Thursday, December 25, 2014

NYT 4:42 (Amy) 
LAT 6:02 (Gareth) 
CS 26:44 (Ade) 
BEQ 6:06 (Matt) 

Merry Christmas from Team Fiend! Merry Jewish/Buddhist/etc. Christmas to those of you who may be partaking of Chinese food and movies on Thursday! If you are feeling lonely on Christmas Day, know that we’re thinking of you too (and the holiday madness is almost behind us).

Xan Vongsathorn’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 12 25 14,  no. 1225

NYT crossword solution, 12 25 14, no. 1225

Elegantly played anagram-rebus theme today: 56a. MIXED {NUT}S are a [Party snack … or a hint to six squares in this puzzle], and the other five permutations of N, U, and T appear in the other five rebus squares.

  • 19a. [Be bigger than, in a way], OU{TNU}MBER / 9d. [Milk maid?], WE{T NU}RSE.
  • 20a. [Packing], G{UN-T}OTING / 2d. [Come (to)], AMO{UNT}. The AMO{UNT} one tipped me to the theme—it’s a weird chunk of letters for a rebus square and I was just waiting for the MIXED NUTS to appear.
  • 37a. [Samosa topping], CH{UTN}EY (yum!) / 26d. [Startling newsmaker of 10/4/1957], SP{UTN}IK.
  • 40a. [Flowery girl’s name], PE{TUN}IA / 31d. [Feature of Rome’s Pantheon], RO{TUN}DA.
  • 60a. [Hairy menace], TARA{NTU}LA / 45d. [Economic slump], DOW{NTU}RN.
  • 56a. MIXED NUTS / 58d. [Apple pie seasoning], {NUT}MEG.


Lots of good fill, which I do expect to see from Xan (who hasn’t had a puzzle for a while but does nice work). GOT EVEN, TAP WATER, DEVIL RAY, OPEN PIT mining and BBQ, PEROXIDE, GO VIRAL—these have a bit more sparkle than the rest of the grid, but the whole puzzle’s pretty darn smooth. Plural EHS, singular ALP, outmoded NES, and the HAR/HA-HAS overlap are about as bad as it gets.

Top three clues:

  • 27a. [Break down in tears?], RIP UP. Tears rhymes with fares and not fears here.
  • 61a. [Artwork from a folder], ORIGAMI. Person who folds, not a thing or location called a folder.
  • The [Calf’s place (maybe)] pair of clues for PEN and LEG, or perhaps the [Presided over, as a case] pair for neighboring TRIED and HEARD.

4.25 stars from me.

John Lieb’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 141225

LA Times 141225

The ELFONTHESHELF is, for better or worse, a modern American phenomenon. So it makes for a lively central revealer. The puzzle itself has an elegant concept – each ELF rests on a 3×1 black rectangle. The wheels fell off a bit at ELFMANS though: unusual plural surname? No thanks. I’d have rather bit the bullet and added a pair of cheaters and redesigned from there.

The grid had pressure from theme in all its zones, but mostly came through not too scathed. There were also MMMBOP, PAYPAL, MOSDEF, CLEMATIS and several other bright spots to smile at.


Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Yes, there is a Virginia”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.25.14: "Yes, there is a Virginia"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.25.14: “Yes, there is a Virginia”

¡Feliz Navidad, mis amigos!

I hope you all are celebrating the holiday season with special people and that you all made it home safe and sound, if you had to travel. Also hoped you enjoyed today’s Yuletide treat of a crossword grid, brought to us by Mr. Bob Klahn, who probably was dressed as Santa and had his sack of crossword puzzles ready to dig into and leave in your stocking. In the puzzle, Klahn evokes the memories of the famous New York Sun editorial, where the answer to a question written to the paper by a little girl named Virginia O’Hanlon about the existence of Kris Kringle is answered with “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” Cleverly, each of the theme answers are proper nouns, common nouns or phrases that are altered by adding the letters “VA,” the postal code for Virginia – a nice little tribute to Virginia!

  • (VA)GRANT’S TOMB(19A: [Drifter’s resting place?])
  • SA(VA)GE ADVICE(30A: [Barbaric counsel?])
  • SID VI(VA)CIOUS(38A: [Johnny Rotten’s animated bandmate?]) – Clue that opened the door to what was happening in the grid for me.
  • TOMATO CAN(VA)S: (51A: [Painting of a member of the club?])

There wasn’t really a section of the grid where I really got going, as it was a slog for me every which way I went. But, as I said, after getting “Sid Vivacious,” I finally started building momentum. ATLANTA was pretty easy to get given the clue and the fact that I’ve watched that movie twice (39D: [Driving Miss Daisy” setting]). Pretty nice touch with the clue to ISBN as well (34D: [978-1-4549-0059-7, e.g.]). So how many people during this Christmas time are telling the story of GRETEL and throwing the wicked witch, who had wanted to eat her and her brother, into the oven and sending her to her fiery grave (37A: [Girl threatened by a cannibalistic forest witch])? That definitely would get anyone in the Christmas spirit, right?! Favorite entry of the day was CHAUVIN (55A: [Eponymous, possibly apocryphal, French patriot])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ALABAMA (14A: [First state to legalize Christmas as a holiday (1836)]) – First of all, a nice bit of trivia. Second, in the first year of the College Football Playoff, the team that’s the No. 1 seed in the four-team playoff going into New Year’s Day is the University of ALABAMA, looking for its 16th national championship in football. Of the 15 previous titles, the last 10 have come in which either the Associated Press or the college football coaches have awarded the Crimson Tide the national title.

It’s always special taking the time out to write this blog and absolutely appreciate everyone who has taken the time out to read it. Happy Holidays to you all!  See you tomorrow!

Take care!


Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword, “All the Trimmings” — Matt’s review


Why, there are TOYS beneath the X-MAS tree. How do you like that? You know the grid’s a tree because of these decorations:

20-A [One with braces, slangily] = TINSEL TEETH. When I was of braces-wearing age, the snappy comeback to a remark like this was: “The tin grin is in.” Zing!

25-A [Luxury car decorations] = HOOD ORNAMENTS. That’s how you know for sure that you’re rolling in style.

44-A [Seafood appetizer] = POPCORN SHRIMP. Bready.

53-A [Gay icon The Advocate called “The Elvis of homosexuals”] = JUDY GARLAND. I was not aware that she is a gay icon, but there is a Wikipedia page for this.

So that’s TINSEL, ORNAMENTS, more tinsel with a GARLAND, and I skipped POPCORN? People put popcorn on their trees now? It Googles extremely well. Hmm.


*** Current events: [Outgoing Senate majority leader Harry] = REID. I know the Republicans won the Senate, but I have no idea who is going to replace Reid. I’ll look it up. It’s Mitch McConnell, whose surname is of interest because it’s just nine letters long but contains three sets of double letters.

***At 63-A, [Puzzle-within-a-puzzle puzzle] = META. Amusing clue.

***[Continent with both the largest and smallest countries by area: Abbr.] = EUR. Hmm, not exactly, since the bulk of Russian territory is in Asia. Although the Vatican is clearly in Europe.

***At 45-A, [Crawl on the bottom of ESPN, for one] = CHYRON. I’ve never heard this word so I looked it up. Interesting.

4.00 stars. And because life has gotten a little busier lately: after blogging Brendan’s Thursday puzzles for the past four years, I’m handing them off now to Ben Smith, who takes over next week. Blogging crosswords is fascinating, especially when it’s for someone as skilled and inventive as BEQ. Try it if you get a convenient chance.

Thanks to Brendan for the puzzles, Amy for the site, commenters for commenting, and Ben for taking it from here. And I’ll still be Fiend-blogging the Muller and Blindauer monthlies.

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8 Responses to Thursday, December 25, 2014

  1. Avg Solvr says:

    Really nice NYT theme. Very enjoyable solve.

  2. Zulema says:

    Agree about nice theme and enjoyable solve, but the 65A clue seems to me would make more sense if it read “has” instead of “lacks.”

    • Evad says:

      Hi Zulema! I thought so at first as well, but then I thought they were getting at the British spelling of “organisation” which is written sans-ZED.

      Merry Christmas to all!

  3. CY Hollander says:

    Agree with Amy et. al. about the elegance and enjoyability of the theme. Symmetrical placement and equivalent fill in each square tend to make a rebus puzzle more elegant. The downside, usually, is that they are less exciting, since once you’ve solved part of the theme, the rest fills itself in, but in this case the scrambling of the letters in each square added just the right touch of unpredictability to offset that. I also liked how every permutation of NUT was used in the puzzle, with the original one, NUT itself, featuring logically in the revealer, and how the theme fit a common phrase without being too much of a stretch. With some imagination, you could even see the boxes as square bowls, or as gift boxes, I suppose.

    Speaking of which, I suppose that was the tie-in to the holiday? Boxes of mixed nuts that people might send each other as gifts? Or was there no tie-in at all? I have to say I expected more of a December 25th theme. The only part of this puzzle that looked unambiguously topical was the constructor’s name—but apparently it’s actually pronounced “Chawn”!

  4. Zulema says:

    Dave, you are right, as usual, and I’m afraid I didn’t think it through, my excuse being that it was almost 2AM. Merry Christmas, all!

    • Lois says:

      I agreed with your first impulse, Zulema, about clue 65A in the NYT puzzle, although of course Dave was right about what was meant. This was not a good clue for me, though it was in a great puzzle. The Concise Oxford Dictionary, the primary reference for spelling at the United Nations, where I used to work, is a British dictionary that uses the “-ize” ending and spells “organization” that way. (But there are spellings in the dictionary that are less familiar to U.S. readers; for instance, the dictionary’s preferred spelling for “analyse” is with an “s.”) I think it’s Cambridge that eschews the zed for “organise.” The clue should have read, “What some English organizations lack,” or “What English organizations sometimes lack.”

  5. bananarchy says:

    Agreed, nice to see Xan’s name in the byline again, and as usual he didn’t disappoint.

  6. placematfan says:

    Thanks for being there for us, Matt. Nice work. And welcome to Ben.

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