Friday, December 21, 2018

LAT 5:30 (Gareth) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


CHE 7:35 (Laura) 


Peter Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 21 18, no 1221

My brain is fried from doing crossword work all evening. Writing clues! Researching clues! Fixing fill! So lemme be cursory here.

This is a 72-worder, so I’m not sure why I’m encountering so many entries I don’t care for. 72 should be pretty smooth! I do like TIGER SHARKS, WHERE’S WALDO crossing WHO’S WHO, HELEN KELLER, LIONSGATE, POLSKA, and UNION CARD. BODY BAG and BEARSKINS are downers, though. And ENSOR RESHIPS IMAS OYS ECK ATTA KOP NEB, blah. I really hate NEB clued as if people are abbreviating Nebraska that way. (It is scarcely any better as the crosswordese bird beak.) (See also: N. CAR., N. DAK., S. DAK. No, no, no.)

Five items:

  • I bet lots of pen-and-paper solvers finished with HELLO/EREY or HALLO/AREY in place of HULLO/UREY. Ouch. Dangerous crossing.
  • Not keen on ONE and IN ONE duplication.
  • 6d. [Title girl in a 1965 #1 hit], SLOOPY. Ha! Didn’t most of us assume SLOOPY in “Hang On Sloopy” was a boat? Apparently inspired by Dorothy Sloop, yes, it’s true. Or it might be true.
  • 39d. [Mr. Rochester in “Jane Eyre,” e.g.], WIDOWER. Uh, spoiler alert: He’s not a widower till rather late in the book, as he has his wife locked in the attic. A little weird to use Rochester as your WIDOWER here.
  • 17a. [Entertainment for a long ride, perhaps], BOOKS ON TAPE. Not sure the Books on Tape company still sells cassette tapes. Downloads via Audible are far more popular. [Entertainment for a long ride in the 1980s, perhaps]?

2.9 stars from me.

Amanda Chung, Karl Ni, and Tom Tabanao’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Miscalculations” — Laura’s review

Note: The Chronicle puzzle, like many educational institutions, will go on winter break for two weeks, and will return the week of January 7.

CHE - 12.21.18 - Solution

CHE – 12.21.18 – Solution

Math puns!

  • [20a: Relationship between online followers and actual loyalty?]: SOCIAL FUNCTION
  • [28a: Process leaving blissful remainders?]: JOY DIVISION. Someone made a gif of the Unknown Pleasures album art. It’s cool.
  • [37a: The most commonly occurring monster?]: BEAST MODE
  • [49a: Power brought to bear by the highest-ranking crew member?]: CAPTAIN’S LOG
  • [58a: Thing that most convinces you to get a product?]: DECIDING FACTOR

These are all fun, and it’s great to see the dream team of Chung/Ni collaborate with another constructor, Tom Tabanao, who is someone I’ve met at tournaments but not a byline I’ve seen. So congrats to Tom, if this is your debut! And, I think, Amanda and Karl’s CHE debut as well.

And we have the CHE’s lovely range of subject matter to plumb for clues — from sports to physics to TEEN POP and the history of the American whaling industry. I like! Since the forecast for northern New England today is lots and lots of freezing rain, I’ll leave you with the eternal question: [67. “Have You ___ Seen the Rain?” (double-platinum single for Creedence Clearwater Revival)].

Paul Coulter’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

Today’s puzzle them relies on a very deft theme revealer – LENDINGOUT is parsed as “L ENDING” OUT. In four other answers, their terminal L’s are dropped creating wacky answers: SLEEPERCEL(L), HOLLYWOODBOW(L) and SOUTHERNDRAW(L) do the business. I’m less sold on FIREHAL(L), mostly because I can’t define the base phrase. It seems to be a Canadian word for a fire station?

Alliterating clecho time: [Colleague of Samuel and Sonia], ELENA with [Colleague of Kagan and Kavanaugh], ALITO.

Names to note: [“Insecure” Emmy nominee __ Rae], ISSA and [Actress Gaye of “Ali”], NONA.

[Foul], YUCKY. My younger pup, Solo, is under the table farting away and it is indeed… TARA the older one, is already abed.

Inanest clue: [Hard-to-define spiritualist], NEWAGER. It’s like the clue writer just waved a white flag and moved on…

2.75 Stars

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32 Responses to Friday, December 21, 2018

  1. janie says:

    in the nyt, which i liked a lot more than you, got a chuckle (starting in the west) out of seeing LIONS and TIGER[S] and BEAR[S] — OH, MY. sweet!


  2. Brian says:

    bOb fEllER and dEeRSKINS were two very convenient wrong guesses of mine in the NE.

  3. Matthew G. says:

    Yeah, I agonized over HALLO vs HULLO, because both are distinctly British ways of spelling HELLO. I’ve seen them both in various British novels. For instance, I’m almost certain that A.A. Milne used HALLO. So yeah, that was not a good crossing.

    Other than that, I really liked this puzzle. It’s kind of adorable that it still thinks BOOKS ON TAPE are a thing. I want to hug it and give it a peppermint.

    • Lise says:

      Books On Tape is still the name of an audiobook company (see The medium may be extinct, but the name may be here to stay.

      There are probably other examples of an extinct medium being a continuing brand name, but I can’t think of any at the moment.

    • David L says:

      I put in HALLO without thinking about it but corrected it when I saw UREY. Harold Urey was an important scientist — Nobel prize for discovering deuterium — but hardly a household name. I wonder if the constructor and/or WS didn’t think about HALLO as a possibility. It seems like a very poor cross otherwise.

    • John says:

      Hallo is FAR more common then hullo. Not sure I remember seeing the latter more than once or twice in 25 years in the U.K…

  4. aries says:

    I remember seeing SDAK on a not-infrequent basis while traveling through the state, always used on the outside of a town’s post office. I remember thinking it was odd for post offices to use it, what with their official designation of “SD,” but in any case that’s exclusively where I’ve seen SDAK used. Not sure if North Dakota is the same. M-W11C does include NDAK and SDAK, for what it’s worth – they do not include NCAR or SCAR (well, they do on the latter, but you know what I mean).

    • Matthew G. says:

      So, nobody would ever call state abbrs ideal fill, but NEB at least has a respectable provenance: it’s the preferred abbr of the AP Stylebook. See . In fact, I believe AP’s list has been in use longer than the two-letter standardized codes the postal service uses. But AP’s approval of Neb. stands in contrast to N. Dak. or S. Dak. — AP says to use N.D., S.D.

  5. Huda says:

    NYT: My husband was sure the song said SnOOPY. And when I searched it on YouTube, lots of commenters said they thought that as well…

    • pannonica says:

      “Hang On Sloopy” — The McCoys (1964)
      “Sloop John B” — The Beach Boys (1966)*
      “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” — The Royal Guardsmen (1966)

      * Original from the Nineteen-teens and recorded in various iterations many times before the Beach Boys, whose more direct precursor was the ’50s version by the Kingston Trio.

    • Elise says:

      NYT: Title girl in a 1965 #1 hit
      I was sure it was Georgy as in “Georgy Girl.” Never heard of Sloopy.

  6. Ethan says:

    I’ve seen several comments expressing surprise that SLOOPY is the name of a girl and not a boat. I’m looking at the lyrics and the boat interpretation seems like… a bit of a stretch.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      You’re assuming we’ve all heard or read the lyrics. I sure haven’t. Just recognize the song title.

  7. Toby says:

    Just read this message on the Chronicle of Higher Education crossword page (

    “To our Puzzlers: After December 21, 2018, The Chronicle will publish new crossword puzzles only in the print edition.”

    So y’all may want to remove that link here:

  8. JohnH says:

    WIDOWER for Rochester seemed awfully odd to me, too, enough that one could object on other grounds than obscurity: his first wife is important both to the plot and thematically. there’s in fact a classic of feminist criticism called “The Madwoman in the Attic.”

    I’d agree that UREY isn’t a common enough name to stand up to that crossing. I got it easily enough because the name came back to mind once I had a couple of the other crossings, but still. And I couldn’t have told you what “Hang on Sloopy” was about, even if I remember the title line in the melody.

    While it took me a while to come up with Polish for Poland, must admit I entered MAI for the French Open right away. Oops. (Now I’m going to have to look up VAI, I’m afraid.)

  9. Winnie says:

    Of course the first time I ever flew through a Friday, it’s panned. I was absolutely on the wave length and loved it. Merry Christmas ?

  10. Doug says:

    LAT: Cute theme, but not really Friday-level, in my opinion. A HELIOSTAT is a solar tracking device, not a generator (although it may be a component of a generator). And way too much show-biz related trivia my taste.

  11. cyberdiva says:

    Amy, I hope you’re successful in finding a way for those of us who love the CHE puzzles to have access to them without having to subscribe to the print edition. I found it a very useful publication when I was in academia, but not now that I am retired.

  12. haari Meech says:

    Regarding “King James” eg. being CAV, he’s a Laker now which gave me LAL as an answer and definitely messed up my solve. Ah, these time sensitive puzzles.

  13. Tom says:

    Thanks for the nice review and warm welcome, Laura! This puzzle has a cool backstory. Amanda and I are old ELHI classmates. We weren’t in touch for years until Erik Agard met her and Karl at the (2017?) ACPT, heard where she was from, made the connection with me. I had no idea she was there!

    Amanda and Karl had the theme idea and asked if I’d be interested in co-constructing. I thought it would be a good fit for CHE, and the rest is history. Many thanks to them and Brad for the opportunity!

  14. Zulema says:

    UREY was my first entry (I am so old!) so HULLO came naturally, and I’m reminded of the time in Spain when a friend brought me to meet a group of Brits. When she introduced me collectively, I said “Hello!” to which the response was “Oh, you’re American.” Not as adroit as Amy, who when we were introduced, said “On line you don’t have an accent.” I wonder if you remember, Amy, it was many years ago.

    I liked the NYT puzzle very much and as for the CHE I did ask for enlightenment after solving it on paper and was told “Math.” Very enjoyable also. I hope Brad and Amy can work it out.

  15. Lester says:

    LAT: I was just sure the revealer was going to be NOEL.

  16. Ben says:

    NYT – some difficult fill here that I had a hard time figuring out…

    Got HULLO thanks entirely to Harry Potter. Pretty sure it’s a common Hagrid-ism.

    Got HANG ON, SLOOPY thanks to it being the state rock song of my native Ohio – yes, we have one and this song is it for some reason. It’s played at Ohio State games when the Buckeyes score, too.

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