CS 5:48 (Sam)
Happy New Year! Thanks for visiting Diary of a Crossword Fiend in 2012. Jeffrey crunched the numbers, and we reviewed 1,862 crosswords during the year. Me, I blogged 865 puzzles. (I even remember a few of them.) This was the first year that the other members of Team Fiend covered more than half of the puzzles, and I’m pretty sure all of you are as pleased with that as I am. More viewpoints, more energy, more perspectives from regular constructors (Matt, Doug, Neville, and Gareth all publish puzzles regularly), more jokes, more smart references I don’t always get. Thanks to the entire team—scholarly Pannonica, goofball Sam, dry/wry Jeffrey, friendly Neville, meta-champ Joon, Doug with superior standards for fill, Gareth bringing the African vibe (and spellings), meta-king Matt, new kid Andy, newsy T, pinch hitters Janie and Angela and Dave, Jared who will be enticed back into the fold, and one-timer Wade (hoping to wrangle more reviews out of him since his one outing in 2012 was so fun).
Looking forward to a terrific 2013 with all of you!
John Farmer’s New York Times crossword
Is that why Lincoln and Django Unchained were both released this year? Because we were coming right up on the 150th anniversary of ABRAHAM LINCOLN signing the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION for the ABOLITION OF SLAVERY?
Favorite part of this theme: The inclusion of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Beecher Stowe in the clue for 18a/61a. Lincoln got dinged for focusing on the role of white men in bringing about abolition. Nice touch, John.
Glad to see that 2d filled out as BUXOM rather than BUSTY. BUXOM is a great word with Old English roots. Other likes: MINI ME, LAB RATS, CAST LOTS, BANYAN tree, Jerry ORBACH, the ROBINS of spring (though some robins do winter over), ZOWIE, and [Comment from a kvetcher], OY VEY. As Will Shortz’s correspondent asked in the letter he read at the ACPT in Wordplay, “‘The kvetcher’s cry, OY VEY? I don’t get it. How is it used? Is it a Northern thing?”
Not excited by crosswordese ARETE, Nita NALDI, and Sue ANE Langdon.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “In Range”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle offers a RANGE of theme entries, in that you’ll find the word RANGE somewhere within all four of the 15-letter Across entries:
- 17-Across: An [Unintended upshot] could be called a BOOMERANG EFFECT.
- 25-Across: [Updo, for one] refers to a HAIR ARRANGEMENT. Um, does anyone really go to a stylist and request a “hair arrangement?” Given my lack of hair, I’m not qualified to offer a decisive answer, but I highly doubt it.
- 47-Across: To some, TANGERINE ORANGE is a [Reddish-yellow shade]. To me, it’s redundant.
- 62-Across: [“Drop by more often!”] is another way to say DON’T BE A STRANGER. Great way to close out the theme entries.
Regular readers (Hi, Mom!) know I prefer consistency in the hidden word gimmick–the hidden word should either: (1) be completely contained within one word in all of the theme entries; (2) straddle the two words in each theme entry; or (3) be an equal mix of (1) and (2). Here, RANGE straddles words only once; in the other three cases, it’s entirely self-contained. So this isn’t my cup of coffee. That said, there are bits in here I like a lot, which is saying something given how cumbersome it is to construct a smooth grid with 60 theme squares. There was IN PEN, REHAB, DUAL ROLES, BLITZ, OBSTACLES, ONE LEG, BIG A (Aqueduct?), and [Former Surgeon General C. Everett] KOOP. On the other hand, there was also REPR, EER, ECOL, ACAD, TRA LA, and EZRAS.
Favorite entry = GO FORMAL, to [Opt for a suit and tie]. Favorite clue = [Play ground?] for STAGE.
Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The power duo of Don and Zhouqin is back with a holiday puzzle. But it’s so last year! I’m surprised the NEW YEAR’S EVE puzzle is running today instead of December 31. Theme:
- 17a. [When to don a 40-Down or prepare to throw 11-Down], NEW YEAR’S EVE.
- 62a. [Ball-dropping site, or what this puzzle’s circled letters form?], TIMES SQUARE.
- 11d. [See 17-Across], CONFETTI.
- 40d. [See 17-Across, PARTY HAT.
- The central square of 5-letter words with circled letters contains four words that can precede “time” in familiar phrases. 30a. [Extra], SPARE. 45a. [In the area], LOCAL. 30d. [Tee size], SMALL. 31d. [No better, no worse], EQUAL.
Are you troubled by the etymological connection between 1a: LENSES and 1d: LENTIL, or did you like the echo? Even though they share a root (the lens took its name from having a shape similar to a lentil), the words are distinct enough in meaning that I like the combo. You can’t see through a lentil or eat lenses.
- 38a. [Interpret without hearing], LIPREAD.
- 3d. [“Take it easy!”], “NOW, NOW!”
- 12d. [Greek’s neighbor], ALBANIAN.
- 22a. [Phrase on a diet food label], LESS FAT. Really and truly? It sounds contrived, but apparently the phrase can mean either “<3 g of fat” or “≥25% less fat than the standard version, which may in fact be loaded with fat.”
- 44a. [Longfellow’s bell town], ATRI.
- 35d. [Average average], CEE. Really, it’s a C. Teachers give out C’s, not cees.
- 46d. [Extra one who’s “out”], ODD MAN. Basically a 6-letter partial, no?
- TARO, UNS, ORAN crossing EIRE, SSE, LAVE, and LEA add no zest to the fill.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “The World Didn’t End”
It’s Matt’s annual roundup crossword. (You do this every year, don’t you, Matt?)
- 16a. [With “The,” hit summer movie with Robert Downey, Jr.], AVENGERS.
- 23a. [Cruise ship that capsized off Italy’s coast in January 2012], COSTA CONCORDIA.
- 37a. [If it had happened, you wouldn’t be reading this], MAYAN APOCALYPSE.
- 51a. [Where Michael Phelps won even more medals], LONDON OLYMPICS.
- 63a. [Snacks snapped up after its manufacturer went bankrupt], TWINKIES. Those get a 28-Across from me (UGH).
- 29d. [Natural ___ (subject of “fracking” in 2012)], GAS.
- 35d. [He unleashed “Gangnam Style” on YouTube in 2012], PSY. Psy and MC Hammer stopped by the CNN stage to see Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper after their Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve (three apostrophes!) performance on the ABC stage. Kathy told Psy he must have money coming out of his butt now. He may have misheard her because he replied that it meant a lot coming from her. Then Psy and Hammer departed, and Anderson asked who the guy with Psy was.
Yes, that was the year that was.
- 26a. [Zeus’s sister (and lover)], HERA. Grosser than Twinkies. There’s a chart of “Zeus’s Affairs” and offspring. Yes, that’s right. Those were affairs. Fully consensual!
- 66a. [“Tickety ___” (animated Nick Jr. show)], TOC. New to me. Matt’s got preschoolers so he’s in the Nick Jr. demographic.
- 70a. [Jane’s Addiction album “Ritual ___ Habitual”], DE LO. Never heard of it. Also a legal term.
- 41d. [He played the youngest son on “Eight Is Enough”], ADAM RICH. Nicholas!
- 49d. [Getting all ___ your face], UP IN. Slangy partial? Works for me. We would also have accepted [All ___ your bidness].
Happy New Year, Amy and team, with deepest appreciation. I often reflect upon the astounding amount of work that you do on our behalf, and seeing it quantified only reinforces that. I do sometimes find myself asking the overriding question — WHY? Ours is not to reason why, but it is ours to resolve not to take what you do for granted. I know it has to be a labor (or in Garreth’s case, labour) of love, but I understand that when those puzzles are sitting there tyranically, (to paraphrase something you once said), waiting to be blogged, you sometimes feel it as a burden. It could hardly be otherwise. Best Wishes all.
A fitting tribute to the man who ended slavery and the other man who fathered one of our most competent constructors today! Lots of LOVE and AMOR for this one.
OH GREAT!–A fiscal cliff “deal.” I’ve got it! We’ll bury our heads in the sand. Reminds me of the academic world, where the leading solutions to every problem are (1) appoint a committee; and (2) table it.
Oh. Is this forum spose to be about puzzles? As you were. Back to puzzles.
I really enjoyed the tribute as well as Lincoln. There was a lot I had forgotten about the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th amendment that has been discussed in various media in the past six months.
I thought that the performance of Samuel L. Jackson as the head house slave in Django was extraordinary.
I enjoy your blog because of the diverse perspectives. It is a real treat to visit here every day.
Was anyone else bothered (too strong a word, my nit is incredibly minor even by minor nit standards) by JETSAM? I know that it can only arise in the context of the sea, but I think of jetsam as the state that the stuff thrown overboard is in as it is thrown overboard or if it sinks or is washed ashore. I thought the clue was more appropriate for flotsam.
Congrats to the Team Fiend for all their efforts, and many happy returns in 2013! I had to smile when I saw the nit about CEE for the grade of C, as nobody ever seems to object to the TEE often used in xwords for the phrase “fits TO A T”. (the T-square) Oh well…
Happy New Year. And thanks to all who blog here. My wake-up from Jeffrey’s statistics was having to admit I solved more than 1,000 puzzles in 2012!
Wow, what an amazing gift you give to puzzledom, Amy et al! Truly impressive, especially that you all have day jobs.
It’s indeed fun to hear the multiple perspectives. I only do the NYTimes, because of time limits and the need to fight my propensity to get addicted to games and puzzles. But I sometimes read the comments about other puzzles purely for enjoyment. The wit, range of knowledge, generosity of spirit, talent and class that this team exudes are incomparable. It makes me want to invite you all over for dinner (my typical reaction to really liking someone :).
Happy puzzling in 2013.
What time should I be over? Shall I bring the wine or a dessert?
Thanks a million to the hard-working team fiend members. Haven’t commented much lately, but I’m here every day enjoying the write-ups.
Re: the CS, I didn’t like the uncommon variant BOLA tie crossing SAPS instead of the more common BOLO tie crossing SOPS. Similarly, SNARK (clued as trivia) crossing KOOP instead of SNARL x LOOP.