Thursday, November 26, 2015

NYT untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 5:09 (Gareth) 


CS 9:44 (Ade) 


BEQ 7:24 (Ben) 


WSJ 0:00 (Jim) 


BuzzFeed 4:55 (Derek) 


Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s writeup

NYT • 11/26/15 • Thu • Sessa • no 1126 • solution

NYT • 11/26/15 • Thu • Sessa • no 1126 • solution

Thought I’d noticed a typographical error in the clues while solving: 43a [Very indignent] IRATE. But it turns out that that’s intentional, and an indication of what’s going on with the six circled squares. The gimmick here is that the long answers containing those circles are frequently misspelled—with people opting for an incorrect vowel—and the intersecting shorter clues are phrased so as to work with either vowel. So that ‘indignant’ is nothing to get upset about! Now I’m thinking that there are additional intentional misspellings that I failed to notice during the rapid solve. I’ll investigate while composing this write-up.

  • 17a. [Incident] OCCURRENCE.
    6d. [Set pencil to paper, say] DREW (draw).
  • 64a. [Without a doubt] DEFINITELY.
    56d. [Quick, sharp sound] CLICK (clack).
  • 11d. [Disconnect] SEPARATE.
    22a. [Gently strokes, as a dog] PATS (pets).
  • 39d. [It’s good for 12 months] CALENDAR.
    66a. [Neutral hue] GRAY (grey).

And in the center, a two-fer:

  • 40a. [Exodus figure] PHARAOH.
    35d. [ __-faced lie] BALD (bold, which is ‘wrong’ but has gained validity in an eggcorny way).
    41d. [Exclamations of surprise] OHS (ahs).

Looking for misspellings in the clues …

  • 37a [Kindergarden song beginning] ABC.
  • 63a [Secretery, e.g.] AIDE.

Oh wait, I finally see that there’s a revealer, in the last across clue: 71a [Number of mispelled words in this puzzle’s clues (oh, by the way, watch out for those tricky circled squares!)] TEN. Hmm, so I need six more (‘mispelled’ is of course misspelled) and I’ve been through all the acrosses?! Must have missed some already.

  • 25d [Accommodations along the Black Sea] DACHA.
  • 32d [Kiester] ASS.
  • 46d [Claude who painted “Water Lillies”] MONET.
  • 48d [Colosseums] STADIA.
  • 55d [Occassion] EVENT.
  • 61d [Foriegn traveler’s need] VISA.

Hum, so I didn’t miss any. It seemed as if there was a greater imbalance in distribution between acrosses and downs because I’d mentally discounted both the first one I’d discovered and the one contained in the revealer, probably because I didn’t put them in the bulleted lists. Incidentally, I doubt this is a good time to bring up the spelling inconsistency (in American English) between 29d [Propelled, as a boat] OARED, and 61d [Foriegn [sic] traveler’s need] VISA.

This was a clever theme, but I found the fun to be diminished by the painfully explanatory revealer. On the other hand, the crossword plays to a mass audience and I can understand the desire to minimize an avalanche of ‘gotcha!’ e-mails, tweets, Wordplay blog comments, and letters. Certain realities must be faced.

In truth, the ten misspellings-in-clues feels kind of cheap and arbitrary, like a gloss to beef up the very fine in-grid theme. They aren’t necessary and introduce different kinds of misspellings (extra letters, dropped letters, consonants), diluting the primary theme. Had the crossword done without, would I have complained that the theme lacks enough substance? It’s hard to say at this point, but I prefer to think that I wouldn’t have. 

  • Favorite clue: 18d [Drop, like flies?] UNZIP.
  • Kind of a yin-yang thing going on with 4a [One of a pair of grillers] and 33a [Beer can feature]: BAD COP, POP TAB.
  • Slight duplication between 17a OCCURRENCE and 55a [Occasion]. Both feature the Latin prefix ob- transformed to oc- as it combines with a root starting with c- (carrere ‘to run’, cadere ‘to fall’) and creating that distinctive occ- trigram.
  • 54a [Web discount] E-BATE. E-meh.
  • 7d [Film] CINE, 8d [Film award] OSCAR. 10d [Put together] PREPARE, 11d [Disconnect] SEPARATE.
  • Overall, not too much junky fill, but sure I’ll go ahead and list a smattering: SSRS, ILA, EPOS, DECI-, A TAP, IF AT, okay that’s enough.

Interesting, fun puzzle, but it tries too hard.

Wall Street Journal crossword — Jim’s write-up

No puzzle today. Instead, give thanks (that you don’t have to read my blog post) and put this video up in full screen:

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Clear Your Calendar” — Ben’s Review

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 9.39.33 PM Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I’ll keep this brief since I have a turkey to roast and a parade to watch – this week’s BEQ Thursday puzzle is a great accompaniment to the feast ahead, and a nice precursor to the alternative version of Black Friday/Cyber Monday:

  • 18A: Hit powerfully, as a home run — THUNDERED
  • 20A: European monarch who held the longest reign: 72 years and 110 days  — LOUIS QUATORZE
  • 33A: Cheers go-with — LAUGH TRACK
  • 37A: Big name in chips — FRITO
  • 39A: Wedding dress material — SATIN
  • 41A: Motley Crue’s genre — SLEAZE ROCK
  • 50A: Official start of the Christmas season, according to protestors…or, homophonically, an explanation of this puzzle’s theme — BUY NOTHING DAY

If I’m being picky, I’d think that 37A should technically be FRITOS the way the clue is written.  I’d also say that 13A should be ENROLL (or that the fact that it’s using a variant noted), but I’m not a constructor (yet!), so there are likely grid reasons it’s the way it is.  The rest of the grid is pretty solid, and I liked this theme – fun, but still tricky enough for a Thursday-level puzzle.

(Adam Sandler’s “Thanksgiving Song” hasn’t aged well to me – it’s now just kind of annoying)

3.5/5 stars

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Party on Top”—Derek’s write-up

BuzzFeed 112615Not really a theme, per se, in this puzzle, unless you call it a grid theme! The entry at 36-and 37-Across is clued [trendy and unfortunate bro hairdo that you can see silhouetted four times in this puzzle]. The answer is MAN BUN! Sure enough, there are four shapes that mimic this, and also eliminates any regular crossword symmetry a puzzle normally has. But that’s OK, as is the fairly easy fill, because it is a holiday week! My good buddy Brendan puts together a fun, amusing puzzle. Unless I am missing something, there seems to be nothing else thematic in the puzzle. Is the title, “Party on Top,” a reference to the “man bun” of course, a play on words on something else? I thought that was the name of a song by Beyoncé, but her tune is actually “Love on Top.” Enjoy!

Here are a few entries I liked:

  • 15A [“Iron Man” bad guy ___ Stane] OBADIAH – A much needed change from [Book after Amos]!
  • 28A [Valentine’s Day ___ (holiday that doesn’t exist, but if it did, it would be the night when people rush to get last-minute gifts for their significant others)] EVE – This is awesome. A typical, wordy, hilarious, BuzzFeed clue!
  • 46A [Awards for “Hamilton” in 2016, mark my words] TONYS – I am marking your words, Brendan!
  • 56A [Eazy, Cube, and Dre’s N.W.A. mate] REN – As in Eazy E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and MC Ren. Have you seen Straight Outta Compton yet? Yeah, me neither!
  • 57A [Thing to do before you cross the T, if you’re going to be letter perfect] DOT THE I – My favorite entry! I looked it up, and this entry hasn’t appeared in the NYT since 1979!
  • 52D [“Sad ___” (2010 meme featuring actor Reeves eating alone since no one will talk to hime after “The Matrix Revolutions”)] KEANU – Am I crazy, or has he worn a man bun?? Didn’t he have one in 47 Ronin? ;-)

Many more great clues in this one; too many to re-type! 4.3 stars!

C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s writeup

LA Times  151126

LA Times

The theme is an elegant one. We get four three-word phrases that open with oxymoronic (sort of) pairs. The choice of themers is also excellent, particularly the up-to-date LITTLEBIGTOWN paired with the more old-school Blue Eyes number OLDNEWYORK. Balance! The other two answers are the phrases OUTINFORCE and OFFONATANGENT. I have an odd feeling of de ja vu with this puzzle, but it seems to be misplaced…

A lot of smiles in the longer answers (and their clues) today. Both pairs of double 9s are excellent: SORELOSER and DALAILAMA as well as ATMINSIDE and DIALTONES. I struggled to parse the excellent answer ATMINSIDE intially (“AT MINSIDE??? I must have an error!”). The clue is fabulous – [Sign appealing to short people?]. Speaking of great clues, disguised clues for ANAGRAM in crosswords are legion, but I thought [No more stars, to astronomers] was particularly fun. I also enjoyed the avifaunal BARNOWL – they’re common in South Africa, but they’re a bit of a bogey bird! It’s probably because I haven’t often gone deliberately owling…

Who else put DAM before LEA for [Farm kids’ hangout]. Human kids on farms spend their days at the dam; if you’re in South Africa said dam is likely to have a foefie slide (international name???). Goat kids on the other hand, prefer LEAs. The clue for [Ladders’ counterparts], SNAKES gave me pause. We call it Snakes and Ladders here, but I was led to believe the American name is Chutes and Ladders?

4 Stars

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Hoofing It”–Amy’s brief write-up

Washington Post crossword solution, 11 26 15, "Hoofing It"

Washington Post crossword solution, 11 26 15, “Hoofing It”

I’ve been Thanksgivinging all day while Ade has been sportsing and journalisming, and I haven’t done this puzzle but wanted to get the grid up. The constructor, Martin, told me he toiled over this puzzle (including the Reaglesque stacked theme entries in the center) for hours through the night after hearing of Merl Reagle’s premature death in August. Because it’s a tribute to dear Merl, the theme is puns, of  course. The central answer, HORSEPLAY, is clued as an alternate title for the puzzle. Cute to see PRANCER in the grid, quasi-thematic (horses prance too, not just reindeer). And TIMECOP! Who doesn’t love a 21-year-old Jean Claude Van Damme flick? (I don’t remember any horses in it, though.)

Over and out, heading over to the Friday NYT now–Amy.

Not so fast! Additional CrossSynergy Commentary…

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!! My apologies for being here later than expected. Won’t take too much of your time so you can get back to family, board games with the relatives and football, but today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, contains a theme that’s simply…HORSEPLAY (36A: [Alternative title for this crossword?]). Or, if you need me to explain what’s going on (you don’t, I know), puns are formed from common phrases by replacing part of the phrase with a homophone that happens to also be horse-related word. OK, maybe the third theme entry isn’t derived from a “common” phrase.

  • MANE STREET (17A: [Equine route?]) – From “Main Street.”
  • GALLOP POLL (34A: [Equine survey?]) – From “Gallup Poll.”
  • TAIL BEARER (42A: [Equine, for one?]) – From “talebearer.” I need to incorporate talebearer into my vocabulary more often.
  • NEIGH SAYER (57A: [Equine, in opposition?]) – From “naysayer.”

There’s a whole bunch of seven-letter entries in the grid (all of the corners), and most of them are pretty lively. Actually, if we can have TIME COP back, then that would be great (37D: [Van Damme sci-fi film of 1994]). The fill is definitely not as bad as the movie, that’s for sure! It actually could be the new ISHTAR of crosswords! Can honestly that I had never heard of the phrase that accompanies SPLEEN until today (32D: [Vent one’s ______ (be furious)]). Probably the trickiest entry of the entire grid was ABAFT, as looking at it just didn’t give me any confidence that it was right (54A: [Behind, nautically]). I know there are a few people out there now saying, “Ade, step up your nautical game, bro!” Oh, and huge props for the ICE MAN entry and throwing us back to the days of ice deliveries (24A: [Bygone delivery person]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ACES (10A: [Crack pilots]) – Just a couple of teams that you should be familiar with that have that have the nickname of ACES: The Reno Aces, the Triple-A baseball affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the University of Evansville Purple Aces, the athletics teams at the Hoosier State school. For many years, the Evansville basketball teams were the only teams that wore sleeved basketball jerseys. They’ve abandoned it now, but the fad is coming back – albeit sporadically – in the NBA . Here are the Purple Aces, in all their sleeved glory, back in 2007.


TGIF tomorrow See you Friday, and make sure to save some leftovers for me!

Take care!


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11 Responses to Thursday, November 26, 2015

  1. Andy says:

    Boy, Neville sure is having a banner week for having themes duped by the NYT! First one (Tuesday’s NYT versus this LAT: was certainly unavoidable, and this one isn’t an exact dupe of Neville’s 2012 NYT ( Still, it’s a very Neville week!

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    Martin’s CS today was packed with fun and setting skill. Like the “The Man Who…” puzzle of a few days ago, Martin’s theme dominated the middle. My only quibble is the inconsistency between puns based on homophones and those with the same spelling as the base phrase. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Four stars from me. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  3. PJ Ward says:

    BEQ – If I’m being picky, I’d think that 37A should technically be FRITOS the way the clue is written.

    I’d say FRITOS is more common but FRITO does show up – Frito-Lay and my favorite, the Frito Bandito.

  4. Lois says:

    NYT: Loved it but didn’t like UPRISE. Thanks, Pannonica, for pointing out the UNZIP joke. It’s great, but it was my one error. I didn’t know what UNZAP was, crossing DECA-, and the answer is that it was wrong.

    PropeLLed is not inconsistent with traveLed. In the first word, the accent is on the second syllable, thus the doubling of the ell.

  5. Kary says:

    I was amused to see that 1- and 8a and 65 and 66a also begin with MAN/BUN in the Buzzfeed puzzle. A nice bonus to a fun holiday morning puzzle!

  6. sbmanion says:

    Fun puzzle and clever theme. And a big laugh for me. I visited a prisoner in a jail this morning. The sign said that if we fail to abide by jail rules, we can be “permenently” barred.

  7. Bob says:

    Having played “Chutes and Ladders” with my grandson just last night, I’m mystified with the answer “Snakes and Ladders”???????? HELP, someone – or did the editors miss this one due to thinking of turkey?? Gotta go wash the giblets from my face.

  8. Martin says:

    I’ve been with CrosSynergy for close to 20 years, and I believe we’ve been with our main newspaper client (the Washington Post) for at least half of that time, or possibly more.

    Of all the puzzles I’ve written for CS, I think today’s is my favourite.

    So this little offering is for you Merl and Henry. You may be gone from us, but your puzzles live on.


  9. Matt Skoczen says:

    I don’t get the excitement over C.C. Burnikel’s puzzles. I must be missing something.

Comments are closed.