Wednesday, December 27, 2017

LAT  5:03 (Gareth) 


NYT  3:20 (Jenni) 


WSJ  untimed (Jim) 


This week’s AVCX from Brendan Emmett Quigley has a meta with a contest.  We’ll have a separate write-up for this once the entry period for that has closed.

David Kwong’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

Is it just me, or are we seeing a lot of puzzles lately with circles in the grid? I’m not fond of grids with circles in them. This theme was amusing and also seemed a bit too easy for a Wednesday.

We have a revealer that’s a bit of a riddle: 8a [With 63-Across, what some performers saw in Las Vegas? … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme]. That turns out to be LADIES IN HALF. “Saw” does not mean “watched.” The circles appear at the beginning of one answer and the end of another in the same row, thusly:

NYT 12/27, solution grid

  • 17a [Media muzzler] and 19a [Neighborhood grocery] are GAG ORDER  and BODEGA, respectively, giving us GAGA – or Lady Gaga, sawed in half. Get it? I knew you could.
  • 29a [Cupid, e.g.] and 31a [Fearsome Hindu deity] are GOD OF LOVE and SHIVA. This is Lady Godiva.
  • 42a [Leigh of “Psycho”] and 43a [Anne Brontë’s first novel] are JANET and AGNES GREY. Lady Jane Grey. This one is two words instead of one – not entirely consistent.
  • 55a [Garrulous] and 57a [Saxophonist Cannonball] are CHATTY and ADDERLEY. Here we have Lady Chatterley.

You could solve the puzzle without understanding the theme at all. It’s not a terrible theme. It’s not a great theme. I think it’s too easy for a Wednesday, but what do I know?

A few other things:

  • 4d [Ending with hard or soft] Did anyone else put CORE? Anyone? Bueller? Guess I’m the only one with a dirty mind. The answer is WARE.
  • Unpleasant fill-in-the-blank at 23a [Just ___ on the map] for A DOT. Feh. Then we translate the same general idea into French with 22d [Land in la mer] – ILE.
  • 41a [Choice] is AONE. Not my first thought, but my first thought didn’t fit.
  • 44d [Teri of “Young Frankenstein”] is GARR. See also Teri of “Tootsie,” “Mr. Mom,” “Friends”…..the list goes on.
  • 60a [Prefix with -pod] is GASTRO. We would also have accepted “Prefix with -pub.”

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that a sushi hand roll is shaped like a CONE. That’s better than having it shaped like a hand. It’s a little cornucopia of fishy goodness.

Sushi hand roll shaped like a CONE.

Morton J. Mendelson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Commit Already” — Jim’s review

Theme: Phrases with the words ON and OFF in them as revealed by 55a [Intermittent, as a romance, or what’s in the starred answers]: ON-AGAIN, OFF-AGAIN.

WSJ – Wed, 12.27.17 – “Commit Already” by Morton J. Mendelson

  • 17a [*They’re decided by juries] QUESTIONS OF FACT
  • 25a [*Three-o’clock pick-me-up, perhaps] AFTERNOON COFFEE
  • 42a [*Infomercial, e.g.] TELEVISION OFFER

Impressive that these are all grid spanners, but none of them strikes me as a strong in-the-language phrase. I would think juries are more determinant in questions of guilt, “afternoon tea” sounds more likely than coffee, and “TV offer” sounds more common than the theme answer. Obviously though, none of my options would work as theme answers.

Favorite fill: BLITZING crossing NIMITZ. Not so keen on “The FAT OF the land” (had LAY OF at first), AUER, and  AN IN. The jury is still out on ARF ARF. Not enough facts.

I struggled in the NW because I didn’t know the [“Silk Stockings” star]. I didn’t realize it was an old movie starring ASTAIRE; I only know of the cheesy-looking USA TV show of the 90s. Woops. Never mind. That one was called Silk Stalkings.

Plenty of crosswordese in the grid as well: ETUDE, ELAN, OMANI, SSS, AUS, and NEE.

A fine grid, but it didn’t quite turn me on.

Jason Mueller’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

The raison d’etre of this puzzle is its revealer: BR/AND/ED; clever repurposing, though not unique (what is, in puzzledom). The themers themselves were OK, nothing that really made me sit up though: BR/AINWASH/ED (crossing WMD as a [Iraq War concern: Abbr.], ahem), BR/OADSID/ED, BR/IGHTEY/ED and BR/OWNHAIR/ED.

What else?

  • [Ducks’ home: Abbr.], ORE. The Mighty Ducks of Oregon?
  • [Pomegranate bit], SEED. Thought that was an aril.
  • [CD yield], INT. I think this is interest. Quite an oblique clue.
  • [Homers, in baseball lingo], GOESYARD. I struggled a lot with this answer, both in accepting the phrase, and that homers is a verb here.
  • [Cry after a golfer’s ace], ITSIN. That seems quite mild.
  • [The ones here], THESE. We only have two sets of demonstrative adjectives. Some other languages have three.

  • [Knight of the Round Table], BORS.
    Sir Bors needs a better agent.
  • [Many Woodstock attendees], HIPPIES. Curiously, some big artists of the day loathed Hippies, e.g. Bob Dylan and Ian Anderson…
  • [Third of eight], EARTH. Underthought this and put THREE. [Sad trombone].

3 Stars

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15 Responses to Wednesday, December 27, 2017

  1. janie says:

    CORE here. great minds, same gutter…..


  2. Robert White says:

    Using “With 63-Across, what some performers saw on stage” for 8-A would have gotten rid of the IN duplication. Even better would have been another 8-letter mononymmed LADY who wasn’t JANE GREY….

    • pannonica says:

      Best I can come up with is Lady MURASAKI, author of The Tale of Genji.

      I don’t think anyone else has explicitly commented on the 4-6-8-10 length progression.

      Also, couldn’t find a Mad Fold-In image for any of the themers.

  3. Lee says:

    This was the most entertaining and satisfying NYT crossword I’ve seen in many a moon.

  4. Lee says:

    …and elegant and ingenious…

  5. jim hale says:

    I liked the puzzle because it was less dependent on modern actors and singers than we sometimes get. Janet Leigh was a nice trip down memory lane. I’ll grant it was a little easy for a Wednesday.

  6. Burak says:

    If the NYT website is tracking the answers people put in, they will be in for a treat. I’d bet that ~20% of the solvers put in CORE first (me? I would never!) , and that might be a conservative estimate.

  7. Lise says:

    I have enjoyed the recent sprinkling of visual puzzles.

    I liked the juxtaposition of (GOD) OF LOVE and SH(IVA) and the resulting Lady GODIVA who somehow has become the goddess of chocolate.

  8. Gareth says:

    NYT: Was bracing myself for something overly thematic, but pleasantly surprised. Clever revealing answer; interesting, varied set of ladies; and the use of two answers gave it a slightly different feel without making too much of a mess. The Carmen/Elektra OPERAS clue was also a highlight (don’t know if it’s new, but it’s new to me…)

  9. Norm says:

    WSJ: 17A is actually a 100% correct description of the jury’s function.

  10. Jason Mueller says:

    Hi, all. I’m glad to have today’s LA Times puzzle, especially as my alma mater (Mizzou) is playing in tonight’s Texas Bowl. Go Tigers!

  11. m says:

    the WSJ jump link goes to Dec. 3

  12. ahimsa says:

    LAT: Sir Bors was new to me, too! The only Bors that I’ve heard of is the cartoonist.

Comments are closed.