Thursday, October 18, 2018

BEQ 5:42 (Ben) 


Fireball 4:49 theme DNF (Jenni) 


LAT tk (Adesina)  


NYT 9:41 (Ben) 


WSJ 8:40 (Jim P.) 


Richard Eyster and Alan Arbesfeld’s Fireball crossword “Multiple Choice” —Jenni’s write-up

This is an easy puzzle with a complicated theme that I could not figure out. Thanks to Jim P and Andy for the help.

I realized it was a letter substitution theme when I filled in 27a [Ripped off cheap phones ten times?], which is STOLE BURNERS (stove burners). Not that anyone actually calls them “stove burners” but they are definitely a thing. I couldn’t think of the base phrases for the other theme answers and didn’t understand why we put  for V, so I couldn’t work off a pattern. I consulted the title and was not enlightened.

Turns out this is two of my least favorite crossword things combined. It’s cryptic-style clues with Roman numerals. Each base phrase has a letter that is also a Roman numeral. The title tells us we have to multiply, and the clue tells us what number to multiply it by to get the substitute letter. So V from “stove” is multiplied by ten to get L and make “stole.”

Fireball crossword 10/18, solution grid

The others:

  • 17a [Comments appearing five times next to a mark?] is GRADE NOTES. Base phrase is “grace notes,” so we multiply C x 5 to get D.
  • 43a [Unconfined two times?] is OUT OF THE COOP. Base phrase is “out of the loop,” and L x 2 = C
  • 58a [Tailors one hundred times?] is PUTS A HEM ON. Start with “puts a hex on,” and do the math: X x 100 = M.

I solved it by dividing, not multiplying, to get the base phrase from the entry in the grid, and the cluing seems backward to me. Aren’t we multiplying the base phrase, not the wacky entry that results from the multiplication? So many reasons I did not enjoy this theme.

A few other things:

  • 11d [Oil change accompanier, often] is a GREASE JOB. I haven’t heard that before, and if I were you, I wouldn’t Google it. When I use the term, which isn’t often, I say “lube job.”
  • 31a [Pulsating] is ATHROB. It’s an ordinary word, a word you use every day…if you’re Alfred Lord Tennyson, maybe.
  • Peter hates to reuse a clue, so we have 37a [10-time National League All-Star teammate of Medwick] for our old friend Mel OTT.
  • More baseball: Babe Ruth, the Sultan of SWAT, and David ROSS of the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs.
  • 49d [Spanish uncle?] is not TIO, or we wouldn’t need the ? It’s NO MAS, as in “I give up! I say uncle!”

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that SHERATON was the sister chain of Ritz-Carlton.

Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

Ben here, filling in for Andy.  Erik Agard has this week’s NYT puzzle and I really dig its theme.

  • 4D: Said something in response almost immediately — DIDN’T MISS A BEAT
  • 6D: Noble domain — BARONETCY
  • 22D: Volcano’s spew — HOT LAVA
  • 34D: German composer Humperdinck — ENGELBERT
  • 16D: So-called “black national anthem,” informally…or what 4D, 6D, 22D, and 34D do, in part — LIFT EVERY VOICE

This clip of Lizzo from Samantha Bee’s (excellent) Full Frontal was one of the first performances of “LIFT EVERY VOICE and Sing” I was aware of, and it was the first thing that came to mind when I saw the clue for the “black national anthem”.  It’s a great song, and an immediate hint as to what’s going on in the clues it highlights (at least for someone who grew up singing in choirs).  Each contains a “voice” being lifted – BASS, TENOR, ALTO, and TREBLE (in lieu of the trickier-to-hide SOPRANO)

As Andy did a great job of pointing out last week, Thursday is generally the day when the NYT shows what can be done with the form (and in some cases, the function) of the crossword.  This is a nice little switch up on where the theme clues pop up, and it was a well-executed puzzle – I liked learning THE DAB is banned in Saudi Arabia, seeing ELVIRA clued in a way that involved neither cheesy horror movies nor the Oak Ridge Boys, and some of the other more contemporary fill like SANTERIA, LGBT ICON, and tech news site RECODE.

Till next time!

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

If you hadn’t noticed (which I hadn’t until today), there’s been a loose nautical theme pervading this week’s WSJ puzzles. On Monday we had words that could follow WATER. Tuesday’s puzzle was called “Decked Out.” Though it was about decks of cards, it’s worth noting that boats have decks. Yesterday’s puzzle had boats going backwards in other phrases, and today we have a grid entitled “Sea Going.” Most appropriately, it was crafted by someone with “water” in his name.

71a is CLEFT, but it needs to be re-parsed as C LEFT, because the clue [Crevice, and, interpreted differently, what happened to five of this puzzle’s answers] tells us that the letter C has been removed in the theme answers. Further, as a point of consistency, all the Cs that were removed were followed by Ls. Not sure why L was chosen — there doesn’t seem to be a reason — but at least it’s an attempt to tighten up the theme.

WSJ – Thu, 10.18.18 – “Sea Going” by David Alfred Bywaters

  • 17a [Regulations on crustaceans?] LOBSTER LAWS. …claws. The extra L, while technically not involved in the theme, feels slightly inelegant. I bet I’m not the only person to say in their head, “clobster claws.”
  • 25a [Boisterous baseball squad?] LOUD NINE. Cloud
  • 40a [Dieter’s affidavit?] LOSING STATEMENT. Closing
  • 50a [Part of an origami orangutan?] PAPER LIP. …clip. Hmm. Took me a while to understand this one. I guess it’s pointing out that orangutans have big lips.  But no, this one doesn’t work for me. You’d have to make a really large piece of origami if you’re putting in details like lips, even if they are organgutan-sized.
  • 63a [Girlish fighting?] LASS WARFARE. Class

Nothing here tickled my funny bone. And by Thursday, it would be nice to see something tricky or different or adventurous. This isn’t really any of those things. I’m not faulting the puzzle for that, but it just doesn’t seem Thursdayish. If it was at least a bit more humorous, that might make up for it.

While the theme may not have been so engaging, the fill is nice. I liked seeing PERSISTENT with all its recent female-empowering connotations. MASS APPEAL is good as well and DONE FOR and MERCIFUL make for a nice combo in the SE. Oh, and SAMURAI is fun. Nothing made me wince, so that’s a good thing, though the ETS / ENS / ESS trio isn’t fun.

Cluing seemed pretty straightforward for a Thursday. (I don’t usually time myself, but I was cruising along pretty well, so I made an effort. Note that my time is using the cludgy WSJ website interface.) In fact I filled in five of the first six Across answers immediately, which usually doesn’t happen on a Thursday. I’m not complaining, but I know some people want/expect a harder grid towards the end of the week. I didn’t see any clues that stuck out to me in a notable way, but [Tender spot?] for GOAL is cute.

That’s it from me. I’d put this at about 3 and a quarter.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Committing Perjury” — Ben’s Review

It’s a doozy of a Thursday here in Boston, so let’s knock this BEQ out.  Today we’re committing perjury, courtesy Brendan.  What that means:

  • 18A: Crew building — BOATHOUSE
  • 31A: ESPN subject — PRO ATHLETE
  • 49A:Checkroom thing — COAT HANGER
  • 57A:”Easy, pal. Easy.” — WHOA THERE

Each of these answers features an OATH.  Perjury is lying under oath.  If you look underneath each OATH in the grid, you’ll find that there’s a LIE — LIEU, BELIE, PAULIE, and OLLIE

Roger & Kathy Wienberg’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I wonder if this puzzle is supposed to have circles. My copy didn’t, though I added them to the solution for ease of reference. The theme is revealed at CARDSHUFFLER, and three other answers have CARD shuffled across two words of their theme. A well-trodden theme part at this point, but cleanly done, and I appreciate there only being four parts to the theme, given their difficult lengths. Our themers are: SO(DACR)ACKERS – nah so; AW(ARDC)EREMONY and ARTSAN(DCRA)FTS.


  • [Fight], COMBAT. I got very stuck by putting COMeAT here, as in, “come at me, bro!”
  • [Carpenter’s joint], MITER had the -er ending, but [Natural clay pigment], OCHRE had the -re ending. Even though it’s Thursday, some signalling would have been appreciated.
  • [Rider on a shark], REMORA. My first instinct was, “The Fonz” here, but that’s one too many letters! He also didn’t ride >on< the shark, but rather jumped over it.
  • [Audio system connector], IPODADAPTOR. Not sure what that looks like, but I can guess what it does.

3 Stars

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16 Responses to Thursday, October 18, 2018

  1. Huda says:

    Thanks for that clip, Ben.
    Speaking of (up)lifting voices:

  2. Dook says:

    NYT was super difficult for me. Too many names I didn’t know. I’ll take issue with “LGBT icon”. Judy Garland is a gay icon, at least for some of us of a certain age (the kids know little about her other than Oz), but I don’t know a lesbian who worships Judy.

  3. JohnH says:

    WSJ’s theme was fine, but getting from orangutan to LIP didn’t make much sense to me either. I also wasn’t comfortable with second and fifth as units, and “pressing business” as pointing to a printing press felt like it was trying a bit too hard to be clever as well. Some other things were obscure, like daimyo, but easy enough to get from crossings.

  4. Jeff says:

    Anyone else have a problem with NETBALL? I think that’s a sport. Never, ever heard that expression used in tennis.

    • David L says:

      I suppose you could argue that a let is a ball that hits the net, hence a ‘net ball,’ but I agree, I’ve never heard anyone say that. Cluing NETBALL by the game of that name would have been simpler, but perhaps it’s not very familiar to Americans.

    • Penguins says:

      I had NET CALL first

  5. Something I just noticed about the Fireball: Not only are the changed letters the only examples of Roman numerals in the theme answers ….. there are *no* other Roman numerals anywhere else in the puzzle. There are no I’s, no V’s, no X’s, and only one L/C/D/M throughout the entire puzzle. The V’s and X’s might be easy to avoid but the I’s are not, and keeping those other letters to just one instance each isn’t an easy feat either.

    Whether that makes the theme worth it, I’m not sure, since there’s more rough fill than I’m used to in a Fireball puzzle and it doesn’t make the math element in the theme easier to clarify. Still, the grid was operating under much heavier constraints than I realized when solving the puzzle.

  6. Steve Price says:

    Re: “baronetcy” for “noble domain:” baronet is not a title of nobility – it’s an inheritable knighthood.

    • David L says:

      Also, now that I think about, the word ‘baronetcy’ refers to the possession of the title ‘baronet,’ so it doesn’t qualify as a domain. A dukedom, for example, can refer to the estate held by a duke, but ‘lordship’ means simply the state of being lord. Baronetcy is akin to lordship but not to dukedom.

  7. David Harris says:

    I’m glad the Fireball write-up mentioned NOMAS as the answer for “Spanish uncle?” I didn’t know the Straight Outta Compton answer, so I put tOMAS here, rationalizing that it was the Spanish equivalent of (Uncle) Tom. Which was clearly a *weird* line of thinking, but NOMAS did not come to mind for me at all despite being obviously much better.

  8. Penguins says:

    Dear E.A.,

    Just a reminder that you made it onto Jeopardy! not us.

    Thanks for your attention, brah.

  9. Norm says:

    BEQ: Never saw the LIEs. My bad. Thought it was just breaking the OATH [to tell the truth, etc.] since that was broken across all four theme answers. But LIE under OATH is brilliant. Can you upgrade me from a 4 to a 5?

    • Matthew G. says:

      I was thrown off on the BEQ theme because the clue for ZEALOTS was {Non-believers}, which of course is the opposite of what zealots are. Since the title refers to lying, I kept looking for other entries that were the opposite of their clues. But I guess it was just a cluing error?

  10. m says:

    SUMO! Well done Erik!

Comments are closed.