Thursday, 11/22/12

NYT 4:53 
LAT 3:51 
Tausig tba 
CS 7:07 (Sam) 
BEQ 6:03 (Matt) 

Fraternal twins: double-pecan pie and double-pecan pie with Ghirardelli chocolate chips

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for the many brilliant people who make crosswords, the hard-working people who deliver the puzzles to us, and a phenomenal assemblage of blog commenters. Here, have a piece of my pecan pie. You want me to warm up your slice?

Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 22 12, 1122

16×15 grid with a terrific theme: Take a familiar phrase or word and break the first two letters into individually pronounced letters that form 2-letter chunks. [Cackling cry from a mad scientist before unleashing havoc on southern California?] clues L.A. DIES FIRST. Funny! Now, be honest: How often does a crossword’s first theme answer actually amuse you? No more than one time in ten, I’ll bet. (Unless you’re easily amused.) R.A. IN CHECK, B.A. BY BOOMER (which feels amiss—wouldn’t the degree be for him rather than by him?), the very funny B.O. ON DOCKS with stinky longshoremen, and the splitting-a-word-again P.R. IS ON BREAK. You know how sometimes you shake your head and wonder what possessed an editor to accept a certain puzzle? If you’re doing that here, you should have your head checked rather than shaken.

The puzzle’s corners feel like a Friday puzzle. Tougher stuff like ILIESCU, MEAT PIE, and Lenin’s VAN DYKE beard appears in stacks with smooth crossings. We’ve also got some 8s, my favorite being UNCLE LEO—here’s an assemblage of Seinfeld clips featuring the character.

4.5 stars from me. How’d you like this? It’s no turkey, I say.

Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 11 22 12

Neat theme: To go on the CATWALK, you don’t need a designer outfit. You just need to take stroll around the perimeter of this grid. BOB, HOUSE, LAP, PERSIAN, ALLEY, STRAY, TOM, KITTY, BLACK, and BURMESE are all clued without reference to cats, but all of those words can precede cat too. Cats are also fond of 29d: TUNA. You won’t find FELINES in this puzzle, though.

If you squint at the grid, you just might descry a cat’s face with some peculiar whiskers. Yes? No?

The fill includes bright spots such as CHICAGO (17a. [Longtime pop group with mostly self-named albums]), GELATI (lower in fat than ice cream, but the flavor’s richer because gelato is served at a higher, less-tongue-freezing temperature), TUNISIA, LAMBASTE, and … BONGS? I like the conversational “NAME IT” and “SCRAM!” too. It also includes a number of dim patches: REO EERS NSEC NEY SKOL (surely I’m not the only one who tried SKYY for [Vodka brand] here).

Clue of the day: 41d. [Seat cushions?] for GLUTEI.

3.75 stars.

Updated Thursday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Uncertain Terms”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, November 22

Gotta get the turkey in the oven, so today’s review will be a bit abbreviated. Our theme involves three [Skeptical comment]s, all of which may be uttered by the DOUBTING THOMAS at 54-Across:

  • 20-Across: I’M FROM MISSOURI. I’ve never heard this (not even from someone hailing from Missouri!), but I assume it derives from Missouri being the “show-me state.”
  • 32-Across: SOUNDS FISHY TO ME. That one I’ve heard before, but maybe that’s because I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where the smell of fish is all too familiar.
  • 40-Across: WHERE’S YOUR PROOF? I think the last time I heard that was in my geometry class.

My solving time was slowed by a number of answers that either eluded me or fell into the (cavernous) “I just plain don’t know it” category. I didn’t know ALDO [Ray of "The Green Berets"], for instance, and CASPAR as a [Magi member] means nothing to me. Likewise, I know few lyrics from Send in the Clowns, so ["Are we ___"] A PAIR took quite a while to fall. And while I had the FLOWER part soon enough, I needed three more crosses before getting STARFLOWER as the [Bloomer in the primrose family]. My own inability to read the clue [Fix the pitch again] correctly led me to write RE-MEND instead of RE-TUNE (I thought “pitch” was “patch”).

Favorite entry = OUT-RUNNERS, the [Leading members of dogsled teams]. Other goodies included UH-HUH and GONZO, the [Hook-nosed muppet]. Favorite clue = [Drive one's spouse to the couch, perhaps] for SNORE.

Brendan Quigley’s website crossword, “Giving Thanks”—Matt’s review

Quick write-up from me today with holiday activities drawing nigh: Brendan gives thanks by adding “ta” to a base phrase. I believe that ta is a precious way of saying “thank you” among the hip folk, and that it comes from Welsh. Let’s see if either of those are true. No, not really — it’s a British thing, and comes from way back from Danish.

17-a [Hogwarts job opening?] = not a magic wand, but a MAGIC WANT AD.

22-a [Really weird IRS agents?] = not the comic book series “Uncanny X-men” (I looked it up), but UNCANNY TAXMEN.

38-a [Barricade made of metal thread and pub paper?] = not a barb-wire fence, but a BAR TAB WIRE FENCE.

54-a [The act of gluing corn husks together?] = not male bonding, but TAMALE BONDING.

61-a [Volkswagen model that's easy to pop?] = not a bubble-jet printer, but a BUBBLE JETTA.

That works for me. Top 3 fill: XFL, RACK UP and EGG DYE. Top 3 clues: [Warm greeting?] for ALOHA; [Night spot?] for BED; and [Sleep and a stiff drink, among others, for new parents] = NEEDS.

4.10 stars. Happy T-day, everyone!

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Personal Styles” (plus last week’s puzzle)

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword solution, 11 22 12 “Personal Styles”

Clothing items named after the people who made them famous are the theme this week: HAMMER PANTS, COSBY SWEATER (which I recently heard was actually an expensive Coogi-brand sweater), KANYE GLASSES, NEHRU JACKET. I don’t think KANYE GLASSES or COSBY SWEATER have made it into crosswords before, but NEHRU is clued as a jacket far too often and I think HAMMER PANTS have made the big time already. Fun stuff.

Highlights in the fill: SHE BANGS, INSANELY, WIKILEAKS, MANNEQUIN, YOWZA, LMFAO, CYA, HOME ICE.

Four stars.

11/15/12 Ink Well crossword, “Staying Loose”

Let’s take a peek at last week’s puzzle, too. MUSCLES sometimes have shortened nicknames, which appear in our theme answers. Delt in MODEL TOWN, lat in ATTILA THE HUN, pec in PENELOPE CRUZ, quad in AQUA DRAMA. Note that each muscle is “stretched” across the space between two words.

Likes: SUN RA (did he realize all the letters in his name appear in “Saturn”?), WEEZER (which is followed by three more proper names), SAZERAC, PHOTO OP, ID BADGE, DREADS. Less pleased with: ULRIC, OMOO, MLI.

3.75 stars.

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14 Responses to Thursday, 11/22/12

  1. RK says:

    Great theme. Really enjoyed it.

    I’m thankful for this great blog/portal.

    Pies look good.

  2. cyberdiva says:

    I loved today’s NYTimes’ puzzle. As is often the case with me, I worked more or less from the bottom up and couldn’t see how PRISONBREAK, BOONDOCKS, and BABYBOOMER were appropriate answers to the clues. Then I got to LADIESFIRST and finally had the aha moment, which let me fill in RAINCHECK with only one letter already in place.

    Like RK (and, I suspect, many others) I’m very thankful for this great blog and all the interesting comments. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  3. klew archer says:

    Don’t quite understand LAT 22 Across “NV might be one”-> REBUS. Is NV used as a rebus for “envy”?

  4. Ray Fontenot says:

    Today’s NY Times puzzle was delightful — both clever and funny. Its unique theme was in the style of Cathy Allis — high praise indeed. Thanks Joel and Will for this delicious Thanksgiving treat!

    • Cathy says:

      I almost never post anywhere, especially about other constructors’ puzzles. But as I solved this NYT, I felt it was right up my alley. Then I read Ray’s comment and I just had to say thanks for putting a smile on my face today.

      Happy Thanksgiving to all and ditto the praise for the puzzle and Team Fiend!

      • Ray Fontenot says:

        Cathy – Was pleased to see your note at the end of a happy Thanksgiving day. If anyone deserves a smile, it’s you.

  5. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Loved both the NYT and LAT. Shall I confess that for 13a of the LAT {Sales tools} I had –M-LES, and what instantly popped into my head was “females.” But cooler heads prevailed. Happy Thanksgiving all, and thanks to Amy and all who assist her.

    As Soren would have said, You Gotta Have Faith. Credo quia absurdum est. I believe not in spite of the fact that it is absurd, but because it is absurd.

  6. Sparky says:

    Those are some pies. I am thankful for Amy and the bloggers who contribute here. Happy Thanksgiving.

  7. Gareth says:

    The theme answers in the NYT were astonishingly creative, bravo!

    Really neat idea from DonCC too! Kinda wish the phrases were a little more cohesive… wandered around from cat breeds to cats in specific situations to cat colours. Though I guess the necessity to have the themers cross in the corners is quite severe! My go-to [Longtime pop group with mostly self-named albums] is Led Zeppelin, who don’t fit. :(

  8. haari says:

    Anyone else soccer minded and put RETURF for [Fix the pitch again] in the WP puzzle? Sure messed up my solving!

  9. RK says:

    @klew archer From the crosswordcorner blogspot for LAT:

    NV might be one : REBUS. I stared at this answer for the longest time, before I realized that it was not talking about the abbreviation for Nevada, but the word “envy.”

  10. John E says:

    Thanks Amy, pannonica, and all the other crew on this blog who bring closure to our crossword solving experience on a daily basis.

  11. Howard B says:

    Giving thanks for many, many things this year (including the Thursday puzzles here).
    Also to Amy for all her time and effort contributed to this blog, and to all others who contribute to puzzles in their own ways. May you all have a happy holiday, and a great year ahead.

Comments are closed.