Thursday, December 19, 2019

BEQ 10:49 (Ade) 


LAT n/a 


NYT 9:05 (Ben) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


WSJ 11:28 (Jim P) 


The Fireball is on hiatus until January.

Paul Coulter’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Addendum”—Jim P’s review

Add-some-letters theme today with those letters being UM, as hinted at by the title.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Addendum” · Paul Coulter · Thu., 12.19.19

  • 17a [Foundation of nonsense?] BUNKUM BED. Bunk bed.
  • 27a [Breastbone X-rays?] STERNUM LOOKS. Stern looks. This feels right on the edge of being “green paint.”
  • 45a [Paragon among ancient senators?] FORUM EXAMPLE. For example.
  • 59a [Wise one working for a showman?] BARNUM OWL. Barn owl.

That works. Nothing LOL-funny, but solid enough, I think. I appreciate the consistent execution with the UMs always added to the end of the first word. The literal approach in the title is fine, but I’d be inclined to go a more humorous route and try to conjure up an image of a speaker who can’t say a thing without, um, hesitating.

Most of my solving trouble came from the unthemed sections of the NE and SW, especially the SW where STAGE LEFT [Exit spot, at times] was not coming to me (I wanted something-LANE) and I resisted LAY READER [Bishop’s underling] (I wanted LAY RECTOR). But the fill in those corners is nice (aside from SHIP TO) with ASPHALT, PANASONIC, IMMENSE, URGENT, and BRUSH PAST. Elsewhere, we have KEYNOTE, AGE-LONG, PALATE, MATRON, and the villainous Ferdinand MARCOS.

I’m inclined to think the grid runs a bit too heavy in the crosswordese department with OTT, SRO, PIAF, ARNO, ON IT, and ON ME. I don’t mind UMA and ISSA so much as they are both currently active entertainers, but you know they have been and will continue to be overly represented in crosswords vs. their peers.

Clues of note:

  • 1a [Future forte]. RAP. Good use of the disguised capital letter as this clue is referring to rapper Future not the actual future.
  • 60d [Nancy in Nancy, e.g.]. NOM. Nothing to do with the comic strip Nancy, but I wonder just how many people named Nancy live in Nancy, France.

Solid grid with some crunchy clues. 3.5 stars.

Erik Agard & Andy Kravis’ New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

NYT 12/19/19, no. 1219

Today’s NYT is from Erik Agard and Andy Kravis, and it’s a nice one that took a second to catch on to, but was nicely executed.

For each circled square, both the across AND down clues running through the entry give two sets of clues.  Going across:

  • 1A: Club fee/”Hell no!” — (CO/NE)VER
  • 17A: Executive’s perk, maybe/It might fit in a tight spot — COMPA(NY/CT) CAR
  • 47A: Smacks hard/Types — S(WA/OR)TS
  • 49A: “Ghostbusters” director Harold/Pours — RA(MI/IN)S

And going down:

  • 1D: Dale Evans, for one/Zooey Deschanel TV series — (CO/NE)W GIRL
  • 15D: “Volunteers?”/Play’s start — A(NY/CT) ONE
  • 23D: Obstructing/On paper — IN THE(WA/OR)Y
  • 51D: Move/Unappreciative person — (MI/IN)GRATE

The connection between the letters that can fit in each of those square makes sense after the revealer at 60A:

  • Geographic determination that separates the two possible answers in this puzzle’s circled squares — STATE LINE

Each special square features the abbreviations for two states that share a border – Colorado and Nebraska, New York and Connecticut, Washington and Oregon, and Michigan and Indiana.  Nicely done on the answer set here, fellas!

POPCORN: “Theater fare” and solid Moog instrumental.

Happy Thursday, all!

Gary Larson’s LA Times Crossword

LA Times

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1219), “METAL BANDS”—Ade’s take

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword solution, No. 1219: “METAL BANDS”

Good day, everybody! First off, apologies for missing the last two turns at-bat on here. Hope all is well with you and, for those who are living in places where the cold has ratcheted up, hope you’re staying warm!

Brendan is in the holiday spirit with today’s grid, with five theme entries containing circles on the perimeters and, eventually, all spelling out the word “gold.” To top off the theme, the final theme entry, FIVE GOLDEN RINGS, acts as the reveal (58A: [“12 Days of Christmas” gift, and hint to this puzzle’s theme]).

  • GOLF LEADERBOARD (17A: [List of those working on their Masters?]) – Such a clever freaking clue!!
  • GRISWOLD (23A: [Family name of “Vacation” movies])
  • GATEFOLD (33A: [Double-LP sleeve format])
  • GOES WILD (41A: [Flips out])
  • GODCHILD (50A: [Baptism V.I.P.])

Went to school for many years in a Catholic school, but did not get to the point of learning about Gog and MAGOG, at least until right now (1D: [Gog’s partner in Revelations]). If one removed the writing poetry portion and added “or where freelance journalists write and file a number of their stories” to the clue for CAFES, that would describe me perfectly (46D: [Places to do crosswords, or maybe write poetry]). I definitely do not know all of the Jewish expressions, so seeing FEH instead of “meh” threw me for a loop even though it had to be correct given its crossings (39A: [Jewish grunt]). Outside of initially putting in “sends” for SHIPS, a pretty straightforward solve (24D: [Uses UPS]).  

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LATER (40A: [“Ask me in a bit]) – Remember when one of sports broadcasting’s all-time great journalists hosted an award-winning late-night talk show? I sure do! From 1988 to 1994, NBC Sports’ Bob Costas hosted an incisive, no-frills, interview-format talk show called Later (known as Later with Bob Costas , a show that featured one-on-one interviews with some of the biggest stars in sports and entertainment. It was a departure from when I usually saw Costas back then, hosting sports shows, but the show rivals any of the best interview-format programs in recent television history. Later won a 1993 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Informational Series, with Costas as host. Costas left the show in 1994 and people such as Greg Kinnear, Judd Nelson and Cynthia Garrett hosted the program before the series ended in 2001.  

Thank you so much for your time, friends! Have a great rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!!

Take care!


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21 Responses to Thursday, December 19, 2019

  1. scrivener says:

    I loved the NYT, but was done in by ALOE/COSA. I knew the phrase “cosa nostra” but got it in my head as CASA, and ALAE water made as much sense to me as ALOE water. I think I’d rather drink ALAE water. :)

  2. miserlou22 says:

    Harold Ramis did not direct Ghostbusters, it was directed by Ivan Reitman. I am shocked that such a basic error made its way into the NYT puzzle, especially on a theme answer.

    • David L says:

      It was changed to just “Film director” on the version I downloaded. But yeah, pretty basic error.

    • John says:

      Agree there is no excuse for such basic factual error. There was Podcast within the last few months which had Will Shortz as a guest. It was hosted by a constructor – Gary Cee I think. Shortz claimed every puzzle was vetted as much if not more than any story in the NYT.

      Didn’t impact my solve. It was a great puzzle.

  3. Ethan Friedman says:

    Not only is the NYT theme beautifully done, the dual sets of clues themselves (almost) sound like they’re part of a coherent whole!

    Club fee? ”Hell no!”
    Executive’s perk, maybe. It might fit in a tight spot
    Smacks hard types
    “Ghostbusters” director Harold pours
    “Volunteers?”: Play’s start
    Obstructing on paper
    Move, unappreciative person!

    Only one that really doesn’t work like that is
    Dale Evans, for one Zooey Deschanel TV series

  4. Billy Boy says:

    Using the NYT software to solve today, using the rebus button – entering the state pairs in order, hitting enter created a STATELINE …

    A pair entered as (e.g. NYCT) populated the circle in the square as NY/CT actually showing the slash.

    I thought that was pretty fun as the note stated that in the print version a slash was in the circle squares.

    Why yes, I can be easily entertained at times.


  5. David L says:

    I figured out the trick but couldn’t get Mr HP. Did you have to put the two states in a specific order?

    Maybe I’m feeling especially old and grumpy this morning, but I thought a lot of the fill in this puzzle was kinda rough. METZ crossing ZYNGA (guessed right, or maybe I’ve vaguely heard of Zynga); OSX (not of all us are familiar with all the versions of Mac operating systems); ICEPLANET (not all crossword solvers are Star Wars enthusiasts); MEANMUGS (you just made that up, right?)

    I don’t actually have a lawn, but if I did, I would be pleased if these two constructors would not ENCROACH on it. (I liked ENCROACH. Good old-fashioned sort of word).

    • huda says:

      Yes, I struggled with the rebus until I realized that order mattered. The state abbreviation that fits the first clue (both across and down) had to be entered first followed by the second.
      I thought the theme itself was beautifully done. Pretty amazing actually to consider all the constraints on it. I too had issues with some of the names, although thanks to younger members of my family some of them materialized from some fog.

    • JohnH says:

      I liked the theme for both the crossings and the second step of deducing what they had in common in order to get the, well, revealer. But I sure had trouble with the rest of the fill, too.

      MEAN MUGS was new to me and I couldn’t have named the QVC alternative, but it worked out. I didn’t know BECHDEL or ELSA, and I had to deduce DIGRAPH and ICE PLANET, but fine and maybe even worth learning. But METZ/ZINGA was no more than a guess, and SVU/UTLEY ended up just a blank. Overall, a chore.

      Incidentally, I had no problem with ALOE/COSA, even though I hadn’t heard of aloe water. I’d have said in fact that Cosa Nostra was a gimme for most anyone, while ALOE turns up as a trend fill all the time as a stand-alone.

    • RM Camp says:

      It’s not even called OSX anymore, Apple changed it to macOS a few years ago.

  6. Brenda Rose says:

    Anyone else think that the USA Today puzzles are more enjoyable now that EA has leant his expertise on skew cluing?

  7. RunawayPancake says:

    BEQ – Not to be overly petty, but . . .br>Regarding 1D [Gog’s partner in Revelations] MAGOG, shouldn’t it be Revelation (singular), not Revelations?

  8. Joan Macon says:

    Comments on LAT?

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