Thursday, October 10, 2019

BEQ 7:55, downs only (Andy) 


LAT 4:52 (GRAB) 


NYT 7:06 (Ben) 


WSJ 8:50 (Jim P) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


Fireball 7:08 (joon—paper) 


Evan Kalish’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Short Getaway”—Jim P’s review

Spoiler Alert! This review contains spoilers for today’s Fireball puzzle. If you haven’t done that puzzle yet but intend to, I suggest doing that first before coming back here.


Are you kidding me!? This puzzle and today’s Fireball (by Jacob Stulberg) have the exact same theme with the exact same revealer. What a crazy coincidence.

Both use LITTLE ITALY (clued here as [Neighborhood near SoHo, and a hint to three squares in this puzzle]) as the reason for hiding Italian city names, rebus-style, in the theme entries.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Short Getaway” · Evan Kalish · Thu., 10.10.19

  • 17a [Dish with ham, onions and peppers] DENVE(R OME)LETTE crossing JE(ROME). Curious that the clue excludes eggs. Wonder why.
  • 27a [Convince people you’re a person, for an A.I.] PASS THE (TURIN)G TEST crossing DENA(TURIN)G. I’ve heard passing the smell test and the breakfast test, but not the Turing Test. I take it to mean that it’s a test of an Artificial Intelligence to see whether or not it can convince someone that it is in fact a real human being.
  • 44a [Circle of latitude that bisects Australia] TROPIC OF (CAPRI)CORN crossing DI(CAPRI)O.

It’ll be hard not to compare the two grids, so why fight it?

This puzzle only gives you three cities whereas the Fireball gives you four. And PASS THE TURING TEST as a phrase is  lesser known than the fun Fireball entries of BREAST IMPLANTS, THUMB A RIDE, and AERO MEXICO. However, in this grid you get longer-lettered cities CAPRI and TURIN (i.e. harder to put in a grid) and they’re more well-known (vs. lesser known COMO and (where?) BARI). Verdict: WSJ.

In the fill, here we have a lot of great entries: DEAD AIR, SNIPE HUNT, ANACONDA, “TOLD YOU!,” “BAD IDEA,” CHOSEN ONE, SIT PATSPLIT VOTES, and “I GOT IT!” Over there you get EARPIECE, PRE-ORDER, ALATEEN, “WHERE AM I?,” AFTER ALL, “I DON’T LIE,” ABACUS, and BOOTEE. Both sets are really, really good, but the WSJ entries entries felt just a skosh livelier. Verdict: WSJ.

Cluing? The following Fireball entries had clues that I enjoyed in one way or another (I’m not going to list the clues): DEPP, BREAST IMPLANTS, AAAA, ELEVEN, CENTRE, MANX, BAROMETER. The WSJ had these: ODE, ETSY, TYPO. Verdict: Fireball.

Conclusion: Let me say that both grids are fun and the theme is well-conceived and executed in both cases. I have to give the slight edge to Evan Kalish and the WSJ because I appreciate that the city names are longer and more well-known, and the length and quality of the long fill items were just a cut above (maybe owing to the fact that there are fewer theme entries). I’ll give it 4.25 stars. But the Fireball was very enjoyable as well.

The real winner is us, the solving public, who get to enjoy this fine grids and compare, contrast, and discuss them. So congratulations you!

Jacob Stulberg’s Fireball Crossword, “City Blocks”—joon’s write-up

Fireball Crossword, Oct 10, 2019, “City Blocks”, Jacob Stulberg, solution grid

well, jim p has beaten me to the punch, but yes, this puzzle has the same theme as today’s WSJ, with {New York neighborhood (and a hint to this puzzle’s theme)} LITTLE ITALY as the reveal answer. what, indeed, are the odds?

here are the rebus entries:

  • {What Marge mistakenly receives in the 2002 “Simpsons” episode “Large Marge”} BRE[AST I]MPLANTS crossing {Line that was ranked 42nd on the American Film Institute’s “100 Years … 100 Movie Quotes” list} PL[ASTI]CS. i believe i have only seen one simpsons episode from the current millennium, and it was, of course, “homer and lisa exchange cross words”. the film quote is from the graduate, my third-least-favorite film i’ve ever seen, behind only vertigo (#2) and batman & robin (#1).
  • {Hitch} is a pretty terse clue for THUM[B A RI]DE; it’s much more familiar to me in the transitive sense (“hitch a ride”) than this intransitive sense. it crosses {Lack of civilization} BAR[BARI]SM.
  • {Iron horse} LO[COMO]TIVE crosses {Pope Benedict XV’s given name} GIA[COMO]. mild deduction here for hiding the italian place name COMO in the italian given name GIACOMO. did anybody know benedict XV’s given name? this is the italian who was pope during WWI, not the german who recently abdicated (that’s benedict XVI, a.k.a. joseph ratzinger). puccini would have been a much more famous GIACOMO. while we’re here, i did not know COMO was a city in italy. i did know of lake COMO, and it turns out COMO is a city on the same-named lake.
  • {Its slogan is “La línea que nos une” (“The line that unites us”)} AE[RO ME]XICO crosses {What may fall before a storm} BA[ROME]TER. not literally fall, unless, uh, well, have you ever heard the barometer joke? this was a tall tale (pun intended) that was quite popular among a certain subset of physics nerds in my high school days.

i liked this puzzle, but boy, did i struggle solving it. the rebus squares were not the problem; i got all of them more or less right away. but i got extremely stuck in the top-middle section, where {Regal, e.g.} was not helping me for BUICK, and {It’s difficult to go through} was not bringing ORDEAL to mind, and then the crossing downs were all ambiguous: {Hits} could be RAPS or POPS or ZAPS or perhaps some other things; {Letterhead info} was URL but could have been TEL; and {Panhandle state: Abbr.} could have been FLA or WVA, but this time it was IDA. yikes. it’s a good thing i learned the name {“Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” singer Mattea} KATHY from a puzzle earlier this week, or i would have been in even bigger trouble up there.

a few other things:

  • {Many a Shakespeare character} is both an accurate and unhelpful clue for EARL. not exactly the first thing you think of when it comes to shakespeare characters.
  • {One by one?} is a clue i’ve seen before for ELEVEN, but danged if it didn’t get me again.
  • {“Trust me!”} I DON’T LIE. i won’t lie—i don’t love this answer. it doesn’t sound like a thing i would say, unlike I WON’T LIE, which is what i had there for a little while until i decided that {Health and Human Services div.} FWA didn’t look right.

what a strange world we live in. i feel bad for both evan and jacob, although i kind of wonder if it’s better to have them both come out the same day than to have one puzzle scoop the other by a few days or weeks.

anyway, that’s all i’ve got. what’d you think of this one (these two)?

Tracy Gray’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

NYT 10/10/19, no. 1010

I feel like I’ve seen puzzles like today’s NYT before on Sundays, where there’s lots of grid space to spread out in, but not a 15×15 grid.  The app did a thing I didn’t like, which I’ll get to in a minute, but let’s dig into what’s going on:

  • 18A: What margarine has, unlike butter — NOCHSTEROL
  • 29A: Part of a tenant screening report — CREDECK
  • 50A: Classic “Animal House” scene — TOGARTY
  • 62A: Requirement after a surgery, perhaps — HOSPALSTAY

Taken on their own, the acrosses don’t make much sense, but the revealer here (“Tread carefully!” … or a hint to four dangers in this puzzle) explains how these fit into the grid.  Each answer contains a pitfall (going down) in the grid – NO CHOLESTEROL, CREDIT CHECK, TOGA PARTY, and HOSPITAL STAY.

The view from the app on 39A

This is all pretty straightforward, at least given the sort of shenanigans you’d see in a Thursday NYT.  What I didn’t like in the app version of this puzzle is that the four “dangers” were highlighted!  Take a look:

If the clue for these specifically called out the answers affected, I’d be fine with this, but this is the sort of theme where you should be a little stumped as to where the drops are.  Giving those away in this way definitely shaved my time and made this less of a challenge, which I found disappointing.

Here’s a BAD RAP to go along with 8A. Wait, the clue was “Unjustified criticism, in slang”? Never mind, then.

Other things I liked: my initial guess of PDFS for “Acrobat displays” being correct at 1A, PHONICS (“Sound system?”), Etsy ARTISANS, BEER BONGS, and SPOT OF TEA.

Things I didn’t like: NON-PC (especially clued as “Potentially offensive”!  I promise you that you can make a joke without punching down or making it about someone’s body, economic status, or other characteristics, and I honestly think it makes your comedy stronger), Banda ACEH, SYOSSET (which has great letters, but Long Island communities are not in this non-New Yorker’s wheelhouse)

A nice theme, but the reveal of key info and some other fill choices let me down.

Enjoy your Thursday!

Kevin C. Christian’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

This Thursday’s LA Times features another example of the hidden anagrammed word trope. On the positive side, we have a colourful and clever revealing answer in BENTOUTOFSHAPE. This tells us that the other long answers have BENT which is out of shape (scrambled or anagrammed depending on your preference). Of the four entries, DONTBEMAD and WENTBARHOPPING seem a tad contrived, with DONTBEMAD landing on the good side of the fence for me, but the other answer not so much. Why not just WENTMUSHROOMPICKING…

I don’t see a lot else to remark on: HOWRUDE continues the chatty subtheme. I can’t place the particular BREE [“Grimm” actress Turner]; it feels like a somewhat popular generic Hollywood actor’s name though? I got thrown slightly at [Consequence of wearing a cap too long] as I wanted HATHair.


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

BEQ #1199, “Aye Aye”

A 14×15 grid today, which I only noticed after pasting it into this blog post. Still plenty of meat on these crossword bones!

Today’s theme is “change a short I sound to a long I sound, to humorous effect.” Let’s see how BEQ did on the “humorous effect” front (I still haven’t seen the across clues yet, so they’ll be fresh to me too!):

  • 16a, HOLD STYLE [Wrestler’s élan?]. “Hold still.” Cute incorporation of crosswordese :)
  • 22a, PLAYED TO WHINE [Competed just so you can complain about calls?]. Played to win.
  • 35a, HAMMER AND CYCLE [Two things a carpenter without a car needs?]. Hammer and sickle.
  • 47a, BROTHERS GRIME [Monks’ dirt?]. Brothers Grimm.
  • 57a, BIG DIAPER [Thing that carries a lot of shit?]. Big Dipper.

I’d say 5/5 on the humor front, with HAMMER AND CYCLE being my favorite clue/answer combo. BIG DIAPER is a real winner too.

A few other notes:

  • I’ve never heard of the VHONE show clued at 1a [“Cartel Crew” channel]. The basic idea, according to VH1’s website:

The sons and daughters of cartel members give a glimpse into their personal lives as they navigate adulthood and the effects of their family legacies.

I’ll leave it at that. Fun puz!

Until next time!

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

11 Responses to Thursday, October 10, 2019

  1. GlennG says:

    Of the WSJ and Fireball, them having the same theme did ruin things when it came to the one I did second. Simply, it felt like I did the puzzle before. Overall, while both have good assets, I think the WSJ executed the theme in a lot cleaner way.

    • janie says:

      and b/c “diff’rent strokes,” put me in the fireball column, which punished me, too, w/ that BUICK regal, but whose rebus themers went right to my happy place. loooong-time fan of the graduate, so that crossing of PL{ASTI}CS and BRE{AST I}MPLANTS really shone for me.

      regardless: both puzzles are *terrific* constructions. from where i sit, the takeaway for jacob and evan? great minds think alike!


  2. JohnH says:

    As usual, put me in the contrarian column, as I’ve thought of the Turing test as familiar from as long as I can remember. (Also, while I’m not sure TV shows pass “this” test, well worth learning from solving a puzzle, as a neat idea.)

  3. David L says:

    DNF for me with SNO/UNTA in the NYT. Not familiar with either of them.

  4. R says:

    Apparently “potentially offensive” was correct as including NON-PC in the grid offended you so much. I agree with the criticism of the way that term is used widely, but none of that was in the way it was clued. Or do you think the term is too problematic to be in puzzles in general?

    I remember a brief time when people would use “politically correct” in the positive to mean respectful, inclusive speech, but ever since then it’s been a rallying cry for disrespectful, lazy, terrible people.

  5. Mark Abe says:

    I loved the NYT drop-down theme, but have to agree with Ben’s criticism of “Syosset”. There are a large number of us non-New Yorkers who solve on-line and shouldn’t be expected to know local geography.

  6. Bonekrusher says:

    That’s so strange and spoiler-y that the NYT app highlighted where the pitfalls were. They might as well highlight rebus squares and say, “look what we did here!”

Comments are closed.