Thursday, January 24, 2019

BEQ 8:03 (Ben) 


LAT 4:02 (GRAB) 


NYT 4:12 (joon—paper) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P.) 


fireball is a contest this week, so no review until after the sunday deadline.

Stu Ockman’s New York Times crossword—joon’s review

New York Times crossword solution, 1 24 19

it’s a rebus thursday, with five across answers each containing two OO squares:

  • {One stuck abroad?} VOODOO DOLL. good answer, but i’m not wild about the clue. what exactly is “abroad” about voodoo dolls? maybe i’m missing something, but my understanding was that the religion typically spelled “voodoo” is the kind practiced in louisiana, which is most certainly not abroad. the haitian/west african/other forms of related worship are typically spelled differently (vodou, vodun, vodu, etc.).
  • {Risk-free} FOOLPROOF.
  • {“I’m out”} TOO RICH FOR MY BLOOD. this is a great grid-spanning answer. moderate misdirection in the clue, too, as it’s not a farewell statement.
  • {Ottoman} FOOTSTOOL.
  • {Adoring looks seen 10 times in this puzzle’s grid} GOO-GOO EYES. i guess that means you’re supposed to write the two O’s next to each other, rather than on top of each other, in that grid square. but i still don’t really get what makes them GOO-GOO EYES as opposed to just eyes.

this wasn’t quite as easy a rebus puzzle as the last time i filled in for andy on a thursday, but it still came together quite quickly with CROON strongly suggesting itself at 2d and then VOO… at 17a giving the game away. nevertheless, i struggled in places. {Believers in oneness} i wanted to be something like HOLISTS or MONISTS (thinking there might be more rebus action here), but no, it was BAHAIS. {Fit for a queen} REGINAL is an unusual word—so much so that it’s not in my dictionary, and spellcheck is flagging it. it certainly makes sense if you know the latin word regina, but it’s still surprising to see unfamiliar english words in the grid. finally, {___ beetle} STAG had me flummoxed for a while, as i badly wanted it to be STINK.

good puzzle, four stars.

David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “False Fronts” — Jim P’s review

Ts are changed to Fs at the beginnings of phrases.

WSJ – Thu, 1.24.19 – “False Fronts” by David Alfred Bywaters

  • 16a [Court sport played by anthropomorphic animals?] FABLE TENNIS
  • 23a [Pretend to accept praise?] FAKE A BOW
  • 28a [Metrosexual’s confidential fashion tip?] FOP SECRET
  • 42a [Refuges for outmoded electronic communication equipment?] FAX HAVENS
  • 49a [The story of Humpty Dumpty?] FALL TALE
  • 60a [Easily torn jacket?] FRAIL BLAZER

Pretty sure I’ve seen this theme before, but with a “False Start” revealer. This one’s title works just as well, though.

However, the theme feels too loose to me. There are a great many words that start with T that are still words after changing the T to an F (tunnel, tree, tear, tact, tired, tool, trench, etc.). I’d like to see some other constraint applied here. Or at least find entries that are LOL funny.

Though nothing here particularly tickled my funny bone, it all works well enough. I did raise my eyebrows at the equating of FOP and metrosexual. The former seems too quaint to be used to describe the latter, even though “metrosexual” itself feels pretty dated.

The fill is solid though not too sparkly, no doubt due to having six themers. I did like STOMACH with IN UTERO nearby. And those cute little CHERUBS, too.

Clues of note:

  • 5a [Browser setting]. STORE. Nice misdirection.
  • 19a [Arnold, for one]. TRAITOR. Benedict, I presume. Unless the puzzle is referring to Schwarzenegger turning his back on his native Austria. Huh! Austria allowed Arnie to keep his Austrian citizenship when he became a U.S. citizen, despite the fact they don’t usually allow dual citizenship.
  • 36a [Org. that includes the Fighting Irish and Tar Heels]. ACC. Only in non-football sports. In football, Notre Dame is staunchly independent.
  • 65a [Diesel alternative]. LEE. At first I thought this was referring to Vin Diesel, so I was wondering who was the LEE. Spike? Jet? Ang? Bruce? Christopher? Stan? Then I remembered Diesel Jeans are a thing.
  • 7d [What amor vincit, proverbially]. OMNIA. How’s your Latin? I recognized “love conquers” but went with OMNES which I guess means “everyone.” That would be a better saying, if only it could be true.
  • 10d [Oscar-nominated cinematographer Deschanel]. CALEB. Six-time nominee in fact. Also, father of actors Emily and Zooey.

A fine puzzle, but nothing very new here. 3.4 stars.

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

LA Times

The puzzle’s theme is way more ambitious than most you see for the LA Times. There are four BELTBUCKLEs – “types” of belt spelt out in circles: CONVEYOR, ORIONS, MONEY and ASTEROID.

Those largeish wads of circled squares can make construction a bear, and there are definitely a good few answers that are of the “use only in extreme desperation” kind. At least here, we have some payoff in an unusual theme.


  • We get both NSA and NSC today. I always get these confused. The N and S stand for the same thing, so does that make this a dupe?
  • [Hops hot spot], OAST. These beer-making buildings are actually quite interesting, but given they’re obsolete, and found largely in the UK, I would’ve done my darnedest to have that be EAST with 3 locked in letters…
  • [“Things Are Fine in Mount __”: Charley Weaver book], IDY. On Googling, seems to be a 50’s TV deep cut…
  • [Scale members], RES. Bullshit as a plural, so why go there when you can clue it by the boring, but legitimate shortening of resolution.
  • [Andean shrubs], COCAS. Another plural form you’d scarcely encounter in real life…
  • [Japanese aborigine], AINU. Another very obscure answer, but actually a very interesting one. The clue is, described charitably, dated and misleading and needs to be retired. It seems to have been the default one back when this answer was more frequently encountered. The Ainu are a Siberian people that settled in Hokkaido (and some smaller islands, but not the whole of Japan) before the Japanese did, but now make up a minority there. There are also Ainu living in Russian controlled islands to the north. Something like [Hokkaido ethnic group] would be more precise and avoid all that baggage that aborigine has…

3 Stars

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Positions of Support” — Ben’s Review

This Thursday’s BEQ puzzle plays on a recent Facebook meme:

  • 20A:Effective and HOTT Japanese noodles? — ABLE SEXY RAMEN
  • 37A: Making out with a short and squat Hollywood director Eli? — KISSING BOXY ROTH
  • 51A: Viscid cable in the Nile? — WAXY RIVER WIRE

This theme was pretty quick to grok.  ABLE SEAMEN, KISSING BOOTH, and WAIVER WIRE all get a ten year (XYR) glow-up

RIP DARYL Dragon of Captain & Tenille, this is a weird song and a weird performance

I love to see XANADU in a grid, as well as COINS A WORD, ANKARA, and DISH TOWELS


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14 Responses to Thursday, January 24, 2019

  1. Dook says:

    NYTs felt like a Wednesday. Fun enough. Not really happy with “without a mate” clue for odd.

  2. David Harris says:

    Since there were two rebus squares per theme answer, I interpreted the revealer to be suggesting that the rebus squares were two people making GOOGOOEYES at *each other*. With just one rebus, I agree the revealer would be a bit of a reach, but the use of pairs makes it work for me.

  3. David L says:

    NYT: DNF because I went wrong with REF instead of REC at 65D and had no clue about 64D. Plus the clue for 71A is imprecise at best. A TAXACT can reduce revenue as easily as raise it (the most recent one, notably).

    BEQ: Cute puzzle but have no idea at all what the theme is supposed to be. Also, Brendan still seems not to know what ‘posit’ means (pretty sure this has come up before).

    • ahimsa says:

      I enjoyed the BEQ theme – a bit tricky but it did come to me eventually! I’d say more but I don’t want to post any spoilers before the puzzle review is posted.

      I was also confused about that use of posit. I thought it was just me. I looked through dictionaries and lists of synonyms and it’s hard to see how it could mean ask.

  4. pannonica says:

    WSJ alternative title: “Pulling Fast Ones”?

  5. JohnH says:

    There was a surprising amount in the NYT new to me, such as “rabblement,” making it a hard Thursday, but I enjoyed it (and as in that example much that was new wasn’t a proper name). Must say, though, that LANDO / DESI was just a guess, and the latter isn’t in RHUD. (I just now found it in Wiki.) Also I don’t understand “Call to reserve” for LET.

    The theme itself was nice and not at all part of the difficulty for me. In fact, it helped me out a lot, as I found myself working for once from the long entries to shorter ones. And I don’t think it matters how you enter the OO. I squeezed it in most easily (and got it to work for both the across and down fill) by writing it diagonally.

    • Lise says:

      I like that you wrote the OOs diagonally. They look more like googly eyes that way.

      LET works if you parse reserve as re-serve, as in tennis. I could not find a definition of “reserve”, without the hyphen, that meant the same as “re-serve”, to serve again, but perhaps someone else may be able to do so.

  6. Noam D. Elkies says:

    I enjoyed most of this — ended up having to guess only the crossing at 61 (in principle it’s good that 61D:DESI is not clued as Yet Another Name to cross 59A:LANDO, but in practice the D was still a mystery). Happily I noticed the revealer clue 66A before the Rite of Spring clue for 8D:BASS[OO]N (which was my first entry in the grid), so wasn’t distracted by the French “basson” or German “Fagott” (which would have called for some French or German signal in the clue). Nice to see some other ?entries like 13D:STAFF; a bit strange not to connect the clue for 44A:OPERA with the nicely clued 3D:AÏDA.

    I wonder whether J[oo]n’s thought of “stink” instead of 53A:STAG might have been influenced by the crossing 43D:MUST with its musty definition . . .


  7. Martin says:

    If you’ve had trouble over the past few days getting the Across Lite version of the Universal Crosswords (editor: David Steinberg), the technical issues have been fixed.

    They’re available at

    Sorry for the snafu.

  8. Ben says:

    NYT: Nice theme today, though it was a little confusing that the longest themer (TOO RICH FOR MY BLOOD) didn’t connect to the theme, which I’ve grown to expect. Otherwise only REGINAL and EVA stuck out as iffy fill.

    • Lois says:

      Don’t know exactly what you mean, because TOO RICH FOR MY BLOOD has the same pair of Os as the other theme answers.

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