No WSJ today (holiday).
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 395), “Spanning the World on Christmas”—Ade’s take
¡Feliz Navidad, mis amigos guapos! Hello to everyone, and I hope that you are all starting your Christmas Day in the right way! If you started it by doing crosswords and then coming on here to spread some holiday cheer, light-hearted banter and/or provide insightful commentary, then just know you’re awesome! Speaking of awesome, Liz’s grid today was just that, with each of the circled letters contained in clues that all reference different geographical places on the globe. Combining the letters, in order of where they appear on the grid numerically, spells out “SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN.”
Also, outside of Antarctica, each of the other six continents is represented in the grid with at least one of the themed clues, which is just amazeballs!
- SALERNO (17A: [Italian city near Naples])
- JAKARTA (18A: [Capital city of Indonesia])
- SUCRE (27A: [Bolivian city that’s the French word for sugar])
- LAS CRUCES (28A: [New Mexico city on the Rio Grande river])
- IPSWICH (34A: [Massachusetts community famous for its clams])
- MOMBASA (37A: [Kenya city that’s home to Moi International Airport])
- SINGAPORE (44A: [“Lion City” of Asia])
- PERTH (48A: [Harbor city of Western Australia])
- MODESTO (56A: [California city that’s home to the Gallo Winery])
- WINDSOR (59A: [City known as the “Automotive Capital of Canada”])
Since this is the time for wishes to come true, I thought seeing GALATEA in the grid was pretty funny…unless one of you also possess a statue depicting a person that you adore so much that you wish that it comes to life (8A: [Pygmalion’s ivory statue]). It’s so hard to focus on fill outside of the themes because of the execution of the theme — and the sheer number of theme entries: 12! – but I liked REST AREAS, and I’ll be hitting a couple of them while making my way to Boston today (51A: [Stops during a road trip]). Actually, I only found out about a couple of years ago that the word PILSNER is derived from the Czech city, Plzen (Pilsen), and I discovered that bit of info when a commentator during a soccer match involving the local soccer team, Viktoria Plzen, mentioned it during the broadcast (63A: [Light golden lager]). Throw in ON RICE to Pilsner and we might have a nice little Christmas dinner on our hands (5D: [One way to serve curry]). There was one entry in the grid that was a geographical location but was not part of the theme, though I loved that the clue included a staple of Christmas lore. It’s also featured in our “sports…smarter” segment…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ICELAND (16A: [Country with wild reindeer]) – Earlier this year, the national men’s soccer team of Iceland became the smallest country by population to ever participate in the FIFA World Cup, one of the reasons why so many neutrals around the world ended up adopting the team as one to root for during the tournament. Another reason for the worldwide admiration of the team was became of the “Viking Clap” demonstration that Icelandic fans broke out during games, something that has caught on like wildfire across the globe, including featuring in many American sports arenas. For those who do not know what I’m talking about, here’s a sampling.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all! Some of us are probably having a better time of it than others, so think about those who might/are not as fortunate or find themselves not feeling the holiday spirit for entirely legitimate reasons. Thank you so much for your time, as always! Have a great rest of your Tuesday and, as always, keep solving!!
Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword — Laura’s review
Yo my friends, I have the NYT for today and tomorrow because our fearless leader Amy is on vacay somewhere warm. Whadda we got?
- [17a: First female recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award in film]: JUDY GARLAND. Judy. Judy Judy.
- [25a: Major crop of Brazil]: SUGAR CANE
- [37a: California baseball pro]: LOS ANGELES ANGEL
- [45a: Washington, Jackson, or Ford]: MOVIE STAR. Denzel; Glenda; Glenn; among many others.
- [57a: Seasonal song with a hint to the last words in 17-, 25-, 37- and 45-Across]: O TANNENBAUM
So this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun. And we have a reasonably Christmas-related theme. Sure; there’s a kind of syncretism so that even in the homes of Jews such as me, we have a tree, and it has your general American decorations on it, and the lights, etc etc. You know what? It’s been a good evening. I’m among those I love. Thing is, if you’re not, though — totally okay. This time can be a time to not engage. Not everyone needs to have a holiday with intense sociality. If you’re alone, or you have by choice separated yourself from your family of birth but you haven’t yet found your family of choice — I see you. Do what you need to do to keep yourself whole, and know that you are seen.
Fill-wise, doesn’t this feel a bit colloquial? YES I AM, YAY, I SPOSE. AH OK, IN DA HOUSE! I’m not particularly TYPE A when it comes to fill; we can sacrifice a bit of originality if the theme compels us.
Have a day, however it enacts itself for you; if you’re with a group — awesome. If you’re on your own, solving some puzzles — that rocks. Be you.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Birthday Holiday” – Derek’s write-up
We have a timely offering for this week’s Jonesin’, as the title makes perfectly clear. Who has the fortune/misfortune (depending on your perspective!) of being born on Christmas Day?
- 17A [Scottish singer born 12/25/1954] ANNIE LENNOX
- 36A [Canadian world leader born 12/25/1971] JUSTIN TRUDEAU
- 56A [American actress born 12/25/1949] SISSY SPACEK
There are likely others, but these three make a puzzle work. Lots of fun fill in here too, including a couple of pop culture refs I bet you don’t know. I think the imdb.com site lists whose celebrity birthday it is, be sure to check out that site today! A solid 4.3 stars this week.
- 11A [Actor Shepard of “Idiocracy”] DAX – Is he most famous for doing the Samsung ads with his wife, Kristen Bell? Perhaps!
- 26A [Dish with peanut and lime garnish] PAD THAI – I am becoming a real big fan of Thai cuisine. It hasn’t always been readily available here in northern Indiana, but now there are several options that I have found. Yummy!
- 63A [Actor __ William Scott] SEANN – Where has this guy disappeared to? I haven’t seen him in anything for years. He is somewhat crossword-famous for that uniquely spelled name!
- 1D [Dresden Dolls lead vocalist Palmer] AMANDA – Here is that obscure pop culture ref I don’t know. Google them like I had to!
- 8D [It’s somehow National Soup Month, for short] JAN – Somehow? It is prime season for snow days in January!
- 18D [Bela of monster roles] LUGOSI – It’s usually his first name in the puzzle, not his surname!
- 42D [Creme de __ (strawberry liqueur)] FRAISE – I don’t know this either. Time for a research field trip to the liquor store!
- 45D [Got overexcited over niche pop culture, with “out”] GEEKED – Welcome to my world!
Enjoy your day!
Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
My Facebook friend Mark McClain has the holiday puzzle, with an appropriate holiday theme
- 17A [Film character #1 (played by George C. Scott in 1984)] EBENEZER SCROOGE
- 25A [Film character #2 (played by Leo G. Carroll in 1938)] JACOB MARLEY
- 43A [Film character #3 (played by Kermit the Frog in 1992)] KERMIT THE FROG
- 55A [Novella that introduced the three film characters] A CHRISTMAS CAROL
This was a novella? All these years and I thought it was another Dickens book. I am not big into Christmas, so perhaps that is why I have never read this, but I know the story through different movies and plays I have seen. Three of those movies are referenced here: The first two are titled A Christmas Carol (one was made for TV), while the movie with Kermit was A Muppet Christmas Carol. Has this theme been done before? Probably, but perhaps not quite like this. And regardless of that, this one is well done. 4.2 stars today.
A few more things:
- 20A [Non-commercial TV commercial] PSA – When these gets paid, who pays for them? The government? Are these charitable contributions for someone?
- 22A [Canadian province witha French motto] QUEBEC – The US perception is the Quebecois are snobby and only speak French. I still would love to visit Montreal someday; I think I would be right at home there.
- 34A [The Grinch’s dog] MAX – Another holiday tie-in here. I also did not now this one.
- 46A [Like many breakfast bars] OATY – Or granola-y!
- 11D [Rookie, in gaming] NOOB – I feel like a “noob” in gaming quite often.
- 18D [Repeated Mazda ad word] ZOOM – Do they still run these commercials?
- 26D “Time and __”: illustrated Jack Finney novel] AGAIN – Never heard of it. It is on sale at Amazon, like most books. Should I pull the trigger and get one?
- 29D [Barn-raising sect] AMISH – As I have mentioned before, there are a lot of Amish near where I live. The barn-raising is rare, but a great mental image for a clue. I would give them high kudos for their food!
I will go take a nap now!
Surprised there was no Meet Me in St. Louis clue for JUDY GARLAND (the greatest Christmas movie, for my money).
Ditto re Meet Me in St. Louis. It is number 2 on the Rotten Tomatoes list of the 50 greatest Christmas movies:
The top three: It’s a Wonderful Life, Meet Me in St. Louis and Miracle on 34th Street are the perennial classics. I got a kick out of Die Hard as number 8 (it takes place at an office Christmas party).
Wouldn’t expect a WSJ puzzle on a holiday.
I’m in deep trouble with the Tuesday New Yorker, as its theme is contemporary movies, and there’s other pop culture fill as well.
Agreed. Most of it eventually fell, but, for Christmas, I gave myself permission to Google the last few blanks. The 7D/27A crossing was ridiculous, in the opinion someone who does not watch many movies and has not followed the latest trends in appliances or railroads, and I have no idea what some of the clues for the films were supposed to convey.
This New Yorker puzzle was no Christmas gift! I thought that there might be some hope for me when I immediately knew 55A. But then I pretty much hit a brick wall with the other 2018 movies. I guess the clue for 18 across was fair, but I just did not know it. At least I knew 31D!
It’s to me a truly weird choice of movie clues at that, but I realize the NYT puzzles have similar tastes when it comes to movies, the genres you’d think might not get much in the way of reviews from major papers and magazines but would appeal to a 12 yr old boy. Oh, well. OTOH, knowing that bias in crosswords helped me a bit with some. I ended up guessing lots and lots, using Google to confirm rather than discover. So almost cheating! But when you throw in the baseball player and so much more, way way way too much trivia.
Derek: Time and Again, by Jack Finney (also author of The Body Snatchers, from which several movies were made), is a wonderful time-travel novel. The time travel mechanism is unusual. I had listened to the book, so didn’t realize until today that it is illustrated. Now I have to get a copy myself.
So yes, read it!
NYT: A pet peeve at 11a. Although TMC does stand for The Movie Channel, it is not the film buffs’ channel. Haight or whoever contributed to the puzzle must not actually watch it. It is an run-of-the-mill movie channel like any other. The movie buffs’ channel is TCM, Turner Classic Movies, the most fantastic channel. Easy to mix up, but not if you watch it.
While [Washington, Jackson or Ford] is a very clever clue that I enjoyed, those surnames are so common that I came up with Dinah, Michael etc., Ernie and wanted POPSINGER or some variant…
For boomers, it wouldn’t be a problem coming up with a few famous singer Fords:
Lita Ford, lead guitarist for the Runaways
Frankie Ford, a colorful New Orleans singer who recorded the original version of “Sea Cruise.”
Tennessee Ernie Ford, who had a #1 hit with “16 Tons,” (it was one of the best-selling 45’s of the 1950s) and became a TV star, as well (including a recurring role as “Cousin Ernie” on I Love Lucy).