Thursday, August 25, 2016

BEQ untimed (Ben) 


CS 6:38 (Ade) 


LAT 5:26 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:40 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Andrew Zhou’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 25 16, no 0825

NY Times crossword solution, 8 25 16, no 0825

The theme is an unusual one. ST. BERNARD, the person and not the dog breed, is the 65a. [French abbot thought to have originated the saying depicted symbolically in this puzzle]. That saying involves a PAVED ROAD, 6a. [What the circled squares in this puzzle symbolize]. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” the saying goes, and the diagonal 14 circled letters spell out GOOD INTENTIONS, and the 15th square is a rebus with {HELL} in it, where SEAS{HELL} and RAISE {HELL} intersect.

The fill is relatively clean since there are just the two traditional theme answers and they’re not in the same areas of the grid as the diagonal swath of triple-checked squares. AGA, ANNI, ANODIC, APER, and VEE are blah, but fair game for Thursday solvers.

Seven more things:

  • 18a. [Goya or Del Monte product], GREEN PEAS. With Goya in the clue, I was expecting some refried beans or something else Latino. Did not know Goya sold frozen veggies; their canned peas are labeled “sweet peas.” Del Monte is all canned, and all “sweet peas.”
  • 22a. [Actress Williams of “Game of Thrones”], MAISIE. She plays the kickass Arya Stark.
  • 57a. [Something pulled out before turning in], SLEEP SOFA. Is this a regionalism? Sofabed and sleeper sofa are my go-tos.
  • 24d. [Illinois city where John Deere is headquartered], MOLINE. My sister’s niece worked there after graduating from University of Illinois with an engineering degree. Moline’s part of the Quad Cities that join Illinois and Iowa together in unholy matrimony.
  • 28d. [FiveThirtyEight datum], STAT. Looking forward to Oliver Roeder’s next piece of crossword data journalism for FiveThirtyEight. You might also like his regular “Riddler” feature, with a new mathematical problem each Friday.
  • 25a. [Ones working at home?], UMPS. I wish the clue were [People working at home?] instead, since ONE is right above this answer. And who refers to people as “ones,” anyway? It’s awkward.

Four stars from me.

Mae Woodard’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Switching Sides” — Jim’s review

I like this one. Mae Woodard (suspected cruciverbonym of editor Mike Shenk) switches L(eft) and R(ight) in various phrases to create wackiness.

WSJ - Thu, 8.25.16 - "Switching Sides" by Mae Woodard (Mike Shenk)

WSJ – Thu, 8.25.16 – “Switching Sides” by Mae Woodard (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [What Regan and Goneril would say anything to inherit?] LEAR ESTATE. Real estate. Probably would’ve helped if I’d ever read King Lear. Regan and Goneril are the villainous daughters of Lear who were bent on overthrowing him.
  • 24a [Handing down oral traditions?] SPEAKING LORE. Speaking role.
  • 39a [Misleading you, the solver?] CLUER INTENTIONS. Cruel intentions. Great clue and entry! Plus, a grid-spanner!
  • 49a [Make it really hard to unhook the trout?] BEND THE LURES. Bend the rules. This one’s my favorite because it feels natural and gave me a chuckle.
  • 61a [Oversized Yemeni coin?] BIG FAT RIAL. Big fat liar. Iran and Oman also use the rial.

Note that there is only one L and one R per entry, and each L/R pair is contained within one word in the entry. This type of consistency in the little details is what makes a puzzle elegantly satisfying.

Long non-theme fill includes VICTORIOUS, LISTENS IN, and IN ARREARS, but my favorites are COUNT NOSES and KESTREL. Spotting a KESTREL hovering over the fields in Suffolk, England was not uncommon for me.

The puzzle didn’t seem as tough as a typical Thursday at the WSJ. Sorting out the theme took some doing, of course, but in general the clues weren’t so tricky. I did run into a roadblock in the SW with the unexpectedly slangy BAG IT next to the could-mean-anything EDUCE. I did like the clue for GUST [Hat remover], though.

Clues of note:

  • 37a. Crosswordese SNEE gets a facelift with the clue [Four-time Pro Bowl guard Chris]. Not sure if it’s any better of a clue than [Dagger of yore], though.
  • 55a. [Uses TurboTax, perhaps] is the clue for E-FILES. You can still file via mail  when using TurboTax, but why would you?
  • 42a. [Creator of Link Hogthrob and Dr. Teeth] is Jim HENSON. I remember Link Hogthrob as the wannabe suitor of Miss Piggy on The Muppet Show. Dr. Teeth of course was the leader of the Electric Mayhem.

Fun puzzle with a good, and well-executed theme. I leave you with Dr. Teeth and co. and their classic number from 1979’s The Muppet Movie.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Surf’s Up” — Ben’s Review


Surf’s Up.

Totally forgot to time this one – I blame putting a lot of my mental energy towards starting a new job! Anyways, here’s this Thursday’s BEQ puzzle.

I got tripped up on a (non-BEQ) puzzle with a similar trick a few weeks ago, and apparently I didn’t learn my lesson, because I initially thought this was a rebus puzzle until I couldn’t get the down clues to resolve correctly:

  • 17A: 1985 Don Delillo novel — WHI(TE N)OISE
  • 18A: Eavesdrop — LIS(TEN) IN
  • 34A: Hillary’s assistant — (TEN)ZING NORGAY
  • 42A:  Problem caused by a skipped period? — RUN-ON SEN(TEN)CE
  • 59A: Grille’s spot — FRON(T EN)D
  • 61A: Surfs, and a hint to the theme of this puzzle — HANGS TEN

I nailed LISTEN IN and WHITE NOISE (one of my favorite novels) immediately, but I mistakenly assumed they were rebuses rather than literally “hanging” the ten down in the clue.  After 4 years of solving creatively designed puzzles, you’d think that as fast as my brain realized I was hanging tens I would’ve actually hung them.  Alas, a bit of a wipeout for me rather than a hang ten.


  • 29A: Busy women? — SLUTS (don’t like this fill or clue.  It times nicely with my re-read of The Handmaid’s Tale, though, as does 55A‘s BALMS, even though the book proves there is no balm in Gilead.)
  • 65A: One of the Judds — ASHLEY (I got reasonably far with WYNONA here, until it didn’t work with the downs I knew had to be correct.)
  • 10D: 1977 Disney flick about mice, with “The” — RESCUERS (I grew up watching the sequel to this one, The Rescuers Down Under, without actually realizing it was a sequel.)
  • 44D: Trent Reznor’s band on t-shirts — NIN (Nine Inch Nails, who did not realize their joking response of “Dance Party USA” when asked what shows they wanted to appear on to promote their album would lead to them actually being booked on said American Bandstand knock-off)

3.75/5 stars.

Max Carpenter’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

lat160825Continuing offbeat theme week, today’s puzzle has foods without the common letters G-L-U-T-E-N in their names. I hope no coeliac sufferers eat SHRIMPSCAMPI with pasta or ROCKYROAD with biscuits thanks to misinterpreting the theme (the capital letters should clue you in not to take things in the standard way!) Of course, if a gullible, pseudoscientific hipster eats such I would take great joy even though literally nothing would happen.

The kinds of food are a somewhat loose arrangement: a cut of meat, BABYBACKRIBS, with no animal specified; a food animal, SWORDFISH; a dish, including the name of the animal, SHRIMPSCAMPI; and a dessert fittingly as a final course – ROCKYROAD.

Not sure [Not very exciting], DRAB is the way to open one’s puzzle… MAZURKA and EVILEYE lend an Eastern European flavour to the puzzle, with BASEPAY, RECROOM and DORAG also among the more interesting longer answers.

I had no idea DISCO was specifically a [Summer genre]? Oh, Donna. Um, never mind. I knew that all along. Of course. Good clue! [Scoop or poop], INFO was also a fun, dabbling in that cruciverbal taboo of all things scatalogical.

Good eatin’!
4 Stars

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “What’s That Racket?” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.25.16: "What's That Racket?"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.25.16: “What’s That Racket?”

Hello there, everyone! Today’s crossword solution, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, provides us a theme in which we have to produce three different definitions of the same word, the word being racket. And, once again, the spelling of “racquet” as it pertains to the sport of tennis is left in the cold.

  • TENNIS IMPLEMENT (20A: [Racket])
  • ILLEGAL ACTIVITY (38A: [Racket])
  • IRRITATING NOISE (54A: [Racket])

The people at CrosSynergy must have known that I was covering tennis right now (at the US Open for qualifying before the main draw starts on Monday), because there have been three different tennis-related theme entries this week: “Tennis Oboe,” (play of tennis elbow) “Tennis Coach” and now Tennis Implement. How about that?! Lots of nice fill, and I especially liked the fill of CUTENESS as well as the clue (40D: [Puppy’s asset]). Maybe it’s because I’m in communications, but PROMO stood out to me as well, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in a crossword before (10D: [Teaser ad]). Sadly, the tennis has come to a HALT because of a rain delay, though that has allowed me to be inside a little longer and do this blog (51A: [Military command]). Once the rains pass, going to head out and get some of the U.S. Open’s famous seasoned waffle fries! Waistline be damned!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: WALES (27D: [Country on the Irish Sea]) – I just saw the UEFA Champions League Group Stage draw earlier today and, after the draw, the European player of the year award was announced. One of the finalists was Real Madrid striker Gareth Bale, who not only helped Real Madrid to their 11th Champions League title, but also led his country, WALES, to the semifinals of the European Championships earlier this summer.

TGIF tomorrow! Have a good rest of your Thursday!

Take care!


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15 Responses to Thursday, August 25, 2016

  1. ArtLvr says:

    Really excellent NYT! I especially enjoyed reading up on George ENESCU, whom Pablo Casals described as “the greatest musical phenomenon since Mozart”…. Inspiring!

  2. pannonica says:

    BEQ: In addition to the problemmatic 29a mentioned by Ben, I decry the clue for themer 34a {TEN}ZING NORGAY. Assistant?! Hardly. That’s diminishing and insulting and blithely revives the decades-long Western popular bias that frankly I thought had been put to rest. It was a strong partnership; Hillary himself endeavored to emphasize that.

    • Ben Smith says:

      Totally agree with you on this, but I also understand why “assistant” was chosen – I spent a little too much time trying to thing if there was a campaign aide to Hillary Clinton of relative note besides Huma Abedin. “Partner” could have been better (and still gives you a bit of a mental misdirect if you’re still thinking HRC not Everest)

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    I was delighted by today’s NYT. So many cool elements all coming together! When I saw PAVEDROAD, I thought, I doubt it’s really paved. I think of it more as a stony footpath. Then I realized that the phrase is there to complete the sense of the quote. This puzzle is a triumph of design.

  4. Martin says:

    Re Tenzing Norgay: Sorry for the “pile on” BEQ, but Pannonica is 100% correct in every respect.

    That piece of Western bias has been put to “bed” decades ago. Norgay is to this day, considered to be one of the top two of three mountineers of all time (he did much more than just climb Everest)… although, I’ve yet to see his birth certificate ;)


  5. Papa John says:

    Fabulous NYT! Terrific theme! Great grid! Boffo rebus! All intentions of a super puzzle were met here.

    My exuberance may be amplified by the fact that the theme quote was one of my mother’s frequent admonishments. Still, it’s a really good puzzle.

  6. Gareth says:

    Fun puzzle, though easily one of the five hardest NYTs of the year for me… Only could get any traction in the middle and top-right. Even there was convinced there had to be a rebus to make GARDENPEAS… Somehow. And also make RAPCREWS or RAPGROUPS. Top-left: crossed WEBBY with ICBMS and that was that. Put SHELLS in the bottom-right. Bottom-left: put LEA and LAYSUP (as in Matthew 6:19) – couldn’t figure out any of those long answers… Having DINTENT wasn’t leading me anywhere either…

    • Gareth says:

      Had BOSNIA/BARS though took it out…

      • huda says:

        NYT: Gareth, I’m with you. The theme was great but some of the rest felt rather ridiculous. I had CHICKPEAS (I know Goya makes them), which of course got me nowhere. Some of the cluing was unnecessarily opaque.

  7. Hathor says:

    Totally agree with you on 29-A. The clue/light definition bothered me enough to pretty much kill my enjoyment of the rest of the puzzle. And frankly, I don’t even quite understand how the clue works – the question mark means it’s funny? Or jocular? Or misleading? I don’t get it.
    As for the Norgay clue, the misdirect would have been just as strong if the word “colleague” or “partner” had been used. And it would have made this puzzle seem less like BEQ was doing his best to prove his non-PC cred.

    • Papa John says:

      Count me in on SLUTS. I don’t get it, either. Perhaps “busy” has a street meaning that is lost to we “disinterested” souls. I’m so disinterested in this blatant, immature attempt at shock that I’m not going to bother checking with Urban Dictionary.

    • PJ Ward says:

      “Getting busy” is a euphemism/slang term for having sex.

  8. John Phillips says:

    Gareth, I think you typed in Recpay when you meant Recroom.

  9. sharkicicles says:

    The rare BEQ I didn’t really enjoy, even notwithstanding the clue issues earlier in the comments.

    I did just do his Alt-X book from the Humble Puzzle Bundle, though, and that was excellent. “The BEQ Abides” is one of my favorite puzzles, hands down, ever.

  10. Chaim Swift says:

    Nice NYT design but disliked the b̶o̶x̶e̶d̶ ̶q̶u̶i̶z̶ puzzle. Felt like work. Enjoyed the BEQ and WSJ.

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