Thursday, January 5, 2017

BEQ 9:22 (Ben) 


CS 7:56 (Ade) 


LAT 5:09 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:59 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Bad news for crossword fans—the CrosSynergy syndicate is disbanding. The CS crosswords that run in the Washington Post will end when the puzzles in the pipeline run out, which might be in a couple weeks. We thank Bob Klahn and the rest of the CS team for their two decades of excellent work, and for setting it up so that the constructors all retained copyright for their work.

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

NY Times crossword solution, 1 5 17, no 0105

This Jack-less puzzle hides each JACK in black squares beside the Across answers that ought to include a JACK. The central answer is both a revealer and a two-fer: 39a. [*Comic actor / *Card game … or a hint to the answers to the starred clues] clues {JACK} BLACK and BLACK{JACK}, with the black squares flanking BLACK containing the JACKs.

  • 17a. [*Put-down to an ignorant person], YOU DON’T KNOW {JACK}.
  • 24a. [*Headless Horseman’s prop], {JACK} O’LANTERN.
  • 49a. [*Quesadilla cheese], MONTEREY {JACK}.
  • 59a. [*Versatile worker], {JACK} OF ALL TRADES.

Solidly executed theme, though OLANTERN and MONTEREY having black squares at their non-JACK ends felt mildly off-putting to me.

Lots of proper nouns in the grid, no? SACHS, OPRAH, WILE E., ORTIZ, ORMAN, EDY (which is a lousy crossword answer without an apostrophe-S, and still marginal with it because the brand’s not national), TETON, LES MIZ, SNOWE, ISAAC, NIA, WANDA, ABEL, APOLO, MIATA, OSLER, MCDONALD’S, REA, nonspecific TINO, and RITZ crackers? Yeah, that is far more than usual, and a lot of solvers will struggle here. Of those names, I do like OPRAH, WANDA Sykes, LES MIZ, MCDONALD’S, and contemporary ABEL Tesfaye. Since I used to work in medical publishing, I knew 50d. [William ___, physician who championed bedside training], OSLER, but I doubt that most solvers who aren’t health care professionals have a clue who he was (and may also not have seen the surname OSLER before).

I also like EMPTY SUIT, FIRE OFF, TITLE ROLE, and THE CROW. Less keen on CUER, UIE, partial O SOLE, -BYS, END ON, and ASEA.

3.75 stars from me.

Julian Thorne’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Add-Ons” — Jim’s review

Title tells you all you need to know for the theme.

WSJ – Thu, 1.5.17 – “Add-Ons” by Julian Thorne (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [Homemade doll’s peepers, perhaps?] HEAD BUTTONS. I don’t think anyone would refer to doll’s eyes as these, even if they were buttons.
  • 26a [Rules from the Sanitation Department Handbook?] TRASH CANONS. I don’t think this works as a plural.
  • 38a [Spikes used to reach the high notes?] ORCHESTRA PITONS. No surface sense for this one.
  • 48a [Boxes of tees, maybe] GOLF CARTONS. I guess this works, but it’s really uninteresting.
  • 57a [Masters of the Universe?] SPACE BARONS. Pronunciation change here.

Pretty standard add-some-letters theme. I didn’t find anything here worth laughing at, compared to yesterday’s fun wordplay. It works, but there’s just no pizzazz. I had some unintended humor with 38a when for a time, it looked like this in the grid: __STRAP__ONS.

I finished with an error at 53a. I had put in NFC as the answer to 45d‘s [Patriots’ org.]. I probably should have realized they were in the AFC, but I haven’t paid attention to pro ball in years. The real answer is NFL. But back at 53a I had EXACT as the answer to [Elevate]. It didn’t make much sense to me, and I planned to go back and re-check it, but forgot. Oh well.

Our long fill entries are ICE SKATE, nicely clued as [Work on figures, say] and SABOTAGE [1936 Alfred Hitchcock film]. We would also have accepted [1994 Beastie Boys hit]. Most unlovely long entry goes to 27d SNORT AT [Dismiss derisively].

Finally, some clues of note:

  • Best clue goes to 44a [Bottleneck sights] for CORKS. I was thinking traffic the whole way.
  • 45a [She beat Nellie {Kim} and Ludmilla {Tourischeva} at the Montreal Games]. That’s NADIA, of course, in 1976.
  • 30a [Ring quartet] is OPERAS. That’s Wagner’s Ring Cycle consisting of The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried, and Twilight of the Gods.

That’s it from me for this week. See you Monday.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Can I Get Back To You?” — Ben’s Review

Can I Get Back To You?

I dug BEQ’s puzzle for the AV Club this week, and the themed puzzle for his own site today continues the trend.  Much like yesterday, it’s a straightforward theme, clued by the title, that’s clever and fun in its execution:

  • 17A:Regals from Wisconsin’s biggest city? —
  • 22A: Alcoholic beverages on some sci-fi shows? — BLUISH WINES
  • 36A:Put imperfections on expensive rocks? — RUIN THE JEWELS 
  • 47A: Regret one has about not doing glute exercises? — BOTTOM RUING
  • 53A: All of Thelma’s friend’s belongings got thrown skyward? — LOUISE’S THINGS UP

RUIN THE JEWELS was my runaway favorite here, what with the third album from the rap duo coming out right around Christmas.  LOUISE’S THINGS UP was a bit awkwardly worded, both in clue and answer, but it works with the theme (add an I after the U in an otherwise common phrase like MILWAUKEE BUCKS, BLUSH WINES, RUN THE JEWELS, BOTTOM RUNG, or LOUSES THINGS UP) and gives good balance.

Other things I liked: not understanding what 30A‘s “Is it soup YET” refers to, realizing “Communion service” (41A) was MASS, not RITE, WOKS, TACO BELL (which I’ve posited no one single person can eat $10 worth of food from in a single sitting, not that you’d want to).

Less great: GRETNA Green for 8D? really? 9D that one was hard to get if you didn’t have the acrosses in places. Didn’t love EGG PAN, either – AFAIK, it’s an omelette pan.

4/5 stars

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Getting the Ax” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.05.17: “Getting the Ax”

Good morning, everyone. The big chill is really about to descend on this side of the country in the next coming days. Thank goodness I have all my thermals ready to go! Anyways, today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, put a different spin of giving something “the ax,” as common phrases (or proper nouns) that make up the theme entries are altered by adding the letters “AX” to them, creating puns that correspond with its clue.

  • FAXED UP TO HERE (17A: [Overwhelmed by certain phone transmissions?]) – Fed up to here.
  • FIT TO BE TAXIED (25A: [Ready to leave the airport terminal?]) – Fit to be tied.
  • SAXONY WALKMAN (44A: [Dresden portable CD player?]) – Sony Walkman. I’m pretty sure I could find a Sony Walkman laying around if I go back to my parents’ place right now.
  • CHICHEN WAXING (49A: [Polishing a pullet?]) – Chicken wing.

I’ve recently found myself buying more HAND SOAP in the past year than at any time in my life (5D: [Bathroom dispenser contents]). Honestly, there’s about five unused bottles of it in my bathroom. Better to be safe than…not safe, I guess?!? Definitely have the song referenced in the clue to TEENA stuck in my head right now (29D: [“Lovergirl” singer _____ Marie]). If she’s not up your alley in terms of music, maybe YO-YO MA is (9D: [Cellist with many Grammys]). Unlike the 2009 Inauguration, Ma won’t be performing at this upcoming Inauguration, like many other artists and performers who the incoming administration haven’t been able to BOOK for it (58A: [Schedule]). We’ll see what happens between now and then to see what talent is assembled for it. The intersection of OLIO (43A: [Hodgepodge]) and OMNIBUS stood out to me in a nice way (43D: [Collected works]). Seeing AND A (3D: [Wing ____ prayer]) and IPANA wasn’t too fun, but, overall, a solid grid (26D: [Bucky Beaver’s favorite toothpaste]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HALEY (5A: [“Roots” writer]) – Here are a couple of notable figures in the game of professional football with the surname of HALEY; Former defensive end 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Charles Haley was a standout performer for the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys in the ’80s and ’90s, and remains the only player in NFL history to be a part of five Super Bowl wins. (That stat can change next month if the New England Patriots win Super Bowl LI, as Tom Brady has been a part of four Super Bowl wins.) If you’re watching the playoff games on Sunday, keep an eye out on the sidelines for Todd Haley, the former head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs who is currently the offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

TGIF tomorrow! See you then!

Take care!


Morton J. Mendelson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

The puzzle features four emoticon clues, with somewhat plausible spoken-word equivalent: [:-(] for WHATADOWNER and [;-)] for JUSTKIDDING are pretty watertight. [>:-(] for IMREALLYFURIOUS and [:-O] for THATSSURPRISING sound a bit like they were rephrased to make them fit appropriate lengths. The most used emoticon by far, :-), is conspicuously absent.

There are some choice morsels in the medium-length fill today: full-name ALJOLSON, spelt-out PARTHREE (I object to “many” in that clue!), literary TINDRUM and NOBAKE. Here’s a NOBAKE cheesecake that is simple, calorific and delicious. Not sure where you’re going to find Amarula Cream in the States, but it’ll be worth it! PS, what is the US’s obsession with marbled cuts? You know younger slaughter age will give you a tastier steak without unnecessary fat?

3.5 Stars

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28 Responses to Thursday, January 5, 2017

  1. RP64 says:

    NYT – I think you omitted BOOT JACK and JACK PINE as additional starred theme answers. This puzzle took me a long time to solve, but I enjoyed it.

  2. Glenn says:

    Looks like the WSJ .puz version is not available this morning

  3. e.a. says:

    crossynergy news is a day ruiner for sure. that was probably the first puzzle i ever solved regularly. constructing roster more stacked than this year’s warriors team. and i didn’t even know about the copyright thing, that’s really cool. rip

  4. Nene says:

    I give my early vote for worst answer of the year to… UIE, I suppose it’s a variant of UEY (It may be pulled on the road).

  5. Phil says:

    “Run the jewels” is a common phrase? Never heard it or of it.

  6. Bruce N Morton says:

    Does anyone think ‘Tino’ is a nickname for ‘Tony’? I don’t. I’m glad I don’t try to solve online, because I have no idea how you would try to symbolize, or indicate the jacks. Good puzzle, but I’m not quite as enthusiastic as some. The only thing I really didn’t like is Abel the Weekend.

    • Gareth says:

      I don’t, though I think both could be nicknames for Antonio?

      Hard to begrudge a reference two someone who has had 3 #1 singles in the last 2 years…

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Pst: It’s The Weeknd, and he’s mainstream enough to have performed on SNL as well as being a Top 40 hitmaker.

      See also: Desiigner, who had a hit with “Panda” last year. No shortage of recording artists who embrace creative spellings!

  7. Doug says:

    Seemed to have another theme. 40A Bat crap (guano), 9D “This isn’t good” (shit), and 47D #2s (BMs).

  8. Vic says:

    No shoutout for NYT 42 across, FIEND?

  9. Lise says:

    WSJ: Although the theme was meh, I liked the reference to the Hitchcock movie SABOTAGE – hadn’t thought about that one in a long time. Also, the word SNORT reminds me of the “Snort” in the Dr. Seuss book “Are You My Mother?”, which always made me laugh when I read the book for Storytime at the bookstore where I have been employed. Or to my son, eons ago.

    SNORT AT is not friendly or courteous. But SNORT! Hah!

    Loved the NYT – very clever. I’m generally happy to try to figure out a rebus puzzle.

    I liked the LAT too. I haven’t seen emoticons in the clues in ages. Thanks for a fun puzzle day!

  10. Zulema says:

    I have never worked in the health field, but of course I know Osler. Must be my age. I agree with the objection to UIE, and why would TINO be a nickname for “Tony”? Lots of good TINO’s in baseball, but are they also known as Tony’s, of which there are many good ones also? There you all lost me, but I liked the puzzle because I was able to finish it, not true for many NYT Thursdays.

  11. Scot Ober says:

    NYT: Note the repetition of the word “up” in 5D (shown up) and 31A (act up). Isn’t that a no-no?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      In my book, it is. And I did notice it while solving. It didn’t irk me as much as usual, but not because two occurrences of the same word—and crossing each other, at that!—is kosher. I may have been in a forgiving mood.

      • Michael says:

        Is there a chapter on the duplication of 25D and 53D in your book? I never considered those no-nos, but I know a lot of solvers here do.

  12. arthur118 says:

    The answer is correct in the grid but incorrect in the write-up–It’s ALJOLSON, no E.

  13. Rock says:

    Noooooooooooooooooooooo! No. no. no. no. The CS puzzles can’t be getting the ax!!

    The only thing I wanted in 2017 was world peace and a coupla Bob Klahn’s, to escape with.

    But anyway, many thanks for the fun. And best wishes to everyone.

    Loved the LAT

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