Sunday, 12/30/12

NYT 12:27 
Reagle 7:42 
LAT 6:42 
Hex/Hook 11:43 (pannonica) 
WaPo DNFC (Doug) 
CS 10:24 (Sam) 

Steve Savoy’s New York Times crossword, “Plus Ten”

NYT crossword answers, 12 30 12 “Plus Ten”

Oof. The puzzle took me 10 minutes to fill in, and then another 2 1/2 minutes to fix one square. I had changed 117a: PRODUCES to PRODUCTS when I thought 110d would be DITS, and when the first two letters proved to be TE, I left the other T in place. Single [Morse dashes] represent TEES, or the multiples of the letter T. Meh. Outside of crosswords, nobody much would suggest that TEE is in the alphabet.

The theme is “Plus Ten,” with an IO added to create each theme answer. Now, “plus one” is a thing (single invitee’s guest), and “plus fours” are short pants, but I don’t know of any distinct “plus ten” meaning. Just as 110d requires the solver to buy a three-letter word as identical to a single letter, the theme requires you to equate one and zero with the letters I and O. The theme answers include CLASSIFIED ADIOS (cute), WINE AND IODINE (gonna start keeping wine in the medicine cabinet, because you never know when its medicinal purposes will come in handy), DIORAMA QUEEN (cute, and “drama queen” is great base material), WILD CARDIO (my favorite of the theme answers), PACK RATIOS (meh), STUDIO MUFFIN (who doesn’t like muffins?), STUMP ORATORIO (didn’t quite know that “stump orator” was a thing, though “stump speech” is certainly familiar), CURIO RENT EVENTS (meh—don’t care for the splitting of “current” into two awkwardly paired words with the IO), OFF THE CHARIOTS (okay), and COOLIO CUSTOMER (cute, if a bit dated).

I love TOMATO SOUP, Megan MULLALLY, NOT SO HOT, and BOLOGNA, but the rest of the fill didn’t do much for me. Felt like there was quite a bit in the veins of AMAIN, LEO II, ALOP, and REDYE.

Mystery word: 110d: RUANDA, [Bantu language]. I know Rwanda, the country, and Luanda, the capital of Angola, but not Ruanda. Wikipedia has opted for a W spelling for the language, Rwanda-Rundi.

Three stars.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “The Guy on the Right”

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 12 30 12 “The Guy on the Right”

I loved this theme, even if the first two theme entries led me astray. The guy on the right is the man’s name tacked onto a word that’s part of a sentence, and the word + name is also a real word:

  • 15a. [“You’re no ___, ___”] FUN, GUS. Went with FUN GUY (fungi) first.
  • 19a. [“With your popularity, you’ll be easy to ___, ___”] ELECT, RON. I went with ELECT RIC first—crossworder Ric Quinones led me down that path.
  • 21a. [“The future’s always ___, ___”] UNCERTAIN, TY.
  • 31a. [“Just because you prefer Dharma over Greg doesn’t make you a ___, ___”] HINDU, STAN. Hindustan is a historical geographic term.
  • 40a. [“Is there more to this than you care to ___, ___?”] ADMIT, TED.
  • 46a. [“You’re looking ___, ___”] CHIC, KEN.
  • 54a. [“I smell a ___, ___”] RAT, CHET.
  • 65a. [“I hear your film has something to do with the ___, ___”] ENVIRONMENT, AL. Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth. I still haven’t seen that movie, but I have heard about global warming.
  • 81a. [“You can take the stairs or the ___, ___”] RAMP, ART. Anyone else picturing the circular ramps at the Guggenheim Museum?
  • 87a. [“What would you like in your ___, ___?”] PITA, PAT.
  • 90a. [“You’re dumb as ___, ___”] A POST, LES.
  • 98a. [“No, I don’t think ‘virgin wool’ means that the sheep was ___, ___”] CHASTE, NED. Ha!
  • 112a. [“Christmas is over, so you can stop ___, ___”] CAROLING, IAN.
  • 116a. [“Any time you’re around, just ___, ___”] POP IN, JAY.
  • 120a. [“So what’s it like being an ex-___, ___?”] CON, DOM.

Fifteen theme entries is a lot! And they made for a fun wordplay game within the crossword. I didn’t love all of the fill, but the theme was so engaging that the fill was secondary. Or even tertiary.

Three mystery items:

  • 83a. [Plant part that sounds like it was pilfered], STOLON. According to the dictionary, stolons are runners like those that spread from strawberry plants or the Vinca (periwinkle ground cover in my yard.
  • 58d. [Humane device for catching abandoned pets], CAT TRAP. That’s a thing?
  • 91d. [Dollar bill], ONE-SPOT. I know of the C-spot ($100) and ten-spot ($10) but no other currency spots.

I’ll give this one 4.5 stars. Really enjoyed this week’s theme, a good one to close out 2012.

Updated Sunday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, December 30

The final Sunday Challenge of 2012 is the anti-Tootsie Pop. While a Tootsie Pop is hard on the outside and soft in the middle, this puzzle was soft (easy) on the outside perimeter but quite hard in the middle. At least that was my experience.

I struggled most with NOVITIATE, the [Religious training period] that I simply didn’t know. Wikipedia explains: “During the novitiate, the novice often wears clothing that is distinct from secular dress but is not the full habit worn by professed members of the community. The novice’s day normally encompasses participation in the full canonical hours, manual labor, and classes designed to instruct novices in the religious life he is preparing to embrace. Spiritual exercises and tests of humility are common features of a novitiate.” The mid-section of today’s grid was indeed a test of humility.

I should have figured out DELUXE PIZZA sooner, but [Pie with the works] had me thinking of dessert pies, not pizza pies. If there was such a thing as a fruit pie with every conceivable berry in it, for instance, I’m sure I would have heard of it (and would have tried to make it, no doubt).

Until I got the PIZZA, the answer to [Horizon obscurers] had only the -ES in place, and that could have been anything. Underneath it sat four blank squares with the clue [Pro ___], which could have been most anything. It wasn’t until I figured out that a TONE ROW [has all 12 pitches of the chromatic scale] that I could finally crack FORESHADOWS ([Signals future happenings]), giving me enough hints to get through the obscure HAZES and Pro RATA.

On the error front, I had TOILE instead of MOIRE as the [Ripple-patterned silk] (I’m not proud of that one, but textiles and I are not the closest of friends) and RATS instead of NUTS for [“Phooey!”]. Rats! But the rest of the entries gave way more quickly. I liked all the little gems strewn about, like ASK OVER, AT AN END, DECAGON, AGES AGO, and the crossing EGG ON and GET ON. Onward!

Favorite entry = MARINER, the [Safeco Field ballplayer]. Favorite clue = [Fictional 640-acre spread] for TARA from Gone With the Wind.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Sunday crossword, “Elevens” — pannonica’s review

Hex/Hook • 12/30/12 • “Elevens” • Cox, Rathvon,• solution

The title says it all. The print publication of this puzzle coincided with VETERANS DAY [11/11], which is enshrined in the center spot, at 66-across. The theme clues and/or answers constitute the results of a constructors’ brainstorming session for items and concepts that can be described by “eleven.”

  • 23a. [11th] JUNIOR GRADE.
  • 29a. [11 am] PRE-NOON HOUR.
  • 42a. [Apollo 11] MOON MISSION.
  • 57a. [Side of 11] CRICKET TEAM. However, with the C–IC… in place, I confidently attempted to fit the one-letter-too-long CHICAGO BEARS. After that, I was wondering if they had a soccer team. All the while, primed by the word “side” in the clue, I was visually distracted by the obviously irrelevant image reproduced at lower right.

    So it’s 111, not 11. Or perhaps III.

  • Moving along, 76a [Ocean’s 11] RAT PACK FILM.
  • 92a. [11] SIX PLUS FIVE.
  • 102a. [#11 on skates] MARK MESSIER. He of the New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers. Nothing to do with crossword favorites from Boston (this crossword’s home) Bobby ORR or Phil ESPOsito.
  • 112a. [11, for 11 theme entries] LETTER COUNT. Aha, another layer to the theme is revealed. Nifty, that. The last horizontal themer, a traditional “reveal” location.
  • 16d. [11, classically] XI, TO CICERO.
  • 65d. [11, in craps] NATURAL ROLL.

Certainly one or two of the answers are a bit of a stretch, but overall it’s a strong and entertaining bunch. A few “bonus” references are strewn about as well, and since the clue at 112a doesn’t have the definite article, perhaps they are also to be considered “theme entries.”

  • 1a [One more than eleven] DOZEN.
  • 6a [Buck who sang “A-11”] OWENS.
  • 28a [Like 11-Across] EASY.
  • 39d [11–11, e.g.?] TIED.

Additionally, there is 106a [Celtic retiree of 2011] SHAQ; wonder why the clue didn’t read “… of ’11.” Further along the believability scale is 52a ASCII, and I suspect it’s my imagination running away with me but it seemed as if many of the clues contained words with double lowercase Ls, which look like this: ll.


  • Will get this out of the way first. Most awkward fill: SUER, EPISC., CLASS C, UNSET, BEV., READ IN.
  • 20a [Dehumanized sort] ROBOT, 61d [Working stiff] PROLE.
  • Cleverest clue? 98d [Slick band-mate Marty] BALIN. That’s Grace Slick, she of the quarter-octave range (*not intended to be a true fact). Also liked 43d [Range in the home] STOVE.
  • Slight duplication with 100a [Diary note] ENTRY and the nearby theme clue at 112a, but perhaps that’s more easily forgivable since it’s such a crucial element in crosswords?

With the plethora of eleven-letter answers and a lack of long non-theme answers there seems to have been more flexibility to create generally stronger ballast fill, keeping the CAP Quotient™ at the low end of the scale.

Good puzzle.

Pancho Harrison’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Missing Piece”

Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword solution, 12 30 12 “Missing Piece” by Pancho Harrison

The theme is surprisingly nonviolent and nonballistic considering that GUNs unify everything here. The theme answers end with words that can precede “gun” to form mostly non-bullety devices:

  • 23a. [Item on a resolution list], STOP SMOKING. Nifty reminder for those making New Year’s resolutions in the next week. (I never do.)
  • 25a. [Wiggly belt?], JELLO SHOT. JELLO SHOT is terrific, though it took me forever to see that the “belt” was a belt of liquor.
  • 47a. [Flour or sugar, e.g.], FOOD STAPLE. 
  • 70a. [Classic comedy duo], BOB AND RAY.
  • 93a. [Sucker that debuted in 1931], TOOTSIE POP. Great answer. Hey, Sam just contrasted today’s CrosSynergy puzzle with a Tootsie Pop.
  • 117a. [’60s-’70s compact resurrected in 2012], DODGE DART.
  • 121a. [Vigorous effort], ELBOW GREASE.
  • 36d. [Fixture in many an office hallway], CANDY MACHINE. I’d like a Twix, please.
  • 40d. [Tyke], LITTLE SQUIRT. I grew up with “squirt guns” rather than “water pistols.”

“These things end with words that can precede X” themes can be dry, but Pancho gathered up a lively batch of theme answers. What other candidates do you suppose were on his list? Tooth and nail, Elmer’s glue (is it strictly “hot glue gun”?), set phasers to stun, over the top, and minute hand come to mind as possible theme entries.

Top clues:

  • 102a. [It’s often between two periods], SENTENCE.
  • 61a. [“Madness put to good use”: Santayana], SANITY.
  • 3d, 7d. [Yellowstone bellower], [Yellowstone buglers], MOOSE and ELKS. 

Mystery items:

  • 70d. [Baccarat call], BANCO. Rouge, noir, evens, odds—I was thinking of roulette.
  • 92a. [Pueblo Revolt tribe], HOPI. Have heard of the Hopi, obviously, but not the Pueblo Revolt.

Only a handful of scowlers in the grid, so largely a smooth, swift solve. Four stars from me, largely on the strength of the fun theme entries.

Bob Klahn’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 143” – Doug’s review

Bob Klahn’s Washington Post solution 12/30/12, “The Post Puzzler No. 143”

Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. Sorry I’m a little late in posting this. Especially since I’m sure a few of you need help with the solution. This puzzle kicked the snot out of me. It was a DNFC: Did Not Finish Correctly. I was stymied by the crossing of 35d NEGEB and 49a TOURBILLION. My “solution” used NEGEF and TOURFILLION.

  • 35d. [Israeli desert: Var.] – NEGEB. I’ve seen NEGEV in puzzles many times. NEGEF seemed to be the only variant that made sense. And I’ve never heard of …
  • 49a. [Whirlwind] – TOURBILLION. Ouch! OK, maybe I should have made the connection between turbine and tourbillion, but I was also having trouble getting the first letter. So I was staring at _OUR_ILLION for ages. When I Google “tourbillion,” I get lots of hits for mega-expensive Tourbillon (only one “i”) watches. Tourbillion also means “a frame for the escapement of a timepiece, especially a watch, geared to the going train in such a way as to rotate the escapement about once a minute in order to minimize positional error.” Honestly, that definition would have helped me as much as [Whirlwind]. And why was I having trouble getting the first letter? Check out this nasty clue …
  • 49d. [Theater props] – TONY. Ooh, that’s mean! Great clue. For the longest time, I had _ON_, because the Y was part of this entry …
  • 56a. [Biography by James Fenimore Cooper with the alternate title “A Life Before the Mast”] – NED MYERS. I eventually figured out the last name was MYERS. I had MEERS for a while, even though that’s not a common surname.
  • 28d. [“East of Eden” character played onscreen by Julie Harris] – ABRA BACON / 42a. [Product of fermentation] – BARM. Amy pointed out that there was another tough crossing at the “B” in BACON/BARM. If you’ve don’t know the character, MACON seems a more logical choice. And MARM is as likely as BARM. Fortunately for me, I’ve clued ABRA a few times and knew about her breakfast-y last name.

So did you survive this puzzle’s pitfalls? This was hardest puzzle of 2012 for me. OK, I don’t remember all the 2012 puzzles (I solved over 2,000 of them this year), but this one is right up there. Let’s take a look at some of the friendlier sections of the grid.

  • 19a. [Cozying up?] – YARN BOMBING. From Wikipedia: “Yarn bombing (yarnstorming, guerrilla knitting, urban knitting or graffiti knitting) is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fiber rather than paint or chalk.” Wonderful entry. And I love the clue. A cozy is a knitted covering for a teapot, and you’re looking at a “tree cozy” in the photo. Check out the yarn bombing in this gallery. I love it, though I don’t understand it.
  • 13d. [Move in wrestling] – ELBOW DROP. I don’t think you can do this move in real wrestling. I’ll ask PuzzleGirl. And who can forget Randy “Macho Man” Savage and his signature Atomic Elbow Drop. Good times.

OK, it’s after noon back East, so I need to wrap this up. Other fun stuff: GOSSAMER, BOXSTER, MOUSE EARS [Circles overhead, perhaps], BOO-YA!

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28 Responses to Sunday, 12/30/12

  1. sbmanion says:

    Plus 10 shows up in some card games and in sporting event point spreads and parlays, but I do not see the phrase as idiomatic. On the other hand, I can’t think of anything better than plus 10 to describe the theme.

    I thought it was a clever puzzle–somewhat tougher than the norm for me, breaking my streak at 5.


  2. Phil says:

    If you were to ask a Rwandan what they speak, it would be Kinyarwanda. At least the Rwandans I know.

  3. jean mccown says:

    I have known the capital of Albania since childhood – ALWAYS – spelled Tirana. This was a stupid

    • HH says:

      On whose part?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Depending on your age, Jean, you might have once spelled China’s capital as Peking instead of Beijing. Spellings of place names are not fixed. The Ukraine became simply Ukraine. The Byelorussian and Moldavian SSRs became Belarus and Moldova. Rumania has given way to Romania. And the Albanian spelling of Tirana is Tiranë. If you’d accept the Italian Roma or Torino in the grid instead of Rome and Turin, then TIRANE is fair game too.

    • John Haber says:

      MW11 gives Tirana as a (second) alternate spelling, and RHUD lists only Tirane, so I don’t think you’ve cause for complaint.

      This was a little hard, because the fodder or outcome for theme puns didn’t always work for me, and then I’d trouble in the SW with a couple of sports names, as well as MULLALLY and TODD at top, and don’t recall NITTI. But I guess it’ll do.

  4. ArtLvr says:

    Steve’s NYT was awesome, and I loved Merl’s complicated theme with men’s names adding alternate meaning! Also very much liked Stan’s timely Newsday puzzle’s surprises with “Review of 12” – the number, not the year ’12! Wow.

  5. cyberdiva says:

    On the whole, I liked the NYTimes puzzle, especially the major answers. My favorites were OFFTHECHARIOTS, WILDCARDIO, CLASSIFIEDADIOS, and WINEANDIODINE.

    I too thought that the capital of Albania was spelled Tirana, but after changing the final A to the E that was clearly needed for the crossing and finishing the puzzle, I googled and found that Tirane/Tiranë is a legitimate spelling.

  6. ArtLvr says:

    Please post a link to he Hex/Hook puzzle?

  7. HH says:

    “Additionally, there is 106a [Celtic retiree of 2011] SHAQ; wonder why the clue didn’t read ‘… of ’11.’ ”

    Probably the Globe’s style not to shorten years that way.

  8. klew archer says:

    Got off to a good start on the WaPo, thought haha Bob Klahn and Peter Gordon!, but quickly came to a grinding halt. Interested to see the write-up.

    • klew archer says:

      Thanks. Doug. For me it was DNFWOH- Did Not Finish WithOut Help, mainly Google and xwordinfo.But it was worth the pain, I guess, the grid looks pretty and it was nice to learn about YARNBOMBING, which I had missed up until now.

  9. Bit says:

    Some good highs and bad lows in the Wapo. I had to guess at ABRA BACON, thinking that Steinbeck was probably punning a bit biblical on “Abra Ham” (I had never heard her last name before, believe it or not). I loved “50% unjustified” for RAGGED (right), and I would have given anything to see SAMARA clued as “Ring girl” rather than the autorotating seed. (Samara is the iconic Japanese horror figure from the “Ring” movies; a dripping-wet drowned girl in a nightgown with long black hair usually pulled over to hide her face who sends people to their doom. As well-known over there as horror icons Freddie and Jason are here.) I never heard of a yarn bomb, and since 5-down (Narrow range) could have conceivably been A TO C, I had to think for a few moments whether there was such a thing as YARN COMBING…

  10. Chris Wooding says:

    I had some quibbles with the LAT: is a taco really a snack? Also, I don’t believe “mojo” is an ART, but rather an object with magic properties ( like the squirrel’s foot pendant a gas-station attendant wore – I couldn’t stop staring). Web agrees.


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      A taco is a crunchy snack only in Crosswordland. The existence of soft tacos and a decided preference for making a meal of tacos are strictly for real life.

    • pannonica says:

      It’s loosey-goosey, expansive (not the taco).

      mojo : a magic spell, hex, or charm; broadly : magical power (

  11. I Before E says:

    I did this LAT puzzle a week or so ago. How did that happen and did anyone else see it before? Or was that a quirk of the Denver Post syndication?

  12. Art Shapiro says:

    Guess I liked the NYT more than some folks today. But I’m still having trouble parsing “NOT AS” as the answer to the clue “LESS”.


    • Bit says:

      As an adverb, like in “He’s less crazy than I am”, or “He’s not as crazy as I am,” which are roughly equivalent. So to speak :)

  13. Pat kearns says:

    On puzzle 143 I wound up with booha instead of booya and could not break the cozying up clue. Thought a few of the clues were a real stretch. Thanks for your work! Must get an urban dictionary…

  14. TammyB says:

    I actually bought cat traps for a local organization that catches feral cats and takes them to the vet to be spayed and released…the cats, not the vets.

  15. Edwin Gallagher says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Denver Post had the same LAT crossword for Sunday 12/23/12 and 12/30/12. What’s up with that? I’m a little disappointed and feel cheated.

Comments are closed.