Thursday, December 5, 2019

BEQ tk (Ade) 


LAT 4:24 (GRAB) 


NYT 5:50 (Ben) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


WSJ 8:09 (Jim P) 


Paul Coulter’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Diving Boards”—Jim P’s review

TURNED THE TABLES (57a, [Reversed an unfavorable situation, and what you did in the theme answers]) is our indicator that the long Across answers have kinds of tables in them and that those kinds of tables are turned in the Down direction.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Diving Boards” · Paul Coulter · Thu., 12.5.19

  • 16a [First sign of failure] /19d [Resolution]: BEGINNING OF THE / END
  • 31a [Tap output] / 34d [Well-kept supply]: DRINKING / WATER
  • 41a [1970 Eric Clapton hit] / 43d [Dark time]: AFTER MID / NIGHT

End table, water table, night table. I feel like I’ve heard “night stand” far more than “night table” in my life, but that may just be me or a regional thing. Google’s Ngram viewer puts the two phrases on an even par. There are a great many kinds of tables though (pool, periodic, round, coffee, etc.), so I would have preferred a more universal choice.

I definitely needed the revealer because on my first pass I had entered all the table words as rebuses.

Fill-wise, NOT HOME and I’M HERE make for a humorous stack in the West while that grouping in the East (NAIAD, ISOMER, AGE NORM) should satisfy you highbrow types.  I liked seeing GEODUCK (pronounced “gooey duck”) which is popular in my neck of the woods (Pacific Northwest). And a REST DAY sounds good right about now. BLITHE and LIVID also make for a good contrast of not-s0-common words.

In the “Huh?” department, I question the spellings of GISMO and GO-CART both of which look wrong to me. Maybe they’re British.

Clues of note:

  • 6a [Catch flies]. SHAG. Definitely not a British clue.
  • 38a [She raised Cain]. EVE. I would be surprised if this was a new clue, but it’s lovely nonetheless.
  • 49a [H.S. class]. SRS. Who else put in a generic SCI here? Despite being ucky fill, I like the misdirection.
  • 56a [First or last ultra sound?]. SCHWA. Hmm. Not to my ear. That “UL” sound that starts the word is too intertwined to separate out the SCHWA sound.
  • 65a [Smart or Solo]. SPY. Maxwell Smart and—I’m guessing—Napoleon Solo of ’60s TV. Tough, but good clue.
  • 5d [Lisbon gentleman]. SENHOR. Those Portuguese! Always keeping us on our toes. I say this as one whose surname (Peredo) is a village in Portugal. (It means “Pear Tree Orchard.”)
  • 18d [Enter as a line]. FILE IN. Note the lack of a comma before the word “as.” Subtly tricky.

Nice puzzle with a Thursdayish vibe, solid fill, and some good cluing. 3.8 stars.

Andrea Carla Michael and Mark Diehl’s Fireball Crossword, “Fowl Play”–Jenni’s write-up

This is the last Fireball of 2019 and it’s a good ‘un. The title tells us there’s something going on with birds. It took me a while to figure it out, and it was worth the wait.

Each theme answer has a rebus square that is a DUCK going across and a SWAN going down.

Fireball crossword, December 5, 2019, “Fowl Play,” Andrea Carla Michaels, Mark Diehl, solution grid

  • 8a [Character] is ODD {DUCK} crossing 11d [Most elegant], {SWAN}KEST. I prefer SWANKIEST, and a Google Ngram search agrees with me. That’s my only quibble with the theme, which is otherwise so well-executed that I don’t even mind.
  • 16a [Honorable discharge pins, in slang] are RUPTURED {DUCK}S crossing 14d [1960s engineering feat], A{SWANDAM.
  • 35a [Double-stuffed holiday entrée] is TUR{DUCK}EN crossing 9d [Volkswagen slogan], DRIVER{S WAN}TED. This is where I realized part of what was going on. I got the DUCK. It took me a while longer to find the SWAN.
  • 38a [Circle game] is {DUCK} {DUCKGOOSE crossing 38d [Farewell appearance], {SWANSONG and 25d [Setting of “The Gods Must Be Crazy”], BOT{SWAN}A. This is where I got the whole thing. That’s one of our favorite movies. “So that’s how the t’ing got up the tree.” 
  • 51a [Scrooge’s surname] is MC{DUCK} crossing 28d [“Queen Kelly” star], GLORIA {SWAN}SON.

And to tie it all together: 61a [Awkward youths who mature beautifully (and a hint to this puzzle’s transformations]: UGLY {DUCK}LINGS crossing 62d [Al Jolson standard], {SWAN}EE. (That’s the George Gershwin tune, not to be confused with the Stephen Foster standard “Old Folks At Home,” familiarly known as “Swanee River.” And yes, I did confuse the two a few weeks ago. Thanks to janie for setting me straight. The Gershwin song is featured in the movie “Swanee River,” just to add to the fun.)

Back to the theme: original, challenging, fun, and solid with the one minor exception noted above. Thanks to Andrea and Mark!

A few other things:

  • 4d [“Well done, little dude!”] is a fun clue for ATTA BOY.
  • 15a [Baseball commentator John who was an All-Star with the Phillies] is KRUK, locally famous for many things including his answer to a journalist’s question: “I ain’t no athlete, lady, I’m a baseball player.” His All-Star at-bat against Randy Johnson is legendary, and deservedly so.
  • 18d is [Respectful title that is an anagram of another respectful title]. I knew it had to be SIR or SRI so I stuck in the S and waited for crossings. It’s SIR.
  • 43a. [Nook’s lack] is INK, referring the Barnes&Noble e-reader.
  • 44d [When swingers get together] is TEE TIME. It’s golf. Get your mind out of the gutter! No, not bowling.
  • 63a [Bomber of the past with speed and power] is A ROD, who was a Bronx Bomber. Those sneaky hidden upper-case letters will get you every time. At least they get me every time.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’d never heard of “Queen Kelly.” I did not know that the Saskatchewan flag features a LILY. I’d never heard of Barbie’s friend TERESA because she debuted in 1988 and I stopped playing with Barbie dolls before 1970 and did not purchase them for my daughter. And I didn’t know that the Baskin of Baskin-Robbins was BURT.

Neville Fogarty’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

It’s Thursday!  Let’s solve the NYT.  Neville Fogarty constructed today’s puzzle, and it has four theme entries, each near a circled square, that don’t quite make sense on their own:

  • 20A: Power players — SAND SHAKERS
  • 30A: Any member of the United Nations — EIGN STATE
  • 49A: Wooden crossings that provide protection from the weather — ED BRIDGES
  • 58A: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, for one — NMENT AGENCY

It all snaps into place once you think about the circled squares being OVER each answer:

  • 20A: Power players — (M)OVERS AND SHAKERS
  • 30A: Any member of the United Nations — (S)OVEREIGN STATE
  • 49A: Wooden crossings that provide protection from the weather — (C)OVERED BRIDGES
  • 58A: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, for one — (G)OVERNMENT AGENCY

I thought this seemed relatively breezy for a Thursday, but I didn’t mind, since it felt well-constructed.  I didn’t expect to see HOT DAMN in the grid (stepping it down to HOT DANG until I realized BLANE needed to be BLAME and RUNGER was RUNNER), and I liked both WIN BY A NOSE and ANNABEL LEE elsewhere in the down fill.


Happy Thursday, all!

Mark McClain’s La Times Crossword – Gareth’s theme summary

LA Times

Interesting premise: “___ Terrier” dog breeds found at the end of words. I have two issues with the execution though.

Firstly, and less critically, BURIALCAIRN is pretty desperate as answers go, though how else would you get CAIRN in your puzzle. ACROSSTHEBORDER and YOUDIRTYRAT are more colourful. The latter I only know as an alleged Cagney phrase from Fawlty Towers. That and articles pointing out he didn’t say it, ironically. COCKANDBULL is surprising, since isn’t that actually BULLSHIT just shortened?

The bigger issue is HOLYTERRIER – not a real phrase – and clued in reference to Batman but “Holy terror, Batman!” is not a classic Robin phrase. It’s not here: LINK. Rather baffling.


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15 Responses to Thursday, December 5, 2019

  1. JohnH says:

    In the WSJ, I started, but only briefly, with a rebus, too. It fell apart when the abridged entry’s missing letters refused to match. Nice trick.

    GISMO looked wrong to me as well (although GO-CART does not), but it definitely turns out to exist. MW11C simply calls the spelling uncommon, but of all things RHUD actually prefers it. I say NIGHT TABLE myself, although I don’t balk at “night stand.” I don’t think it’s regional, as the weekly feature in the New York Times Sunday books asking authors what they are reading asks what’s on their night stand. Maybe “table” is generational, what I heard from my parents? No idea.

  2. Cynthia says:

    Some notably good fill in the Universal today. It’s nice to have fresh, longer words like these to perk me up in the morning.

  3. David L says:

    It took me a while to see what was going on with the NYT, and when I did, I struggled to figure out how I should enter OVER in a rebus-like way. Except that wasn’t necessary and I got the thumbs-up anyway. That was a strangely unsatisfying conclusion, IMO.

  4. Noam D. Elkies says:

    NYT: neat Thursday twist. Knowing what Neville does for a living one might misread 30A:EIGNSTATE as a typo for “eigenstate” . . .


  5. Joshua Kosman says:

    NYT: I loved everything about this puzzle except the crossing at 64A/65D. [Man’s name] for _ED has at least five possibilities, and I don’t care about heroic dogs unless they’re gonna bite Miss Gulch.

    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      What he said (though if I have to learn another #$!% dog’s name this one’s better than most). Could have been BALLO (as in “____ in Maschera“) crossing the common word LED.

    • Lois says:

      Ditto. Otherwise, nice puzzle.

  6. Mark McClain says:

    (LAT) Gareth, you really ought to consult a dictionary before you conjecture that “COCK AND BULL” has anything to do with excrement (it doesn’t). Rich had the idea for the reveal – sorry you didn’t like it – I thought it was rather clever.

  7. Billy Boy says:

    I was on an aeroplane all day yesterday with no WiFi and no access to this blog; I really wanted to see some things and what others thought.

    Not very impressed with the circled letters OVER an incomplete phrase so easily sussed out. Will is losing me with his “standards” on these Thursday gimmicks, not much here at all, plus any puzzle that needs OREO, especially in the second line horizontally (I worked out a substitute rather quickly and I’m certainly NOT a constructor) is just lame. OREO has become a standard of laziness for me it seems, and I’m no fan of Shorts except on the Golf Course. Also he leans far too heavily on Proper Names/Pop Culture – the prime reason a friend of mine (ex-NSA) who doesn’t solve CWP.

    I never heard of GEODUCK even though I am in the PNW very often. I also had most of the other questions Jim had and overall I still really liked this puzzle, but would like more theme density although it makes it a little harder to figure out the ploy when it isn’t so dense. (GIZMO >>>>>>>>GISMO) – even though I knew it was right.

    So for me WSJ>>NYT this week on Thursday, my second fave day of the week (I just don’t have time for more than two puzzles just now).


  8. Ray says:

    Beq….oddly no write up … Wye Yeezus . Huh? Googling it didnt even yield anything useful. I love new for the difficulty factor but sometimes find the obscurity frustrating….

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