Sunday, December 29, 2013

NYT 10:24 (Amy) 
Reagle 7:17 (Amy) 
LAT 6:23 (Amy) 
Hex/Hook 9:27 (pannonica) 
WaPo 7:27 (Sam) 
CS 9:38 (Dave) 

Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword, “Take a Break”

NY Times crossword solution, 12 29 13 "Take a Break"

NY Times crossword solution, 12 29 13 “Take a Break”

I’ve done (essentially) this puzzle before and it was memorable. Back in 2006, it was one of my favorite Sunday puzzles of the year. Cruciverb members can see Michael Shteyman’s terrific pool-table puzzle here. Heck, I’ll just take a picture of what’s on Cruciverb so you can compare the two on this page (lower down in this post).

Joel! I wish you had found the earlier theme before you embarked on creating yours, because while yours is indeed a great puzzle, you got there second. I know it kills you.

Joel’s theme, like Michael’s, has the following:

  • Six POCKET rebus squares where the pool table’s pockets are. (Half of the rebus answers are the same in the two puzzles.)
  • Rectangular grid. Joel’s is 17×25, while Michael’s was 19×23.
  • Some sparkling fill (ILLUMINATI, T.S. ELIOT) and a bit of clunky fill, but not so much that it detracts from the solve. Both Joel and Michael have tremendous talent as crossword constructors. (Actually, I’m seeing more iffy stuff in the 2006 puzzle. Joel hits the high standards of demanding 2013 solvers. We put up with a lot more subpar stuff the further back you go.)
  • Both constructors got their start as published NYT puzzlemakers in their teens.
Michael Shteyman's 3/19/06 NYT puzzle, "Always Felt This Way" (image courtesy of

Michael Shteyman’s 3/19/06 NYT puzzle, “Always Felt This Way” (image courtesy of

Where the puzzles differ:

  • Joel adds a visual “rack” that spells out POOL BALLS and uses the grid circles to an excellent end. No, there aren’t 15 balls here, but the crossword squares don’t cooperate in taking a staggered arrangement the way pool balls do. It’s a cute feature all the same, and it’s surprising to see a chunk of letters spelling something out this way.
  • Joel’s puzzle has left-right symmetry, while Michael’s used standard rotational symmetry.
  • I do have to give the edge to Joel for smoother fill.

So let me assign a retroactive star rating to Michael’s puzzle as well as rating Joel’s new offering: 4.5 stars for Michael’s, 4.8 stars for Joel. Anything in the 4.5+ range is both excellent and memorable.

Technical note: Anyone else find that the .puz file rejected their solution with a P standing in for the POCKET rebus?

Merl Reagle’s syndicated Sunday crossword, “Animals House”

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 12 29 13 "Animals House"

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 12 29 13 “Animals House”

This week’s theme is animal puns:

  • 21a. Bird lover’s favorite Cole Porter song?], I LOVE PARROTS. Substitute Paris for PARROTS.
  • 24a. First thing zoo employees learn at the reptile house?], LET PYTHONS BE PYTHONS. Bygones for PYTHONS.
  • 41a. Tale of a widow and her disappearing tin cans?], THE GOATS AND MRS. MUIR. Ghost for GOATS.
  • 65a. Rarely seen film about scaly anteaters?], MARCH OF THE PANGOLINS. Penguins for PANGOLINS.
  • 90a. Another way of saying “Preyed-on animals of the world, unite”?], CAST OFF YOUR JACKALS. … No idea what this one’s a pun on. To the Google! … Shackles for JACKALS.
  • 110a. Words on a weasel’s résumé?], PLAYS WELL WITH OTTERS. Others for OTTERS.
  • 118a. Toy for a hunting pet that doesn’t get enough exercise?], FERRET’S WHEEL. Ferris for FERRET’S.

The theme, like many a pun theme, is somewhat amusing. Seven theme answers isn’t a lot by Merl’s standards, but five of them are really long, and two pairs of theme entries are stacked. The fill was less appealing to me, in general. Between the DENIERS and the ANNEXER and the BANTERER, I felt all ERred out. HAMSTRUNG (13d. [Hobbled]) is a great word, though.

Seven more things:

  • 2d. [They’re between G’s and B’s], A NOTES. Not sure I’ve seen “A notes” as a phrase before. This is about music and not currency, right?
  • 1d. [Leafy houseplant], COLEUS. Lots of gorgeous variegated leaf colors with coleus, which my mom grew when I was a kid. The clue isn’t particularly specific, though.
  • 6d. [Sarcastic Spanish response, “Gracias ___”], POR NADA. “Thanks for nothing.” Do Spanish speakers say this? It looks like PORN A.D.A. in the grid. The group that assesses the dental hygiene of adult film stars?
  • 82d. [Mrs. Munster], LILY. I wonder if more Americans think of the Modern Family character, Cam and Mitch’s daughter Lily, when they see this name now. The show’s in syndication already, so I’m thinking that LILY will show up in clues soon enough. (Although the flower will still take up most of the LILY clues.)
  • 63a. [Aromatic ointment], NARD. I would ordinarily hate this entry, but I see it as a shout-out to Arthur Wynne’s original Word-Cross puzzle (which included NARD).
  • 99d. [Skin-care brand], AVEENO. Great for sensitive skin, I’m telling you.
  • 23a. [High-intensity lights], ARC LAMPS. Keep seeing this in the grid as A.R. CLAMPS, which are not a thing.

3.5 stars.

Updated Sunday morning:

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Incredibly smooth themeless today featuring two grid-spanning across entries:

CrosSynergy crossword solution - 12/29/13

CrosSynergy crossword solution – 12/29/13

  • [Carole King classic] was YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND. Her entire Tapestry album was probably the most popular acoustic music of my high school days. I believe she just recently won a Kennedy Center honor, which was well deserved.
  • [Just before it was too late] clued IN THE NICK OF TIME. A bit stretchier, but this album continues the musical tie-in.

The soundtrack continues with:

  • [“You can get anything you want …” opens the chorus of his most famous song] was ARLO GUTHRIE. The song is Alice’s Restaurant.
  • [Opera on which “Rent” is based] clued LA BOHÈME. RIP Jonathan Larson.
  • [Anderson who sang with Duke Ellington] clued IVIE. I tried WKRP’s LONI first. Here’s their Stormy Weather.

Lots of great non-musical stuff as well: AVERAGE JOE, THE SHINING, INFIELD FLY, ALEX / TREBEK, and CONFLICTED. Tougher stuff: the Austrian river ENNS, Sony founder AKIO Morita, [Actual surname of Roy Rogers] (Leonard Franklin SLYE) and [Himalayan legends] for YETIS. Yikes, are there more than one?? Remind me to cancel that upcoming trip to Nepal….

Trip Payne’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 195”- Sam Donaldson’s review

The Post Puzzler No. 195 (SOLUTION)

The Post Puzzler No. 195 (SOLUTION)

Trip Payne closes the year at the Post Puzzler with a relative breezy but super-fun 70/29 freestyle crossword. Fresh, fun fill throughout with some funny clues to boot. This one exemplifies all the qualities of a great freestyle puzzle.

Every corner boasts a triple-stack, with 10s in the northwest and southeast and 9s in the northeast and southwest. These stacks are gems. The northwest contains TASTE TESTS (clued cleverly as [Oral exams?]), ALL-OVER TAN (the [Nude beach acquisition], and PLANETARIA, the [Places where people have stars in their eyes?]. The last one was a gimme for me, as my first job was at a science museum that had a planetarium. But enough about that–look again at those entries (fresh as a newly-baked loaf of sourdough bread) and the terrific clues for them. What’s more, the crossings that make the stack possible are clean as an unblown whistle.

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

The northeast stack features SMALL ARMS (clued as [Carbines and such]), the uber-fresh PALEO DIET ([Atkins alternative]), and the ASTRODOME, certainly not an uber-fresh facility (it was the place [Where the “Battle of the Sexes” was held] in 1973) but still a great entry. The stack sits atop CAN’T STOP, the [1980s board game played on an octagonal board]. I like to think I know my board games, but this was unfamiliar to me. I think I have seen neither the box nor the playing board. Anyone here play this game and remember how it works?

In the opposite corner the FAST LANE sits atop ABORIGINE (clued as [Nunavut resident, typically]), DEMO TAPES (with the great clue, [They’re filled with unknowns]), and STAY ALERT (clued as [Don’t lose focus]). And then there’s the southeast, with ILL-FOUNDED ([Like some bad arguments]), SAID PLEASE ([Was polite, in a way]), and TINA TURNER, the [Singer with the so-called “hardest-working legs in show business”]. I wonder if James Brown resented that title.

Other bits and pieces:

  • [Bunker-like, in a way] led me astray, as I was thinking of sand traps. But this is a reference to Archie Bunker from All in the Family, meaning the answer was RACIST.
  • [A to I and K to W in Washington] is a fun clue for STREETS. In the span of about three seconds, here was my thinking after reading the clue: “Cripes, I lived in Washington State for 17 years so I should know this. Wait, this is probably the other Washington. Why is the J missing? It starts with S–could it be SENATORS? No, doesn’t fit. Doesn’t make sense either. I suck. And I wonder why I can never crack the top 200 at the ACPT. Say, that’s coming up in a couple of months. I better make my hotel reservation. I wonder if my wife can come with me this year. Will this be the last year the tournament’s in Brooklyn? Wait, it’s STREETS! ” Okay, armchair psychiatrists–have fun with that one.
  • [It clears what’s on the kitchen table: Abbr.] is a super clue for the FDA
  • Alas, neither MAJORS nor BOOTY CALLS was answer to [Tiger Woods has the greatest number of them]. It’s ESPYS. (This joke was brought to you by the year 2009.) 
  • I needed every crossing for ADELA, the [Character in “A Passage to India” surnamed Quested]. I flirted with AKELA and even ACELA for a while.
  • [Avon’s calling, in part?] is a fun clue for MASCARA, as is [Having a lot to lose] for OBESE.

Favorite entry = HULU, the [Netflix alternative]. That’s right, in a puzzle with a DALAI ([Ocean, in Mongolian]) of terrific long answers, I find myself most attracted to the four-letter online video site that helps me catch up on my required television regimen. Favorite clue = [It’s usually close to the median] for the aforementioned FAST LANE. But in this one, you could make a case for maybe a dozen favorites. Now that’s a nice way to close the year. See you in 2014!

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Au Pairs” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 12/29/13 • "Au Pairs" • Cox, Rathvon • hex/hook, bg • solution

CRooked • 12/29/13 • “Au Pairs” • Cox, Rathvon • hex/hook, bg • solution

The title here is so much the opposite of 41d UNAPT that I have to conclude the theme developed from it. Top-down, if you will. Sometimes crosswords with this (presumed) genesis will seem strained, but it’s such a straightforward application and the theme answers are rock-solid enough to dispel any thoughts along those lines. Simply put, they’re names, phrases, and the like—typical long-answer fodder—containing the letters AU in sequence, twice.

  • 22a. [Badger State home to Liberace, once] WAUSAU, WISCONSIN. It seems like a winking alteration of Warsaw, reinforced by the knowledge that Liberace’s given name was the Polish Władziu, but Wausau derives from Ojibwe, meaning “far away place.” Far out.
  • 31a. [Cry after a smashing premiere] AUTHOR! AUTHOR! Learned this term when the 1982 Al Pacino film of the same name was released.
  • 39a. [“Two Tahitian Women” painter] PAUL GAUGUIN. Not a favorite of mine. I prefer, for instance, “Jacob Wrestling with the Angel” visually, and “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” (“D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous”) both titularly and visually.
  • 50a. [Educational assembly] CHAUTAUQUA. Was unfamiliar with this meaning, but knew the eponymous place (and environs) in New York State. Also, the jazzish musician Pat Metheny recorded an album called New Chautauqua in the late 1970s, which I know realize probably references the artistic and educational movement rather than the locale. Bill and Hillary Clinton may have a house in that area, if memory serves.
    “The lake’s name has various meanings based on a variety of translations of the original native words of the Seneca Indian tribe. One translation means Bag Tied in the Middle, referring to the narrow portion between shore lines halfway down the lake. Other translations include Place Where Fish are Taken as well as Place of Easy Death.” (–Wikipedia)
    Reminds me a little of the CRooked crossword, also by Hex, from November featuring Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.
  • 60a. [1985 Stephen Frears film] MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE. A good little film, that one.
  • 76a. [Wiener add-on option] SAUERKRAUT. One of the few pannonica/NYC-approved hot dog toppings. Mustard and diced onions are the others. You can add chili, but then it’s no longer a hot dog sensu stricto [re-edited—thanks, NDE].
  • 83a. [Sort of McMansion] FAUX CHATEAU. Great answer, but even SAUERKRAUT won’t make one more palatable.
  • 88a. [“Améle star] AUDREY TAUTOU. Still haven’t seen this one. In fact, looking at her filmography, I  have not viewed anything in her cinematographic oeuvre.
  • 105a. [The southern lights] AURORA AUSTRALIS. Have not seen those either, alas.

As raised above, all these answers are appealing and strong, though I wouldn’t go as far as “studly.” Source languages are Latin, French, German, Ojibwe, Seneca, some necessarily more than once; so that’s a respectable variety.

Gold stars:

Shaped like a question mark!

Shaped like a question mark!

  • Any other solvers sensitive enough to be slightly put off by seeing non-theme entries such as ESAU, AURA, BEAUS, and AULD here? (2d, 37d, 62d, 82a) (Not to mention the AURA/AURORA eclipse.)
  • Artist! Artist! (Depending on your definition of artist.) Salvadors DALIS, PAUL GAUGUIN, Robert CRUMB, Claudes MONETS, Hieronymus BOSCH, Samuel ALITO, James Merritt IVES. Also, CRUMB and IVES could easily be recast as musicians—composers, specifically—but there are a bunch of them in the puzzle already.
  • Speaking of musicians, just yesterday I brought up crossword staple 44a NILS Lofgren in a comment apropos of and contra to Springsteen’s “Born to Run” (1975). Compared to that album’s sprawling bombast and self-importance, Lofgren’s self-titled release from the same year is a concentrated gem of pure rock and roll ethos. An operative word is DISTILL (4d).
  • Funny how a clue like 42a [Some PCs] for IBM feels obsolete while 58a [“SNL”‘s __ Sarducci] GUIDO doesn’t. IBM stopped manufacturing personal computers in 2002, and the heyday of Don Novello’s character was in the 1970s (though it’s possible he’s still schticking with it). This is the difference between the arts and industry, I guess.
  • Selected misfills: 45d [“That’s it for me!”] I’M OUT for I QUIT; 108a [Reunion group] ALUMS for CLASS; 28a [Move snakily] SLITHE for WRITHE (don’t ask); 
  • With partials A CARE, I HAD A, and A LOT already appearing, would have preferred to have seen “not MISS A beat” clued musically/religiously even though it probably would have remained a fill-in-the-blank. e.g., Missa Solemnis (Beethoven), Missa Aeterna (Palestrina), Missa Choralis (Liszt), the central African-flavored Missa Luba (Haazen); Missa Syllabica (Pärt), and more. Incidentally, I’ve just discovered that there’s a K-pop quartet called miss A, for whatever that’s worth.
  • Crosswordiest fill/clue combo: 56a [Old English bard] SCOP.
  • Favorite consecutive pair: 99d [Lot’s wife, eventually] SALT, 101d [Mucho] A LOT.

Beyond the august theme, the ballast material is generally robust and as a whole doesn’t tip the CAP Quotient™ scales. Good puzzle.

Gail Grabowski’s syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, “Interjection”

LA Times Sunday crossword solution, 12 29 13 "Interjection"

LA Times Sunday crossword solution, 12 29 13 “Interjection”

A “TER” is injected into a familiar phrase to create each theme answer:

  • 23a. [Period after one round too many?], TEETER TIME.
  • 28a. [Fertilized egg?], CHILD STARTER. Nice one.
  • 53a. [Benefit from barn raising?], BETTER THE FARM. “Benefit” is a verb here, not a noun.
  • 87a. [Where Monet got his physical?], PAINTER CLINIC.
  • 109a. [Tipsy gym helper?], TIGHT SPOTTER.
  • 120a. [Joking after a midterm?], TEST BANTER. Cute.
  • 36d. [Need some trough repair?], BUST A GUTTER.
  • 43d. [1970s presidential fundraiser?], CARTER RALLY.

The theme answers all work without bugging me or disappointing me, so while they didn’t have me laughing out loud, they do their job.

The fill is pretty smooth, too, and the cluing must’ve been quite smooth given how quickly I solved the puzzle.

Seven more things:

  • 113a. [Flash drive connections], USB PORTS. Good fill.
  • 10d. [Pre-1000 Celtic language], OLD IRISH. Anyone know any Old Irish words?
  • 60a. [Paretsky’s Warshawski and Grafton’s Millhone, briefly], TECS. Blurgh … who really uses “tec,” anyway?
  • 98a. [“Breaking Bad” lawyer Goodman], SAUL. He’s getting a spin-off show, Better Call Saul.
  • 4d. [1945 conference site], POTSDAM. It’s near Berlin.
  • 52a. [State legal VIPs], AGS. Short for attorneys general.
  • 89d. [“Good Times” actress], ROLLE. I just saw an old magazine cover with Esther Rolle as Santa. She’s just one of many African-American celebrities who appeared on Jet’s cover dressed as Santa.

Four stars.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Sunday, December 29, 2013

  1. LARRY WALKER says:

    Not to get too nit-picky about the pool game puzzle, but – it would have been more accurate if he had an array of 15 pool balls in a triangular form or nine balls in a diamond form. Otherwise, I loved the puzzle.

  2. pannonica says:

    NYT: Technical note: Anyone else find that the .puz file rejected their solution with a P standing in for the POCKET rebus?

    Nope. Worked fine for me. I even added circles as I was solving.

  3. sbmanion says:

    I just saw American Hustle, the most enjoyable movie of the year. One of my all-time favorites is the Hustler.

    And today, an outstanding puzzle. I own a regulation pool table (2,500+ lbs). The features that make it excellent are the professional rail and the professional felt. When you watch the great players on television, they make controlling the cue ball seem easy, but playing on a fast, professional table makes you realize how hard it is to play at that level.


    • bob stigger says:

      Steve, I think our old basement pool table was more fun — plywood bed, cheap cloth instead of felt — between the uneven floor, the warped bed and the wrinkles in the cloth, you could cause the cue ball to trace impossible-seeming paths without imparting a bit of English. And who needed the masse when you could make the cue ball jump by smacking it into certain spots on the rail. Visitors had no chance against the home team because local knowledge was everything.

      • pannonica says:

        Strategically impeding supports and beams were present too, no doubt.

        • HH says:

          Problem with pool is that there’s almost no defensive play. I think the ends of the rails, where they abut the pockets, should be embedded with pinball flippers.

          • pannonica says:

            Of course there’s defensive play. Definitely.

          • Brucenm says:

            Henry, for all your talents, you’re decidedly not a pool player. Mid to high level 9-ball, especially, is more about defensive thinking than about flashy runs or anything else. Not just playing safeties, but playing the right kind of safety which will leave your opponent with a difficult counter-safety. That is where the greatest creativity and imagination enters the game. The force you use on the stroke is more a function of defensive thinking than anything else. And even more subtly, a good player must understand two-way shots, where you either make the ball, or leave nothing. Sometimes you try a bank rather than a cut, out of defensive concerns for the likely leave. I would say that the principal concern of every shot you take is what you will leave — for yourself if you make, and for your opponent, if you miss, and all of these concerns, I would label “defensive.” I had many interesting conversations about these matters in the 60’s with the father of a famous person here in our group — one of your colleagues as a respected constructor.

          • Bencoe says:

            Further proof that people don’t understand a joke unless they can see the person who is saying it…

          • pannonica says:

            Not convinced, here.

          • sbmanion says:


            That reminded me of one of my all time favorite stories. When I was applying for all the great schools many years ago, one of the kids I saw at all the events was an extraordinarily odd looking guy. I knew this guy was brilliant (1600 SATs in an era where that was unheard of), but the local alums were nevertheless touting me as the top candidate from Western New York. The top guy even wondered whether this brilliant guy would get in because everyone thought he would be better off going to school near his home, so that he could maintain close contact with his mother.

            So, I was surprised to see him floating around Harvard Yard in my first year–he always wore khaki shorts and a Columboesque trench coat with a big question mark sewn onto the back. Later that year, at a party, I asked one of the admissions people about this guy. the admissions person said that the young man was a comic genius who had written the best (and funniest) personal essay of any applicant. He was so odd looking, that few recognized his comedic skills.


      • Gareth says:

        My one older brother left baby me on our snooker table, who decided to urinate all over it. I don’t quite understand why, but it meant an area with strange lumps that certainly added to the table’s challenges!

        • Howard B says:

          If that doesn’t count as defensive play, I don’t know what does.

          • HH says:

            By “defensive” I meant something active, as opposed to just sitting there with a beer, waiting for your turn again. And don’t even think about telling me how to play 9-ball.
            But I was serious about the flippers — wuoldn’t that be so cool?

          • pannonica says:

            May I suggest bumper pool?

  4. Nance says:

    Great fun! But I don’t get 52D hunh? Rather awkward.

  5. Pamela Kelly says:

    I loved this puzzle and don’t really care that it was done before. I think it’s better than 4 stars but not worth 5. How can I rate it at 4.5? Is that possible?

    • Evad says:

      I’m wondering if I should change the rating system to allow people to put in a decimal amount…I often see reviewers here give a puzzle 4.33 stars or the like.

      What’s the consensus out there?

      • Pamela Kelly says:

        I would love if that happened. More often than not, I feel that I am torn when rating a puzzle. It would be more accurate I believe. So many puzzles are good but just not a 5. A 5 has to be REALLY good. And so on down the scale. I hope you do implement this! Pam

      • Brucenm says:

        I would be interested in seeing increments of 1/2 stars. I assumed it would be too much aggravation for you, and never suggested it. I think on balance it would slightly *raise* my overall ratings. I often encounter puzzles which I don’t quite want to give 5*, but consider a very high 4*.

      • tom says:

        YES, PLEASE.

        • Evad says:

          It shouldn’t be too hard to add .5 increments, so let’s start with that and see how it goes.

          Happy 2014, all!

  6. Jonesy says:

    Anyone else find it odd in the Reagle that ILOVEPARROTS was clued using “bird lover’s”??

    Also it felt a bit inconsistent that Penguins (an animal) was in the original phrase and changed to another animal… still enjoyed the puzzle despite the two nits.

  7. Steven R. Stahl says:

    (Actually, I’m seeing more iffy stuff in the 2006 puzzle. Joel hits the high standards of demanding 2013 solvers. We put up with a lot more subpar stuff the further back you go.)

    I have to dispute that. Crosswordese is a relative defect. In large puzzles, it’s unavoidable; if it’s strenuously avoided, in favor of common English words, the puzzle will be so trivially easy to solve that solving it won’t be worth the time taken. One can also argue that if speed in solving a puzzle is a major focus of the solver’s, then he’s not challenging himself and should consider more challenging pursuits.

    The crossword creators profiled in Maleska’s Across and Down created good puzzles. A.J. Santora, for example, created classics; I haven’t seen anything that topped his “Squarely Figured” puzzle. Puzzles that were considered great in the ’70s and ’80s are still great today.


  8. HH says:

    No on bumper pool, because that’s the table defending itself.

  9. pannonica says:

    LAT: 57a [Pretends] = LETS ON? Is this some sort of regional idiom? My other question was about 87d [Place to buy a tank] PET STORE but after letting it lay fallow for a time, I realize it’s a fish tank, not some accessory for a quadruped.

    • ahimsa says:

      I’ve only seen this usage of LET(S) ON in crosswords (and online searches after the fact). I’ve never come across it in other reading or conversation. Folks that I know use LET ON to mean reveal or divulge, e.g., “Don’t LET ON that there’s a surprise party.”

  10. Ethan says:

    Only thing that gave me a slight pause was DEEP POCKET. Someone who has a lot of money has DEEP POCKETS, and I would even grant you DEEP POCKETED, but I don’t know when anyone would say the singular DEEP POCKET.

  11. Michael says:

    Since we are comparing the two puzzles, if anything, today’s gem is a much improved version of the 2006 crossword. There’s the L-R symmetry, which I think works better in this type of puzzle than the standard used 7.5 years ago. There’s the more realistic shape of the pool table with dimensions coming closer to the actual 2:1 ratio. The non-pocket theme answers are found in their respective locations on the table – the cue at the top, the rack near the balls, and the bridge across the table. Nice! And if you’re still not impressed, just look at that juicy chunk of white meat in the lower mid-section with so many mouth-watering answers, nine balls AND another theme entry. That’s just a thing of beauty. Congrats to Joel on pulling this off so elegantly.

    P.S. As both an amateur pool and poker player, I wish I’d thought of POCKET ACES. But then again, I didn’t even know what Texas Hold ’em was back in 2006!

  12. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Happily I didn’t remember the earlier billiards crossword. Still disappointed to discover that 49A, clued “Name that’s Hebrew for ‘pleasant'”, was 5 letters long, not 4 as I’d hoped :-)

    “Strictu senso” looked wrong, and indeed the -u and -o endings are reversed. Well, I’ve surely done worse…

    Happy puzzling New Year,

    • pannonica says:

      It sure did when I looked at it again! Should have known better. It’s fixed now.

    • pannonica says:

      Actually, I have no idea how I managed that lapse, since I used to regularly read (and occasionally write) papers which frequently employed the terms sensu stricto and sensu lato.

  13. John merrick says:

    In Reagle 103d the answer to “Not balmy” was “sane”. Maybe it’s my English upbringing, but surely the word is “barmy”?

    • pannonica says:

      Either is valid in that sense. Balmy primarily means soothing or pleasant; barmy ostensibly means foamy (which seems closer to the “eccentric” meaning, so perhaps predates balmy there, which may have been incorporated via … erm … folk substitution? I don’t know the proper term offhand).

  14. Eener says:

    To Amy, regarding Reagle’s puzzle of 12-29-13:

    I know it’s a little late, but regarding your question:

    “90a. Another way of saying “Preyed-on animals of the world, unite”?], CAST OFF YOUR JACKALS. … No idea what this one’s a pun on. To the Google! … Shackles for JACKALS.”

    Mr. Reagle is paraphrasing Marx and Engels from the Manifesto: “Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.” In some translations, the word “shackles” is used instead of “chains.”

    I knew that Russian Lit class would come in handy some day : )

Comments are closed.