Wednesday, December 25, 2019

AVCX 15:33 (Ben) 


LAT 5:28 (GRAB) 


NYT 3:33 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Rebecca) 


Merry Christmas and continuing Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate, Happy Wednesday Off Work to those not celebrating a holiday on the 25th, and belated Festivus felicitations to all!

Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 25 19, no. 1225

Theme is “Ho, ho, ho!” with familiar phrases that include the letter pair HO finding that HO expanded to HO HO HO:

  • 17a. [What Santa said when his sleigh touched down?], LAND HO HO HO.
  • 23a. [What Santa might say on his North Pole hotline?], PLEASE HO HO HOLD.
  • 38a. [What Santa said when the reindeer went on strike on Christmas Eve?], IT’S HO HO HOPELESS.
  • 50a. [What Santa said when going down a chimney that had a lit fireplace?], HO HO HOLY SMOKES.
  • 61a. [What Santa says around dawn on Christmas Day?], I’M HO HO HOME.

Kinda cute holiday theme.

Three more things:

  • 12d. [Syria’s Bashar al-___], ASSAD. This vile man can eff off, and it would be nice to not see his name in our entertainments. See also: 65a NOOSE.
  • 3d. [Place to get a C.D. or an I.R.A.], S AND L. Ah, yes, the spelled-out ampersand entry. Not a fan.
  • 9d. [Place where one might hear “That’s my cue!”], POOL HALL. Cute clue.

3.3 stars from me. Good night, and leave some cookies out!

Erin Rhode’s AVCX, “Wet Blanket” — Ben’s Review

Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate!  Since it is Christmas (and because my relatives can sense when I’ve sat down to engage in Leisure Time rather than helping out in the kitchen), this is going to be a quick write-up of Erin Rhode’s Christmas tree-shaped grid.  Here’s what’s going on:

  • 6A: *Sedan that spans two lanes? — WIDE CAR
  • 41A:  *Add plumage to a pet salamander? — FEATHER YOUR NEWT
  • 64A: *Single-issue voter who just wants their party to nominate someone who can drunkenly belt “Don’t Stop Believin'”? — KARAOKE WINGER
  • 4D: *Either main character in 1990’s “Nuns on the Run”? — WIMPLE MAN
  • 5D: *Feel that the clock is ticking, as it were? — WANT A BABY
  • 18D:  *Flirtatious signal from the chef? — KITCHEN WINK
  • 22D:  *Baby who requires a diaper change in the middle of dinner? — TABLE WETTER
  • 61D: *Cranked a cuckoo clock to make it go off at 7:00 A.M.? — WOUND THE ALARM
  • 62D: *Lie about a sale in a storefront display? — WINDOW WHOPPER
  • 91D: Seasonal coating or, read another way, correction you might make when entering the answers to this puzzle’s starred clues — SNOW

Read that final answer as “S? NO, W!” and you’ll have what’s going on — SIDECAR becomes WIDE CAR, SIMPLE MAN becomes WIMPLE MAN, etc. Happy Holidays, all!


Blake Slonecker’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

Happy 25th of December.

The core theme idea of the four “special senses” & touch as a classical set is solid. The revealing COMETOYOURSENSES is idiomatic, though COMETOYOUR is fairly clumsy as an indicator for “occurs at the end of answers”. The theme entries are well selected in that they aren’t literally the senses, though the meanings are inevitably not that far from them in some cases. I’m not sure about how broadly familiar CODESMELL will be. I’m only a programming dilettante, and long out of practice, but I’m also in a family of programmers and I’ve never heard it once. The ideas of spaghetti code and other overly convoluted coding practices is not foreign however.

OTRAVEZ is interesting as an uncommon bit of Spanish. I do think it is actually a net positive in the puzzle, though crossing it with French ETRE at a vowel could vex some solvers.


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21 Responses to Wednesday, December 25, 2019

  1. RunawayPancake says:

    Just a heads-up . . . One of this week’s free puzzles in the NYT is a brutal, Saturday masterpiece from
    2007 by Myles Callum (here).

    • Lise says:

      The link took me to today’s NYT. I’d love to see the Brutal Saturday Masterpiece if possible ??

      • pannonica says:

        I doubt this is the free version, but here’s the direct link to Callum’s only SATNYT from 2007.

      • pannonica says:

        Aha. You can see the “free from our archive” puzzles if you load the page without being logged in to your NYT crossword account.

        • RunawayPancake says:

          Thanks, pannonica. I wasn’t aware the weekly “free from our archive” puzzles weren’t visible to signed-in subscribers. I also should’ve included the puzzle’s full date – August 25, 2007.

          • Me says:

            To each his own, but I would call that puzzle brutal, but not a masterpiece. Too many proper nouns that were clued with very obscure references. Some great clues in there but the stuff like Roy Rogers’s real name overshadowed the good stuff for me.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          5:26 for me. A standard Saturday level of difficulty!


  2. GlennP says:

    I suspect that there will be no WSJ puzzle today since there is no print edition today.

  3. Cynthia says:

    Universal – totally didn’t get it. I had never heard of “Bao” either as a film or a food, so I had to look it up to get the theme. Even then I don’t really get the significance of it. Is this film and/or food well-known, and I’m just out of the loop? To me, the Universal theme as a rule should be more “universally known” (forgive the pun)!

    Other than that, I really enjoyed this puzzle for its interesting word choices.

    • Paul Coulter says:

      Before I got to the revealer, I took the OBA letters to be a BOA slithering along. There was a horror film of this name. I’d never heard of the Bao animated steamed bun, either, but I’ve since looked it up. Happy holidays, folks.

    • Martin says:

      Bao are Chinese dumplings. Xiao long bao are wonderful steamed “soup dumplings,” made with aspic in the meat filling that liquifies during the steaming. You bite off the tip of the dumpling and get a slurp before downing the dumpling.

      Char siu bao are puffy, yeasty roast pork buns. In California, there are restaurants that specialize in bao. Xiao ling bao are so beloved, we just call them “XLB.”

      The short is about a woman with a dumpling for a son.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Note: Martin’s link doesn’t go to the “Bao” short film itself. Probably it’s legally available only from the Disney+ streaming service now.

        The “Bao” short was big in summer 2018 (it preceded “Incredibles 2” in the theater) and won an Oscar. If you travel in Asian social media circles at all, I think it was inescapable. This fall, another Asian filmmaker (Filipino American Bobby Rubio) created a Pixar short called “Float” that’s only on Disney+. I haven’t seen it yet, but if I sign up for Disney+ it won’t be for “The Mandalorian,” it’ll be for “Float” and “Coco.”

  4. Billy Boy says:

    Today’s NYT fill was coal in the stocking quality.

    Enjoy the day, folks, Cheers!

  5. RichardZ says:

    I imagine many are already are aware of it, but The New Yorker is running a series of themed holiday crosswords this week. Yesterday’s was “2019 in literature”, today’s is “2019 in language” (a terrific puzzle by Patrick Berry), and I’m guessing (if last year is any indication) there will be puzzles later in the week on music and politics. Just a heads up in case anyone else is interested.

    • JohnH says:

      Thanks for pointing it out. I hadn’t known.

      I’m doing the literature one now and finding it very hard. Of course, a hard to remember spelling at 1A, and alas in a literature puzzle a lot of the proper name trivia is about pop music and movies instead. I guess, whoever TNY puzzle editor is, that person’s habits can’t be cured regardless of the theme.

    • David Steere says:

      Today’s special New Yorker puzzle on language by Patrick is WONDERFUL–even though I’ve never heard the terms listed at 16A and 65A. Two Berry puzzles in a few day–feels like Christmas.

      • JohnH says:

        Indeed. A fine puzzle.

        • Billy Boy says:

          I just got around to doing this one today, farting around after printing the NYT to do on paper. That was fun and educational.

          I liked GARBAGETIME, now in my lexicon.

          Obviously not at the Friday NYT yet …

  6. Joan Macon says:

    Here’s today’s comment: the puzzle is here, the comments are here, but I think there are five senses, and not four?

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