Happy New Year! Thanks for visiting Diary of a Crossword Fiend in 2012. Jeffrey crunched the numbers, and we reviewed 1,862 crosswords during the year. Me, I blogged 865 puzzles. (I even remember a few of them.) This was the first year that the other members of Team Fiend covered more than half of the puzzles, and I’m pretty sure all of you are as pleased with that as I am. More viewpoints, more energy, more perspectives from regular constructors (Matt, Doug, Neville, and Gareth all publish puzzles regularly), more jokes, more smart references I don’t always get. Thanks to the entire team—scholarly Pannonica, goofball Sam, dry/wry Jeffrey, friendly Neville, meta-champ Joon, Doug with superior standards for fill, Gareth bringing the African vibe (and spellings), meta-king Matt, new kid Andy, newsy T, pinch hitters Janie and Angela and Dave, Jared who will be enticed back into the fold, and one-timer Wade (hoping to wrangle more reviews out of him since his one outing in 2012 was so fun).
John Farmer’s New York Times crossword
Is that why Lincoln and Django Unchained were both released this year? Because we were coming right up on the 150th anniversary of ABRAHAM LINCOLN signing the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION for the ABOLITION OF SLAVERY?
Favorite part of this theme: The inclusion of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Beecher Stowe in the clue for 18a/61a. Lincoln got dinged for focusing on the role of white men in bringing about abolition. Nice touch, John.
Glad to see that 2d filled out as BUXOM rather than BUSTY. BUXOM is a great word with Old English roots. Other likes: MINI ME, LAB RATS, CAST LOTS, BANYAN tree, Jerry ORBACH, the ROBINS of spring (though some robins do winter over), ZOWIE, and [Comment from a kvetcher], OY VEY. As Will Shortz’s correspondent asked in the letter he read at the ACPT in Wordplay, “‘The kvetcher’s cry, OY VEY? I don’t get it. How is it used? Is it a Northern thing?”
Not excited by crosswordese ARETE, Nita NALDI, and Sue ANE Langdon.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “In Range”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle offers a RANGE of theme entries, in that you’ll find the word RANGE somewhere within all four of the 15-letter Across entries:
- 17-Across: An [Unintended upshot] could be called a BOOMERANG EFFECT.
- 25-Across: [Updo, for one] refers to a HAIR ARRANGEMENT. Um, does anyone really go to a stylist and request a “hair arrangement?” Given my lack of hair, I’m not qualified to offer a decisive answer, but I highly doubt it.
- 47-Across: To some, TANGERINE ORANGE is a [Reddish-yellow shade]. To me, it’s redundant.
- 62-Across: ["Drop by more often!"] is another way to say DON’T BE A STRANGER. Great way to close out the theme entries.
Regular readers (Hi, Mom!) know I prefer consistency in the hidden word gimmick–the hidden word should either: (1) be completely contained within one word in all of the theme entries; (2) straddle the two words in each theme entry; or (3) be an equal mix of (1) and (2). Here, RANGE straddles words only once; in the other three cases, it’s entirely self-contained. So this isn’t my cup of coffee. That said, there are bits in here I like a lot, which is saying something given how cumbersome it is to construct a smooth grid with 60 theme squares. There was IN PEN, REHAB, DUAL ROLES, BLITZ, OBSTACLES, ONE LEG, BIG A (Aqueduct?), and [Former Surgeon General C. Everett] KOOP. On the other hand, there was also REPR, EER, ECOL, ACAD, TRA LA, and EZRAS.
Favorite entry = GO FORMAL, to [Opt for a suit and tie]. Favorite clue = [Play ground?] for STAGE.
Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The power duo of Don and Zhouqin is back with a holiday puzzle. But it’s so last year! I’m surprised the NEW YEAR’S EVE puzzle is running today instead of December 31. Theme:
- 17a. [When to don a 40-Down or prepare to throw 11-Down], NEW YEAR’S EVE.
- 62a. [Ball-dropping site, or what this puzzle's circled letters form?], TIMES SQUARE.
- 11d. [See 17-Across], CONFETTI.
- 40d. [See 17-Across, PARTY HAT.
- The central square of 5-letter words with circled letters contains four words that can precede "time" in familiar phrases. 30a. [Extra], SPARE. 45a. [In the area], LOCAL. 30d. [Tee size], SMALL. 31d. [No better, no worse], EQUAL.
Are you troubled by the etymological connection between 1a: LENSES and 1d: LENTIL, or did you like the echo? Even though they share a root (the lens took its name from having a shape similar to a lentil), the words are distinct enough in meaning that I like the combo. You can’t see through a lentil or eat lenses.
- 38a. [Interpret without hearing], LIPREAD.
- 3d. ["Take it easy!"], “NOW, NOW!”
- 12d. [Greek's neighbor], ALBANIAN.
- 22a. [Phrase on a diet food label], LESS FAT. Really and truly? It sounds contrived, but apparently the phrase can mean either “<3 g of fat” or “≥25% less fat than the standard version, which may in fact be loaded with fat.”
- 44a. [Longfellow's bell town], ATRI.
- 35d. [Average average], CEE. Really, it’s a C. Teachers give out C’s, not cees.
- 46d. [Extra one who's "out"], ODD MAN. Basically a 6-letter partial, no?
- TARO, UNS, ORAN crossing EIRE, SSE, LAVE, and LEA add no zest to the fill.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “The World Didn’t End”
It’s Matt’s annual roundup crossword. (You do this every year, don’t you, Matt?)
- 16a. [With "The," hit summer movie with Robert Downey, Jr.], AVENGERS.
- 23a. [Cruise ship that capsized off Italy's coast in January 2012], COSTA CONCORDIA.
- 37a. [If it had happened, you wouldn't be reading this], MAYAN APOCALYPSE.
- 51a. [Where Michael Phelps won even more medals], LONDON OLYMPICS.
- 63a. [Snacks snapped up after its manufacturer went bankrupt], TWINKIES. Those get a 28-Across from me (UGH).
- 29d. [Natural ___ (subject of "fracking" in 2012)], GAS.
- 35d. [He unleashed "Gangnam Style" on YouTube in 2012], PSY. Psy and MC Hammer stopped by the CNN stage to see Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper after their Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve (three apostrophes!) performance on the ABC stage. Kathy told Psy he must have money coming out of his butt now. He may have misheard her because he replied that it meant a lot coming from her. Then Psy and Hammer departed, and Anderson asked who the guy with Psy was.
Yes, that was the year that was.
- 26a. [Zeus's sister (and lover)], HERA. Grosser than Twinkies. There’s a chart of “Zeus’s Affairs” and offspring. Yes, that’s right. Those were affairs. Fully consensual!
- 66a. ["Tickety ___" (animated Nick Jr. show)], TOC. New to me. Matt’s got preschoolers so he’s in the Nick Jr. demographic.
- 70a. [Jane's Addiction album "Ritual ___ Habitual"], DE LO. Never heard of it. Also a legal term.
- 41d. [He played the youngest son on "Eight Is Enough"], ADAM RICH. Nicholas!
- 49d. [Getting all ___ your face], UP IN. Slangy partial? Works for me. We would also have accepted [All ___ your bidness].