Sunday, December 20, 2015

CS 27:28 (Ade) 


Hex/Hook untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 4:18 (Andy) 


NYT 7:25 (Amy) 


(Reagle, original write-up from 20 Dec 2009)

Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword, “Rebranding”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 20 15, "Rebranding"

NY Times crossword solution, 12 20 15, “Rebranding”

Fresh and playful theme. Advertising slogans that aren’t great from a grammar-stickler standpoint are “corrected”:

  • 23a. [“Corrected” slogan for a tech company?], THINK DIFFERENTLY. Apple’s “Think Different.”
  • 33a. [“Corrected” slogan for an office supply chain?], YES, WE HAVE THAT. No idea what this one is about. Googling … Staples used to use “Yeah, we’ve got that,” which is perfectly acceptable, idiomatic English. It’s not formal language, but it’s also not ungrammatical.
  • 49a. [“Corrected” slogan for a fast-food franchise?], EAT FRESHLY. Subway, “Eat Fresh,” gross food. Also! Jared Fogle has been transferred to the same federal prison that Rod Blagojevich is in.
  • 66a. [“Corrected” slogan for a dessert brand?], EVERYBODY LIKES SARA LEE. “Nobody doesn’t like” doesn’t exactly violate grammar, but the double negative is awkward. And “Don’t nobody like Sara Lee” would mean the opposite, wouldn’t it?
  • 83a. [“Corrected” slogan for a hairstyling product?], A DAB WILL DO. Brylcream, “A dab’ll do you.”
  • 97a. [“Corrected” slogan for a frozen breakfast food?], LET GO OF MY EGGO. “Leggo my Eggo.”
  • 111a. [“Corrected” slogan for a dairy product?], DO YOU HAVE ANY MILK? “Got milk?”

Cute, eh?

Peter has terrific grid-filling skills, in evidence here. Highlights include STAR JONES (who is dated, yeah, I know), BOLD MOVE, BODES WELL, AS I SEE IT, the BUGGLES (even more dated, but a key bit of MTV trivia), RETRONYM, THE NHL, and LIFELINE. Assorted two-word phrases that work well are AWASH IN, SAT FOR, BOWED TO, and RESORT TO—so much better than a lot of those clunky phrases with little words awkwardly tacked on. The worst entry is AH SO, though at least the clue (22a. [“Duh, I get it”]) avoids even a hint of Asian stereotyping.

Clues of note:

  • 6d. [Buggy people?], AMISH. Horse and buggy.
  • 21a. [“Language of the unheard,” per Martin Luther King Jr.], RIOT. Nonviolent protests, hopefully, involve being heard.
  • 29a. [Keeper of the flame?], WICK. Good one.
  • 41a. [Who might say “I’m I. M.”], PEI. Does anyone know what he goes by? Is it Ieoh? Do his friends call him I.M.?
  • 53a. [“The Boy Next Door” star, to fans], J.LO. Ha! That movie was supposed to be terrible. Didn’t do too well at the box office. It did, however, feature a first edition hardcover of The Iliad.
  • 65d. [Cover’s opposite], ORIGINAL. As in cover songs. Not sure that these are exactly “opposites,” though. Is the opposite of a rock cover perhaps an original smooth jazz or New Age recording?

Did not know: 102a. [Aunt in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”], CHLOE.

4.5 stars from me. Enjoyable Sunday puzzle.

Garry Morse’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “La-la Land”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 12.20.15, "La-la Land," by Garry Morse

LAT Puzzle 12.20.15, “La-la Land,” by Garry Morse

Really quick write-up today. We’ve got a bunch of two-word phrases where both words contain “LA”, clued in the most straightforward of ways:

  • 22a, ALABAMA SLAMMER [Cocktail made with Southern Comfort].
  • 28a, VANILLA LATTE [Starbucks order]. Only one with the “la”s in a row.
  • 57a, PLATE GLASS [Windows material]. Shouldn’t this be “window material”? I dunno.
  • 74a, BLANK SLATE [With “The,” 2002 Steven Pinker best-seller subtitled “The Modern Denial of Human Nature”].
  • 100a, BURGLAR ALARM [Security measure].
  • 108a, RELATIVE CLAUSE [Modifying words].
  • 31d, TORTILLA FLAT [Steinbeck novel].
  • 42d, CHOCOLATE LAB [Dog once shunned because it wasn’t black]. I didn’t know this. Source? 

This essentially felt like a giant themeless, except way easier. The fill was at the usual Sunday LAT level. One thing I learned from this puzzle is that there are at least 400,000 ATMs in the United States. By far the highlight of this puzzle for me was 10d, I AM NOW [Irritated response to “Aren’t you awake yet?”]. Had never heard of “Candy Girl” or MARLENAbut the lyrics to “Marlena” are pretty disturbing:

Marlena, Marlena,
don’t go, oh no-o-o 
‘Cause I love you so-o-o
Never gonna let you go-o, no no no

Marlena, c’mon girl, won’t you give in?
Can’t you see that you can’t win?
Never gonna let you go-o

Shame, flirting with the guys on the corner
You’re such a bad girl
Tellin’ me you’re out with your mother
That’s a lie but I still love my Marlena

Hard to believe it only hit #36 over 50 years ago.

That’s all I’ve got. Until next time!

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

CRooked • 12/20/15 • "Downfalls" • Cox, Rathvon • solution

CRooked • 12/20/15 • “Downfalls” • Cox, Rathvon • solution

The theme simply collects a bunch of entities associated with falling, whether it be nominal, figurative or literal. Naturally, and appropriately, they trace descending PATHS (83a) vertically in the grid.

  • 3d, [Downfall of 1929] STOCK MARKET.
  • 7d. [Downfallen rock] METEORITE.
  • 9d. [Downfallen span of song] LONDON BRIDGE.
  • 14d. [Downfallen pair] JACK AND JILL.
  • 35d. [Downfallen estate] HOUSE OF USHER.
  • 38d. [Place of a downfall] GARDEN OF EDEN.
  • 60d. [Downfallen figure] HUMPTY DUMPTY.
  • 64d. [Downfallen domain] ROMAN EMPIRE.
  • 67d. [“The Fall” author] ALBERT CAMUS.
  • 79d. [Gear for a downfall] PARACHUTE.

Clue phrasing including conjugations of downfall are noticeably shoehorned but add consistency.

Incidental to the theme: 39d [Fall down] RAIN, 49a [Fall down] DROP, 77d [Lead balloons] FLOPS, 109d [Downhill racers] LUGES.

Conversely, a smattering of items that express or imply the opposite motion: 21a [Stellar nimrod] ORION (many figures in Greek mythology were ‘elevated’ to the night sky in death), 103a [Boost in power] UPRATE. There are more connections to be unearthed, but their relevance is tenuous at best, most commonly reflecting height or something to that effect. Investigating 52a [Snap out of it] ROUSE, I was surprised to learn that it (and by extension arouse) is unrelated to raise – the etymon is Middle English for ‘to shake the feathers’.

Lots of fun interrelations to be uncovered among clues and answers, but I’m not in the mood to be in any way exhaustive about it. Here are just a few, without explanation:

  • JUKE, JIVE, JAZZ. (72a, 53a, 14a)
  • AVAST, GOB. (44a, 12d)
  • ERSE, ERIN, LADS. (87a, 41d, 78d)

Favorite clue: 26a [Bit of rough sea] CHOP.

A no-nonsense theme, well done, and an enjoyable solve.


Brad Wilber’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 12.20.15

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 12.20.15

Good day, everybody! Only five days until Christmas!

Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Brad Wilber, was definitely an early Christmas present for those who love Sunday challenges and an elegant middle portion of the grid, which Brad provided us today. Of the three, ITALICS MINE both was a gimme and also a (slight) nit to pick on, since I got to learn/know it as an emphasis mine (33A: [Parenthetical note from one who has added emphasis to a quotation]). Obviously, the word “emphasis is in the clue, so just had to rewire my thinking to nail that down. The other two long entries in the middle were a little tougher to fill, with BILDUNGSROMAN being the show-stopping entry standing out right in the middle (36A: [Coming-of-age story]). Unlike that clue, I was more confident about MUSEE D’ORSAY when that entry was filling out for me when knocking down a lot of the down entries in the puzzle (39D: [Paris institution where “Whistler’s Mother” is on view]). The downs were much easier for me, and did those almost exclusively in today’s grid. Though it was NORA DUNN (13D: [Actor in the Sweeney Sisters sketches on SNL]) that broke things open for me in the Northeast, I loved the trivia aspect in the clue to RHODA (25A: [First TV series to achieve a #1 Nielsen rating for its pilot episode]). Definitely an entertaining grid. It had to be, because of the middle stack…and the appearance of COZENS (44D: [Hoodwinks]). And EL CHEAPO (15A: [Bargain-basement])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MASCOT (42A: [The NFL’s Steely McBeam, e.g.]) – There are Pittsburgh Steelers fans everywhere. I’m sure there are a few who also happen to read this blog (Maybe not my blogs, but DOCAF in general). If so, or even if not,, I hope you know that your team’s MASCOT, Steely McBeam, is creepy-looking. Very much so.


Don’t you agree? Well, I do thank you for the time, anyways, and I hope you have a great rest of your weekend!

Take care!


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22 Responses to Sunday, December 20, 2015

  1. pannonica says:

    NYT: EAT FRESHLY doesn’t strike me as much of a grammatical improvement. WIENIE (75a) is not a spelling that I’ve been aware of, for the epithet. 58-across’ clue dupes an element of the themer at 111a. [Kind of tone] EARTH (31a), ugh.

    And I would have appreciated a Janáček clue for 119a.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: I too liked the concept of the theme and much of the fill. But I agree that EAT FRESHLY doesn’t improve things and in fact seems like it has a different meaning…it sounds like eat anew (or rudely) rather than Eat Fresh Food.
    I’ve always loved the THINK DIFFERENT ads. For a while, the young James Watson (of Double Helix Fame) was on a billboard between San Francisco Airport and the City with that ad. He then gave a lecture at Berkeley that was a little too controversial and that billboard disappeared…

  3. cyberdiva says:

    The Washington Post magazine, which for a while re-posted Merl Reagle’s puzzles after his death, has now hired Evan Birnholz to create the Sunday puzzle. I was hoping to see coverage of his puzzles here, both because they’re quite good and because readers of the Post (and perhaps others as well) no longer see Reagle’s puzzles. Are there any plans to include Birnholz’s puzzles? I hope so.

    • Evan says:

      Thank you, I appreciate the kind words. I would certainly be honored by having my puzzles reviewed here!

      I’m going to try to do some brief write-ups of the first three puzzles, either on my website or at the Post itself.

  4. David L says:

    I agree that EATFRESHLY is a miscorrection with a different (and silly) meaning. But I liked the idea of the theme. DOYOUHAVEANYMILK made me think of the Grey Poupon ads of yore.

    I had PLOY for ‘gambit’ at first — I guess PLAY works but it seems a little off to me.

  5. arthur118 says:

    A public “thank you” to Dave Sullivan for helping me understand and resolve the problem I faced with a browser that wasn’t keeping up with date changes.

    Even though it became clear it was not just a “Fiend” site problem, Dave stayed with me for much back and forth until my problem was dealt with.

    Even between we Irishmen there’s no better description for Dave than “he’s a true mensch”.

  6. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I didn’t enjoy it much when I was solving it, and I was very slow, and I don’t know why. I agree in retrospect that it’s cute. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t that familiar with some of the base phrases.

    My favorite retronym is “classical music.” Mozart and Brahms and Schubert didn’t write classical music, they wrote music. Or Leos Janacek either.

  7. anon says:

    NYT: “The worst entry is AH SO, though at least the clue (22a. [“Duh, I get it”]) avoids even a hint of Asian stereotyping.”

    I’m not sure that matters. AH SO, along with yesterday’s “Me likey!” clue, do have roots in Asian stereotyping (and I’d go farther and call them racial slurs). They don’t belong in the NYT crossword – or any other, for that matter.

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    If I recall correctly, the actual Brylcream slogan was “A little dab’ll do you.” If I’m right, it seems to me that with this sort of theme, not having the slogan exactly right is very confusing.

    • Norm says:

      You are correct (it might actually have been “do ya” — at least on the radio, if not in print), and I agree it was off-putting.

      • Lois says:

        I agree. I think that the “ya” being corrected to “you” would have been in the spirit of the theme, but neither “you” nor “ya” is here. I don’t think the expansion of the contraction “dab’ll” to “dab will” is enough, because contractions are not incorrect.

        I found it a tough theme, as I don’t have any ear for advertising anyway.

  9. Meem says:

    I, too, hope to see Team Fiend review the fresh Evan Birkholz puzzles. They are running every week now. We do not need to see the repeats of the Reagles no matter how much we miss him.

    • Lois says:

      I agree that Evan Birnholz’s puzzles should be reviewed here, but why not still post the reviews of Merl Reagle? The puzzles are still being posted on his site.

      Disconcertingly, even the recent previous reviews on Diary of Merl’s 2009 puzzles seem to have been pulled, at least last week’s as well as this week’s. This is no good for me at all, as I have been catching up with them and wanted to read the reviews. Can’t the reviews remain, or the links restored? Has the Washington Post forbidden them, even for the time before Birnholz began his reign?

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Lois, aha! December 2009 is when the blog switched from Blogspot to You can navigate to the Merl reviews via the “Monthly Archives” pull-down in the sidebar on the right. December 2009 is at the bottom of the list.

        • Lois says:

          Dear Amy, thank you for the info, and thank you for looking for new comments on old pages. Happy holidays!

        • Lois says:

          Amy, thank you again for showing me where to look for this great resource.

          Something adding to the confusion: On Merl’s current puzzle page with the old puzzles from 2009 (great for me because I wasn’t doing his puzzles then), a “Puzzle Party” puzzle has been posted that is different from the one by that name in 2009. The puzzle posted is one with the same name from January 19, 2014. The actual one from 2009 looks a little familiar, and it may either have been posted recently, or reused at some point by Merl. The 2014 one plays with undesirable crossword standbys like AIT and ERNE in a story about a party, and the 2009 one has the hidden word FUN throughout.

  10. Jennie P. says:

    Re: NYT puzzle’s Brylcreem slogan: It was actually “a little dab’ll do ya”. Check it out on this terrific commercial from the 50’s!! Enjoy!

  11. Bob says:

    LAT fun today – needed a rest after Christmas shopping. Don’t care for BOREUP (“survived test”)????

  12. Willie says:

    Would like to second the request to have Evan Birnholz’s Sunday WaPo puzzle covered here. Not sure how you all decide which ones to review, but I love your site and would love see WaPo included. Thanks for considering it!

Comments are closed.