Saturday, December 24, 2022

LAT 2:35 (Stella) 


Newsday untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 4:57 (Amy) 


Universal tk (norah)  


USA Today 2:14 (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 12 24 22, no. 1224

Nice framing in the grid, with four stacked pairs of 15s set inside the grid’s edges: “YOU’RE ONLY LONELY” (I checked out the YouTube of this song, which was a hit when I was in junior high but it doesn’t sound remotely familiar! I’ll take the Motels’ “Only the Lonely” instead), “SO CLOSE, (and) YET SO FAR,” (my ear wants that “and”), ELECTRICAL POWER, BEETHOVEN’S THIRD, DOOR-TO-DOOR SALES, EUCALYPTUS TREES, BEFORE YOU KNOW IT (my fave here), ALABAMA SLAMMERS. The octet of 15s don’t leave much space for other longish fill, do they?

Mystery: ESS is clued [Shape of a logistic curve]. I for one have never heard of a logistic curve. Regardless, none of the clues really stumped me, and the puzzle played like a Friday.

55d. [Old televangelism org.], PTL. Praise the Lord! This was … Jim Bakker? Or Pat Robertson? Checking … yep, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s show, on Robertson’s TV “network.” If you are under 45 years old, I would not expect you to have ever heard of this (unless you watched that Tammy Faye movie with Jessica Chastain, I’ll bet it comes up there).

33a. [Pontiac, for one], OTTAWA. Pontiac the 1700s leader, not the car.

ODEON, STENOS, OTHO, plural OYS? These are in the debit column for me.

3.5 stars.




Juliana Tringali Golden and Kate Chin Park’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 12/24/22 by Juliana Tringali Golden and Kate Chin Park

Los Angeles Times 12/24/22 by Juliana Tringali Golden and Kate Chin Park

This puzzle started off a little slow — both in terms of how fast I moved and how much sparkle I thought the entries had — in the upper left corner: TYPECASTS, HOI POLLOI, and ALL IS LOST were all fine but not particularly “whee!” for me. Working counterclockwise around the puzzle, things quickly got both faster and more interesting: PROFILE PIC, LOL SURPRISE, NINA SIMONE, DO YOUR WORST. The SE corner in particular I found (a little too) easy, but the aforementioned long entries made up for the lack of a challenge.

Erik Agard’s USA Today crossword—Matthew’s recap

Erik Agard’s USA Today crossword solution, “None Crossword With Left Beef,” 12/24/2022

It took me a long while to find the theme in this asymmetrical grid, and it turns out there are two. We’ve got vertical themers containing the word “none” and horizontal themers have synonyms for “beef” (as in “argument”) at the beginning (or left end), and start on the left edge of the grid, to boot.

  • 5D [Major city in the Silver State] RENO, NEVADA
  • 8D [“Super Fly” star] RON O’NEAL
  • 11D [Be out of gas, but keep going anyway] RUN ON EMPTY
  • 37A [“Come and trim my Christmas tree / With some decorations bought at ___”] TIFFANY
  • 45A [Social system in medieval Europe] FEUDALISM
  • 54A [Utensil for making pancakes] SPATULA

This is the second time this month I’ve seen a dual theme (and maybe I’ve missed a few). I’m a fan, and would like to see more.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Yule Begone” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 12/24/22 • Sat • Shenk • “Yule Begone” • solution • 20221224

Letters have been dropped from Christmas-related phrases to wacky effect. Like a good little crossword solver I intended to jot down those missing letters to see if they spelled anything together. L+B, the revealer tells us to do so. (I still haven’t, so we’ll discover it together—unless you’ve already done so, which  is a distinct possibility since it’s so late in the day already.)

  • 113aR [Thief who stole the missing letters from this puzzle’s theme answers] THE GRINCH.
  • 23a. [Warhol’s walking aids?] ANDY CANES (candy canes).
  • 28a. [Water balloon fight?] SOPPING SPREE (shopping spree).


It’s C-H … , so obviously we’re going to spell out CHRISTMAS, as in the full title of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.


  • 33a. [Make a crop top, perhaps?] TRIM THE TEE (trim the tree).
  • 49a. [Well-made spar on a boat’s sail] GOOD SPRIT (good spirit).
  • 63a. [Makeup of Vivien carillon?] LEIGH BELLS (sleigh bells).
  • 67a. [Online picture surrounded by text?] GIF WRAPPED (giftwrapped).
  • 81a. [Advantage of using a natural sweetener?] SUGAR PLUS (sugar plums).
  • 97a. [Red-haired horse on a stud farm?] GINGER BRED (gingerbread).
  • 104a. [“No way that Dickens character is the Nickelby lad!”?] AIN’T NICHOLAS (Saint Nicholas).

So that’s fun.

As a bonus, there is a trove of Christmas-related content in the regular fill and clues.

Abbreviated write-up because, as I’ve mentioned, it’s already late, and there’s the Newsday Stumper yet to do.

Steve Mossberg’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 12/24/23 • Saturday Stumper • Mossberg • solution • 20221224<.font>

No timing for this one due to tardiness and unwillingness to be selfish by taking the full amount of time to solve it without looking some things up/checking entries.

But let’s just say that it was very tough.

Peeked at the comments prior, so I saw Seth’s and Stan’s dialogue regarding 5-across CAKE. Going to agree with Seth on that one.

Since I’m not doing a full write-up, the purpose of this is now to get the completed grid in front of your eyes with as much expedience as I can muster.

Suffice it to say that this was the usual mix of cleverness, tough/oblique (and a few opaque!) clues, and occasional huh? moments.

Please feel free to ruminate, commiserate, and otherwise opine in the comments!

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35 Responses to Saturday, December 24, 2022

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT played like a Wednesday for, with ONLY THE LONELY and BEETHOVEN’S THIRD filling in as fast as I can type.

    Overall, a fun but not very challenging puzzle. The clue for FLY ROD is nice, but most of the other clues are pretty straightforward.

    OYS was in Friday’s NYT puzzle, too. The pluralized exclamations don’t bother me much, but I do wish my computer Scrabble game accepted them. My only objection to OTHO is that I don’t know my Roman emperors well enough to know OTHO from OttO.

    • Gary R says:

      The clue for FLY ROD was nice. And also the clue for EUCALYPTUS TREES (although I had so many crosses, I just filled that in without reading the clue – only appreciated the wordplay after).

      The grid-spanners were fine, but nothing especially sparkly. 17-A: SO near YET SO FAR is more familiar to my ear.

  2. Doug C says:

    NYT: I’m old enough to remember the JD Souther number, but too old, I guess, to know the Motels. For me, “Only the Lonely” is the 1960 hit that made Roy Orbison a star. Younger folks might remember it from the retrospective 1988 TV special “Roy Orbison and friends: A Black and White Night” that ran for several years on PBS during their pledge drives. Coincidentally, JD Souther was one of the guest vocalists in that concert.

  3. Philip says:

    NYT: Do Girl Guides still sell door to door? I thought sales were now through pre-order, outside shops, and so on.

    • Me says:

      Someone at the Wordplay column commented that Girl Scouts aren’t allowed to sell door-to-door anymore for safety reasons. Probably a necessary policy change in today’s world.

      I had some fun misdirection with that clue. Once the Os started popping up, I spent some time trying to figure out how COOKIE or SAMOA would fit into those 15 spaces.

    • Gary R says:

      I wondered about that too. The only door-to-door sales people we see these days are pest control/lawn care people and Latter Day Saints.

    • Eric H says:

      And someone else on Wordplay commented that in some areas, Girl Scouts are again selling cookies door-to-door. He provided a link to his source of information.

      Gary R: I live in a neighborhood that votes almost exclusively for Democratic candidates. We get the door-to-door roofing and pesticide reps, but most of the people ringing my doorbell are from NGO’s like Greenpeace or the ACLU.

  4. Eric H says:

    Random question: In the past week, I’ve seen “Barrett of Pink Floyd” in three or four puzzles from different venues. Anyone else noted an uptick in SYD’s?

  5. Seth says:

    Stumper: Really hard, but got through it cleanly! NE was hardest. But can someone explain CAKE for “Bear at a baby shower”? That E was my last letter, because I didn’t understand ERS until after I was done.

    • Stan Newman says:

      Do a Web search on “bear cake” and “baby shower”

      • Seth says:

        Sorry, but I don’t think that’s a valid connection, even for a Stumper. Sure, if you search “bear cake baby shower” you get a bunch of pictures of baby shower cakes with bears on them. But if you search “monkey cake baby shower” you get a bunch of cakes with monkeys. A cake with a bear is not a traditional or well-known or iconic thing that people do at baby showers. A bear is just a random cute animal — one of many — that you could put on top of a cake. And a baby shower is just a random event — one of many — at which you could have a bear cake.

        Not disparaging the puzzle! I love the Stumpers, even if some of the clues are so out there that they hardly qualify as valid clues at all. But I guess if I think about it, that’s part of the fun — coming here and griping about the inevitable one or two clues that are completely unfair in my opinion! Keep it up.

        …But get rid of those “Name related to another name” clues :-)

        • I think the clue holds up. The bear cake is a thing, and a thing associated with baby showers. Here’s a page of bear cakes for baby showers:

          That doesn’t mean that there can’t be cakes with other critters. But if there is a bear at a baby shower, it’ll be on a cake. So “Bear at a baby shower” points to CAKE. If the bear is anywhere else, the whole party is in trouble.

          I’ve never seen a bear cake in person, but as Wittgenstein is reported to have said, the limits of my cakes do not mean the limits of my crosswords.

    • Eric H says:

      It was a tough one; virtually everything I put in on my first pass came out.

      Ironically, BAHIA is probably the only state on the South Atlantic that I’ve heard of, and for a while, whatever I had crossing it kept BAHIA from working.

      I didn’t do any checks, but I’m not sure I’d have finished without reading the CAKE answer here.

    • RichardZ says:

      Re today’s Stumper – I’d add 49A (DATE UP) and 7D (KEPT) to the list of awkward entries. I’ve heard the phrase “marry up”, but DATE UP seems, well, made up. And “kept going” or “kept at it” or “kept on” are all plausible, but KEPT by itself doesn’t work for me. But as you pointed out in your follow-up post, I’ve come to expect a couple of such clues in a Stumper, so it’s no longer a surprise when I encounter them.

      • Seth says:

        I balked at KEPT at first, but after a second thought I think it’s ok, if you think of “Didn’t stop” and KEPT as verbs that refer to doing something. For example, “She didn’t stop running” and “She kept running.”

      • Twangster says:

        This gave me a laugh, since I went with MATE UP and MOST, which seemed to work both ways.

        I got CONTROLGROUP and the bottom left corner (apparently with a mistake) but was otherwise stumped by this one. Sigh.

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    USAT: I had a relatively easy time getting through this grid, especially given that it’s an EA construction, but I had no chance of figuring out the theme. Heck, I didn’t even know which answers were themers. Does the title have some hidden meaning or significance I’m not aware of? “None Crossword With Left Beef”? I think that’s the only hint to the theme, right?

    TIFFANY and SPATULA are themers but the corresponding answers of the same length on the other side of the grid aren’t (LILY PAD and LAYERED)? COUNTRY MILE is the longest across answer in the grid, but it’s not a themer either?

    • CC says:

      USAT: The puzzle is a play on a popular Internet meme titled “None Pizza with Left Beef.”

      When online pizza ordering first became a thing, a man tried ordering the most absurd Domino’s Pizza possible (using the radio-button options)–a cheese-and-sauce-free pizza, and with all of the meat (he chose beef) on the left side. The story and photo of it went viral, and has been a widespread meme since about 2007.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        Huh … Thanks for the reply. At least now I know why I didn’t get it. It not only went way over my head, but was also about 100 miles away horizontally as well. It seems rather obscure to me, but then internet memes never seem to make it onto my radar screen unless I’m solving crosswords (and then, pretty much only when it’s a USAT or TNY puzzle). If it’s widespread, I suppose that makes it fair game for CrossWorld.

  7. Michael says:

    Just occurred to me that Christmas falls on a Sunday this year and it immediately brought back decades-old memories of Liz Gorski’s holiday shenanigans. Would’ve been so splendid to see her works of art in the NYT again.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Michael. If I had to name my three favorite constructors off the top of my head, they’d be her, Patrick Berry and Manny Nosowsky (with Barry Silk coming in a close fourth). She’s not had a puzzle in the NYT in almost 7(!) years. In case you’re not aware, she regularly publishes puzzles in The New Yorker and she also creates puzzles in other venues, though I don’t have access to those.

      • marciem says:

        Liz is high on my list of favorite constructors also. I do belong to her CrosswordNation, we get a puzzle a week for $19.00 a year. They have fun themes, but are usually on the easier side, so I look forward to her challengers in TNY and would love to see her in the NYT!!

      • JohnH says:

        She’s terrific. But I can see if she’s quite busy enough with her regular postings plus TNY.

        The NYT grid is really nice, holding my interest and raising difficulty quite enough for me. For those others with limited concern for minor Roman emperors, sure, I did have OTTO for a while, and he’s not terribly major either.

  8. Eric H says:

    LAT: I managed to watch about two minutes of an LOL SURPRISE video on YouTube.

    The LINT ROLLER clue almost makes up for the dolls.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I did some reading about LOL SURPRISE dolls after completing the puzzle and still don’t know what the heck they are. The clue for LINT ROLLER didn’t land all that well for me. I suppose LINT ROLLERs pick up some dust, but isn’t their primary purpose to gather hair and, well, LINT (i.e. tiny fibers from fabric)?

      • Eric H says:

        I learned enough about LOL SURPRISE dolls to know that I didn’t want to know anymore.

        Since the primary purpose of a lint roller is to pick up little bits of whatever on your clothes, it’ll naturally also “gather dust.” What I liked about the clue was that “gather dust” usually means “to sit unused.” (And now that I think about it, I’ve seen a similar clue for “vacuum cleaner” or “vac.”)

        • sanfranman59 says:

          Yeah … I didn’t intend to imply that it was unfair. It’s a fine clue and it didn’t throw me off for more than a few seconds. One of the reasons I enjoy about this hobby/obsession of mine is that it challenges my brain to think more broadly and that’s what happened for me in this case. I was a very shallow rabbit hole.

  9. CC says:

    USAT: Posted this in a reply, but posting again here…

    The “None Crossword with Left Beef” is, believe it or not, part of the same theme. USAT: The puzzle is a play on a popular Internet meme titled “None Pizza with Left Beef.”

    When online pizza ordering first became a thing, a man tried ordering the most absurd Domino’s Pizza possible (using the radio-button options)–a cheese-and-sauce-free pizza, and with all of the meat (he chose beef) on the left side. The story and photo of it went viral, and has been a widespread meme since about 2007.

  10. MarkAbe says:

    LAT: I have four granddaughters under 14 and still hadn’t heard of LOL Surprise. It looks like I’ve been lucky. I liked the Lint Roller clue. Also, does anybody else think that the way I immediately knew that “Back on board” was AFT means I may be doing too many crossword puzzles?

  11. JohnH says:

    I’m sure I’m just being dense, but in the review of the WSJ, what’s “L+B”? Thanks.

    Enjoyable theme. Not convinced “predecessor” is the right word for ADAM relative to Eve, and JUMPER as Brit for sweater was hard for me. (Could a field be full of not jocks but rocks?) But so it goes.

    • pannonica says:

      “Lo and behold”

      It’s a sometimes idiosyncrasy I picked up from my high school calculus teacher, when she was demonstrating proofs on the board.

  12. JohnH says:


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