Sunday, November 22, 2015

NYT 8:39 (Amy) 


LAT 6:21 (Andy) 


Hex/Hook untimed (pannonica) 


CS 13:35 (Ade) 


(Reagle, original write-up from 22 Nov 2009)

Sam Donaldson and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword, “Right On, Right On!”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 22 15, "Right On, Right On!"

NY Times crossword solution, 11 22 15, “Right On, Right On!”

Sam and Jeff must’ve started out with a list of phrases that mean “exact” and start with the word on: on point, on the money, on time (this one’s less precisely synonymous), on the nose, on target, and on cue. Then they assembled longer phrases that end with the words that follow “on,” and have the full phrases make a right turn (see puzzle’s title) in the grid. I’ve marked the turning points with circled letters. We’ve got a TIPPING P(OINT), “SHOW ME T(HE MONEY),” PAID THROUGH T(HE NOSE),” RACE AGAINST T(IME), MOVING T(ARGET), and SNOOKER C(UE). Nicely conceived, well executed, and a fresh theme angle I haven’t seen before.

The fill is quite good overall. I felt like I was zipping through the puzzle, which may be a factor of there being so many proper nouns in the puzzle. I like names, I know them—not all solvers do, and they grumble about the “trivia quiz.” You don’t get to complain about the HARARE/ASMARA crossing, though—world capitals are fair game!

The only fill I didn’t care for was AST and PALISH. For a Sunday-size grid not to have considerably more awkwardness is unusual—though perhaps the ones packed with stodgy crosswordese have fewer names and please the solvers who don’t know names.

Top fill: HIP-HOP and DR. DRE (not just DRE this time) (we won’t discuss M.C. HAMMER here), CARIBOU, MANCALA (I need to play Medication Mancala tonight to refill my pill box for the next six days!), super-crisp MIC DROP, DIET POP (I don’t call it soda), WARHEADS clued as the sour candy, and HIT A WALL. I even liked the two-fer of AZTECAN and OLMECS.

Seven more things:

  • 46d. [Intimate apparel size bigger than C], D CUP. Hey! Look at that. It’s a bra-related clue that’s straightforward instead of embodying a juvenile “heh-heh” vibe. This is better than most of the D CUP clues I’ve seen.
  • 22a. [Warrior who follows “the way of the warrior”], SAMURAI. “War” is in that clue twice, with WARHEADS across the way. *grumble*
  • 34a. [Soundly defeat, informally], SMOKE. Did I smoke you on this puzzle or did you smoke me?
  • 93a. [Modern spelling?], WICCA. Do we have any Wiccans in the house? Are you good with this clue?
  • 30d. [Newfoundland or Labrador], BREED. Technically, “Labrador retriever” is a dog breed. I like the “large Canadian islands that together are a province” misdirect.
  • I liked the [Big gasbag?] clue for 1a: BLIMP till I realized HAVE A GAS (which is sort of an awkward entry) was also in the grid. I know, I know—Will doesn’t care, many solvers don’t even notice. But those who do notice are irked.
  • 118d. [Big name in microloans], KIVA. If you’ve never heard of Kiva, check it out. You lend, say, $25 to someone in another country. If 100 people do that, the borrower gets $2,500 to supply their business. They sell their wares, they make money over time, and they repay their Kiva loans. When your microloan is repaid, you can lend the same money to someone else—and keep the loans going forever. Bob Harris, a Jeopardy! champion, wrote a well-reviewed book about Kiva, The International Bank of Bob.

4.3 stars from me.

Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Forced Re-entry”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 11.22.15, "Forced-Re-entry," by Pam Amick Klawitter

LAT Puzzle 11.22.15, “Forced-Re-entry,” by Pam Amick Klawitter

Not a particularly consistent theme this week. Title would suggest that the “ree” sound is forced into each theme entry, but that’s not always the case. Only one has an added “ree”; all the others an added “eree.” All of them have the letters “ry” somewhere, but sometimes the addition changes the spelling and/or root word of the base phrase while other times it doesn’t affect either.


  • 23a, GROCERY NEGLIGENCE [Forgetting to put the milk in the fridge?]. Gross negligence.
  • 51a, CRIME SCENERY [Backdrop for a gangster film?]. Crime scene.
  • 83a, FORGERY AHEAD [Warning sign for an art dealer?]. Forge ahead.
  • 111a, BULLETPROOF VESTRY [Well-protected garment room?]. Bulletproof vest.
  • 16d, SORCERY OF THE NILE [A little Egyptian magic?]. Source of the Nile. Torn about whether I like this as a base phrase.
  • 37d, PRACTICAL NURSERY [Well-designed room for a tot?]. Practical nurse. LPN, that standard of crosswordese, stands for licensed practical nurse.

And that’s it, just six theme answers this week.

Here’s another video for my solve this week. A pretty smooth solve for me, though you can see I struggled with the right-center of the puzzle. I really didn’t want to put in the word DELEGATEE, which doesn’t look like a word to me but which is the logical counterpart of a delegator, and just blanked on PASEOS for a while. Also had no idea that [Some PX patrons] were PFCS (I now know that a PX is a Post Exchange, which is a retail store on an Army installation). I was also tricked by the clue for HAVES [They’re loaded]. As in, haves are people with lots of money, as opposed to have-nots.

Didn’t love the execution of the theme, and there wasn’t much of it (though four of the theme answers were quite long). A few highlights in the fill: ONCE AGAIN, AGE SPOT, IDOLATRY (almost a bonus theme answer), and MACAROON. Otherwise, not a lottery else to say about this one. It’s a bitter pillory to swallow, but the sad factory is that this wasn’t my favorite puzzle.

Until next time!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “Ladies First” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 11/22/15 • "Ladies First" • Quigley • solution

CRooked • 11/22/15 • “Ladies First” • Quigley • solution

Spiffy theme going on here. Prefixing female names to phrases to wackify them.

  • 23a. [Financial backers’ truthfulness?] VERACITY OF ANGELS (Vera, City of Angels).
  • 38a. [Chesspiece taken illegally?] VIOLATED KNIGHT (Viola, Ted Knight).
  • 55a. [Brought drinks over?] CARRIED CUPS (Carrie, D-cups).
  • 75a. [Head covering strap?] DO-RAG STRING (Dora, g-string).
  • 91a. [Relaxing mountain climb?] EVEREST IN PEACE (Eve, rest in peace).
  • 108a. [Improved some fish?] BETTERED HERRINGS (Bette, red herrings). Not to be confused with battered herring.
  • 16d. [Bashes at a New York race track?] SARATOGA PARTIES (Sara, toga parties).
  • 45d. [Take over a gene unit?] ANNEX CHROMOSOME (Anne, X chromosome).

Nifty theme, and I really liked some of the imaginative realignments of words. Some of the pluralized elements are such for reasons of length and symmetry, but that’s understandable. As for theme purity or whatever, seeing other female first names in the grid also doesn’t irk me, save one: the duplicative EVE at 109d [First lady?], whose clue even echoes the puzzle’s title. (See also, [2d Perfect places] EDENS).

sargent_james_maisieAs for the others, here’s a list: 21a [“Game of Thrones” actress Williams] MAISIE, 36d [Ballerina Rubinstein] IDA, 39d [One-hit wonder Basil] TONY, 57d [Minneapolis suburb] EDINA, 68d [ __ toast] MELBA, 83d [Actress Ward] SELA. Tangentially, there are 81a [Kate Middleton’s nana-in-law, briefly] QEII (though the relationship endures (joke!)), 120a [Wine selection] ROSÉ, 53d [Comic Marc with a podcast] MARON, 55d [Pitching awards?] CLIOS, and 64d [Ireland, in poetry] ERIN.

Complementarily, men are represented by: 1a [Lucy’s guy] DESI, 19a [1999 reality-show flick] ED-TV, 28a [The D’Backs, on chyrons] ARI, 52a [Candidate Sanders, in tweets] BERN, 78a [Director coon Trier] LARS, 102a [English __ foreign language] AS A, 5d [Manning in the NFC] ELI, 24d [Actor Firth] COLIN (duped in 89d [Moonlighting waiter’s other job, often] ACTOR), 62d [Buddy of Porthos] ARAMIS, and 72d [Racer Luyendyk] ARIE. I’ve left out some greater stretches, like 79d RIVER BED and 115a DINO.

  • Didn’t know this had a noun form, but it appears so, at least since the 1950s: 68a [Tough guys] MACHOS.
  • A little more Spanish: 34a [Where “Tejas” is vis-a-vis Tijuana] EL NORTE. Since Tijuana is south of the border in relation to San Diego and California, and east (ESTE – see also, 106d [Noble Italian family]) is where Texas lies geographically, I have to assume that the answer is more about the concept of the United States as El Norte (the definite article lends credence to this interpretation). To me, then, the clue would be stronger as {What “Tejas” is vis-a-vis Tijuana}, or better yet, Nuevo Laredo or Monterrey in place of Tijuana. In the eponymous 1983 film the protagonists do indeed travel from Guatemala northwest through Mexico to Tijuana and thence to Los Angeles, so I think I can see how the clue developed. I suppose the root of the problem is that California is spelled the same in both English and Spanish. (See also, 92d [Community in SW California] EAST LA.)
  • 80a [Coastal eagle] ERN. Oh, that needs a var. qualifier, for sure.
  • Abbrev. explanations. 116a [Four-award artist, initially] EGOT, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony; it’s a rather exclusive list, with only 12 people: Richard Rodgers, Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, John Gielgud, Audrey Hepburn, Marvin Hamlisch, Jonathan Tunick, Mel Brooks, Mike Nichols, Whoopi Goldberg, Scott Rudin, and Rober Lopez. 49a [POTUS, militarily] CINC; Commander-In-Chief, President of the United States.
  • Go figure: 66d [Lyft figure] FARE, 84a [Book publishing fig.] ISBN.
  • 46a/47a [“Cool”] OKAY, NEAT.
  • Favorite clue: 14d [<] LESS THAN. There really wasn’t too much in terms of cleverness or playfulness, perhaps because the theme was a bit demanding on that score.

Fine, fun crossword.

Bruce Venzke’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 11.22.15

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 11.22.15

Good day, everyone, and hope you’re enjoying your last Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Not that I have been keeping track of my times, but today’s Sunday Challenge, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, definitely played easy today and might have been my fastest time in finishing up a Sunday grid on here. Almost all of the 15-letter entries were gettable after only needing a couple of intersecting answers to be filled in, and pretty much filled in ANTIWAR PROTESTS blindly (8D: [Frequent Vietnam-era demonstrations]). Actually, same can be said for NEWSPAPER COLUMN as well (37A: [Maureen Dowd piece, e.g.]). Wasn’t too much of a fan of the junk fill of TIE A (52A: [“____ Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”]) and O’WAR, with both of those entries on the same line (55A: [Man ____ (famous racehorse)]). If I’m not mistaken, one of the regular constructors who’s on the CrosSynergy crossword constructor rotation, Tony Orbach, appeared on an episode of CASH CAB (1A: [Game show that was mobile]). Actually, two of my co-workers were also on “Cash Cab,” right at the height of when I would come across so many people who told me they wished they could hail that cab just once while in New York City. Not sure if I could do it. Don’t want to get embarrassed on national television, you know!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SMART (50A: [Sharp])– One of my earliest sports memories is also one of my toughest, as I became a Syracuse University basketball fan during the 1986-87 season. The Orangemen made the national championship game that year, only to lose that title game to the Indiana Hoosiers, when guard Keith SMART made the baseline jumper to lift the Hoosiers to their fifth-ever national championship…and send the little kid version of me into tears.

See you all on Monday!

Take care!


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16 Responses to Sunday, November 22, 2015

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: After getting MARINES & PLAN A, I pencilled in TRUMP for “Big gasbag?” & I’m not ashamed to admit it.

  2. Evad says:

    Fun NYT today–right on, Sam & Jeff!

    MANCALA is new to me, I’m familiar with the game moving stones into different piles, but never knew what it was called.

    In the “probably it only bothered me” column was the dupe of gas in the clue for BLIMP and HAVE A GAS. Perhaps I’ve watched Blazing Saddles too many times.

  3. Matt says:

    AST was OK with me– PEI’s time zone is odd enough to qualify for a crossword clue. But PALISH crossing MANCALA… not so good. Otherwise, a very nice puzzle.

  4. Jordan says:

    Are the forums on this blog defunct?

    Does anyone know what’s going on with cruciverb? The site is down for me. @Amy, how do you get the LAT puzzles when cruciverb is down (it seems like it goes down relatively frequently)?

  5. Fire Horse says:

    Jordan: You should be able to get to today’s puzzles at — You have to type in the entire address including http://

  6. Jordan says:

    Are the forums on this blog defunct?

    The ones here:

    • Evad says:

      Yes, the forums are still “up” but getting very little attention, so if there’s a question about access to puzzles, it probably would best be raised here in the comments.

      • Jordan says:

        I don’t think they are even “up” anymore. You cannot, for example, register a new account. Underneath the “Forum” header it says, “This board has no forums.”

        What’s the best place on the web to ask questions like my question about besides blog comments?

  7. ArtLvr says:

    re BEQ’s “EGOT” (four awards), I’m delighted that my son-in-law Bob Falls was just inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement (category: director). If you’d like to read more about this year’s awardees, see

  8. Bob says:

    Took 3 hrs. to decipher LAT (hmmm… does that mean Andy’s 30 times smarter than I?) but I waded through 7 foreign words, 5 names of products, 4 slangs and 8 pop-trivia defs to score a victory (to me). I guess the title LAT uses- “PUZZLER”- means a knowledge of our language and its words (hence the arcane moniker “crossWORD puzzle”) is of little help in solving them!?!? No time to go into the several poorly written defs with which I disagree on pedagogical grounds – but I lament that pedagogy has nothing to do with it any more, right?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Hang on, you take issue with brand names (don’t you buy things?), a smattering of foreign vocabulary (which is knowledge!), and slang (which is part of our language) appearing in crosswords that are not meant for beginners? You might be better off hunting down a collection of Maleska-edited NYT crosswords from decades ago. You’ll encounter all sorts of crosswordese, like UNAU and the names of Brazilian trees. Are you fine with those because they’re in your crossword dictionary and you consider them the respectable sort of knowledge?

  9. Mona Evans says:

    Re the Sunday 11/22/15 crossword “Forced Re-Entry”: are you kidding me? 57A “A treat made with ground almonds” IS NOT a MACAROON which is a cookie made without flour and with coconut; it IS a MACARON, which is a French delicacy made with ground almonds and ganache. And nobody else caught this? Philistines!

    • hmj says:

      You don’t know of whence you speak! The original main ingredient in macaroons was ground almonds. Check the definition in any dictionary. What do you call a person who is more uncouth than a Philistine? The answer is Mona!!

  10. Bob says:

    A quick rebuttal to AMY: I don’t even own a crossword dictionary – never have. I consider them another “cheat-sheet”, like the dozens of crossword “help” sites. No, I research the
    old fashioned way with my trusty OED (2112), my Encyclopedia Britannica and my Roget’s Thesaurus. Go ahead, call me a Neanderthal. I’m proud of the appellation..

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