George W Bush self-descriptively / WED 12-5-12 / Singers Shannon Reeves / Privateer's domain / 2010 mining disaster locale / Limburger cheese quality

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Constructor: Jim Hilger

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium



THEME: STICK (69A: Feature of this puzzle's three long Down answers) — down answers are foods that come on a STICK, which is represented in the grid by three "I"s piled one on top of the other. All theme answers are clued [Treat that comes on a 69-Across]

  • ALLDAYSUCKERIII (wow, it really looks terrible written horizontally)
  • CARAMELAPPLEIII
  • FROZENBANANAIII

Word of the Day: PULE (12D: Act the crybaby) —
intr.v., puled, pul·ing, pules.
To whine; whimper.


[Perhaps from French piauler, of imitative origin.]


Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/pule#ixzz2E90ztYaj
• • •

I got no problem with this. The grid is pretty dull, but certainly serviceable, and I like the little visual trick with the "I"s. There are any number of other foods served on a stick, but they probably don't have the virtue of being 12 letters long (necessary for the STICK gag to work here). There are really only nine squares worth of visual interest in the puzzle, but the originality of concept is enough oomph for me today. Took me a long time to pick up the theme, which isn't that surprising given that I typically start at the top of the grid. I worked my way down and around and didn't really bother much with the long Downs at first because I was filing in the grid around them so fast. There wasn't much to slow me down here. I had a very short period of confusion at 1D: Dermatologist's concern (CYST). There are a surprisingly large number of answers that could work there. Well, at least three (see also SKIN, MOLE). But CLAD was obvious, so CYST quickly became obvious, so no significant hold-up there. Had the bottom of the APPLE answer before I realized exactly what kind we were dealing with. Don't really know what an ALL-DAY SUCKER is. I think it's one of those gigantic lollipops that I associate with the area near the entrance to Disneyland/World. I know the term from Stevie Wonder:


I said the grid was pretty dull, and I stand by that comment, but I like both the quality and proximity of the words PUNGENCY (46A: Limburger cheese quality) and CULPRIT (50A: Guilty one). They have a certain fanciness that I admire. PASS/FAIL (35A: Grade option that doesn't affect one's grade point average) is a good answer, but as a prof. I hate that grade option so much that I can't get too excited by seeing it in the grid. Just take your course and take your grade and quit being a coward.

Bullets:
  • 20A: Henry VIII's house (TUDOR) — Me: "Did he really live in a TUDOR house? ... oh, right, not that kind of 'house'."
  • 23A: Opposite of raises (RAZES) — Homophonitude! Clever.
  • 72A: 2010 mining disaster locale (CHILE) — I'd forgotten this even happened. The world's full of too many disasters for me to keep straight. 
  • 4D: Betty Ford Center program, for short (DETOX) — Had CELEB written in here at one point (?). Might also have considered REHAB.
  • 8D: George W. Bush, self-descriptively (UNITER) — twice in one week, this word. Like George W. Bush, this answer should go into hiding.
  • 13D: Singers Shannon and Reeves (DELS) — Pretty sure those are all the DELS in the world, except maybe DEL Taco.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

73 comments:

Twangster 12:11 AM  

And ACNE too.

r.alphbunker 12:11 AM  

I laughed out loud when I got the theme. With a theme like that I would have enjoyed the puzzle even if all the other fill was different kinds of African antelopes.

I loved my initial answer, SpARE for {44D Near miss, maybe}. I was thinking the near miss was a strike.

Rube 12:28 AM  

r.alphbunker: I too had SpARE before SCARE... must be one of those great minds things. I also had epic before OPUS, but that was it for writeovers.

I'm sure glad dubya called himself a UNITER because there are not very many of us out here who would agree... quite to the contrary, in fact.

I've never had a FROZENBANANA on a stick. Doesn't sound all that appetizing to me.

Happy hump day.

Tobias Duncan 12:42 AM  

I thought GW was the decidER

jae 12:46 AM  

Cute Wed. and we finally get a Bush clue for UNITER.   Easy-medium for me. My only erasure was SAnd for SALT.   Pretty smooth grid with a tasty theme.  I liked it. 

Anoa Bob 1:57 AM  

I really liked this puzzle. When I saw the III at the end of ALL DAY SUCKER, I was wondering if there has been some third iteration of the basic product, one following the II version.

So when STICK and the III of CARAMEL APPLE filled in at about the same time, I chuckled at the now evident sight gag. Kind of a rebusy thing, no? Very clever.

The low black square count, 32, opens up space for fill that I think is a notch or two above serviceable.

chefwen 2:15 AM  

Gotta get my two cents in before the power goes off. Granddaddy of a thunderstorm here, quite unusual for this area. Don't know what happened to Skippy when he was a pup, but right now he is a drooling, whining, shaking, mess of a dog. Poor baby.

Thought the puzzle was super easy, got the theme early on after filling in ALL DAY and figuring out that 69A was stick. One write-over with 45D net before SUM.

Much to my family's dismay, I love Limburger Cheese, they make me wrap it in foil and put it in a plastic container before storing it in the fridge. I only get it when visiting Wisconsin and they all cringe when they see me heading out to the local cheese shop. The PUNGENCY to me is pure heaven. I know, you are all cringing. Another favorite are SPRING ROLLS.

A little easy for a Wednesday but I'll take it.

Just had a thunderclap hit that literally made me jump approx. two inches out of my chair. You should be here @Rube, this one is going down in the books.

Gopman 4:36 AM  

Hand up for ACNE. Also had PUNGENCE before figuring out CLOYS. Fun puzzle.

Allday Cur Metime 5:41 AM  

Laughed when I saw the bleedover UNITER!

Fun idea.

haven't eaten anything of a stick for 30 years despite being from Minnesota! Anyone familiar familiar with the Minnesota state Fair know they even serve salad on a stick!

@r.alphbunker, @rube
Weird...
I too had SPare but for SPareribs before SPRINGROLL.

Very foodie overall, in addition to the theme answers, one has aforementioned SPRINGROLL, SALT, PUNGENCY of cheese, PITA, LUAU, BBQ GRILL, BATCH of cookies.
+ DIP and CHILE...
Wash it down with NIPS from flasks, beer (AIL?) ONTAP, followed by DETOX later.

METIME seems fresh, as does CULPRIT.

@Twangster
I would not start a puzzle with CYST, wonder if that could be excised...hand up for acne.

By the way, when I think UNCUT, I don't think of DVDs! I think of foreign men. ;)

Anonymous 6:53 AM  

LAMBSISKABOB. UK spelling.
SATAYCHICKEN
MELMANSTOAST (my favourite)

Milford 7:04 AM  

I really liked both the theme and the puzzle, lots of great words like PUNGENCY, GLOBAL, TWIN ENGINE, CULPRIT, ENAMEL, FEDERAL. The theme was fun to decipher.

And food themes will always win with me! @Rube - would it sound any better if the banana was dipped in chocolate and rolled in crushed peanuts?

OTD 7:15 AM  

Nice puzzle and theme, which took me a while to figure out. Liked PUNGENCY. Brought back old memories of my grandfather who liked Limburger on crackers.

RodeoToad 7:18 AM  

Del Taco! Holy crap I haven't thought of those in years and would have assumed they were either gone or just never existed outside of Wichita Falls, the only place I ever saw one. They're still around, though, and in a lot of states, but distributed pretty meagerly, at least in Texas--17 stores, but only one in Houston, for example.

wordie 7:21 AM  

Kinda fun, very easy puzzle. I was worried when the first long down seemed to have two I's in a row, but then I cottoned onto the gimmick, and filled in all the other I's.

I just don't see "deice" as de-ice. I was thinking this was a word I never heard of. When the answer appeared, I thought, is this another word for seaman?

RodeoToad 7:38 AM  

Further updates on Del Taco explaining why I haven't heard anything about them: They did not have any Texas stores from 1992 until this year. The pre-1992 stores had been sold to Taco Bell. The Houston store opened up only a few months ago. Do share your Del Taco stories on this page.

Z 7:38 AM  

Highlight of the day - UNITER. And I'm sorry, but I think WS lied to you, @acme, because that is just too precious to be anything but intentional on his part.

Avoided the whole skin issue by starting with UNCUT and working into the NW from below. TUDOR first made CYST, another bleedover, obvious.

FEDERAL, PUNGENCY, TWIN ENGINE, SPRING ROLL, ME TIME, CULPRIT, ENAMEL, PASS/FAIL, SNAFU, TUDOR, BATCH, CLOYS - there are lots of great words today that we don't see every day. I'd say the fill is better than usual today.

Glimmerglass 7:41 AM  

Finished the puzzle (quite easy for a Wed.) and looked at the sets of three i's and said "Huh? Maybe if they were connected they'd look a little like a stick. Nah, that's stupid. Rex will have a better explanation." Well, he didn't. Looks terrible vertically, too.

Sarah 7:44 AM  

Thanks for the Del Fuegos clip -- having been a teenager in the 1980s and having had kids in the 2000s it was great to see Dan Zanes not in his children's troubadour persona. I still own 2 Del Fuegos albums and give them a spin every now and then.

Thinking of my teen years, of course ACNE was my go to rather than CYST. That plus REHAB instead of DETOX made the NW more of a challenge than it should have been.

Z 7:50 AM  

@Rodeo Toad - The first Michigan Del Taco is a half mile from my house. It replaced a locally owned donut shop that was run by a couple of dog loving sisters. The next nearest donut shops to my house have been replaced by a Middle Eastern restaurant and a pharmacy. I now have two Tim Horton's and a Dunkin Donuts within a mile of home, instead. Fortunately, the bakery that is owned and operated by a family that still speaks with a heavy accent even though they opened in 1964 is still within walking distance of my house. We also have four high quality, locally owned, Mexican restaurants in town. I have a strong prejudice against corporate food.

joho 8:10 AM  

I thought the theme was as fresh and charming as the sweet treats on a stick.

Loved SCRAM, PUNGENCY, METIME, SPRINGROLL, BATCH and CULPRIT. I did not think the fill was in any way dull.

Fantastic clue for RAZES.

Unexpected fun from Jim Hilger ... thank you!

evil doug 8:14 AM  

Yeah, the current guy is so much better at that uniting stuff. Snafu, indeed. W is getting some positive press today on his comments seeking a sensible, and sensitive, solution to the immigration debate.

Monday through Wednesday are my "Head Solving Days". That means I'm too cheap to buy the paper when I suspect the puzzles will be low in the challenge quotient. I try to get the long theme answers by intuition or by quickly solving a few crosses sans writing instrument, so I can return the paper to the Starbucks rack unharmed.

What I liked about today was that, for a change, there were enough surprises that simply applying the first trite word popping into my mind was often incorrect. 'Cyst' was the fourth four-letter skin deal I came up with. Yule, opus, razes, recess, psis, me time, pungency, culprit, enamel, salt---after a couple of missteps, I started doubting every cliche answer that normally fills the bill. So pretty doggone nice Wednesday in my book. Took some effort.

When I think of all-day suckers I remember those Sugar Daddy hard caramel deals.

Evil

jackj 8:41 AM  

Jim Hilger, long time no see; likely this puzzle has been in a Shortz queue for a long time but it was worth the wait for the fill, (the themers could have stayed at the Fair and played with the deep-fried Kool-Aid a bit longer).

I suppose the theme entries are all clever and correct, with the three vertical I’s creating a sort of visual STICK to support the questionable comestibles. But, when will they all learn that without Liz Gorski’s flair, they’re all just pretenders with graphic puzzles?

But, back to the fill, the fun of the puzzle, that started early on with Bush 43’s “I’m a UNITER, not a divider” (giving an alternate to Acme’s “Minister” clue for UNITER two days ago). Then we jump to PULE and though you can hate the idea of a whimpering wuss, you can’t hate the inclusion of such a clever word.

RAZES is excellent as clued and METIME seems too cutesy, it’s message vastly inferior to Garbo’s, “I want to be alone”. Moving along and finding PUNGENCY describing Limburger cheese, well, it’s maybe the nicest thing ever said about that reeking curd.

Finally, two more that hit the spot, the rarely seen CULPRIT is right out of a P. D. James novel and SNAFU is a reminder of a £10 word coined by the Brits and honored by the Oxford University Press as their Word of the Year for 2012, a fancy pants synonym for SNAFU, “omnishambles”. (If SNAFU had too much PUNGENCY for them they could have just reverted to “bollix”).

An “A” for the fill, a gentleman’s “C” for the theme.

Thanks, Jim.

I buy food from a truck 8:55 AM  

I stopped going to Del Taco when they pulled tripe tacos from their menu.

chefbea 9:03 AM  

What a yummy puzzle!!! So much food, I don't know where to start. And an easy fun puzzle to boot.

Pleased 9:23 AM  

I only have one word for this puzzle: enjoyable.

JFC 9:27 AM  

I think all youse guys jumping on acne are being too rash.

I'm shocked Rex feels that way about W. He was in hiding when he held the office.

Squeezingf that caramel apple into 12 vertical squares left a mess....

JFC

dk 9:52 AM  

PASSFAIL. Sorry to say but when one is being considered for grad school your high pass, pass, low pass and fail are often made into 4,3,2,1 and used to recalibrate your GPA. Only in grad school is a C as good as an A, unless you want a post doc, teaching position or a job with NSA.

I do go to te MN State Fair and can confirm everything is available on a stick.

I got the stick part right away and this one was a fast Wednesday and outside of CULPRIT and PUNGENCY not so much.

���� (2 Stars)

John V 9:58 AM  

Fun! Got the theme with FROZENBANANA, already had STICK at 69A,'cause that just fit and filled itself in. Easy/medium Wed, 10 miler, Norton Heights to PortChester. CYST was hard and last to fall, 'cause, yeah, deice was hard to parse, without the hyphen.

Good one, Jim Hilger. Fits well with your prior, quirky puzzles. Wayt to go to mix it up on a Wednesday.

Gill I. P. 10:08 AM  

Fun puzzle with some great words...
I love food on a stick. In Gilroy they serve chocolate covered garlic on a stick!
What did the first stick say to the other stick?
Answer: Cmon, don't be in the mud!

lawprof 10:16 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle with one writeover: noel/YULE at 14A. Otherwise pretty much a breezy Wednesday.

I do, however, beg to differ with the clue for PASSFAIL. That option will certainly affect one's GPA if one fails the test.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

Not all the Dels. Milwaukee Braves had two catchers named Del in the 50's, Crandall and Rice. What are the odds on that?

Laurence Katz 10:22 AM  

Other musical "Dels": Del McCoury, the Del Vikings, Lana Del Rey, Del Amitri and, best of all, Del the Funky Homosapien.

jberg 10:24 AM  

I liked this one when I finally got it, but it took me longer than it should have. Working from the top, I thought of ALL-DAY SUCKER & CARAMEL APPLE pretty quickly, but they didn't fit - then, not knowing ELIE Saab (I drove one for years, but it didn't have a first name), I guessed ELmo, and thought there was some kind of diminutive ending -IMI on the long downs. Then I just wrote in ENCL wrong by carelessness, giving me STInK - thinking maybe it had something to do with that pungent limburger (which I, too,love!) Only then did I see the error of my ways and finish the puzzle. I guess that's what I want on a Wednesday, so no complaints!

On the stick - it works better if you use a sans-serif font.

Mo Hel 10:25 AM  

@Z - You say, "Avoided the whole skin issue by starting with UNCUT"

Intentionally funny, or just another case of "Going out to the garden to pick vegetables and weed"?

Sandy K 10:26 AM  

Maybe because my letter i is kind of small, i FAILed to see the visual of 1 long STICK.

Kept thinking revealer should be STICKS...until i came here and learned that the SUM of i+i+i=the LENGTH of 1 long STICK.

Now I think it's cute...I I I, I think I need glasses.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:29 AM  

Clever theme, didn't expect it on a Wednesday, liked it.

Two Ponies 10:42 AM  

I'm still on the fence re: the stick visual but really enjoyed the fill.
@ ED, ditto on the Sugar Daddy.
@ Andrea, still laughing at your uncut clue.

fruitypants 10:43 AM  

I so wanted 8D to be DECIDER...

syndy 11:55 AM  

Did not care for this schtick-like gimmick. I felt like I was being given the finger 3X! Sorry that's how I feel, A tuesday level puzzle they couldn't bother to finish.Ill give you PUNGENCY but for me I good word does not redeem a cheap trick like this!

Sparky 12:01 PM  

Hand up for rehab before DETOX. Had deposit before FEDERAL, and spare thinking of bowling. Crunchy words throughout.

I, too, need glasses. Put ENC at 66D which held me back in that section. When I caught the error all was made clear and I saw the STICKS. Chuckle. @Acme: Me too re UNCUT.

I'll be travelling plus my Florida computer is disabled so my visits here will be spotty depenidng on the kindness of neighbor and sister-in-law.

Have a good December one and all. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwansa, Arrgh to @Tobias and Pastafarians everywhere.

Sparky 12:03 PM  

That's depending, of course.

Susan McConnell 12:06 PM  

I thought this was super-cute. Had ALLDAYSUCKER, CARAMELAPPLE and FROZENBANANA filled in with the three blanks at the bottom. Got the III on the end of FROZENBANANA and at first wondered "ice?", then clicked with the stick. Like I said, super-cute.

Ulrich 12:18 PM  

@ACME: Greetings to the unshy one!

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

i write my "I" with the crosses. dont like this puzzle.

Z 12:23 PM  

@MoHel- I wish I was that funny.

efrex 1:00 PM  

As a lover of vertical theme answers, I got no complaints. Thought the fill was generally solid-to-excellent, with the only exception being the ELIE/NENES cross. Liked all the 6+ letter acrosses.

As a Jeff Dunham fan, I'm only a bit sad that JOSEJALAPENOIII couldn't be squeezed in... :)

Well done, Mr. Hilger!

Sfingi 1:07 PM  

No corndog? Various State Fair treats.

After Googling for NBC and ELIE, was able to corret BATCH for dozen, DETOX for rEhab, SALT for meLT and NENES for for NiNoS. Wasn't NENEa crossword goose?

One's a UNITER, the other a decider. What's the brother going to be?

Sparky 1:09 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chip Hilton 1:14 PM  

It was either fULE or PULE and I guessed correctly, having never heard the word before. Liked the RAZES clue, otherwise, workmanlike.

Craving a corndog for some reason.

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

@sfingi

LOSER to Hillary, I hope.

Lewis 2:00 PM  

@sfingi -- INCITER?

Felt easy for a Wednesday, though I did re-learn PULE. My mom used to make us frozen bananas, trying to convince us that rock hard brown bananas that slid through our hands (no, we had no STICKS) was a real treat. I think she got the idea for re-purposing overripe bananas from Hints From Heloise. We hated them.

Gore 2:04 PM  

Dubya was a bunglER, goofER and foot-in-mouthER.

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

Considering the theme, I thought the Chinese Appetizer would be potSTICKer -- it fits.

Bird 2:10 PM  

Wow. Lots of write-overs and one mistake made this challenging. Even though I like the idea of the theme and the long downs, I didn’t care for this one too much and once I got the theme at 11D it was easy to put in the other I’s at the bottoms of 3D and 7D.

My only mistake was putting NIB at 41D instead of 47D. That cost me some time and ink.

Write-overs include KOED at 1A, NOEL at 14A, REHAB at 4D, SULK at 12D and HEM at 45D.

Lowpoints, for me, are the RGL, RCD (and I’ve never seen a vane with more than 8 points) and NEE.

UNITER again? Ugh.

I liked METIME, SPRING ROLL and, ironically, PUNGENCY.

Happy Humpday!

Rex Parker 3:35 PM  

To be clear about George W.—what I meant to convey about UNITER was that the word should go into hiding. I should've said "like Salinger," bec. no one would've then thought that I was offering some kind of negative commentary on Salinger. But Bush was in the clue and is very rarely seen any more, so that's the direction I went with the reference. No commentary intended.

Everyone is still free to be offended, though; god bless America.

RP

sanfranman59 3:47 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Wed 10:20, 11:48, 0.88, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:12, 5:57, 1.04, 64%, Medium-Challenging

JFC 3:51 PM  

Rex,

You teach English. I hardly understand it. But the way you framed the sentence about W clearly implied W SHOULD go into hiding. If you meant it the way you said, all you needed to do was add "has" or "apparently has" after Bush. Aside from that W is polarizing and any reference to him will bring out the boo birds without any help from you....

JFC

evil doug 4:02 PM  

I take your failure to capitalize 'God' as negative commentary, and am thus offended as you have freed me to do.

Free at last....

Evil

Guy who reads with an intent to understand what the writer said, not to get pissed off 4:05 PM  

@JFC - No, Rex recognized the fact that, absent his comments yesterday, W has been in hiding for the past 4 years. UNITER should go into hiding like W.

But, to quote a man far wiser than I, "Everyone is still free to be offended, though; god bless America."

retired_chemist 4:24 PM  

Enjoyable. Medium. Spent a minute or two chasing a typo (the Y of ON YAP/YIER), else I would have had an easy time. Same feelings about the cute fill as most everybody.

The sticks, not so much. I kinda like real words better. But CHILE sort of resembles a STICK, so the S is cool.

Agree with Rex on PASS/FAIL. Those who chose that option in my experience mostly didn't keep up with the work.

Thanks, Mr. Hilger.

Spiro 5:00 PM  

With all the political commentary, I am surprised nobody mentioned that 29D is incorrect. The correct answer is HIMSELF.

M and A 5:11 PM  

Monday= 7 U's
Tuesday= 7 U's
Wednesday = 9 U's
Thursday = 11 U's (est.)
Friday = 13 U's (est.)
Saturday = 15 U's (dreamin')

Wanted LIMEPOPSICLEIII. However, I suspect no limes were harmed, in the making of said treat.
M&A

Carola 5:16 PM  

Checking in late, having spent the day on TWIN-ENGINE regional jets. Liked the puzzle a lot - fun to find out why my early ideas of ALL DAY SUCKER and CARAMEL APPLE "didn't fit." And I liked the many don't-usually-see-them-in-a-crossword entries. Cute to pair PASS-FAIL with RECESS - somebody's not too serious about school.

mac 8:47 PM  

Cute puzzle, easy.

Trader Joe's has come out with a new hors d'oeuvre: chicken Parm on a stick.

John V 9:43 PM  

@mac That is truly scary, fitting for a last place, consolation prize at Westport, no?

Rex Parker 10:12 PM  

That's the spirit, evil.

RP

sanfranman59 1:19 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:27, 6:46, 0.95, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:25, 8:57, 0.83, 7%, Easy
Wed 10:10, 11:48, 0.86, 20%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:52, 3:41, 1.05, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:21, 4:41, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:05, 5:57, 1.02, 59%, Medium

Darlene 8:48 PM  

@Rex ET ALIA Hand up for being impressed with the pH sale and the scientifically correct locations of BASES, WATER, ACIDS, 7 PH squares and the overall strength of the grid. I'm embarrassed how long it took me to get the PH rebus as a former biology major and practicing MD for years. This especially is true since I wanted PHASER ( mild Trekker), grew up in SE PA, went to med school there and had a hospital rotation 2 blocks from VET's Stadeum, the former home of the PHILS. I finally got ACIDS &_SCALE and it quickly fell into place

@Jill &Jack PHine ePHort. Thanks fo an outstanding puzzle.

@ Jack ROFL re: conversations

@ACME late kudos for Monday's (and many previously enjoyable puzzles). I've been trying to get into this blog for months to thank you for them

@ Rex ditto for the great blog!

Spacecraft 12:09 PM  

I wonder what, in OFL's opinion, would be a NON-"dull" grid? Almost every answer seems fresh to me. SSE and the cluster at 59-60-66 aside. @JackJ has alerted me that this is not Mr. Hilger's debut, though I haven't seen his name before. All I can say is, Jim, you've been away too long!

Casting about for a gimme, I began in the NE with CRUE, and so my first long down was FROZENBANANA-- what? PIE? Come to fill out the SE and I have III. I thought it meant "ice," wincing because the pronunciation doesn't quite match.

Not an expert on Chinese cuisine, I didn't know what kind of ROLL (I only know egg) could be at 18a, so I crossed the FEDERAL bridge to the west end. Sometime, someone should clue RIFF as "Jets leader."
I love West Side Story; Leonard, your genius was taken from us all too soon. So it was that ALLDAYSUCKER appeared: hmm, three more I's. Point is, the revealer section was the last place I got to, so STICK was much more of an aha! moment for me than for most.

Loved the clues for PIANO and RAZES. Don't listen to OFL, Jim. This was NOT dull! Come back sooner next time, willya?

Waxy in Montreal 1:56 PM  

I complained about all the tired fill in yesterday's otherwise creative puzzle so today kudos, compliments, congratulations, salutations, etc. to Jim Hilger for staying away from the usual fare of SST, SSN & STA. Agree fully with @Spacecraft that this was really fresh - in fact a veritable LUAU of SPRINGROLLs and DIP.

Weird coincidence: looked up PULCHRITUDE in the dictionary yesterday to verify its exact meaning and noticed the very next entry, PULE. Not being at all familiar with the word, I briefly studied it just in case it should ever show up in the NYT grid. And here it is today! Now if PULK (a small, toboggan-like sleigh) shows up tomorrow, it's the trifecta...

rain forest 2:11 PM  

There may be no "I" in TEAM, but there are apparently three of them in STICK.

Like @spacecraft, I didn't get to the STICK part of the grid until the end so I had the three treats hanging there, unsupported. I initially thought that "treat on a ____" was referring to something like a field trip or day at the fair, or movie. So, I took way longer than the difficulty of the puzzle warranted. Also in agreement with @spacecraft and others, the fill was fresh, sparkly, fun. Liked this one a lot.

DMGrandma 2:51 PM  

A lot of fun words in this one! Because I work puzzles haphazardly, I got the three "i's" in the SE corner before Imgot any of the treats, and briefly panicked thinking I had something wrong that I couldn't see. Left it, moved on, and things worked out. Think I've never see PUNGENCY before, though I know pungent, and fortunately never saw "deice", for I would never have parsed it.

Odd to read Holiday greetings in January.

Dirigonzo 6:00 PM  

I'm too overwhelmed by the nostalgia brought on by the appearance of GTOS in the grid to say anything about the puzzle other than I liked it.

@DMG - I like to think of syndi-time as extending the holiday season by 5 weeks, so Happy Holidays to you, too!

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