Tuesday, December 6, 2016

CS untimed (Ade) 


Jonesin' 4:20 (Derek) 


LAT 5:45 (Derek) 


NYT 3:42 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 


Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 6 16, no 1206

NY Times crossword solution, 12 6 16, no 1206

I hereby declare that solving this puzzle does not mean you have lost the Little Drummer Boy Challenge. And, to keep myself alive in the game, I am not going to YouTube to find a video of the song to take you out. (Only a Rick Astley video.)

The theme is 53a. [Following the circled squares, the end to a seasonal song], ME AND MY DRUM, and the circled squares in five answers spell out PA RUM PUM PUM PUM.

Other December holiday-related fill includes CLAWS (Sandy Claws!), YON (round that virgin, though not clued thus), REESE Witherspoon clued by an Xmas movie, and … that’s it.

Five things:

  • 44a. [Heart, essentially], PUMPER. Uh, people describe the heart as a pump. A PUMPER, on the other hand, is a type of fire truck.
  • 63a. [Playing marble], AGATE. I can’t help thinking that the semiprecious stone is far, far better known to solvers than the playing marble. The game of marbles was largely a thing of the past by about 1970.
  • 45d. [Final syllable of a word], ULTIMA. This is not a word the vast majority of people would have any reason to know, so of course it’s here in a Tuesday puzzle, along with your playing marble, a RAJAH (the term is not much in use anymore), your NAE and your E’ER.
  • 12d. [Mood-enhancing drug], PROZAC. Can I get a ruling from the M.D.’s in the house? Are SSRIs and other antidepressants considered “mood-enhancing drugs”?
  • I like how our GOTHS are [Invaders of ancient Rome], and it’s the EMO crowd that gets clued with an eye liner reference.

3.5 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 288), “Joint Action”—Janie’s take

Crossword Nation 12/6 (No. 288)

Crossword Nation 12/6 (No. 288)

Oh, this is such a terrific puzzle: three base phrases, each with a shared word that appears as the first, second or third word in the phrase. The word in question? ELBOW, the joint in your arm. The action? Check out those ANGLES of circles in the grid. In each case the word makes a 90° turn down after ELB-, and in each case, there’s a five-letter crossing word ending in -BOW to add to the richness of the theme development. This is both delightful and elegant im-very-ho, and much more fun than this kind of “joint action”

  • 17A. [Base for a picnic salad] ELB{OW} MACARONI. Crossing this “first word” ELBOW is UPBOW, a [Kind of violin stroke]. Also a viola stroke. And Liz would know. She plays the viola.
  • 36A. [Scrubs clean with great effort] USES ELB{OW} GREASE. Crossing this “second place” ELBOW, [“The OX-BOW Incident” (Henry Fonda flick)]. That Oscar-nominated film was based on the novel of the same name by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, btw.
  • 57A. [Enjoy cocktails, slangily … (or a hint to the puzzle theme)] BEND ONE’S ELB{OW}. And crossing this “third place” ELBOW, our old friend [Quarterback/baseball outfielder Tim] TEBOW.

This is one smartly executed theme, folks.

And sweetening the pot, there’s a healthy serving of long and juicy fill, courtesy (in part) of the SW and NE columns. Here’s where we meet up with the likes of CARE FOR, BUMMED OUT, thiel_619ISLANDERS, APPALOOSA, “I REMEMBER” and DEPOSES. Exotic [Samoans and Tahitians] clue ISLANDERS and are worlds apart from the [Icy islands] known as FLOES; as for [Idaho’s state horse], the APPALOOSA is a STEED that’s one [Fine equine] indeed.

In addition to Idaho, this puzzle gives a shout-out to Florida by way of the SEMINOLE, a [Florida State athlete]. (And, omg, learned here that the APPALOOSA is also the mascot of the Florida State SEMINOLEs. Cosmic!) Know what else you’ll find in Florida? The dreaded FIRE ANT [Stinging insect]. No joke. This unpleasant little biter loves the hot and humid southeast and Florida has two species to call its own. “EEW!” Stick with a more northerly clime in an abode like DOWNTON Abbey et voila: end of problem (well, that problem anyway…).

There’re more internal connections to be found within, which has a way of keeping the construction nice and tight. Although I’d be happier with fewer names in the grid, I really did like that EDDIE and NOLTE were clued respectively as [Murphy of “48 Hrs.”] and [Nick of “48 Hrs.”]; that [“Aloha!”] gave us a Hawai’ian “HELLO!” and ADIOS gave us [Francisco’s farewell]. I even enjoyed the “collector” clues, which led to crossing fill: TSAR, the [Fabergé egg collector] peels off of the “T” in METER [Coin collector?]. Nice punny clue, that. Ditto [Foot-long object?] for SHOE.

On the down side? As I said, more names than I’d prefer, and (what felt like) a lotta partials and fill-in-the-blanks. Not keen on -ATOR [Origin suffix], but genuinely liked double-edged [Determined leader?] for PRE-. That works well. ASSESSEE? Oh, I hope we don’t see that one soon again. Without doing a (probably unwarranted and) massive rewrite, though, I’d be hard pressed to know what could replace it (it runs through two themers). Still, it’s a bit of a let-down in a puzzle with so much really good, really fresh fill. Oh—and did I mention how tickled I was by the theme? ;-)

Feel free to weigh in, have a great week, and… keep solving!

Maxine Cantor’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “P.R. Department” — Jim’s review

Very straightforward theme—two-word P.R. phrases—but a stunning array of them. Eight, to be exact, and all of them ten letters or longer. Plus, two pairs are stacked in the NW and SE. That’s a heckuva lot of theme material!

WSJ - Tue, 12.6.16 - "P.R. Department" by Maxine Cantor (Mike Shenk)

WSJ – Tue, 12.6.16 – “P.R. Department” by Maxine Cantor (Mike Shenk)

  • 13a [Traditional job for a kid with a bike] PAPER ROUTE
  • 16a [Topic for Kant] PURE REASON
  • 28a [Rented space in a restaurant] PRIVATE ROOM
  • 44a [It can put on a coat] PAINT ROLLER
  • 59a [Socioeconomic region including Singapore and Japan] PACIFIC RIM
  • 63a [Birthplace of Benicio del Toro] PUERTO RICO
  • 10d [Nonkosher entrees] PORK ROASTS
  • 27a [One might have designs on your floor] PERSIAN RUG

With that much material, you’re likely to get questionable fill. The worst are 41a PRYERS [Snoopy sorts] and 41d PRO APPS [Apple’s Final Cut and Aperture, e.g.]. There’s also a triumvirate of foreign A-words—ACCRA, AGORA, and AHORA—and a smattering of shorter abbreviations and acronyms.

But frankly, I didn’t feel dragged down by those. Entries like MINERVA, TANLINE, DENSITY, REMORA, MATTEL, and REGIFT felt fresh and impressive given the amount of theme. And all the theme answers are solid with only one plural among them.

Overall, this one worked, despite the simple theme.

Katherine Stears’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-6-44-29-pmThis is another new constructor, or at least one whose name doesn’t pop up in Amy’s vast database! Maybe it is because we have a constructor with her own vibe, or maybe it was just me, but I had a devil of a time with the upper right corner of this puzzle! My times for a Tuesday LAT on Across Lite on my Mac are usually in the 3:30-4:00 minute range, and I had most of this puzzle done in under 3 minutes, but then I literally ground to a halt in the NE area. I will discuss all of the ones that gave me fits in the list below, and even thought none are really difficult, it just wasn’t happening quickly this time. It happens! A good puzzle though, with a really clever theme. Here they are, including the revealer:

  • 17A [Bake sale confections made with root veggie] CARROT CAKE
  • 24A [Shine-minimizing makeup layer] FACE POWDER
  • 34A [Wireless networking protocol] BLUETOOTH
  • 46A [Pop’s pop] GRAND-DADDY
  • 55A [Driver’s alert about an infant, and a hint to what can precede both words of 17-, 24-, 34-, and 46-Across] BABY ON BOARD

This is not a new theme style, but it always amazes me when you find a word that can precede other words when you can lump them into phrases of their own! This one seems pretty effortless! If you don’t understand what is going on, you can have a baby carrot or a baby cake, and so forth. 4.5 stars for this elegant easy puzzle! (With a difficult corner!)

A few favorites:

  • 4A [Provide with more than enough] SATIATE – Nobody uses this word! Except crossword lovers!
  • 22A [Cornstarch brand in a yellow-and-blue container] ARGO – This is one reason why I struggled in this area; I don’t cook much! Now that I see it, it looks vaguely familiar.argo
  • 29A [Scare] DAUNT – But of course! Why did I struggle with this?
  • 59A [Central Texas city] ABILENE – I almost tried LARAMIE at first. Perhaps some arcane piece of trivia would have helped! (Or maybe not … )
  • 11D [Late in arriving] OVERDUE – I tried PAST DUE, which caused all sorts of headaches.
  • 12D [Substance used for chemical analysis] REAGENT – Let’s throw in some chemistry!
  • 13D [Obtains via coercion, as money] EXTORTS – Not too bad. I knew ORE at 11A was probably right, but I erased it and went another way. As I said, it happens!
  • 41A [Dieter’s unit] CALORIE – I need to count these now that I am at a desk!
  • 47A [Abu __ ] DHABI – I should move here! I hear it’s nice and warm!

Congrats on a fine puzzle, Katharine Stears! Everybody have a great week!

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Ask Your Doctor” – Derek’s write-up

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-6-10-12-pmI fondly remember the good old days when pharmaceutical ads weren’t allowed on TV. Now, they are, what is the word? Ubiquitous? I like sometimes to pay attention to all of the side effects that need to be mentioned legally. The standing joke in our house is something like, “I would rather have chronic pain than sterility!” (Or whatever other horrendous side effects are mentioned!)

So since we had all seen billions of ads that cure ED, Matt here makes some jokes about common words or brands that kind of sound like a drug brand name you might see on TV or in a magazine ad. I remember reading once that the pharma companies go to great lengths to ensure that these drug names aren’t, say, some curse word in Norwegian or some racial slur in Swahili! Nothing like that in this grid! 4.2 stars today! Here are the drug-like sounding theme answers:

  • 17A [“Do you eat chocolate all day long? Ask your doctor if __ is right for you.”] TOBLERONE
  • 21A [“Do you say things that are self-contradictory? Ask your doctor if __ is right for you.”] OXYMORON
  • 40A [“Do you watch movies on ancient technology? Ask your doctor if __ is right for you.”] BETAMAX
  • 55A [“Do you sit there and watch your fish swim around? Ask your doctor if __ is right for you.”] AQUARIUM
  • 64A [“Do you wish you lived on a massive rock at the southern tip of Europe? Ask your doctor if __ is right for you.”] GIBRALTAR

I am curious as to why he chose the words he did. Some do remind me of drugs; others not as much. But that is on me! Still a fun theme, perhaps even a slight breather after last week!

A few notes:

  • 23A [Agcy. under Elaine Chao, once] OSHA – Soon to be the new Secretary of Transportation!
  • 46A [“Match Game” emcee Rayburn] GENE – I loved Match Game back in the day! And I totally enjoyed the reboot with Alec Baldwin this past summer!
  • 49A [Brunch drink orders, maybe] OJS – Forget OJ: add a little champagne for mimosas!!
  • 8D [Amazon Echo’s voice service] ALEXA – I can never get one of these. My house is too noisy, and my four-year-old will learn to order all kinds of crap just with his voice!
  • 26D [Bill of cowboy legend] PECOS – I was thinking this was “Bill __” for a bit until I had a few crossings. Then it became obvious!
  • 28D [Music streaming service since 2014] TIDAL – I had this for a bit. I prefer my Spotify and Apple Music. There is also Pandora, iHeart Radio, Google Music, Rdio, Amazon Music …
  • 60D [ __ Day and the Knights (“Animal House” band)] OTIS – If you say so! Catchy name, though!

Everyone enjoy their week!

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “No Land in Sight” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.06.16: "No Land in Sight"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.06.16: “No Land in Sight”

Good afternoon, everyone! Hope all is well with you. It was a fun grid we had today, a puzzle constructed by Ms. Gail Grabowski. In it, puns are formed with the theme entries, with common phrases/proper nouns being altered by dropping “LAND” from that original phrase.

  • MAIN CHINA (17A: [Primary tableware for special occasions?]) – Mainland China.
  • NATIONAL MARK (27A: [Country’s credit score given by Standard and Poor’s?]) – National landmark.
  • ABSENTEE LORD (49A: [British noble who rarely visits the manor?]) – Absentee landlord.
  • OAK RAIDER (65A: [Squirrel on an acorn-foraging foray?]) – Oakland Raider. Sadly, it’s probably soon to be “Las Vegas Raider.”

Pretty easy-peasy grid, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun, especially when figuring out the theme entries once I caught on to the gimmick. Think I guess right on two of the other three entries once I got the first (Main China). Also got ERIKA, with the “K” instead of the “C,” on the first try as a guess, and I’m not too sure how that happened (47D: [Eleniak of “Baywatch”]). I think the only actors I really remember from that show off the top of my head were David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson and Nicole Eggert, with the last one being someone who appeared on the cult favorite Charles in Charge. I guess that show isn’t as much of a cult favorite now since the show’s star, Scott Baio, has turned off enough people with his political rhetoric. About to head out to attend a college football awards dinner and, sadly, my WAIST has expanded this fall to the point where I don’t think my favorite dress pants can comfortably fit it (3D: [Tailor’s measurement]). Drat!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LAMAR (1D: [Truman’s Missouri birthplace]) – Though the clue references Missouri, I want to mention some of the more famous sports figures that have come out of LAMAR University, the school located in Beaumont, Tex. Legendary NFL head coach Bum Phillips, former Oklahoma and TCU college basketball head coach Billy Tubbs and World Series-winning first baseman Kevin Millar (2004 Boston Red Sox) all came from the school.

See you at the top of the hump on Wednesday!

Take care!


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14 Responses to Tuesday, December 6, 2016

  1. Peter Koeneman says:

    Dear Ed Sessa,

    FYI–an agate is a mineral. An aggie is a playing marble made of agate.
    Technically, the answer is wrong….

  2. Joe Pancake says:

    You won’t, Amy, but I will: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9kfdEyV3RQ.

    I love this video. The intro is campily delightful (I particularly like Bing Crosby calling him David “Boo-ey”), and then they harmonize together quite nicely.

    • Shawn P says:

      If tricking people into watching Rick Astley is called Rickrolling, did Amy just Drumroll us?

      • Joe Pancake says:

        D’oh! I should have clicked the link… Well, played, Amy. If anybody read the comments before clicking, I ruined the joke. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

  3. ArtLvr says:

    Re Fabergé collectors, Steve Forbes comes to mind… In 2004 the entire collection of 180 pieces, which was to have been auctioned by Sotheby’s on April 20 and 21 in New York, was bought privately on Feb. 4 by Russian energy tycoon Victor Vekselberg for an undisclosed sum. Pre-auction estimates were that the eggs and the rest of the Forbes Fabergé collection would realize from $80 million to $120 million. The 46-year-old Vekselberg is chairman of Tyumen Oil , Russia’s third-largest oil and gas company. He stated that his plans were to return the eggs to Russia and to keep them together as a collection.

  4. JohnV says:

    Not liking REMORA, even it gettable with crosses.

  5. Mr. LDBC says:

    The link is much appreciated, Amy, but one dire note here: it’s already a rule that one cannot be taken out intentionally—it doesn’t count. However, we’ve also rolled out (no pun intended) a new rule this year. According to the “Hoist with His Own Petard” amendment, the person who tries is themselves out of the game. (And the guilty party’s claims that they’re not playing are ignored; we’re ALL playing, like it or not.)

  6. Matt J. says:

    What happened, Amy?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The blog’s innards were broken yesterday and today. Eventually got Derek’s write-up added in!

  7. Nina says:

    Call me picky, but I didn’t like 31 across–emery stick. It’s more commonly called an emery board for mani-pedis. In fact, I’ve never heard it called an emery stick.

Comments are closed.