Wednesday, December 26, 2018

AV Club 8:37 (Ben) 


LAT 4:11 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:06 (Laura) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P.) 


Howard Barkin’s New York Times crossword — Laura’s review

NYT - 12.26.18 - Solution

NYT – 12.26.18 – Solution

Movie star puns!

  • [17a: Movie that really should have featured Anne Archer?]: ROBIN HOOD
  • [25a: Movie that really should have featured Nicolas Cage?]: ANIMAL HOUSE
  • [40a: Movie that really should have featured Tom Cruise?]: FANTASTIC VOYAGE
  • [50a: Movie that really should have featured Vin Diesel?]: BEETLEJUICE
  • [64a: Movie that really should have featured Sigourney Weaver?]: SPIDERMAN

Someone with more car knowledge than me can ‘splain, but I’m pretty sure that the last VW New Beetle with a diesel engine was the 2015 TDI and that it’s not an option anymore. That doesn’t invalidate the (high quality) pun; in fact, given the NYT’s production schedule, it’s entirely possible that Howard constructed this puzzle while the TDI was still being manufactured. At the moment I’m vaguely paying attention to a movie with Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible: Fallout) that my family is watching and even without having had a few cocktails (Cocktail: also a movie starring Tom Cruise) I’d be hard pressed to explain the plot. There are some nice locations, though.

Didn’t we just have [41d: Doing grown-up tasks, in modern lingo]: ADULTING in joon’s Saturday puzzle? Way to much ADULTING for my vacation. And <snicker> I keep parsing [9d: Greets informally]: SAYS HI TO as SAY SHIT O! Shit! O! It’s late and I have to write a blog post! Did you get a [11a: Kind of knife in old infomercials]: GINSU this gift-giving holiday? I did not. Enough rambling from me. Hope all is swell for you, whether you’re going back to work tomorrow or you have another few days of loafing and eating.

Gabriel Stone’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Boxing Day” — Jim P’s review

Christmas Day festivities and food mean that I’m fading fast. Let’s make this quick.

It’s Boxing Day — that day in Britain and British-influenced countries when…what? They put on gloves and punch each other? Or they get rid of or collect all their empty Christmas boxes? Or maybe they just do crosswords?

My neighbour said it’s the day when they eat all their Christmas leftovers and make Bubble and Squeak. Other than that, I don’t know what this holiday’s about.

As for us, we have a puzzle whose main theme answers contain the word CRATE (48d, [Boxing container found in the four longest Across answers]).

WSJ – Wed, 12.26.18 – “Boxing Day” by Gabriel Stone (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [Tycho, for one] LUNAR CRATER
  • 24a [Measure of energy expended] METABOLIC RATE
  • 43a [Some obfuscating jargon] BUREAUCRATESE
  • 55a [Physician born on the island of Kos] HIPPOCRATES

Only one of the entries spans multiple words which I find surprising. But that’s the only surprising thing. Mostly I found this theme rather unremarkable.

I liked ALL-WEATHER. LABEL MAKER, IGUANAS, STOLE IN, TEN-SPOT, PHASERS, and SHELLAC. Not so keen on PIASTRE [Hundredth of an Egyptian pound].

One funny moment was when I was trying to fill in 4a [“The Pearl Fishers” composer]. Given the letter pattern BI_ET, my initial reaction was to put a D in there. Thankfully I caught myself and went with the appropriate Z.

That’s all from me. I hope you have an enjoyable day putting letters in boxes on this Boxing Day!

Christopher Adams’ AVCX, “AVCX Themeless #34” — Ben’s Review

AVCX Themeless #34

It’s Christopher Adams’ AVCX debut as a guest constructor. This week’s puzzle is a themeless, which is great as a reviewer who’s in the middle of the holidays and the travel that goes along with those. Let’s dig into the grid:

  • Some lovely upper and lower corners anchor this grid — JASON MOMOA, OLIVIA POPE, and TITILLATES at the top, I CAN’T DANCE, EARTH ANGEL, and SHE SAID YES at the bottom.
  • Running in the middle, we’ve got some great stuff with HONORARIA, BRAINSTEMS, CORTEZ THE KILLER, TERMINATOR, and ESOTERICA
  • The down fill has some lovely long fill as well – OVIPOSIT, W. MARK FELT, AREA CODES, and LA LA LAND

That’s not it in terms of fill, but it is a lot of the fill, so I’ll leave things there (plus, it’s Boxing Day, go do whatever we’re supposed to do on Boxing Day — box things?)

This is a really nice themeless from Christopher, and a really nice end to the AVCX year. See you in 2019

4.25/5 stars.

David Poole’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

A ROYALFLUSH is TEN through ACE of the same suit, say CLUBS, which is why the puzzle has an awkward two part revealer. Unusually, all the theme parts are found in one-word answers.

While this is a seven part theme, I don’t think this fill should be publishable as is, particularly the IDBE/ICEL cross with STEROL and plural SPALLS all crammed into one corner. RCAF is spotted as the author is Canadian. Three six-letter answers intersecting two themers with a third themer also interfering is just too busy. It also leaves a pair of imbalanced 4×3 corners with no real pressure on them. We have LAO and USN in that area, but there’s no reason to use them.

The more balanced grid option would be to raise the three squares above USH to above ACE as well. It would push the word count to an illegal 80, but really sometimes that is better than the other options. It still doesn’t get rid of SPALLS (last seen in 1986 per my crossword record, I may or may not have been a foetus at that time, I don’t have the month in my database…), but it’s a start… This may well be a case where the only option should be – “redo from start”.


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20 Responses to Wednesday, December 26, 2018

  1. RSP64 says:

    I’m feeling pretty good about my NYT time tonight. My time was (slightly) less than double the time of the blogger. That’s rare for me!

  2. Jenifer Ehreth says:

    In the NYT puzzle, 12 down is not correct. Using French response, which is called for in the clue, the answer should be cartes. Menu is a faux ami. It is the prix fix meal on a carte.

    • Phoebe says:

      Yes, but the term maître d’ is commonly used in English, so I don’t think the clue necessarily requires a French answer.

  3. JohnH says:

    It’s called Boxing Day because gifts are given (i.e., boxes).

  4. Robert White says:

    LAT: The SENESCES/SPALLS column really drags the puzzle down. The fact the latter word crosses with RCAF doesn’t help matters either….

  5. Penguins says:

    So TNY is proving this week the obvious: Trivia heavy puzzles blow

    • David R says:

      This one had gettable crosses as I feared the music category the most of these categories as I am firmly in the alternative music scene and anything hip-hop or rap is of no interest. Crossing of 42D and 49A did me in even though I knew 49A just not the spelling. Surprised 49A was an answer especially in TNY as he is known to be a domestic abuser and a criminal, mental health issues notwithstanding.

    • JohnH says:

      I agree with Penguins. This was a miserable experience. I had several crossings that amounted to nothing more than wild guesses, and at least one was wrong. I sure hope that politics and literature are respectively relevant and high-brow enough to tone this annoyance down.

      And have to say, pretty much all TNY puzzles have been too trivia laden. Oh, and interesting comment from David R since, as you can imagine, I couldn’t have told you which of these remote and irrelevant names had issues.

      Oh, FWIW, the one I got wrong was crossing of a singer and Princess Leia. I’d love to propose a month’s vacation from Star Wars (or at least its many sequels). And a century’s vacation from Harry Potter. I finally saw an excerpt the other day, and it was even worse than I feared, with totally breathless overacting.

      • David Steere says:

        Penguins, David R, and JohnH: I’m confused. Which puzzle are you three referring to? Is TNY the New Yorker? Monday’s New Yorker puzzle was a lovely one by Patrick Berry. They also published a big Liz Gorski with a meta. None of your critiques match the two New Yorker puzzles nor do they refer to the AV Club puzzle by Christopher Adams. Sorry if I’m being dense here.

        • Lise says:

          TNY (The New Yorker) is having a holiday contest, with puzzles M-F. There are instructions on the holiday contest page, and links to the puzzles.

          Today I ran out of free articles so I am not sure if I will be able to get Thursday and Friday, but I’m enjoying them so far.

          The big fun Liz Gorski puzzle was a bonus AV Club. (Thanks, AV Club and Ms. Gorski!)

          • David R says:

            Open with a different browser and continue enjoying the puzzles.

          • David Steere says:

            Thanks so much, Lise, for dispelling my confusion. I had done the nice Berry puzzle Monday and hadn’t realized it was one of five for the week. I did have to follow David R’s advice and use several different browsers to get past the pay wall. I appreciate your consideration, Lise. Happy New Year!

            • Lise says:

              That is excellent advice, which I have tried before. I usually open using Edge; when I try IE, I get the heading for the puzzle but no puzzle, just a lot of disappointing blankness.

              However, I’m going to try to get them from my phone, after I hunt down a printing app.

              Also! The instructions say that no purchase is necessary, which seems to conflict with “You’re out of free articles”.

              Anyway, I’ll see what happens tomorrow. Thanks for providing me with solutions.

            • Elise says:

              I agree that “No purchase necessary” should mean a break from the subscription requirement. But just clearing my history and cache seems to solve the problem on my iPhone.

        • Penguins says:

          These last two made me forget about the Berry Monday which I liked.

        • PhilR says:

          You can just open the link in an “incognito window” (or equivalent) to get around any count based firewall

    • PhilR says:

      The New Yorker puzzles are all based on 2018 events in various categories. They are recent trivia quizes by design. I can certainly see not liking them, but not complaining about them.

      • Penguins says:

        I was reaffirming my position on trivia laden puzzles though TNY is often too quizzy to begin with imo.

        Thanks for the incognito tip.

  6. lemonade714 says:

    Gareth, the last publication of SPALLS was this January 19, 1986 which also had STEROL .

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