Thursday, March 16, 2017

BEQ 7:55 (Ben) 


LAT 4:40 (Gareth) 


NYT 3:18 (Andy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Fireball 7:04 (Jenni) 


Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword—Andy’s review

NYT puzzle 03.16.17 by Joel Fagliano

Cool puzzle from Joel Fagliano today. The premise is explained at 66a — [Used a black marker on … or a hint to three chunks of black squares in this puzzle] clues REDACTED. That is, three chunks of black squares have REDACTED letters from the entries on either side of them. Like so:

  • 19a/21a, LOOSELEAFBINDER [Student’s note-taking aid] / [—]Here, the letters FBI in LOOSELEAF BINDER have been redacted by three black squares.
  • 26a/28a, DOLPHINSAFETUNA [Eco-friendly seafood designation] / [—]. NSA has been redacted from DOLPHIN-SAFE TUNA.
  • 52a/55a, ASSOCIATEDPRESS [Large wire]/[—]. CIA has been redacted from ASSOCIATED PRESS.

We get a very low word-count from this one (partly because the down entries crossing the REDACTED letters don’t have to include them, so the three 15-letter entries in the puzzle are singly checked). Still, it’s a lovely grid, and there’s some nice stuff like FOOT RACE, ALL IN FUN, TITIAN, STATICKY, HOOKAH, MISS ME?, SETH ROGEN, KISSED UP, J COLE,  and THE TRUTH. My least favorite entries were the ugly partial IT I and the rare plural STRIAE, but neither detracted from my enjoyment while solving.

Yet another Thursday that didn’t put up too much of a fight. The last thirty seconds of my solve were devoted to finding a typo — I had ASOO (crossing OOLD) for the first part of ASSOCIATEDPRESS, which is the kind of mistake I wouldn’t make when solving with pencil and paper. Any sections in this one that gave you fits, readers? Or was this actually as breezy as I think it was?

4.25 stars from me. Until next week!

David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Dismissal” — Jim’s review

This puzzle marks the debut of D. A. Bywaters in the WSJ. I checked the records (well, just the Fiend database) and he now has one published puzzle in each of the three major dailies (NYT, LAT, and WSJ). Do we have a name for that? The hat trick, I suppose?

This puzzle has a similarity to last week’s Fireball puzzle with the same groaner of a pun, though implemented differently. Our central revealer is clued thusly, [Four or five, or how to make the theme answers in this puzzle]. The answer is SEVERAL or SEVERAL.” Redundantly, the title tells us to “Dismiss ‘AL’.”

WSJ – Thu, 3.16.17 – “Dismissal” by David Alfred Bywaters

  • 17a [Botanical companion?] FLOWER PET. Flower petal. Do you talk to your plants?
  • 23a [Expensive pill?] GOLD MED. Gold medal.
  • 51a [Child-care expense?] TOT COST. Total cost. I think it would be funnier if it referred to the potatoey morsel.
  • 63a [Central American toilet?] PANAMA CAN. Panama Canal.
  • 11d [“Jaws” theme?] FIN WARNING. Final warning. I really think it’s warning us of the whole shark and not just the fin.
  • 29a [Koi passageway?] CARP TUNNEL. Carpal tunnel.

Not a bad theme set, and there’s some humor in there. Nothing groundbreaking or hilarious, but I liked PANAMA CAN and CARP TUNNEL. I’m sure there are many other potential entries out there, and I bet a 21x-sized puzzle could be built as well. Consider FAT ATTRACTION or TUB LIGATION.

I had the most trouble in the NE. I should know that 10d [Twin of Artemis] is APOLLO. There’s no excuse for that, but the rest of the clues and entries up there were thorny. Didn’t help that I had LURES instead of FLIES for 12d [Angler’s collection]. I certainly didn’t know IONIA is the [Home of the Ephesians] nor did I expect A PILE was the answer for [Scads]. And who says ALL WET these days (22a, [Utterly wrong])?

But other than those sticking points, the solve progressed apace.

With six longish themers and a central revealer, there isn’t any room for long non-theme fill. We get a handful of sixes, but that’s all. So there isn’t anything sparkly to highlight but neither is there anything egregious.

That being the case, excising the two shorter theme entries and replacing them with  CARP TUNNEL and FIN WARNING might have been worth considering. That should give the puzzle more breathing room and more chance for sparkly fill resulting in a funner, more memorable puzzle.

A few clues of note:

  • 1a [Genoa, e.g.]. JIB. No idea on this one.
  • 27d [Mounties’ org.]. RCMP. Clue/entry duplication.
  • 47d [Become uncomfortable, in a way]. RIDE UP. Is this a gender-neutral clue? Do both sexes have this problem? Also, this UP crosses the UP of ATE UP.  :(

Overall, decent wordplay in this letter-deletion theme, but not a lot to highlight beyond it.

Paul Coulter’s Fireball Crossword, “Rule of Three”  – Jenni’s writeup

Today we have a 15×16 grid with four vertical theme answers, and this was one of those puzzles where I finished it without any idea what the theme was and then figured it out. “Rule of Three” tells us that each theme answer has three instances of the same letter added to a familiar phrase to make, well, nonsense.

FB 3/16 puzzle, solution grid

  • 3d [Fiat filled with fatuous facts?]. I read this as “flat” at first, and it made even less sense that way. Once I realized it was actually “fiat,” I figured out that the answer was EDICT OF INANITIES. Take away the last three I’s and you get EDICT OF NANTES.
  • 14d [Kidnaps Bill Wyman, say?] is TAKES THE BASSIST. Removing the last three S’s gives us TAKES THE BAIT.
  • 8d [Pronouncement from a sentimental writer?] is SOB SISTER DICTUM. This was the most obscure of the four. We’re removing S’s again, and we’re left with OBITER DICTUM.
  • 10d [Professional who strategizes new launches for failed enterpreneurs?”] is RESTARTER PLANNER. This time we’re removing R’s, and that we have ESTATE PLANNER.

This is not my favorite theme. 3d and 14d have an additional instance of the letter that has to be removed, which I found confusing; ESTATE PLANNER was the first one I figured out and I figured we’d be removing all the appearances of the added letters. In addition, OBITER DICTUM is not exactly an everyday phrase. Wikipedia tells me that “it is more usually used in the plural, obiter dicta.”  Obiter dicta are statements included in a judge’s decision that “do not form a necessary part of the court’s decision.” I think it would have been harder to clue straight.

A few more things:

  • 5a is [Pub pals] and I was expecting MATES; it’s actually LADS.
  • 9a [Barcelona chair’s lack] is ARMS. The chair was originally designed by Mies van der Rohe, and I suspect it will look familiar even if you don’t think you’ve ever seen one before.
  • 26a [Treats for someone with a sweet tooth who doesn’t mind sticky fingers] is S’MORES, and somehow I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the “sticky fingers” clue crosses the answer that refers to Bill Wyman.
  • 37a [Boulangerie buy] reminded me of our sojourn in Paris a couple of years ago. There was a patisserie/boulangerie around the corner from our apartment that sold the most delicious orange brioches. Mmm.
  • 65a [Text on the 45th day of the year, maybe] is easier to figure out if you remember that the 45th day of the year is February 14th, when the number of I LUV U texts is probably higher than usual. I wonder, though, if texters who can’t be bothered to type “you” would really add the “I.”

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the holder of the world record in the half-marathon comes from ERITREA. I didn’t know that there was a world record for the half-marathon, although why wouldn’t there be?

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Born This Way” — Ben’s Review

Happy Thursday, everyone!  We’ve almost made it to the end of the work week, and today’s BEQ was a nice way to ease into the day.  It’s a pretty straightforward theme today:

  • 17A: Mussolini’s meal?— FASCIST FOOD
  • 25A: Networking equipment giant’s debut show? — CISCO PILOT
  • 38A:Program announcing the election of Bernie? (One can dream) — DECISION SANDERS 
  • 46A:What a dentist says after an extraction? — INCISOR OUT
  • 59A: Short and sweet foam on a beer? — CONCISE HEAD
  • 59D: Identifying with the sex you’re born as, and what’s added to this puzzle — CIS

I think 59D is a little concise in explaining what it means to be cis (or cisgender, to fully expand the term), but it does help reveal what’s been added to each of the theme entries.  FAST FOOD, CO-PILOT, DEION SANDERS, IN OR OUT, and CONEHEAD all get this addition to become the phrases seen above.  There’s some clever entries in there, and I particularly liked CONCISE HEAD.

(I don’t have a song that goes with the theme, so here’s the first taste of the new Fleet Foxes album. It’s pretty great IMO.)

Other thoughts:

  • 41A: Windsock’s dir. — ESE (Didn’t love this clue for that particular triad.  It’s a direction a windsock can blow, certainly, but the go-to direction?)
  • 2D: Some LSAT questions — ANALOGIES (I kept trying to make this LOGIC something or other)
  • 27D: Frolic around — PRANCE
  • 45D:Eyelid ailment — PTOSIS (“a drooping or falling of the upper eyelid”, per the internet)

4/5 stars

Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times

The core of this theme is pretty tight, a set of those interjections with doubled second letters – GRR, BRR, SHH, AWW and AHH. They are used here in what can best be described as non-grammatical puns. The new phrases don’t make direct sense, and the clues do the heavy lifting to give you both the original phrase, and a nod to the interjected word: GRRABABITE, BRRAINFREEZE, SHHERLOCKHOLMES, AWWARDWINNER and AHHAMOMENT.

Mr. Haight has always had a taste for the dense theme. Here, the grid is under control, and even has grace notes like INHOTWATER, OZZY and KESHA. [Retro wall unit] for STONE is certainly the most puzzling clue – “wall unit” is the misdirection, but in what way “stone” is retro I’m not precisely sure… The clue [First to play James] is wrong – that would be Barry. It needs to have a [on screen].


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20 Responses to Thursday, March 16, 2017

  1. Chukkagirl says:

    DJED and JCOLE crossing really tripped me up in NYT, but otherwise fun and not too hard for a Thursday.

  2. Lise says:

    Loved the NYT!

  3. Lise says:

    WSJ: A Genoa is a kind of sail, as my boat-oriented husband explained: it is the kind that balloons out front and is helpful in a light or medium wind.

  4. pannonica says:

    If you liked today’s NYT, I tangentially recommend Joseph Weisberg’s short espionage novel, An Ordinary Spy (2007).

    • pannonica says:

      See? I had the same response this time too. Searched this site for the book’s title and author, but in my write-up I’d simply used an image of the cover.

      Thanks for finding it, e.a.

      (Of course, I could have searched for some of the key answers, but … well, I didn’t.)

    • Joanne says:

      Thanks Erik!

  5. Ethan Friedman says:

    Amy, you didn’t mention my favorite part! I figured out the theme relatively quickly (as for you, this felt like an easy Thursday to me) but it wasn’t until the end that I realized the three sets of redacted letters were all those of secretive organizations, FBI, NSA, CIA

  6. Mark McClain says:

    NYT – Agree this was much easier than the typical Thursday. Fun puzzle, easy to figure out the theme. A breeze. Very nice job.

    • Zulema says:

      Agree and ditto everything, especially since I sometimes cannot complete the Thursday puzzles. Very nice reveal.

  7. Paul Coulter says:

    Bruce’s LAT was a lot of fun. It’s the kind of puzzle that makes me say, “Wish I’d thought of that idea, myself.” Tastes vary, of course, but I’ll echo Eric from earlier this week. It should be rated higher!

  8. hmj says:

    Reference Gareth’s LAT comment on who was first to play James Bond – you are correct since the clue didn’t specify radio, television, or cinema.

  9. Glenn (the other one) says:

    I never heard anything on my request for contact info for whoever puts up the WSJ PUZ files from the other post. My offer to provide a fixed 02-09-2016 grid stands, but if you want, I can fix up tomorrows as well (hope that’s not too big of a hint).

  10. m says:

    R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens…. can only imagine what he would have to say about today’s craziness.

Comments are closed.