Thursday, July 28, 2016

BEQ 12:18 (Ben) 


CS 9:41 (Ade) 


Fireball 8:22 (Jenni) 


LAT 5:30 (Gareth) 


NYT 7:15 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Promo from Brian Cimmet: “Lollapuzzoola 9, the world’s greatest crossword tournament held on a Saturday in August, is happening this year on Saturday, August 13, at All Souls Church in New York City. It’s a full day of original crosswords (amazing), bonus puzzles and games (brilliant), and free snacks (mediocre), all for just $30. You can also solve from home for $12 (and provide your own snacks). Visit for more info. If you have any questions, email tournament director Brian Cimmet at”

Adam Perl’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 28 16, no 0728

NY Times crossword solution, 7 28 16, no 0728

This Thursday trick is similar to a rebus puzzle, but the revealer, LOST ART (39a. [Letter writing, they say … or a hint to eight answers in this puzzle]) tells you to drop the ART rather than squeezing it into the squares that I’ve circled. And! Each ARTless word is also a legit entry in its own right:

  • 1a. [Auto booster], C(ar t)HIEF. I wanted TURBO or NITRO first.
  • 6d. [Ones taking sides], P(art)ISANS.
  • 10a. [Has a ball], P(art)IES.
  • 33a. [One making the rounds?], B(art)ENDER. Nice one!
  • 44a. [Black-and-white Best Picture winner], THE (Art)IST. Mild debit for the lost ART actually meaning ART in this one.
  • 48d. [Went back to square one], REST(art)ED.
  • 67a. [Series opener], P(art) ONE.
  • 69a. [Bond orders], M(art)INIS. Nice one! You think it’s gonna be some dull finance term, and you get James Bond’s drink instead.

I like this change-up from a rebus approach. It was a little bit of a throw to have six artless Acrosses and two Downs, rather than 8/0 or 4/4.


The rest of the fill is pretty solid, nothing junky or out of place in a Thursday grid. I’m watching Tim Kaine’s speech, and was while I was solving the puzzle, so my solving time and blogging attention are both out of whack tonight. I’m calling it 4 stars, over and out. Good night!

Paul Hunsberger’s Fireball Crossword, “Gimme Three Steps” – Jenni’s writeup

A timely theme telegraphed by the 1a [Host of the 2016 Olympic] = RIO. The  revealer explains the “Three Steps” of the title: 38a and 47a are MEDAL CEREMONY. The theme answers contain the medals in rebus form.

  • 6d [Sherwin-Williams paint color similar to Curry] = MARI{GOLD}

    Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 10.53.39 PM

    7/28 FB crossword “Gimme Three Steps” solution grid

  • 23a [Bibliophile’s prize] = {FIRST} EDITION. GOLD and FIRST occupy the same square. As we all know, the GOLD medal is the prize for finishing FIRST.
  • 14d [Mercury] = QUICK{SILVER}
  • 30a [Occurring just under the wire] = LAST {SECOND} This one confused me because I was convinced it was LAST MINUTE. Apparently I’m not quite enough of a procrastinator.
  • 42d [Military accolades for heroic achievement] = {BRONZE} STARS
  • 42a [Stop before heading home] = {THIRD} BASE.

Nice, consistent, solid theme. Not particularly challenging.

A few other things:

  • I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I don’t like Roman numeral answers, and I like them even less when the clue is a math problem. Imagine how I reacted to 16a [XXX² + IX² + VI² + V² + III²] Even more fun when it crosses [Letter in the Hawaiian alphabet] Lucky for me the crossing letter had to be a vowel and there’s only one vowel among the Roman numerals.
  •  4d [Unpaid talk radio participant] is a CALLER. “Long time, first time….”
  • 39d is the trademark long Peter Gordon clue [His statue in Champaign, Illinois, refutes the Jean Sibelius quote “a statue has never been set up in honor of a critic”] The answer is EBERT (as in Roger, of blessed memory.)
  • 26d took me a minute to parse after I filled it in. [Chair alternative] = NOOSE. Oh. That kind of chair.

Maple samara

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: the little green things I always called “maple helicopters” are more properly termed “samara.”

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pitches In” — Jim’s review

The Illustrious BEQ brings us this week’s Thursday romp. I believe this may be the first BEQ in the WSJ dailies, at least since I’ve been blogging. Here he’s added the letters ALTO to various phrases causing a re-parsing to occur and resulting in general wackiness.

WSJ - Thu, 7.28.16 - "Pitches In" by Brendan Emmett Quigley

WSJ – Thu, 7.28.16 – “Pitches In” by Brendan Emmett Quigley

  • 17a. [Knockoff breath mints?] FAKE ALTOIDS. Fake IDs. This works well. Nice.
  • 27a. [Bulging back of a central Pennsylvania city?] ALTOONA HUNCH. On a hunch. I would’ve preferred the “gut feeling” definition of HUNCH. A city with a back doesn’t have a lot of surface sense to me.
  • 42a. [Reason you can’t make a call?] DIAL TONE’S OUT. Dines out. Wow, this must’ve been tough to find.
  • 56a. [Parent’s admonition to a loud kid, and an alternate title for this puzzle] INSIDE VOICE

Add-a-letter themes are usually capped at three. Trying to add four letters to a phrase to get something coherent is pretty ambitious. But this is why BEQ is one of the masters of the game. The only glitch is that ALTO is not INSIDE “on a hunch,” it’s tacked on to the beginning. But other than that, it’s all good.


Check out that NE corner with PIMIENTOS, fully-named IRENE CARA, and TELEPHONY. The structure of the puzzle doesn’t require a triple stack of 9-letters, but BEQ gives it to us anyway out of the goodness of his heart. Just watch out for that silent I in PIMIENTOS.

The SW corner was tougher for me. People don’t usually “say” UNCLE, they “cry” it, don’t they? And I never heard the phrase EN PASSANT (which means “in passing” or “incidentally”) nor its crossing word SNELL (the type of knot used on a fishhook; learn to tie it here). But then, I was never much of a fisherman nor a scout.

I got held up at 40a with the clue [“Tell me what’s troubling you”] which to me sounds like SHARE (instead of I CARE). So this gave me SHOT at 37d for [Gordon Ramsay, e.g.] which made no sense and STALIAN at 40d for [Ranch alternative] which made less sense, but I figured it was just something I didn’t know. I eventually caved and used “Show mistakes” to find that that was wrong. Sadness.

More things I didn’t know: 1) Oxford is an insurance company (see 60a [Oxford rival] for AETNA]. And 2) LESOTHO is a country (it’s completely landlocked by South Africa and about 40% of its population lives below the poverty line; yikes!).

Cluing seemed a touch easier than most WSJ Thursdays. Either that or I was on BEQ’s wavelength. Again, my trouble with EN PASSANT, SNELL, and I CARE meant the SW was last for me. Fave clue: 26d [Body bags?] for SACS.

Oh, I haven’t mentioned GLENDALE (4d, [Arizona Cardinals’ home]) and MOTOROLA (38d, [Modem maker]). But why not clue the latter with respect to TELEPHONY (i.e. [Big name in 13-D])?

Overall a good Thursday challenge with fun fill and cluing throughout. Can’t wait to see the SOPRANO sequel.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “This Time It’s Personal” — Ben’s Review

This Time It's Personal

This Time It’s Personal

Today’s BEQ felt straightforward to me, but there was enough going on in the fill to keep things from getting boring:

  • 20A: Ruling on whether it’s kosher to go back in time and kill your grandfather? — PARADOX LEGAL
  • 39A: “Explain to me again about managing to sleep with all those yaks?” — HOW’VE YOU BED OXEN
  • 54A: Brangelina’s son’s abilities? — MADDOX SKILLS
  • 61D: Publish personal information on the internet with malicious intent, and theme of this puzzle — DOX

I wish there was a slightly more thematic nature to the revealer that tied in to the fact that all of the theme answers have had DOX added to some otherwise common words and phrases.  PARALEGAL, HOW’VE YOU BEEN, and MAD SKILLS become PARADOX LEGAL, HOW’VE YOU BED OXEN, and MADDOX SKILLS, respectively; of these, HOW’VE YOU BED OXEN reads a little bit awkwardly to me – my brain seems unwilling to resolve it as correct, even though it’s certainly a place where a “how’ve” could replace “how have”.  On the other hand, “How’ve you been?” reminds me of the chemistry teacher I had in high school who constantly greeted me with “How’ve you been, Ben?”, to which their only accepted answer was “Been good.” despite the fact that this interchange was never good in my opinion.  So maybe I’m just dealing with some stuff in regards to that answer.

At least the rest of the fill in the puzzle feels more solid with this otherwise more loosely executed theme.  Sure, we have standbys like OREO and OBOE within, but there’s lots of other lovely clues and fill:

  • 13A: Amazon voice-activated assistants — ECHOS (I made this ALEXA, the name of the assistant on the Echo, first.  Incorrect.)
  • 16A: “Nixon in China,” e.g. — OPERA (I had a high school chorus teacher who was in a production of this – it’s the only opera I’ve seen live)
  • 4D: Contra video game company — KONAMI
  • 25D: Pneumonia medicine — AMOXICILLIN (This was an unexpected bit of fill, but I liked it!)
  • 36D: Right field? — RED STATES (Another nice clue)
  • 60D: Davis Love ___ — III (I didn’t like this bit of fill at all since I had no clue who this was.  Apparently, a golfer!  Sports!)

3.5/5 stars.  Fill was nice, but the theme was just okay and a bit loose in execution.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “If At First You Don’t Succeed” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.28.16: "If At First You Don't Succeed"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.28.16: “If At First You Don’t Succeed”

Good morning, everyone! Apologies to all for being MIA the past three days, as I’m in Montréal covering some tennis action. But I’ll definitely make my absence up to you all ASAP. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, includes three 15-letter theme entries in which the first word in each can be used to create a phrase: “come up short.” The fourth theme entry, FLOP, acts as the reveal (64A: [Fail to achieve, and a synonym for the phrase formed by the first words of 19-, 36-, and 49-Across]).

  • COME TO THE RESCUE (19A: [Engage in heroism])
  • UP FOR DISCUSSION (36A: [At issue])
  • SHORT-SHEETED BED (49A: [Popular prank preparation]) – I like the alliterative cluing.

Took a little while to dust off my memory and get THE ASP without the need to any crossings (23A: [“Little Orphan Annie” heavy]). Other than that, it was a smooth solve, but slower than I would have wanted it to go since I was intentionally going at a leisurely pace today. (Have to get back into the groove of speed solving after a few days away.) If you like long fill with prefixes, then you got some of that in this grid with REENTERS (37D: [Goes back onstage]) and UNBUTTON (38D: [Open, as a shirt]). Oh, and I’m so happy that I can leave off on a happy note by thinking about all of those DORF athletic spoofs that I used to watch when I was a kid (53D: [Diminutive Tim Conway character]). Here’s one of the many appearances of Dorf (Conway) on Johnny Carson. So funny!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TARGET (57A: [Something to aim for]) – Starting in 2010, the Minnesota Twins baseball team plays all of its home games at TARGET Field, the stadium the team moved into after spending almost three decades at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Compared to other MLB stadiums, Target Field is small in terms of seating, as its capacity is listed as 38,871. But I hear nothing but great things about the stadium, and I hope to visit it one day soon.

Thank you for the time, and I’ll (hopefully) see you on Friday!

Take care!


C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 160728

LA Times

Okay, sorry about the cryptic message yesterday; it was a combination of exhaustion due to a viral illness plus a very bad day at the animal shelter (and we have many of those).

Today’s puzzle – we’re 3 out of 4 in terms of women constructors this week if anyone is keeping score – and the veteran Ms. Burnikel delivers a common enough theme trope. INSIDESTORY is translated to mean “synonym for story is split across two words in four other theme answers”. These synonyms are LORE, LEGEND, MYTH and TALE, though LORE seems to stick out as not being a singular STORY but rather a body of stories… This may not bother everyone; indeed, I collared a noted puzzle editor, and they didn’t think it a major issue, but consider it noted.

Theme entries:

  • [Host of a program also known as “The Factor”], BILLOREILLY. Eww.
  • [Feature of some German nouns], MALEGENDER.
  • [’60s-’70s sitcom whose four original family members were married over the course of the series], MYTHREESONS. Not a show I know, but then TV didn’t even exist in South Africa then, so it’s not surprising it wasn’t rerun.
  • [Virus symptom, perhaps], FATALERROR. >Computer<.
  • [Private details … or what’s found in this puzzle’s circles], INSIDESTORY.


  • who[Novelist celebrated on Bloomsday], JOYCE. Didn’t know he had a day – the same as South Africa’s Soweto/Youth Day. Everything has a day!
  • [He or I], ELEM. Cute clue, but not the best a-ha when it leads to a clunky non-std. abbr.
  • [“Glee” extra], TEEN. Never watched it, but I’m led to believe it has very few teens, at least in terms of actors…
  • [Pompeo of “Grey’s Anatomy”], ELLEN. Not an ELLEN I know; I tried ALLEN first…
  • [Hobbit on a quest], FRODO. Quick! Name a hobbit not on a quest!
  • [Uncomfortable in singles bars], SHY. Do these still exist? Also, I think it would be normal to feel uncomfortable there. It seems a decidedly uncormfortable place by definition, but then I’m antisocial to the point a lot of people seem to think I’m somewhere on “the spectrum”.
  • [Short reply?], ANS. See above.
  • [Tribute song on John Lennon’s “Imagine”], OHYOKO. Fun, quirky answer.

Functional theme, with the rest of the puzzle made with consummater professionalism – 3.5 Stars.

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18 Responses to Thursday, July 28, 2016

  1. Gary R says:

    Enjoyed both the NYT and WSJ today – though it took me until each puzzle was almost completely solved to understand the theme.

    Jim, I also thought the cluing in the WSJ was on the easy side. I got all six of those long downs off just the first letter. Of course, that required dredging SNELL from my only-know-it-from-crosswords memory. And I did miss the silent “I” in PIMIENTOS – initially opted for an “oes” ending, which brought to mind Dan Quayle’s spelling difficulties from years back.

    Amy, a bit of accounting trivia – in a double-entry accounting system, a “debit” is generally a good thing, either increasing an asset account or decreasing a liability. A “credit” is a negative, increasing a liability or decreasing an asset account. No wonder a lot of people think accountants are a little odd.

    • Jeffrey K, CPA says:

      Actually, in a double-entry system every debit has a corresponding credit, so they aren’t really a good or bad thing. For example, when you sell a product, you debit cash and credit revenue, which are both good things.

      People think accountants are a little odd?

      • Gary R says:

        Guess I was thinking mainly in balance sheet terms – e.g., borrow to buy equipment, debit plant & equipment/credit long- or short-term debt.

        Even in the case of selling a product, you also credit inventory and debit COGS – and if we’re lucky, the credit to revenue outweighs the debit to COGS.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: I agree that it’s an interesting twist on a rebus. And it’s nicely executed. Somehow it did not translate into a fun solving experience. It may be just me, after a long day yesterday.

    But I do feel sad that letter writing is a Lost Art. It’s interesting to see a facet of social interaction that arose at a relatively late point in the history of humanity, evolved into a powerful form of human communication and then begin to disappear. Of course we communicate plenty. But there is a way that letters were meant to sum up recent history and capture a state of mind that was unique. I’ll be curious to see if we find a way to replace it.

    • Michael says:

      Really appreciated the constructor’s effort here, but for some reason the fun was also missing from my solving experience. Possibly due to the abundance of dull shorter answers like PEAT, ASST, LALO, LORI, OREO, SAAR and the overused OHHI. With the theme answers also being short, I think there was a missed opportunity to open up the grid, or, as Jeff (Chen) likes to say, have it breathe a bit more.

      • Joe Pancake says:

        I agree with your assessment — clever, but not all that fun. I thought the constructor/editor missed a few opportunities to make it better too.

        For one thing, the inclusion of SAAR was bad. As Matt Gaffney pointed out over at Rex’s blog, it very easily could have been changed to SEAR crossing EDEN — very strange nobody noticed this.

        For another thing, the cluing in the NW should have been more solver-friendly, in my opinion. It was already very heavy on not-super-well-known proper nouns — YANNI, LORI, ENFIELD — why reference more proper nouns in the clues for both CLEFT and FIT? That section was a total slog for me. (Although I do appreciate the Lori Singer misdirect. I kept trying to figure out how KENNY LOGGINS could fit in four squares.)

        • Gary R says:

          It’s a grid that is pretty heavy on 3- and 4-letter entries – I’m not sure how exciting you can make that fill. “Sear,” “Eden,” and “pan” strike me as fairly boring (unless there’s some really clever cluing involved). And while “sear” is probably more accessible than SAAR, this is a Thursday.

          I can see where the NW could have caused some pain, especially given the theme-related challenge at 1-A. But I thought the proper names there were fair – and I’m not a Yanni fan, nor a movie buff, nor a car guy. Gloria ESTEFAN was a gimme, and I thought the ENFIELD rifle was pretty well-known.

  3. Matt says:

    DNF the NYT, I guess, because I never got the BartENDER rebus. I interpreted BENDER as ‘one who goes on a bender’– so, close, but no cigar.

  4. Paul Coulter says:

    Amen to what Jenni said about the I in the Fireball’s OKINA. I’ve found it’s almost always faster to go around Roman Numeral math problems. I also agree about the timeliness, and the title was a touch of genius. I enjoyed the nice take on a two way rebus, but would have liked the puzzle even better if it had a bit more theme density.

  5. Phil says:

    I knew en passant but never heard of dox. I must be old.

  6. Mac says:

    With respect to BEQ’s Thursday, got a real problem with the clue for rebar. Particularly since it is shot for reinforcing bar, how can you include “bar”in the clue? Am I missing something? Seems this is something even a beginning constructor would avoid – and BEQ is a master.

    • sharkicicles says:

      I thought that was a bit odd, along with another puzzle (I think it was KAC’s?) the other day with “Network” in the clue for botnet. Still both good puzzles though.

  7. Dan says:

    Only very rare chess captures are made EN PASSANT.

  8. Lois says:

    Just want to say that I did have fun with the NYT puzzle! I really enjoyed it, though I didn’t know or get LORI or ENFIELD, and therefore I didn’t get CLEFT though I think I should have. I didn’t understand scatter = ELLA, but I just got it. It’s funny. Didn’t know KIOWA, but it filled itself in.

    • Lois says:

      I also want to include the impossible FIT, as Joe Pancake points out above. Still, a lot of giggles and fun, but I had to count the eight trick answers.

  9. Garrett says:

    I was unable to figure-out the NW corner of the Fireball. I did not know that wild onions are called “ramps” and I did not know “okina.” Here is an article about ramps:

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I had ramps one spring. The chefs had picked them in the woods at their Michigan property, and they used ramps in a number of menu items during the few short weeks they were in season. Green shoots more in the garlic flavor family than onions, they sure made for a delicious chicken entrée.

      Mind you, I was tormented by The World’s Strongest Garlic Burps and Reflux for the next 18 hours. No more ramps for me!

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