Thursday, December 29, 2016

BEQ 9:22 (Ben) 


CS tk (Ade) 


LAT 4:53 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:05* (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Kevan Choset’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 29 16, no 1229

The theme came as a surprise to me because those first two theme answers? Had no idea those applied to bonny Prince Charles of the Circled Letters. PRINCE OF WALES, easy. DUKE OF CORNWALL, less familiar. Never heard of EARL OF CHESTER (and I’ve been to Chester!) or BARON OF RENFREW (and I have Scottish ancestors from Renfrewshire!). Note to self: Memorize these for future trivia quizzes. Too bad the EARL and BARON’s letter counts kept them from appearing in rank order here.

Asterisk on solving time is because it took me a while to find my typo (CORMWALL/KMIFERS!).

In the fill, I like BIKE PATH, TEARDROP-shaped jewelry, and FROYO. Not keen on OF AN ERA, KNIFERS (ouch), and assorted boring fill.

Three things:

  • 5d. [Younger Trump daughter], TIFFANY. The poor woman (Marla Maples’ daughter) is basically shut out in favor of Ivana’s three offspring. Tiffany, the jewelry store, sells a lot of nice stuff, though. Since Tiffany Trump won’t be much in the news, let’s go with the store next time, shall we?
  • 15a I’LL GO clashes with nearby 19a [Goes] for SAYS.
  • 55d. [Show one’s appreciation for, in a way], CLAP. “Please clap.”

Four stars for the trivia theme, three for the rest.

Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Old Flames” — Jim’s review

Fairly standard add-a-letter theme from veteran constructor Sam Donaldson. Perhaps Sam just suffered a breakup or is just taking a trip down memory lane, but he can’t seem to keep his past loves out of this puzzle.

You won’t find all his EXES (45d, [Old flames, as found in this puzzle’s theme answers]) in Texas, you’ll find them in the grid, as represented by the letters EX added to familiar phrases.

Oh, by the way, constructor John Lampkin pointed out to me that this theme is the same as last Friday’s LAT puzzle by David Alfred Bywaters. Same theme but completely different entries. Makes you wonder how many more potential entries are out there.

WSJ – Thu, 12.29.16 – “Old Flames” by Samuel A. Donaldson

  • 18a [Sublime summits?] GREAT APEXES. Great apes.
  • 29a [Activity for buff collegians on vacation?] SPRING FLEXING. Spring fling.
  • 46a [Eco-conscious gas station?] CRUNCHY TEXACO. Crunchy taco. I had no idea that “crunchy” meant “eco-conscious.” But I guess it refers to the crunch of granola-eating hipsters.
  • 58a [Charming hottie?] SWEET SEXPOT. Sweet spot.

On the whole, an adequate set, but not too many yuks among them. I’m always hoping for more humor with when it comes to manufactured theme answers.

We get loads of long Downs, though. Ten, count ’em, ten 8-letter entries, the more interesting ones being REAR AXLE, NORQUIST, MANASSAS, and EL CAMINO. I really struggled with parsing BEAR UPON, mainly at the B and the P. I’ve never heard of the 39a crossing “BEL esprit,” and the meaning of 61a [Grappler’s victory] continued to elude me until just now. (The grappler is a wrestler and a PIN is a win.)

Cluing was Thursday tough, but not too bad. Mostly it felt workmanlike with only a few brighter spots. I liked [Foreman’s job] for BOXING (that’s George Foreman, by the way) and [Apt trophy for a baker] for CUP.

Overall, some good fill, but the theme didn’t light me up and the cluing didn’t feel as fresh as yesterday’s. Maybe that’s an unfair comparison, but there it is.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Drain the Swamp” — Ben’s Review

Drain the Swamp

Only one BEQ Thursday puzzle left this year!  BEQ’s picked up the torch from some other guy’s promise and drained swamps all over 2016’s final puzzle:

  • 17A: German six-strings? —
  • 29A: Vice president Hubert’s paintings? — HUMPHREY ART
  • 47A: “Visit Australia” pitches? — ADS FROM AFAR
  • 64A: Store that sells nothing but stand-alone kitchen counters? — ALL ISLANDS

If those phrases don’t quite make sense, it’s because they’ve all had their swamps drained to other parts of the grid.  46A‘s FEN combines with 17A to make FENDER GUITARS, 26A puts the BOG in HUMPHREY BOGART, 63A‘s MIRE expands 47A into ADMIRE FROM AFAR, and 40D adds some MARSH to the MARSHALL ISLANDS at 64A.

I thought this was cleverly done and executed, although ADS FROM AFAR didn’t feel like it fully matched the “Aussie” part of its clue too explicitly.  Other nice fill included a mention of Hamilton ELECTORS, Salvador DALI, MONADIC organisms (only one cell!), and WASHTUBS

Have a safe New Year’s Eve, all!  See you in 2017!

4.25/5 stars

Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times

The theme is INSIDEKNOWLEDGE, and with the circles, I’m sure it’s clear what is going on. LORE, KEN and GRASP are, in a very tenuous way, synonyms of each other and of KNOWLEDGE. The three 15’s are good choices as answers: FLORENZZIEGFELD, STORYBOOKENDING and MARDIGRASPARADE.

Four 15s often make for functional rather than flamboyant fill and today’s puzzle is a classic example. The lack of other distractions, make the creaky short fill stand out; perhaps there is not really an excess, but it sure felt like it.

My funniest error was for [Self-named 2002 country album]. I didn’t read it fully, and so the letter pattern led me to KANYE

2 Stars

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11 Responses to Thursday, December 29, 2016

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I agree that the theme was interesting but some of the information required to complete the puzzle felt impossible to me– e.g. a mother-in-law on a show I’ve never watched. It made the experience more of a struggle than I usually feel of a Thursday.
    Once you get past the top, the pattern of the theme and the likely subject make the rest a lot easier.

  2. Jenni says:

    Ah, the vagaries of taste. I found the theme completely underwhelming and didn’t mind the fill :)

    • John Daviso says:

      Me too.

      Did the circled letters qualify this for a Thursday gimmick? Why is an American audience supposed to know British royalty? They have no more reason to be here than Trump’s offspring, America’s own version of trailer trash royalty. Society’s adulation of authoritarian figures is the very definition of cognitive dissonance.

      I was put off by this puzzle at the crummy abbreviation for 1 Across. ENGR. Yuck. Not the way to start a puzzle. Although I have watched an episode or two of Modern Family, like huda, I had to get a few letters before filling in GLORIA for “Stepmom of Mitchell and Claire on ‘Modern Family'”. That’s not to say it doesn’t belong in a NYT puzzle. Judging from the many reruns that are shown on a dozen different channels, I’d say it’s a pretty popular show. I had to look up FROYO (30D “Often whirled food, informally”. and was surprised to learn it isn’t some kind of foreign dish.

  3. Zulema says:

    John, dear. Please do not compare Prince Charles to the Trump children on any level. I like Prince Charles. Rant over, even if it was small. I also had to look up FROYO. Too many words are being abbreviated and they are getting into the puzzles. They might work on shopping lists. And how does frozen yogurt get swirled?? I am only acquainted with the non-frozen variety.

    • John Daviso says:

      Blog brevity was the cause for the misunderstanding. I didn’t mean to compare the individuals but, rather, the phony systems. Still, don’t be surprised to find phonies in either, whether the highfalutin Tudors or the low-life Trumps. Those members deserve our scorn, not our admiration.

    • Gareth says:

      Surprised you do given the amount of pseudoscientific claptrap he endorses…

  4. Aura says:

    Typical Thursday dichotomy: BEQ swings for the fences and homers, the NYT tries to bunt its way on to first base gets thrown out.

  5. Jenni Levy says:

    I could not for the life of me parse “ALLISLANDS” in the BEQ. Now I get it. I loved the puzzle even when I didn’t understand it.

  6. Jackseen says:

    BEQ’s a master.

    My penguin icon is truly a mystery.

  7. Matt Skoczen says:

    It all comes down to favoritism of constructors with Will and not creativeness anymore. Kevin is a Will fave, so no matter what the theme, it’ll be a go.

  8. BEQ fan says:

    Sorry, BEQ fans, but I have to point out DERGUITARS, as a theme answer, is duped by 13D, “Guitar, to a guitar god.” Otherwise an awesome effort, and easily remedied.

Comments are closed.