Thursday, December 31, 2015

BEQ 4:48 (Ben) 


CS 11:17 (Ade) 


LAT 6:09 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:06 (Amy) 


WSJ ~18:00 (Jim) 


AV Club  8:43 (Ben) 


Ben Tausig’s AV Club crossword this week is free to nonsubscribers! You can get it here.

Ben Tausig’s New York Times crossword — Amy’s writeup

NY Times crossword solution, 12 31 15, no 1231

NY Times crossword solution, 12 31 15, no 1231

Ben Tausig! In the NYT! It’s been awhile. In Puzzleland, he’s mostly running the American Values Club crossword.

Here, Ben’s got a theme in which you may collect $200 several times:

  • 62a. [Round a corner in 65-Across … or what you must do to answer the clues for 20-, 34-, 43- and 56-Across], PASS GO.
  • 65a. [Game patented December 31, 1935], MONOPOLY. Its 80th birthday.
  • 20a. [Enjoy the swimsuit edition of The New England Journal of Medicine?], GOOGLE DOCS. “Pass” the GO, and you will “ogle docs.”
  • 34a. [Brief entries in an auto film festival?], CARGO SHORTS. “Car shorts.”
  • 43a. [Sickly-looking overlord?], WAGON MASTER. “Wan master.”
  • 56a. [People obsessed with being online?], EGOMANIACS. “E-maniacs.”

So, PASS GO and MONOPOLY lack symmetrical grid partners, unless UNCLE BEN is Tausig and he secretly yearns to become an AD EXEC working on monopolistic instant rice accounts.

Top fill: OPUS DEI, EYEGLASSES (I like that [Bridge sitter?] clue, too), COHOSTS, RAIN-OUT, MIXED DRINK, Jordan PEELE.

I have nothing else to say on the puzzle, other than “four stars from me.”

Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Out With the Old” — Jim’s review

Lite post from me today, I’m afraid, as I’m traveling.

Happy New Year’s Eve! Time to put this one to bed and make a clean start tomorrow.

To that end, it’s “out with the old” in this puzzle. Marie Kelly (aka editor Mike Shenk) has taken words that contain the letter string OLD, removed the OLD, and put the two together to make a wacky phrase.

WSJ - Thu, Dec 31, 2015 - "Out With the Old"

WSJ – Thu, Dec 31, 2015 – “Out With the Old”

  • 20A [Playful trick intended to keep one healthy all winter long?] ANTI-COLD ANTIC
  • 36A [Commotion when it’s time to remove a casserole from the oven?] POTHOLDER POTHER
  • 53A [Allegorical tale printed in brochure form?] FOLDABLE FABLE

These are interesting, but only the last one really worked for me as it had the most surface sense. I have never, ever heard the word POTHER, so that didn’t help. And what is ANTI-COLD? Oh, I guess it’s this sort of a thing:

Naturally I had sniffed out the theme at the bottom and slowly worked my way back up. It was a tough solve as it usually is for me on Thursdays, but ultimately I thought it was fair.


  • Entries PAPA BEAR [Owner of a big chair], CHACHACHA (though I always thought it was “The Cha Cha”), BIOCHIP, TOSTADAS, CARHOP, and AT THE FORE
  • The clues for PORE [Sweater opening?], SALE [Circular subject], ATTICS [Web sites?], PHONO [Singles player], WOOS [Tries to win], FLOOD [Breaking-the-bank event?]

Didn’t care for:

  • GOADS as a noun in the clue [Stimuli]
  • NIP-UP [Acrobatic spring], since I’d never heard of it before
  • 2015 being referred to simply as FIFTEEN [The outgoing year, briefly]. I’ve never heard it without the 20 before it.

And that’s all she wrote! See you next year!

Let’s go rock it out with Elvis’ “Hard Headed Woman” which was the first rock and roll single to go Gold:

Ben Tausig’s AVCX crossword, “Game Theory” — Ben’s Review


Game Theory

It’s a day later than usual, but it’s time for the final AV Club Puzzle of the year.  This year’s closer is a 5/5 in difficulty from editor Ben Tausig, and it also happens to be the second puzzle of his I’ve done today, after checking out his NYT entry.

There’s a shared theme going on here with the NY puzzle, since MONOPOLY also gets a call out here (at 2D), but some trickier wordplay is also going on as well:

  • 23A: Request to avoid too many walk-insect in India for over one thousand years  — RSVPARSIISM (RSVP/PARSIISM)
  • 31A: Cont. of Milanos. on the road — EURTES (EUR/RTES)
  • 34A: Morales who in 2014 won his third presidential biden footrests — EVOTTOMANS (EVO/OTTOMANS)
  • 37A: Casual hin itself — SUPERSE (SUP/PER SE)
  • 38A: Ragend in chemistry — CRAZENE (CRAZE/ENE)
  • 44A: Utmost exponentrio of letters on vitamin bottles — NTHPOWERDA (NTH POWER/RDA)
  • 49A: Informally, one muscle needed to lift up the handspring holiday in Asia — DELTET (DELT/TET)
  • 51A: Occasion when a restaurant may give you a complainspoken way to say OK — BIRTHDAYESM (BIRTHDAY/YES’M)

It’s all a little confusing the first time through, but 58A makes it clear you’re supposed to use one word in the puzzle as a COMMON RESOURCE to the clues around it.  That word is the one at every split in the two words that make up each theme answer – 26D‘s “Purchase in 2D [Monopoly]” — a PROPERTY.  Breaking each clue up around one common letter helps get the two parts of the answer.  There’s a lot of work that went into these, and I thought this was fantastic from start to finish.

Lots of other great fill here (I liked YMCA, F-BOMB, RODHAM, and AVIATRIX, amongst others), but everything’s here to support that awesome middle section.  A great way to cap off the year for the AV Club puzzle.  I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for 2016.

5/5 stars.

Patti Varol’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Fair Trade”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.31.15: "Fair Trade"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.31.15: “Fair Trade”

It’s New Year’s Eve! I hope you’re all nestled in at home with loved ones (or, by yourself) or hanging out with some great people right now wherever you may be. As of 3:37 AM, the time I started this blog, I’m at a Greyhound station in Raleigh, N.C., laying over for a few minutes before my trip from Charlotte to New York resumes. So, if there are a couple of interruptions in this blog, or if it appears a little disjointed, apologies in advance. But let’s try to have fun with it, and see how many different states it will take for me to finish this blog.

Today’s crossword puzzle, created by Ms. Patti Varol, transposes the first and third words of well-known phrases and/or nouns to create some fun puns.

  • TIME OF NICK (17A: [Christmas?]) – From “nick of time.”
  • CARDS OF HOUSE (27A: [Hand for a TV doctor?]) – From “house of cards.” I hear the Netflix series, House of Cards, is pretty good. Been meaning to watch that for a while.
  • PLENTY OF HORN (43A: [What a marching band boasts?]) – From “Horn of Plenty.”
  • LIFE OF JAWS (57A: [Shark tale?]) – From “Jaws of Life.”

Now we’re in Richmond, so that makes two states! Don’t know why I blanked on VOLTS to start the grid, so I jumped around the grid before I got a foothold anywhere (1A: [Battery units]). Hey, there’s another Great Lake in a crossword that’s not Erie or the abbreviation of Ontario! And the whole title of the lake is included, and I’m sure LAKE HURON appreciates the love (11D: [Saginaw Bay waters]). I’ve had my share of fried foods, but surprisingly have never had a CHURRO, even with the numerous opportunities to buy one from the different food courts and vendors around New York City (52A: [Deep-fried pastry]).

*Breaking news:* The bus scheduled for New York leaving at 8 AM won’t be arriving on time and the delay is expected to be an hour. Happy New Year to me!! Note to self: don’t be a cheap-o and buy a plane ticket next time! Until then, I get to enjoy reruns of Charmed currently appearing on the television monitors at the station. (Number of entire episodes of Charmed I’ve watched in my life: somewhere between one and three, I believe – but it’s not zero. Surprise!)

OK, more crosswords. Loved the fill of COME QUICK, though I wish my bus would do the same right now (33D: [“Hurry up or you’ll miss it”]). Well, at least I’ll be arriving in Times Square and the Port Authority Bus Terminal late in the afternoon, when the area will already be throwing up with people, with a select few already being IN A DAZE due to alcohol consumption and the enormity of the event before the ball even drops (48A: [Really out of it]). Help!!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: FOUR (18D: [Bridge complement]) – There is a chance that FOUR McGlynn, currently a basketball player at the University of Rhode Island, will lead three different Division I programs in scoring in a season. As a freshman at the University of Vermont, Four (yes, that’s his first name), while leading the Catamounts to a conference championship and the NCAA Tournament, was the America East Rookie of the Year while leading the team in scoring at 12.0 points per game. He transferred to Towson University after that season and, in 2014-15, led the Tigers in scoring (12.0 PPG). He’s now at Rhode Island as a graduate student transfer, and, he currently leads the Rams in scoring at 12.5 points per game. Four is also one of the best free throw shooters in the game, as he sports an 89.5% career free throw percentage (359-of-401).

For those who have read this blog up to this point, just know that I absolutely appreciate the slices of time, no matter how small it is, that you take to read my not-so-traditional takes and opinions on crosswords. (Wait, there’s a traditional way?) I wish all of you in Crossword Field land all the best as we head into 2016. You’re all special, and I hope to continue to entertain you as long as my body lets me while traveling all over the U.S. doing the on-air reporting thing. Thank you, and I’ll see you next year!

Take care! (Oh, and the final count on the number of states it took to finish this blog was two – North Carolina and Virginia.)


Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Take a Chance on Me” — Ben’s Review

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 12.07.22 AM

Take a Chance on Me

Happy New Year’s Eve!  This week’s BEQ puzzle is a guest puzzle from…Ben Tausig?  “Take a Chance on Me”?  Oh good lord, it’s another Monopoly-themed puzzle:

  • 13A: Chance card in Monopoly that yields £100, part 1  — YOU HAVE WON A
  • 19A: Chance card, part 2 — CROSSWORD
  • 29A: Chance card, part 3 — COMPETITION

Which, given the fact that I’ve now seen three Monopoly-themed puzzles today from Ben Tausig, he totally has.  This meta-theme (with him taking a mini-monopoly on crosswords today) is kind of amazing and I’m a bit in awe at the logistics here.

I’ll keep it short, sweet, and to the point like this puzzle.  A few other clues I liked:

  •  17A: Jeb! opponent — BEN (Excellent choice of first name to include in a puzzle, Mr. Tausig)
  • 33A: Converse converse sides — SOLES 
  • 18D: Accessory worn by many an oil tycoon- — BOLO TIE (Totally tried to make this MONOCLE, but that’s more of a 1920s steel tycoon thing.)

Again, I’m in awe at what Ben Tausig’s done overall today, especially after reading his notes on BEQ’s site.  This individual puzzle gets a 4/5.  The whole shebang?  5/5.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s writeup

LA Times 151231

LA Times

Today’s revealer is MUSCLEBOUND. The letters of various short names of muscles bookend a further five answers. The approach here is definitely one of quantity over quality: GL|OWINGTRIB|UTES is nice, but A|CEOFCLU|BS and DE|MANDEDRESU|LTS feel kind of arbitrary; the final two are LA|TEFLIGH|TS and single-word PE|DIATRI|CS. The question on everyone’s lips is… How does this relate to MONOPOLY?

The grid design is restricted by the demands of a six-part theme, with 30 3-letter answers. It’s actually only a 38/74, with a lot of longer answers, but this only serves to place further constraints on the puzzle. I don’t believe either IWASMAD or BEEARLY are anywhere near up to the standard of a crossworthy phrase. IAL as a [Suffix with part] is similarly absurd.

3 Stars

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18 Responses to Thursday, December 31, 2015

  1. Norm says:

    The AV was very intricate, but I didn’t find it a lot of fun to solve. The NYT themes were groaners. None of it [including a too small BEQ] worth the trick of the Monopoly tie-in.

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I am trying to figure out what Wan Master means. Does it have to do with Obi Wan Kenobe? I have heard of Jedi Master, but not Wan Master.

    Has anyone actually heard of Key and Peele?

  3. Adam says:

    Tausig also has a Monopoly-themed PuzzFeed puzzle today, making that a whopping FOUR (to my knowledge) Tausig-Monopoly puzzles today. Major props.

    • Justin says:

      I pretty much never post on non-MGWCC threads, but I am AMAZED at what Ben T. pulled off here. That’s incredible. Both the “Monopoly” on 4 outlets, and in particular the AVCX center region.

  4. Jenni Levy says:

    Can’t get the BF crossword so far. I’ve done the three others of his tour de force and enjoyed all of them – the AV was by far my favorite. What a great way to end the year!

  5. ktd says:

    Just finished Ben Tausig’s suite of 4 Monopoly puzzles (Tetropoly?). I love the concept and the puzzles were really fun. I also really enjoyed reading Ben’s notes on the puzzles at XWordInfo and Wordplay and his interview with Brendan E. Quigley on his blog. It’s well worth the time to read all three closely, they lend a wonderful perspective to the idea behind the set of puzzles, something to take away after the last letter has been written in.

    Also, in the BEQ interview, Mr. Tausig alludes to an “Easter egg” of sorts waiting to be discovered by people who do all four puzzles. The BEQ one, at least, has a pronounced political flavor and lots of references to the brain and electricity–could this be part of it?

  6. Music Man says:

    I couldn’t tell if you explicitly said it in your write up or not, but the shared letters in the themers for the AV puzzle spell out PROPERTY as well. Also, not sure why the red letters when you wrote out the clues. Anything to that?

    • pannonica says:

      The write-up seemed explicit enough to me on that matter.

      Similar to the answers, the red letters in the clues have overlapping duty in the two parts of each clue; for whatever it’s worth, they can be anagrammed to spell stipends.

  7. Gareth says:

    I presume the overarching joke is that all the puzzles have a MONOPOLY-themed puzzle?

  8. Zulema says:

    ADE, never had a CHURRO? You don’t know what you are missing.

    It took me forever to solve the NYT but I was very satisfied when I did.

  9. Zulema says:

    Happy New Year, everyone!

  10. Mark McClain says:

    Re: NYT (PASS GO) – it was interested to note (as a constructor) that the usual convention on an added letter theme is that the resulting entry (with the added letters) was the “base” phrase, and the pun (answer to the clue) had to be figured out by mentally removing the added letters. It’s an upside-down treatment of the usual convention, and very interesting! A “dropped letters” theme in reverse.

  11. Lise says:

    The red letters in the clues in the writeup above also spell out “send tips” which I think may have been what the constructor may have intended, LOL. Will do!

    A day late on the AV crossword – too late to comment? Loved all four Tausig puzzles.

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