Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fireball 4:41 (Amy) 
NYT 3:40 (Amy) 
LAT 5:24 (Gareth) 
CS 12:55 (Ade) 
BEQ untimed (Matt) 

Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans, at home and abroad! This season, I am thankful for … the Internet. And Team Fiend. And all our genteel readers! And also selected pies. And friends and family.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 79”

Fireball crossword answers, 11 26 14 "Themeless 79"

Fireball crossword answers, 11 26 14 “Themeless 79”

Pretty easy for a Fireball themeless, if you ask me. I wasn’t perplexed by anything except the NUTMEG clue, 19a. [Kick the ball through the legs of]. Sportsy slang? News to me. Oh, and 20a. [Killer ___ (“Buck Rogers” villain)], KANE. Had to figure out that [Schlep] was TREK in order to get the K in KANE.

Top ten in cluing and fill:

  • 15a. [Bruce Springsteen album featuring “Hungry Heart” and “Cadillac Ranch”], THE RIVER.
  • 36a. [Top shooters at many basketball games], T-SHIRT CANNONS. Cannons that shoot apparel tops, not “best shooters.”
  • 64a. [Red giant], PETE ROSE. Not astronomy? I’ll take it. I would like to put the Cincinnati Reds Cleveland Indians on notice—that mascot logo is dehumanizing and it needs to go.
  • 10d. [Rubber tree attachment], TIRE SWING. It’s a tree attachment made of rubber, nothing to do with rubber trees.
  • 12d. [Taboo], VERBOTEN.
  • 14d. [Rodent on the comics page], RATBERT. If only there were a Willard comic strip.
  • 21d. [Literally, “with the scraping”], AU GRATIN. Foodie etymology! Makes sense but I don’t think I’d seen that before.
  • 25d. [Get in touch with by the seat of your pants?], BUTT-DIAL. I don’t butt-dial, but I’ve been known to delete apps when holding my phone while doing other things and not looking at the screen.
  • 34d. [Hesitate when transitioning], MISS A BEAT. Is this a musical clue? I just use the phrase nonliterally.
  • 44d. [Maker of the handheld game Electronic Quarterback], COLECO. You hadda be a kid at the right time. I went over to YouTube to see the game in play (uh, it is no Madden 2015) and then got distracted by Merlin videos. I liked Merlin even better than Simon, I reckon.

Birthday greetings to 54d. [Hoopster nicknamed “Reign Man”], Shawn KEMP. I know nothing about him except that he shares a birthday (today/Wednesday!) with Michael Sharp/Rex Parker.

Smooth grid. Surprised to see that it’s a 68-worder and not a more forgiving 72. Four stars from me.

Stan Newman’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 27 14, no. 1127

NY Times crossword solution, 11 27 14, no. 1127

‘Tis a seasonal theme for the holiday, with three [Thanksgiving phrase]s in the grid. 15a: MUCHAS GRACIAS came together with the M of POMELOS and maybe the ***HA* from AAH and SCAM. Then I eyeballed 15a’s partner, 51a, and filled in MERCI BEAUCOUP with no crossings. It’s not as if VIELEN DANK was going to fit anywhere in this puzzle. The third [Thanksgiving phrase] is the Italian GRAZIE MILLE connecting the other two themers. I thought mille grazie was more common; yea or nay?

Simple theme. I’m quite fond of the central entry, 31a. [Highest-paid TV star of 2014, by far], JUDGE JUDY. Scrabbly and poppy and fun.

Other likes in the fill: OAXACA, SCYLLA, POTOMAC, SPRITZ.

Three more things:

  • 20d. [Statistician Silver], NATE. He’s a heartthrob for the mathy gay set, and I love the career he’s carved out for himself.
  • 49d. [Writer about Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals], Jean AUEL. I loved the Clan of the Cave Bear series in my youth.
  • 38d. [Clothing items with fringes], SERAPES. Do you ever encounter this word outside of crosswords?

Four stars from me. Not much excitement, but also little junk to irritate me.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Turkey Serving”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.27.14: "Turkey Serving"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.27.14: “Turkey Serving”

Good morning to you all on this Turkey Day!

Here’s a question off the bat to you: If you do the the traditional Thanksgiving feast at home, do you try and have the turkey done by dinner time, or earlier? With my family, for many years the turkey was usually done by noon, just in time for the football games to start. I’m pretty sure that was because of me, as I was just as excited for the sporting events coming on television as much as the food. If I could get both to start at the same time, even better!

Now, I can add finishing a crossword to the turkey and the football, and today’s grid, offered up to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman with cranberry sauce and yams, gives us four theme answers in which the first part of the entry are also parts of a turkey. Let’s dig in!

  • THIGHMASTER: (17A: [Exercise device]) – This answer made me laugh out loud. Seriously! Please tell me someone out there still owns one! You’ll make my Thanksgiving!
  • BREAST BEATING: (28A: [Loud display of grief])
  • DRUMSTICK CAKE: (47A: [Rich dessert made with vanilla wafers]) – My word, that sounds good.
  • WINGTIP SHOE: (62A: [Fancy footwear])

Being familiar with the novel, MOO was clued in a clever way, as anyone not familiar with the book would have had a hard time thinking that was the name of a university, real or fictional (32A: University created by Jane Smiley]). This is the second crossword puzzle in as many days that features ADRIAN MONK, which might be a sign that I should watch at least one episode of Monk to its completion (11D: [TV character who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder]). Interesting fact about TECH (39D: [Virginia or Georgia follower]): Did you know that Georgia Tech is only one of two schools that play in the FBS section of Division One that doesn’t contain the word “university” in its official title? The other is not Virginia Tech, as it’s official name is “Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.” If you’re wondering about the other university-less school in the highest level of Division One college football, it’s Boston College. Always like seeing full names in grids when possible, so ROY ORBISON adds a nice look to the grid (29D: [“Crying” singer]). Definitely a meaty puzzle worthy of being alongside any Thanksgiving main course.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GAIT (3D: [Horse’s stride]) – It’s rare that I can get to talk about the greatest player/athlete in a particular sport on here. But that’s the case today, as Garry GAIT is considered by many to be the greatest player ever to play the game of lacrosse, if not the player that brought the trick-shot, showboating element of lacrosse to the mainstream. The Canadian-born was a four-time All-American at Syracuse University, from 1987-1990, and was a part of three title teams while an Orangeman. He also won titles as a professional in indoor lacrosse and outdoor lacrosse. Gait is currently the women’s lacrosse coach at his alma mater, Syracuse.

Have a great holiday, everyone!! Be safe, eat healthy, and enjoy your time with your family!

Take care!


Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle — “Give ‘Em the Bird” — Matt’s review


Happy Thanksgiving to all. Brendan celebrates by stuffing a bird — not with stuffing, but into a base phrase:

17-A [Things broken by people who’ve never been to an alley before?] = B(OWL)ING CHERRIES. That’s an OWL (64-D) stuffed into Bing cherries.

28-A [As modest as ever?] = STILL D(EMU)RE. That’s an EMU (36-A) stuffed into the album Still Dre.

My wife got her R.N. from Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), whose mascot is the Royals. How lame is that? They should be the EMU Emus, of course.

49-A [Place where Dante does his writing?] = INF(ERN)O DESK. That’s an ERN (48-A) stuffed into info desk. I think “erne” is a more common spelling so that would’ve been a little better here.

63-A [Launched an ICBM?] = SHOT ONE’S WA(RHEA)D. That’s a RHEA (11-D) stuffed into shot one’s wad. Hey, if this (or 17-A) bothers you, then BEQ is not the crossword for you.


***I didn’t know MILO [TV actor Ventimiglia]. Wanted it to be John V., who was hapless restarateur Artie Bucco on The Sopranos.

***[Turkey setting] for ASIA is an old chestnut, but on Thanksgiving Day we’ll give it a gold star.

***I’m sympathetic to a fellow crossword writer who needs to escape from a tricky corner, but U-TWO for [“Songs of Innocence” band] is a ding of .1 stars. It’s always U2, as u know.

***[Blunt object?] for WEED is good, as are BILL BLASS and TRADE SHOW. Hard to shine much on the fill because there are no 6-, 7- or 8-letter entries in the grid (!).

3.75 stars. By the time you read these words, I will be in a turkey coma — and, I hope, so will you.

C.C. Burnikel’s La Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 141127

LA Times

An interesting approach to this puzzle – unusual grid symmetry and a revealer placed on the bottom row of the grid: SEEYOU/AROUND. Four answers have the pattern C*U. A two letter wrap-around theme seems awfully flimsy, but the fact the words have to end in U is quite restrictive. Three of the four start with hard c’s and end in “oo” sounds. The first, COLORADOPLATEAU, instead ends in a long o sound.

The theme is made up of:

  • [*Four Corners locale], COLORADOPLATEAU
  • [*Arctic wolf prey], CARIBOU
  • [*Car named for a California city], CHEVYMALIBU
  • [*1965 Jane Fonda title role], CATBALLOU

Zhouqin fits in two long down seeds: the somewhat partial TALKISCHEAP (usually followed by “but money buys the whiskey”) and full name RHETTBUTLER. The bottom corners are also jazzed up with NATASHA/ELEKTRA and LAMOTTA being a trio of fun names.

Other bits and bobs:

  • [Trendy cuff site], EAR. I have no idea what that clue means.
  • [Nebula in Taurus, familiarly], THECRAB. I mostly hear this in relation to Cancer myself…
  • [Former upscale Manhattan eatery], ELAINES. Is that no longer extant or no longer upscale?
  • [Like many ventilation systems], DUCTED. Also, like many glands…
  • [“Now I get it”], AHSO. I was pretty sure people of Asian descent found this offensive?

3.5 Stars


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

24 Responses to Thursday, November 27, 2014

  1. Clint Eastwood says:

    “SERAPES. Do you ever encounter this word outside of crosswords?”
    [silent stare that causes you shame]

    • Bencoe says:

      I was playing trivia with a friend of mine a few months ago (he doesn’t do crosswords very much, though my solving has inspired him to attempt a few). The question was about a Mexican item of clothing. Both of us immediately thought it was SERAPE (I blame crosswords, but he can’t). Another friend reminded us that the answer was the much more common PANCHO.

  2. Martin says:

    Hey Clint: no bugging Amy!

    That’s the job of “The Two Martins”

  3. Slowpoke Rodriguez says:

    Serapes were in not so long ago, and all my chic girlfriends (read: girl friends) loved to use the word.

  4. Avg Solvr says:

    NYT: Wholly unpleasant experience. I’m thankful it’s over.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. Martin says:

    Check out Hayley Gold’s latest comic regarding crosswords and “The Imitation Game”:

    (The original CHE Crossword ran over two years ago)

    • ahimsa says:

      Thanks for the link! Very cute comic.

      I saw the play, Breaking the Code, many years ago. It was at Artist’s Repertory Theatre here in Portland (Oregon) with Allen Nause in the role of Alan Turing. I’m looking forward to the movie.

      Oh, and I managed to visit Bletchley Park back in 2007 (I think?) and saw the rebuild of the Colossus. Highly recommended for any computer nerds.

      PS. I’m a vegetarian but I agree that Tofurkey is terrible. :-)

  6. Papa John says:

    Is Thanksgiving celebrated in France, Italy and Mexico? I don’t get it…

    The entire puzzle seemed uninspired and dull. It solved more like an early-in-the-week puzzle with a couple of late-week vocabs — oaxaca, scylla — not much challenge.

  7. susanb says:

    Nay on mille grazie, Amy. And Papa John, while the holiday of Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US on the last Thursday of November to ‘commemorate’ a meal shared by the immigrant (undocumented?) English and Native Americans, all cultures have phrases meaning ‘thanks’. In Mexico I say ‘muchas gracias’ to the waitstaff for una mas cerveza, and ‘merci beaucoup’ for un verre de vin. I liked the twist and it’s a nice reminder that this is a country of many nationalities and languages, for which I give thanks.

  8. dave glasser says:

    The Cincinnati Reds mascot is just a baseball, right?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I meant the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo or whatever it’s called. Corrected above. Thanks!

      • dave glasser says:

        Admittedly if somebody turned my head into a baseball I’d feel a little dehumanized!

      • Gary R says:

        Just a note – the Reds’ nickname has nothing to do with Native Americans. They were originally the Red Stockings and shortened it to just Reds.

        I believe they actually changed it to Red Legs for a while in the 50’s, in order to avoid any association with Communism.

  9. huda says:

    NYT: I liked the puzzle because it reminds us that giving thanks is universal and the phrases are often the first ones we learn in foreign languages. I also liked the inclusion of the opening PLEASE as a nice counterpoint to all the thank yous. And SLOTHS is an apt ending for all of us after the meal.

    When he was predicting the election, I remember someone from Southeast Asia writing to ask: Is Nate Silver a real person? I thought it was cool to achieve that level of fame with this speed.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all

  10. Papa John says:

    Thanks, Susan.

    While your sentiments are all fuzzy and appropriate for the day, and I get that aspect of the theme, it still strikes me as uninspired as the Xmas card with the various ways “Merry Christmas” is translated. That’s more fitting than “Thanks very much” for Thanksgiving, since Xmas is celebrated throughout the world. The only immigrants associated with the Thanksgiving story, as you point out, are the English settlers. Native Americans are as much a part of the story. How many ways did they have for saying thanks? That would have made a better puzzle, if this insipid theme must be used.

    On a more cynical note, the theme once again eliminates the Amerinds from the picture.

    • Papa John says:

      I’m “Undefined”?!?! That has to be the worse insult imaginable.

      I’m me — John Daviso, Papa John to my friends.


      • Papa John says:

        Well, that was awkward. In my reply to Susan, my post was identified as “Undefined”. As soon as I posted my sarcastic reply to my own post, it changed to Papa John. Wha..?

        That’s it for me. Gotta go get stuffed.

  11. ahimsa says:

    I liked the NYT. There were many fun clues, a lot of “Huh?” turning into “Oh, I get it, now!”

    In a similar vein to Susan’s post above, I imagined this theme as pertaining to folks speaking in multiple languages at their family gatherings. So, it worked for me. As a bonus I learned about Judge Judy (did not know about this person/TV show).

    So, dhanyawad (धन्यवाद) to Stanley Newman from me!

  12. golfballman says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to all. Now, where is the H.Hook write up for Sun. I thought some of the puns were ok some others a real stretch. Just wanted to know what others thought.

  13. Gareth says:

    People use marzipan for something else other than icing? It’s a sick world.

  14. Karen says:

    Gareth, an ear cuff is ear jewelry. It is often a small gold “cuff” that fits around the top of the ear.

Comments are closed.