Thursday, June 29, 2017

BEQ 12:32 (Ben) 


Fireball 7:08 (Jenni) 


LAT 4:47 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:16 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Rich Proulx’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

We have geographical puns for our Thursday theme.

NYT 6/29, solution grid

  • 18a [Request for aid in East Africa?] is KENYA GIVE ME A HAND? (can you) I cooked a Kenyan-inspired chicken recipe for dinner tonight. Yum.
  • 27a [Call for cleanup in the Persian Gulf?] BAHRAIN WASH (brain).
  • 49a [Slogan for a West African airline?] is GHANA FLY NOW (gonna). Earworm alert!
  • 62a [Entreaty for a spouse’s emigration to Central America?] is TAKE MY WIFE BELIZE (please). Hello, Henny Youngman.

The puns all work if you say them out loud, and BAHRAIN WASH made me giggle. This is a fun theme that (bonus!) does not treat Africa as if it were a single country.

A few other things:

  • 1a [Children’s ball game] foxed me for quite a while. The answer is JACKS, which is indeed played with a ball. Duh.
  • 6a [“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” band] is WHAM. Dueling earworms! Also RIP George Michael.
  • 46a [Virus carried by fruit bats] is EBOLA.
  • 55a [Having a corner piece?] is a creative clue for STAPLED.
  • 41d [Peter Falk feature] is a GLASS EYE. I actually knew this, because Peter Falk grew up in Port Chester a few years ahead of my mother, and she kept track of the hometown kids who made good.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there was an 1888 moving picture called “Traffic Crossing LEEDS Bridge.”

Voila – the magic of the Internet.

Jacob Stulberg’s Fireball Crossword, “Two Descents”  – Jenni’s writeup

I finished the puzzle correctly with no idea what was going on. When I followed the instructions and figured it out, I had a nice aha! moment. Fun theme.

Several of the clues have numbers that don’t seem to relate to the answers:

FB 6/29, solution grid

  • 17a [23] is FUDDY DUDDY.
  • 21a [10] is CENSURE
  • 40a [39] is BASIC
  • 55a [32] is FLIPPED

I tried looking at the answers that matched the numbers in the clues and that didn’t help. Finally I got to the bottom of the grid and found 61a [Blackjack option (and what four of this puzzle’s clues need to have appended with hyphens)]. The answer is DOUBLE DOWN. If we take that literally and add “down down” to the number in each theme clue, then we have this:

  • 17a [23d(own) down] = BUTTON-down, which gives us FUDDY DUDDY.
  • 21a [10d down] = DRESSING-down, which is CENSURE.
  • 40a [39d down] = STRIPPED-down, so that is BASIC.
  • 55a [32d down] =  UPSIDE-down, so we have FLIPPED.

Very nice. All the phrases are in the language, the theme is fresh and clever, and it was fun to figure it out. I will say that my father wore button-down shirts every day, even if he was sitting around the house reading the paper, and he was not a FUDDY-DUDDY. Even so, FUDDY DUDDY is lively.

A few other things:

  • 1a [Wild thing?] gave me several ideas, and planted an ear worm. The answer is GUESS.
  • I put GOAL for 10a [Shootout shout] thinking of hockey, although I don’t think that’s called a shootout. The correct answer is DRAW, as in the OK Corral.
  • 27a [___ el hanout (North African spice blend)] is RAS and it is yummy.
  • 43a [Fencing gear?] has nothing to do with the sport. It’s POSTS.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Mike Tyson was a pallbearer for Muhammed ALI.

I leave you with this, which came to mind as I typed in “down down.”

Nancy Cole Stuart’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Mixed Drinks” — Jim’s review

It’s Thursday, so we’re starting to think about the weekend here at the Fiend. And what says weekend better than your favorite mixed beverage?

Today’s theme entries feature two drinks that share three letters (at the end of one and the beginning of the other). Some of these concoctions sound worse than others. Perhaps they’re acquired tastes.

WSJ – Thu, 6.29.17 – “Mixed Drinks” by Nancy Cole Stuart (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [Brewed citrus mixed drink?ORANGE JUICED TEA. This might could work, if done right. I know what you’re thinking—is it “iced tea” or “ice tea?” According to, it was originally the former, but the latter is gaining more acceptance. Apparently, “ice cream” and “ice water” have already made the transition.
  • 23a [Cherry-peach-flavored mixed drink?] KIRSCHNAPPS. Cherries, peaches, and alcohol? Sign me up. Plus, the name is just fun to say. Sounds like a Batman sound effect.
  • 41a [Bubbly coffee-chocolate mixed drink?] MOCHAMPAGNE. This is an abomination.
  • 53a [Rum-and-whiskey-liqueur mixed drink?] DAIQUIRISH CREAM. I’ll…pass on this one, too.

The theme does its job and it’s interesting to try to imagine these drinks, but not the most thrilling Thursday theme, eh?

This pretty much describes the fill as well. Nothing too thrilling, but it gets the job done. See INNER SOLE and TERAHERTZ especially. ENCRYPTS is of more interest to us as lexophiles than the general public, but SHOWGIRL may interest or repel you. (Is there such a thing as a “showguy?”)

LAKE ERIE in full is a rare occurrence, and while PATIENCE is fine as an entry, it’s clue seemed pretty obscure, even to someone who spent some time in the UK [Solitaire, in Sussex]. I think my favorite entries in the grid are FIJIAN and PIQUE.

Clues of note:

  • 18d [Contents of some cribs]. EARS. Those would be corn cribs, which we learned about just the other day in these very pages. I’ve included a picture this time.
  • 40a [Luxury cashmere company]. TSE. Nope. No idea on this.
  • 4d [Bass liner]. INNER SOLE. I believe this is referring to shoemaker G.H. Bass & Co., another brand I’m not too familiar with.
  • 21a [Coolidge or Wilson]. RITA. Nice misdirection there.

A fine puzzle that does the job, I’d say. See you next week!

Gerry Wildenberg’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

HARDEDGED is found in the centre. All the edge answers need (to varying degrees) HARD inserted in front to make sense of their clues. They are, from top widdershins: (HARD)PALATE, (HARD)CIDER, (HARD)RUBBER, (HARD)ASSETS, (HARD)LENSES, (HARD)LABOR, (HARD)EARNED, (HARD)HEADED.

Most difficult to parse answer: [Spot for wheels?], CARAD. So we can assume all {product}AD permutations are crossworthy?


Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Ground Beef” — Ben’s Review

The National Puzzler’s League convention must be coming soon, since I’m starting to see everything as cryptic crossword-style anagram indicators, including the title of this week’s BEQ Thursday puzzle, “Ground Beef”.  I was all prepared to stick some combo of the letters in BEEF in each of the theme answers only for it to be far easier than that:

  • 17A:
    Candies made in Revere, Massachusetts— NEC(CO W)AFERS
  • 36A:
    Sam’s Club rival — COST(CO W)HOLESALE
  • 38A:
    Employs a civil wrong when all other civil wrongs failed?– USES AS A LAST TORT
  • 56A:Some masonry works — STUC(CO W)ALLS
  • 65A:Animal tipped in this puzzle’s theme answers — COW

Yes, the COWs in each of the theme answers are “tipped” downwards, where they form a part of down answers COWERS, MOSCOW ID, and SCOW.  Literal cow “tipping” in a puzzle is a cute idea, and though I don’t love COSTCO WHOLESALE for dumb, picky reasons (I would say “I’m going to Costco, not I’m going to Costco Wholesale”, since that’s how popularity has effectively shortened its name)

Other things I liked: NBA STAR clued as “Curry, e.g.”, TORI used to describe bagel shapes and not singer Amos, BRAVADO, PECTORAL, ESCAROLE, the CINERAMA movie format, .

Cute theme, good fill, nice puzzle!

4/5 stars

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Thursday, June 29, 2017

  1. pannonica says:

    FB: “I leave you with this, which came to mind as I typed in ‘down down.'”


    • Bruce N Morton says:

      The performance I like better is by the wonderful Ellie Greenwich,

      As a sometimes non fan of NYT Thurs. puzzles, I loved this one.

  2. Dook says:

    NYT – “Bahrain wash” provides an answer that doesn’t really fit with the clue, unlike the other theme answers. The others provide an answer that responds to the clue. But how is brainwash a “call for clean up in the Persian Gulf”?

    • Ethan says:

      I think we’re supposed to read it “Bahrain, wash!” like a command. The pun doesn’t really work because Bahrain doesn’t sound like brain to me. I guess most English speakers don’t pronounce the h (although you should), but the first syllable is not a schwa so you can’t really elide it to get BRAIN.

  3. Matthew G. says:

    I thought the Fireball was really excellent. I particularly enjoy puzzles with multiple a-ha moments. I realized quickly that the numbers in the across clues referred to the corresponding down clues, and that was fun, but realizing that you then had to append “down” to each clue to complete the thought made it much, much cooler.

    4.5 stars.

  4. David and Heather says:

    The NYT puzzle was pretty awful, and because of some weird cluing or answers, a rare Thursday DNF for me. I didn’t manage to get the JACKS/JAKE cross or the word KEYCARD (I had _E_CARD). And I misspelled BELIZE because I don’t know crosswordese EZIO. I found only two of the puns funny, and much of the fill was fairly ancient or vaguely or poorly clued. Bah.

    • Zulema says:

      What makes EZIO crosswordese, pray? And why should a country, BELIZE, depend on a crossing letter? I usually have trouble with NYT Thursdays, but this one was fine.

  5. Jamie says:

    Loved the puns, but I cannot understand what “SSA” is an abbreviation for, in answer to the clue, “It has its benefits”. Anyone know?

  6. ahimsa says:

    Gareth, thanks for clearing up that CARAD answer in the LA Times.

    I sure hope we don’t get a string of {thing}AD answers in puzzles from now on.

Comments are closed.