Thursday, July 25, 2019

BEQ 3:38 (Andy) 


LAT 4:02 (GRAB) 


NYT 8:33 (Ben) 


WSJ 8:14 with an error (Jim P) 


Universal 10:01 (Vic) 


Fireball 4:48 (joon—paper) 


Jack Mowat & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pluses and Minuses”—Jim P’s review

Another debut today! This is Jack Mowat’s first WSJ puzzle working alongside veteran Jeff Chen. Congrats!

We have two revealers today, one for the top half and one for the bottom half. The top’s is at 12d [It’s a plus, and what must be added to 14-, 20- and 29-Across]. That is, a PRO must be added to each entry (mentally) to make sense of the clue.

  • 14a [Incitement]. PRO+VOCATION.
  • 20a [Tools for geometry class]. PRO+TRACTORS.
  • 29a [Made advances to]. PRO+POSITIONED.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Pluses and Minuses” · Jack Mowat & Jeff Chen · Thu., 7.25.19

At first I thought this was the only revealer, and when I started adding PRO to the appropriate theme entries, I thought it was a rather lackluster theme and was going to get old pretty quickly.

But once I realized all the referenced entries were up top, I had an a-ha moment and figured out there would be a CON to this grid as well…except, I was expecting CON to be added the same way PRO was. That was not the case.

The clue for 59d CON reads [It’s a minus, and what must be subtracted from 46-, 52- and 63-Across]. A-ha. Those entries already have the CON added in and we must (mentally) eliminate them to make sense of the clue.

  • 46a [One side of a storyCONVERSION
  • 52a [They’re found underfootCONSOLES
  • 63a [High point of a skylineCONSPIRE

Cute! I thought that last little twist made the theme and brought it all together in one neat little “a-ha moment” package.

Oh hey! I just noticed the great big pluses and minuses in the grid itself, three of the former and four or six of the latter, depending on whether a minus is two- or three-blocks long. I guess you could say this puzzle has more minuses than pluses. (Our constructors set themselves up for that one!)

My solve proceeded fairly smoothly as I enjoyed entries like OCTOMOM, PERSONA, TEMPLAR, VANILLA, ENTRY FEE, USA TODAY, and LOVED IT. Some good cluing added to the fun.

But then I came to 38a [Nobel-winning author of “Disgrace”] crossing on old television show [Hidden camera show of 2001-02] and Latin phrase [“___ perpetua” (Idaho motto)]. The author’s name (COETZEE) is completely new to me; I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, so I was reliant solely on crossings. At least SPY TV is inferable, but my Latin is rusty; was it ASTO? ESTO? ISTO? OSTO? or USTO? Oh wait. Is it even Latin? Spanish? Italian? I think that last crossing is a touch on the unfair side.

But actually, my error was more stupid. I had LASE instead of LAZE at 34d [Take it easy]. That’s entirely my fault as my brain pronounces those words the same way, and my eye didn’t see the problem.

Clues of note:

  • We get good misdirection at 48a [Present time in Paris?] for NOEL followed immediately by 49a [Roll in the dirt?] for SOD and soon by 57a [Head of the Louvre?] for TETE.
  • I don’t know that COIN is really the best answer to 21d [Start a new term?]; I would think COIN A PHRASE would be the complete answer. But I liked the cute clue.
  • 43d [“That was…AWESOOOME!”]. “LOVED IT!”. Hmm. That word looks like it’s pronounced “aw-soom”. I think I get what it’s after: an elongated second syllable. But it sure looks weird written out like that.
  • 61d [Cashmere company founder Augustine]. TSE. Yow! We need to know this?!

Fun puzzle providing layers of a-has and with a touch of elegance in the grid-art department. 3.8 stars.

Erik Agard and Andy Kravis’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

7/27/2019 — no. 0725

This Thursday’s NYT puzzle is from Erik Agard and Andy Kravis, and it’s pretty fantastic.  I could spot what was going on with the first theme clue, but it took me a little bit to figure out the exact execution throughout the grid.

Each row with circled letters has two clues working together across the three sets of grid blanks:

  • 17A: iPhone download — MOBILE
  • 18A: 2020, but not 2019 or 2021 — YEAR
  • 19A: — APP
  • 40A: Los Angeles neighborhood that includes Dodger Stadium — ECHO
  • 41A: Classic Dr. Seuss book — ON POP
  • 42A: — PARK
  • 62A: Mountain rescue group — SKI
  • 63A: Flee to avoid obligations, say — TOWN
  • 64A: — PATROL
  • 25D: Some basketball shots…and the theme of this puzzle — JUMPERS

We have JUMPERS in multiple ways in the across clues here – the answer to 17A, 40A, and 62A “jumps” across to finish itself in 19A, 42A, and 64A, respectively, to make MOBILE APP, ECHO PARK, and SKI PATROL.  Then, each of those entries contains a type of jump (LEAP, HOP, SKIP) that completes the clued phrases for 18A, 41A, and 63A — LEAP YEAR, HOP ON POP, and SKIP TOWN. The grid construction on this is super clean, which made this even more of a pleasure to solve

Elsewhere in the fill:

  • Today I learned that the GI JOE has 21 moving parts!
  • I would very much like to see a SATANIC JUMPERS DIORAMA as suggested by the middle stairstep fill.  Get on it, Britain!

Happy Thursday!

Erik Agard’s Universal Crossword, “Team Spirit”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Erik Agard’s Universal Crossword, “Team Spirit,” July 25, 2019, solution

THEME: Theme = teams, sans their caps.

  • 18a New York giants SKYSCRAPERS. Buildings.
  • 24a/52a Miami heat CROCKETT AND TUBBS. Cops from Miami Vice.
  • 36a Las Vegas aces POKER PROS. Card players, right?
  • 58a Los Angeles dodgers STUNT PEOPLE. A certain movie set.

Cool theme. Lots of other solid, well-clued stuff, as one might expect. Including:

  • 30a “Time flies” and “money talks” SAYINGS
  • 46a Bump, as a TV episode PREEMPT
  • 1d “Detective” in a 2019 Pokemon movie PIKACHU
  • 2d Besieged OVERRUN
  • 3d Map sections REGIONS
  • 26d Killmonger’s first name ERIK. Who?
  • 39d Not in favor OPPOSED
  • 40d Con artist GRIFTER
  • 41d A student may fall asleep during one LECTURE
  • 43d Spinner’s spot at a party DJ BOOTH
  • 44d Money for a taxi CAB FARE

Keep an eye on this Agard guy. he’s going places.

4 stars!

Jim Peredo’s Fireball Crossword, “Insider Trading”—joon’s write-up

Fireball crossword solution, 07.25.19

joon here with the review of team fiend’s own jim peredo‘s fireball crossword. the “insider trading” here refers to the two words that make up the base phrase of each theme answer trading their insides, i.e. everything but the first and last letters. hilarity ensues! to wit:

  • {With 84-Across, more listless social divisions of Indians?} MOPIER / CASTES, from MASTER COPIES.
  • {Sex in the vegetation?} PLANT BOINK. from POINT BLANK. this happens, for real. what do you think pollen is?
  • {“Buns of Steel” goals?} HONED TUSHES, from HUSHED TONES. my favorite theme answer, and the clue was 100.
  • {Sport invented by comedian Bob?} SAGET BALL, from SALT BAGEL, which, … nope. i like salt on lots of things, but not bread products.
  • {Sprightly dances punctuated by snorts of derision?} HUMPH JIGS, from HIGH JUMPS, and boy, that is an unlikely swap with some crazy consonant clusters. remarkable find.
  • {Repeatedly open one’s robe on the bench?} FLASH COURTS, from FOURTH CLASS. this one felt uncomfortably close to the reality we live in, because i could imagine it being true.
  • {Dimpled cheeks?} DINGED REAR, from DEAD RINGER. there’s quite a lot of butt content in this theme! i wonder if this would’ve been more effective as just {Result of a fender-bender?} or some such.

so that’s a lot of theme—7 theme answers, one of which is split into two parts, for a 17×17 grid. overall i’d classify the theme answers as more surprising than laugh-out-loud funny. something like MOPIER CASTES is just two words you can clue rather than an amusing mental image. i did enjoy PLANT BOINK and HONED TUSHES.

a few clues:

  • {Tasty triangles} SAMOSAS. you’re damn right they’re tasty! now i’m hungry.
  • {Pantone’s 2009 color of the year} MIMOSA. now that’s a deep cut. i didn’t even know this word could refer to a color.
  • {Fingers-in-the-ears inducer} SPOILER. love this evocative clue.
  • {Composer whose “Vexations” consists of a single page of music played 840 times} SATIE. this one, too. i knew it, but it’s much more interesting and educational than something like {Composer Erik}. i imagine it would be vexatious indeed to listen to (or perform!).
  • {They’re banned in Vancouver in new housing} DOOR KNOBS. this was also interesting! door knobs are considerably less accessible (ironically) than lever handles, so it makes sense, but i hadn’t heard of the ban.
  • {Word before “cheezburger”} HAS. i definitely put HAZ, but i’m glad i was wrong. i’m not really ready yet for HAZ to be an acceptable grid entry.
  • {Cannon fodder?} T-SHIRTS. rip, maude.

nice puzzle, jim! 3.9 stars from me.

Paul Coulter’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I think I’ve seen this theme many many times before: US detergent brands that are simple words are found in other phrases. One wrinkle is today’s are reclued “?” style, which helps offset the fact that the answer alternate between the first and second parts. I think I’ve only seen Surf on sale here, but I’m sure American constructors wouldn’t mind if Omo became available stateside.

Quite a quiet grid in the main, though with a few hoary “favourites” like ARN, ULEE and MIMEO rearing their head. I’m also unable to think of a single reason to use the word URGER.

Spotlight on the Cambridge FOOTLIGHTS, which launched a number of successful acting careers:

2,5 Stars

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword, “Area 51” —Andy’s review

BEQ #1178, “Area 51”

If you’re wondering why BEQ wrote an Area 51-themed puzzle today, read this and then come back.

So! Area 51-themed puns:

  • 17a/23a/53a, UFO PEOPLE SHOULD / KNOW / THAT [With 23-Across and 53-Across, “Those who work at Area 51 will have all the answers”]. “You of all people should know that.” (edited, thanks Ben!)
  • 37a, MARTIAN ORDERS [Military plans held at Area 51?]. Marching orders.
  • 59a, BACK AN ALIEN RITE [Support a ceremony done at Alien 51?]. Bacchanalian rite (?).

And then a secret hidden alien at, well, square (area) 51:

  • 51a, (ET)UDE [Chopin piece]
  • 51d, (ET)HANE [Colorless gas used in refrigeration]

Clever and fun. That’s really all I’ve got about this one. Until next time!

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18 Responses to Thursday, July 25, 2019

  1. Lise says:

    The NYT was delicious! What a clever theme. I also loved TORRENT, ARMOIRE, AND GERMANE, the last of which I can’t recall having seen in a puzzle.

    Also, a new (to me) clue for ERIE. I enjoyed this puzzle all the way through.

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    I also loved the NYT. So inventive and so well executed. Bravo, Eric and Andy!

  3. Billy Boy says:

    I don’t get the amount of love for the NYT. On the plus side it was as clean a puzzle as you are likely to get these days, but the theme was like a Monday intro to Thursday games within a game. I felt cheated. I don’t time but it was fast, almost got bored. Maybe I did.

    WSJ’s twin trick revealed in the black spaces of the puzzle was today’s highlight along with an albeit simple solve trick doublet. WSJ got my higher vote today.

    • AV says:

      Reason for amount of love: 1) Clean grid with lively words and phrases, 2) No junk, 3) Multi-layered theme: apart from the leap that leaps over leap year, and the hop that hops over hop on pop, the JUMPERS in the middle is the icing on the cake (did you notice that the JUMPERS crosses ONPOP?), 4) Clever clues (90’s kid), … I could go on. The reason it fills smoothly is that the puzzle is smooth, it creates just the right amount of hurdles that one needs to jump over … and viola, it’s done! Gorgeous.

      [I don’t usually worry about the stars, but how someone can rate this a 1.5 is beyond me!]

      • Lise says:

        I concur with your assessment of the puzzle: smooth, lively, lots to love. But ratings are subjective. Who knows, this type of theme might not resonate with that particular solver, and the rest of the fill, however good, might not have been enough to overcome their dissatisfaction.

        • huda says:

          I too thought it was very clever. But I was bothered that just the P was delayed in 2 of the theme answers and AP in one of them… I’m sure it was not easy to find these intersecting theme phrases, but this inconsistency “jumped” out at me…

    • Billy Boy says:

      I gave plenty of credit for a clean grid without rote nonsense or common names, but for a Thursday NYT gimmick puzzle it was a total dud if I can fill in all the theme answers after the first one MOBILE APP- LEAP [YEAR]

      ‘Kudos for a clean grid’

      … is akin to Bobby Jones, the Great Golfer calling a penalty on himself whilst alone in the woods in Worcester, MA (costing himself the tone-a-mint in the end)

      “You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.”

  4. Dave S says:

    Nit to pick in 5 down of the LAT – an offshore bank account is not a tax haven. It can be located in a country or geographic area that is considered to be a tax haven, but the account itself is not one.

  5. David Roll says:

    WSJ–1-across–In my opinion, OHO is entirely overused by constructors. It seems that whenever they can’t think of something clever they invent some clue and make OHO the answer. Particularly when it is paired with “octomom”–hard to get any more obscure than that (other than perhaps TSE).

    • Mr. Grumpy says:

      I can’t tell my OHOs from my AHAs and my OOHs from my AAHs, so I’d vote for banishing all of them — unless it meant we couldn’t get wonderful puzzles like today’s WSJ.

  6. Dr Fancypants says:

    I strongly dislike that OCTOPI has become an acceptable plural for “octopus” (it should be “octopodes” since it’s of Greek origin, or “octopuses”). But I fully accept the descriptivist perspective on language, and accept that my view has lost that battle.

    • Evan K. says:

      OCTOPI was in my first NYT puzzle, I believe, and the clue I submitted reflected the fact that there’s a root/plural mismatch. Alas!

  7. SV says:

    Today’s NYT seems deeply overrated. The theme elements felt really garbled in their conception—how does LEAP end up in the clue for LEAP YEAR? Where does that LEAP come from? I also didn’t love that ONPOP was a partial whereas YEAR and TOWN work as standalones. Just one person’s 2 cents!

    • MeanMrMustard says:

      I agree. I thought the whole puzzle was a hot mess. The theme was very poorly executed and seemed at best inconsistently implied. But I think a lot of the positive reviews on this site are done out of affinity for (or friendship with) the constructors. I thought it was by far the worst NYT of this week.

  8. Carl says:

    In NYT 40a, Dodger Stadium in in Elysian Park. Echo Park borders Elysian Park.

  9. Ben says:

    BEQ’s 17 across pun was on the phrase “you of all people should know that”.

    • Andy says:

      Thank you! I had a very hard time sussing out the puns, but as it turns out they’re very good.

Comments are closed.