG puzzle with an error in it. No one to blame but myself; I would like to apologize now.

  7. Gareth says:

    Although it has a pretty grid, for me this didn’t live up to Liz Gorski’s incredibly high standards as set in her previous tours de force. A lot of the theme stuff felt rather tangential. JUNKDNA, HULKOUT, INHEELS are all to die for entries, but as noted there’s some pretty crazy stuff too (admittedly there almost always is on a Sunday.) Loved the clue/answer pair for RACEME, but I can see less botanically minded people being slightly upset! Had encountered IMARI and BAST before but the former I remember as AMARI, which didn’t help things. The latter is more familiar as an Egyptian god, though per MG’s database it’s never been clued as such. Apparently ISIS and OSIRIS get all the glory, even PTAH only shows up occasionally.

  8. Zulema says:

    And perhaps she didn’t have two years to work on this one? It was lovely and light, should we say effervescent, and I don’t think it deserves begrudging criticism. Still, Gareth, you have a perfect right to say what you did, which wasn’t terrible either, so I am just responding with a pro statement.

  9. Gareth says:

    I think I might’ve come across a lot stronger than I intended. By the standards of a regular NYT Sunday (already incredibly high) it fell somewhere in the middle for me, rather than the usual blowing of my mind. I’ve subsequently read around various sites and seem to be in the minority in any case.

    If you haven’t been to Jim Horne’s, there’s a link to a new blog, by none other than Ms. Gorski herself. Interestingly, she used the phrase “hulking out” in 21/12/09 post – a subtle hint for today’s puzzle?

    What else did I want to add? Oh yes, thank you to the 3 person(?) back-up team that’s been sacrificing there holiday time to keep this blog running!

  10. *David* says:

    I think it has been said before but I see it again pop up today. The SAGO in the CS puzzle is clued as a poisonous palm when it is not a palm but a Cycad the “living fossil” from the dinosaurs’ time. Pretty smooth solve, toughest spot was with ABDUL and thinking of a true “judge” sorry Paula.

    Reagle also was regal, today.

  11. Aaron says:

    Any write-up coming on Nothnagel’s Diagramless (Second Sunday)? It’s the hardest diagramless I’ve seen in a while (to be fair, I only started solving them this year).

  12. Joseph Tomczyk says:

    While I’m closing-in on the 12/27 NYT — it’s cleverly Toasting The New Year with bubbly champagne verbally / graphically — this is to note NPR’s quote today 12/31 of Winston Churchill regarding such quaff: “In victory, I deserve it. In defeat, I need it!”

  13. Champagne says:

    Speaking of champagne, has anybody else noticed what a bargain some of the Spanish Cavas are in comparison to Champagnes and Sparkling Wines?

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