Sunday, 12/25/11

NYT 13:14 (Jeffrey) 
WaPo untimed (Jeffrey) 
Reagle 9:59 (Jeffrey) 
LAT (untimed—Doug)(12:26 – Jeffrey) 
CS 6:38 (Sam) 

Elizabeth Gorski’s New York Times crossword, “Ain’t He Sweet?”—Jeffrey’s review

O Liz Gorski! O Liz Gorski!
How Lovely Are Your Puzzles!

O Liz Gorski! O Liz Gorski!
We solve them with no troubles!

The Gingerbread Man does appear
From A to Z you make it clear.

O Liz Gorski! O Liz Gorski!
How Lovely Are Your Puzzles!

Though Oversized It Does So Please!
With Very Little Crosswordese!

O Liz Gorski! O Liz Gorski!
How Lovely Are Your Puzzles!

Frank Longo’s Washington Post Puzzler No. 90 – Jeffrey’s Review

Theme: 70 words of fun.

Answer: Chinese food, a movie and crossword blogging.
Question: What do Jews do on Christmas Day?

Some words:
1A. [Intimately] – CHEEK BY JOWL. I thought the theme would be words with KBYJ in them.
15A. [1981 film sequel featuring a masked man] – HALLOWEEN II. A yuletime favorite.
17A. [Sargasso Sea spawner from the east] – EUROPEAN EEL. Crossword rule #2345: Sargasso = EEL.
30A. [Fictional photojournalist reporting to White] – OLSEN. Superman references are always welcome.
31A. [Parasite] – HAN GERON. More Superman. Han played the Parasite on “Lois and Clark”.
34A. [Gallinaceous game] – QUAILS. What a gallinaceous clue. Ther, I have finally used Gallinaceous in a sentence. One more thing off the bucket list.
38A. [XIX × XXIX] – DLI. 19 times 29 = 551. Oops. I is repeated in the clue and the answer.
39A. [Blacklist compilers] – UNIONS. Well, that’s a lovely way to describe them.
44A. [What it may be on a playground] – SEEKER. Get it? No it gets. Get it?
51A. [Colorado town on Interstate 70] – VAIL. Too vague a clue. I needed [Colorado town at exit 176 of Interstate 70] to help me.
52A. [“The Merry Widow” composer] – LEHAR
55A. [1998 Olympic torch lighter] – ITO. ALI fits. Unfortunately.
61A. [Question asked when someone is breaking up] – ARE YOU THERE? Nobody there today.
63A. [Winner of the 1942 Masters] – BYRON NELSON. Golf guy.
3D. [Toon who sports a cap with an antenna] – ELROY Jetson.
6D. [Films featuring the Three Mesquiteers, e.g.] – B-WESTERNS
8D. [“Saved!” co-star Malone] – JENA. Who? Starring in what?
9D. [Like some mirrors] – ONE WAY. Creepy.
11D. [“___ ‘Frigerator” (1984 Elton John song)] – LIL. Too bad Elton had any songs more famous that that one.
12D. [Elbow or shoulder] – PUSH ASIDE. Hey, watch it buddy!
13D. [Centriole or mitochondrion, e.g.] – ORGANELLE. If you know any of these words you are too smart to be reading a crossword blog on Christmas Day. Go fine a cure for something.
21D. [Tequila of “Pants-Off Dance-Off”] – TILA. Who? Of What?
24D. [Children’s book author Farjeon] – ELEANOR. The books is Les Miserables. No that’s Valjean.
28D. [Stroking orchestrator] – COX. I will not make that joke.
31D. [Potential bill killer] – HOUSE VOTE. Those wacky American politicians.
32D. [“Carnival” Tony winner Alberghetti] – ANNA MARIA
46D. [Sixth word of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”] – GLORY. First syllable of Laura Branigan hit.
50D. [Career Indian Al] – ROSEN. How about some Chinese food, Al?
58D. [Juillet’s period] – ETE. Juillet = July. ETE = summer.
59D. [Senators’ gp.] – NHL. Ottawa hockey players. Stop thinking about American politicians.

4 stars.

Merl Reagle’s “Sounds Like Christmas” puzzle – Jeffrey’s review

I’m still here. Everywhere else is closed today.

Theme: Christmas puns. Who knew Merl was so punny?

Theme answers:
17A. Christmas Eve sound?] – CAROL CHANTING (Carol Channing).
22A. [Insect often squashed by Santa?] – CHIMNEY CRICKET (Jiminy Cricket)
27A. [Time away from Scrooge?] – BAH RELIEF (Bas relief)
42A. [Tree-trimming affliction?] – TINSELLITIS (tonsilitis)
57A. [Incense shop run by women?] – MYRRH MAIDS (mermaids)
66A. [Negative Nativity review?] – A MANGER DISAPPOINTMENT (A major disappointment)
77A. [Christmas-lotion ingredients?] – AMAHLIENTS (amolients emollients)
92A. [Gift for a computer user?] – YULE PRINTER (Yul Brenner? Help me out here.)
108A. [Nudist-colony Santa?] – BARE CLAUS (bear claws)
115A. [Crosswords for Christmas?] – PRESENTS OF MIND (Presence of mind)
120A. [Area of N.Y.C. that can’t stand Christmas?] – GRINCH VILLAGE (Greenwich Village)

75A. [“___ Miz“] – LES
119A. [“___ of Honey”] – A TASTE

3.65 stars.

Doug Peterson’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Christmas Potluck” – Doug’s not-actually-a-review

Doug Peterson's syndicated LA Times solution 12/25/11, "Christmas Potluck"

Feliz Navidad, puzzle fans! Whether you’re celebrating Christmas or not, I’m sure you’re going to eat dinner today, so this puzzle’s for you. And I like everything on the menu, especially red velvet cake. I’ve heard rumors that red velvet cake is just chocolate cake with red food coloring added, and I’m not sure I believe it. But I know more about eating cake than making cake, so it might be true.

I tried to place red velvet cake as the last theme entry, so it’d be today’s “dessert,” but it didn’t work out. So enjoy your bell pepper ice cream!

  • 23a. [The Little Drummer Boy brought __] – BREADSTICKS.
  • 34a. [Tiny Tim brought __] – LITTLE SMOKIES.
  • 51a. [Cupid the reindeer brought __] – ARTICHOKE HEARTS.
  • 65a. [Jack Frost brought __] – COLD CUT SANDWICHES.
  • 86a. [The Nutcracker brought __] – SHELLS AND CHEESE.
  • 99a. [Rudolph brought __] – RED VELVET CAKE.
  • 117a. [The Salvation Army volunteer brought __] – BELL PEPPERS.

There are other Christmasy goodies hidden around the grid. I’ll let you search for those yourself. Merry Christmas!

Updated Sunday morning:

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, December 25

It’s another Double Dose of Doug Day! This week’s Sunday Challenge is a 68/36 freestyle with an interesting grid. I can’t decide if the black squares are arranged so that the grid looks like a capital S or the number 8. A lower case E? It’s definitely not a Christmas tree or a candy cane or a reindeer. Hey wait, a reindeer paw print? Eh, probably not. Oh well, who cares.

I tend to like puzzles with the 11-13-15 stacks, and this was no exception. It starts off strong if you’re a Black Eyed Peas fan (like me) with BOOM BOOM POW, the [Onomatopoeic Black Eyed Peas hit of 2009]. Maybe some will think that entry’s so 2000-and-late, but I loved it. It sits atop a CRUISERWEIGHT who is resting on the laurels of GRANDSTAND PLAYS.

Down on the bottom, we must COME TO TERMS WITH the fact that our PINHOLE CAMERA won’t fit neatly within A DOLL’S HOUSE–it sticks out a little on each side. That’s another nice stack. But good freestyle puzzles are defined more by the glue that holds together the long entries, in my opinion. There’s lots to like here, like DIRTY WORK, the [Thankless tasks], the fully-named W.H. AUDEN, [“The Age of Anxiety” poet], TAKES CARE, ON DECK, PIE SHELLS, and BOHEMIA, the [Thirty Years’ War participant].

I’m not a fan of CHAI TEA the beverage, but CHAI TEA the crossword entry works very well. It was nice to see [’50’s sitcom “My Little ___”] MARGIE in the puzzle just a day after it was used as a theme entry. (Now do you see why I went on at length about that show in yesterday’s post?). I also liked GLOPS, the [Mushy masses], even though I first had GLOBS.

Anyone shocked to see EBBETS [___ Field (old Brooklyn ballpark)] hasn’t been solving Doug Peterson puzzles for very long. You’re almost guaranteed to get one or two baseball-related entries in the grid. You’re also almost guaranteed to have a fun solve, as was the case for me here.

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12 Responses to Sunday, 12/25/11

  1. Howard B says:

    Wow. This was great.
    Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and a happy holiday season to all.

  2. Marilyn Robinson says:

    Jeffrey–great job on Reagle, my personal favorite. I would change 77A to emollient, with the answer being a play on Amahl (and the night visitors?).

  3. Gareth says:

    Was steeled against a Christmassy puzzle. Was surprised it took the form of a gingerbread man, which has no such connotations here and is not hung on trees. The picture is pretty though the other long answers are rather tangential. As a themeless puzzle, I’d say there were lots of fun medium-length answers, and quite an easy fill…

  4. Noam D. Elkies says:

    I like the review of the NYTimes puzzle; it would be even better if it scanned correctly (O Gorski Liz?). If only Liz’s surname was Tannenbaum! :-)

    LOL about the comment on the arithmetic clue for DLI. But in fact I is used in the clue for -1 (in both cases as a component of IX, which is in effect a single letter for Roman-numeral purposes), and in the entry for +1; so there’s no real duplication. Note to self: 551 is not prime. (Nor is 529=23*23, but that one is much more familiar.)

    Merry 10-mas,

  5. sbmanion says:

    One of several all-time great scenes from Shrek:


  6. Jan (danjan) says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! I enjoyed the gingerbread idea very much. We’ve had a gingerbread week here, which resulted in a visit from the fire department (sparks only – no fire), an new oven, and an awesome 2-story creation! It smells great every time I walk by, too.

    I also did the Henry Hook puzzle (not yet reviewed) and just wanted to say that I appreciated having Huis Clos in the puzzle, rather than the Enlish title No Exit – nice to use that French lit from time to time.

  7. Harry says:

    As usual, Reagle’s puzzle was my favorite.

  8. Howard B says:

    Much respect to Jeffrey’s review – belatedly read that one. I borrowed an extra star from the puzzle to give the review, I hope the puzzle doesn’t mind.

  9. Jeffrey, I was ALL SMILES after singing your poem to the “O Tannenbaum” theme. You’ve raised the bar on blogging about puzzles. Thank you — how thoughtful and lovely!

  10. Jamie says:

    Well, since it’s that time of the year, could we have a vote on the top ten crosswords of the year? The stuff that five stars are made of? Patrick Berry can only have one place. Okay, maybe a few. Plenty of room.

  11. Lois says:

    Jeffrey: Re Reagle, the spelling you were looking for is Yul Brynner. But thanks, it was the only theme answer I didn’t understand before you informed me.

    I also love Reagle the most. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, look for his Easter egg puzzle from this year. I guess I’d vote for it for puzzle of the year, along with the Ode to Joy Times daily puzzle by Jeremy Newton. I also loved Liz Gorski’s cake puzzle, and Matt Gaffney’s current puzzle.

    I quite enjoyed Liz Gorski’s puzzle today too, but not as much as her other one.

  12. Nance says:

    Was anyone bothered by “e” for effort? Couldn’t think of a better clue?

Comments are closed.