Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Jonesin' 4:24 (Derek) 


LAT 2:55 (Derek) 


NYT 3:30 (Amy) 


WSJ 6:04 (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 394), “That’s How the Cookie Crumbles!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 394: “That’s How the Cookie Crumbles!”

Hello there, everybody! I hope you are doing well and have recovered/are recovering nicely from diving into a chockfull of black-and-white squares solving PuzzleMania from the New York Times on Sunday. Today’s crossword puzzle is more fun with anagrams, as the first four theme entries are anagrams of TOLL HOUSE, the brand of cookies that also is featured in the grid as the reveal (62A: [Popular cookie that’s “mixed up” to create four wacky anagrams]).

  • LOO SLEUTH (17A: [Investigator for the head of England?])
  • HOTEL SOUL (25A: [Concierge or bellman?])
  • US OTHELLO (37A: [Amer. production of a Shakespearean tragedy?])
  • SELLOUT HO (52A: [Have no tickets left for Don’s “Live at the Polynesian Palace” concert?])

Just for fun, I initially attempted to solve the puzzle doing the downs only for my first-ever downs-only attempt, but then was stopped by two factors: my wandering eye which always caught an across clue and the “-al” ending in STOICAL that threw me off since I was expecting to fill in “stoic” before seeing the extra amount of letters needed in the answer (2D: [Showing no emotion]). Liked the clue for SAMOA, which definitely got me into the mood for a snack after solving (26D: [Girl Scout cookie that’s also the name of an island group]). I remembered coming across CUSP during an anatomy class and having my mind blown because I had used the word thousands of times beforehand but had no idea there were other uses for the word outside of being on the cusp of some sort of personal/team accomplishment (33A: [Astrological point]). That same feeling of awe also happened when I first came across the same word in a crossword a few years ago and had an astrological reference. No such feeling of awe today, but definitely felt that when looking up CRONUT and finding out that it’s a very recent invention, created back in 2013 in a bakery in New York City (12D: [Sweet-and-flaky hybrid pastries]).  As the saying goes, “Time to make the Cronuts!” Or something like that…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: METRO (7D: [Paris subway]) –  My sports fandom goes so far back that I remember the days of the METRO Conference, a one-time Division 1 athletics conference formed in 1975 and named as such because its six founding members — University of Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, University of Louisville, Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), Saint Louis University, Tulane University — all were located in urban metropolitan areas. The league was a major player nationally, in large part because Louisville was a basketball power that won the men’s basketball national championship in 1980 and 1986 during their its in the Metro. (Also, Memphis State made the men’s Final Four in 1985.) The league dissolved in 1995 when it merged with the Great Midwest Conference to form Conference USA, which exists to this day. 

And that’s a wrap! Thank you so much for your time once again, everyone! Have a great rest of your Tuesday and, as always, keep solving!!

Take care!


Daniel Hamm’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up

A timely puzzle today sees the WSJ saying “Ho Ho Ho”:

WSJ 12.18.18

WSJ 12.18.18

17A: HOLY ORDERS [They’re taken to become a priest]
21A: HORSE OPERA [Western, slangily]
38A: HIPPOCRATIC OATH [Physician’s pledge]
53A: HIGH OCTANE [Dynamic]
59A: HOUSE ORGAN [Newsletter for employees]

A pretty straight forward theme type of H___ O___ entries, though this puzzle took longer than my average time because I’d never heard of HORSE OPERA or HOUSE ORGAN. I also got stuck at 4D – there’s apparently a Christmas song called “The Holly and the IVY, but that’s new to me, so I got stuck at 1A (AST_N) and 14A (STA_E). I can never remember what vowel goes there in Sean ASTIN’s name and I apparently need to study up on my barrel parts a bit more. STAVE!

What else stuck out about this puzzle for me? I learned that MASERATI has a trident logo, I appreciated the crossing of door SLAMS with argument-ending APOLOGIES, and I was fine with the dupe at LEG UP and IS UP, only because it made me imagine what a feminist response to the leg lamp from A Christmas Story would look like. I’ll take suggestions in the comments section. : )

Not a single woman in the grid other than TALIA Shire, CORA from “Downton Abbey”, and a reference to Hepburn in the clues. OUCH.

Ross Trudeau’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 18 18, no 1218

Having just realized I was supposed to blog the New Yorker crossword for the Monday post, let me be brief here. Theme revealer is 35a. Wearers of 17-, 24-, 50- and 59-Across?], FASHION POLICE, and the other four themers are non-clothing terms clued as if they were apparel worn for specific law-enforcement tasks:

  • 17a. [Proper attire for taking fingerprints?], DUST JACKET.
  • 24a. [Proper attire for picking up a series of clues?], TRAIL BLAZER.
  • 50a. [Proper attire for detaining a perp?], HOLDING TANK. I use “tank top” far more than just “tank.”
  • 59a. [Proper attire for shadowing a suspect?], FOLLOW SUIT. Cute! This is the best part of the theme. I want a follow suit. Ninja-like, stealthy.

Top fill: TRUE SELF, RODE UP, D STUDENTS, COCKATOO, LAGUARDIA. Fill that’s least at home in a Tuesday grid: ALEE ETTU KEA EEO RARITAN (unless you’re in the NY/NJ area) EMERSION.

I PASS has an awkward clue (66a. [“You can skip me”]), and I wish Illinois’s IPASS tollway transponder were nationally known.

12d. [Model Chrissy who wrote the best seller “Cravings”], TEIGEN. If you’re on Twitter or Instagram, you could do worse than to follow her. She’s pretty funny and relatable, despite being a TV celebrity married to a goddamn EGOT winner (John Legend). (If you hate pop culture, just move on and don’t tell us again.)

3.5 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Half-Human” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 12/18/2018

I think there may be more examples of half-human, half-animal creatures, but the solver should be familiar with these three, which for some may just be nightmare fodder:

  • 20A [Political position that’s half-human, half-horse?] LEFT OF CENTAUR
  • 39A [Carnival attraction that’s half-human, half-goat?] FAUN HOUSE MIRROR
  • 57A [Seasonal greeting that’s half-human, half-bird?] HARPY HOLIDAYS

Did I mention they are clued in a punny way?  Only three themers, but the last one doubles as a timely phrase. With the holidays Xmas and New Years on Tuesdays this year, perhaps the next two Jonesin’s will be likewise timely in theme, or perhaps slightly harder than normal? I have no idea, I just blog them. I was going to post pictures of these creatures, but I don’t want to scare anybody! Google them yourself! 4.4 stars this week.

Some mentionables:

  • 17A [Bremner of “Trainspotting” and “Wonder Woman”] EWEN – I saw Wonder Woman, never saw Trainspotting. This is somewhat obscure, which is surprising since this dude should be crossword famous with a name like this!
  • 33A [“8 Seconds” venue] RODEO – Of course it is! Somehow I read this as “8 Mile” and was thinking of sites in Detroit!
  • 47A [Salsa __ (red condiment)] ROJA – I don’t think I have ever heard it called this. I have heard of salsa verde, but isn’t salsa red by default? I am now hungry …
  • 67A [Poet Federico Garcia __ ] LORCA – I think I only know this name in passing. the operative word for me is poet. I just don’t do poetry.
  • 1D [Rice dish made with saffron] PAELLA – I am sure I had this at least once or twice. Still getting hungry … !
  • 3D [Short-sleeved Hanes product] BEEFY T – Great entry! Yes, I started to type BEATER in here, which is not good. This is really a thing:
  • 26D [“The __ Movie 2” (February 2019 release)] LEGO – This was a great movie. I did
  • 41D [Where you may have had it?] UP TO HERE – Also a great entry, perhaps even better than the BEEFY T you’re still thinking about!
  • 53D [Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter] APPLE – If you name your child after a fruit, she will be crossword famous!

The year is just about over. Time sure does fly!

Gerry Wildenberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 12/18/2018

Under 3 minutes!! I don’t usually get a puzzle done this quickly. I just don’t seem to be able to solve that quickly online, although this time I solved this on my desktop PC (I normally do these on my MacBook); maybe I will try that more often.

Where’s the fire? In this grid! (Pretend the first four have stars in front of them!)

  • 17A [Entrance protection from the elements] STORM DOOR
  • 24A [Monopoly utility] WATER WORKS
  • 35A [Lotto America, since 1992] POWER BALL
  • 51A [Home security system] HOUSE ALARM
  • 60A [Warm, cozy places … and a hint to what can precede both parts of the answers to starred clues

We are all familiar with most of these words and phrases: Firestorm (a superhero!), fire door, fire water, fireworks, fire power, fireball, fire house, and fire alarm. I enjoy these types of puzzles that use both ends of the theme answers. Nice theme for an easy Tuesday; nice job, Gerry! 4.2 stars.

A few more things:

  • 1A [Zsa Zsa’s older sister] MAGDA – Is there not another famous MAGDA yet?
  • 14A [How French fries are fried] IN OIL – I am hearing more and more how oil is not good for you. Why is everything delicious so bad for you??
  • 10D [Having bottomed out, as prices] AT A LOW – Maybe a little contrived, but easily gettable.
  • 12D [Kalahari mongoose] MEERKAT – Aww! So cute! It probably bites …
  • 13D [Much of the Sunday paper] ADS – Ain’t that the truth. I just spent $6 for my copy of a Sunday NYT this past weekend just for the puzzles!
  • 36D [Ice Cube’s “It __ Good Day”] WAS A – This song is now getting OLD!!
  • 40D [Had a good day on the links] SHOT PAR – Maybe at miniature golf!
  • 49D [James of the Lakers] LEBRON – He still looks weird in a Laker uni. Surprisingly, with teams in the Western Conference beating each other up, what was supposed to be a rebuilding process has turned into a 4th place playoff team. But it is early!
  • 50D [50s Hungarian premier Nagy] IMRE – A new one on me. A little hard for a Tuesday, for sure, but easy crossers make it palatable.

Enjoy your week, everyone!

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Tuesday, December 18, 2018

  1. Jenni Levy says:

    I really liked today’s NYT. The theme made me giggle and the fill was solid. It did not Tuez!

    • Lise says:

      I agree! The theme was clever and funny. HOLDING TANK reminded me of a somewhat antisocial cat we used to have, called The Tank. HOLDING TANK was risky, but if she was in a good mood, the rewards were great.

  2. Steve Manion says:


    It was in 1973, so the Metro Conference wasn’t formed yet,but Memphis State was the victim of what many (maybe most) people think was the greatest performance by a college player in the history of the game: Bill Walton’s 21 for 22 performance as UCLA won the national championship.

  3. Gerry Wildenberg says:

    This is Gerry Wildenberg, today’s composer, with a few notes.

    I’ve been having a bit of a dry spell with new ideas for puzzles, so I was delighted when Rick gave this one quick acceptance and early publication. Rick made a few changes in the grid and many in the clueing. I thank him for those improvements.

    I’m very pleased to see that the early comments are positive.

  4. Lise says:

    I really liked today’s LAT. Not only does the theme use both words (two for the price of one!), it all works. And there’s a meerkat. Lots to love.

    After reading Derek’s comment about whether meerkats bite, I had to look them up. I guess he’s right, but wow are they cute. Even the *skeleton* is cute: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meerkat

    I look forward to more from this constructor.

    • M483 says:

      Meerkat Manor was a great, award-winning series of real life meerkat activities some years ago narrated by Sean Astin. It was filmed in the Kalahari and although it was technically a documentary, the narration explained what was going on and it was like an animal soap opera. I fell in love with those adorable creatures, but it doesn’t matter if they bite – they are wild animals that should never be kept as pets. They were filmed as a University study project.

  5. Norm says:

    LAT: Given the Oakland hills firestorm of 1991 and the Camp Fire disaster up north this fall [and other fire disasters too numerous to mention], I’m not that thrilled with seeing FIRESTORM featured. And the “superhero” can go jump in a lake, as far as I’m concerned.

Comments are closed.