Thursday, February 20, 2020

BEQ 16:01 (Ade) 


LAT 4:20 (GRAB) 


NYT 9:42 (Ben) 


WSJ 9:21 (Jim P) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


No Fireball puzzle this week.

Michael Schlossberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Crawly Space”—Jim P’s review

I definitely needed the revealer to get the gimmick here, but once I got there, I found a pretty nifty theme.

Each starred theme answer is a common word or phrase that can be re-parsed into a type of bug and another common word or phrase. It’s this latter part that takes the clue whereas the bug has to be mentally removed. This is made clear with the revealer BUGS OUT (39a, [Leaves in a hurry, or a hint to the cluing of the starred answers]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Title” · Constructor · Day, Date

  • 17a [*Whirl] STICKPIN. Spin.
  • 23a [*”The Great Escape” setting] STALAGMITE. Stalag.
  • 54a [*Stops serving, at the bar] CUTS OF BEEF. Cuts off.
  • 60a [*Bail, bond?] ANTELOPE. Elope. Tough clue, even without the added confusion of the theme.
  • 10d [*Old West?] MAGNATE. Mae West.
  • 44d [*Soft cheese] BRIEFLY. Brie.

Clever, cute, and crunchy, providing just enough resistance for a late-in-the-week puzzle. Everything was pretty smooth once I grokked the theme except that SE corner. CUTS OF BEEF was hard to parse; I knew I wanted “cuts off” but couldn’t see how to get there. And that clue for ELOPE…well, let’s just say I’m not fully convinced. [Bail and bond] I’d be okay with, but the clue as is feels like a bit of a stretch.

But overall a fun theme to suss out.

Highlights in the fill include JAPANESE, DELEGATE, WHALE PODS, and ANIMAL FAT (or maybe that’s a lowlight). I also liked MLK DAY, TALLY UP, BENJI, DIAPER, and ELAYNE Boosler, who is a crossworder, I believe.

Clues of note:

  • 19a. [Casting expert]. My first thought was of the techs who put casts on broken limbs, then of those who assign actors to roles. I needed the crossings to realize this was angling for ANGLER.
  • 21a. [Like many manga artists]. My daughter, who’s majoring in JAPANESE and minoring in creative writing, and who also draws in the style of manga, spent a semester last year in Kyoto. She’s looked at what it takes to break into manga and anime and says it’s a very cut-throat industry and the artists work for low pay.
  • 45a. [Utterly defeat, to gamers]. PWN. It’s dated slang at this point. I don’t know how commonly used it is these days.
  • 46a. [Stromboli spout]. LAVA. I did not know this was the name of a volcano. I could only think of the food item or the character from Disney’s Pinnochio.
  • 67a. [High point of seminars?]. DOT. Cute. Referring to the word “seminars” in lowercase, of course.

Good grid, with a strong Thursday vibe. Four stars.

Joe Deeney’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

NYT 2/19/2020 – No. 0219

It took me longer than it should have to put two and two (and two and two) together on today’s NYT theme:

  • 17A: Awake during the wee hours, say — UP L8
  • 20A: Journalism — THE FOURTH EST8
  • 35A: Dismissive response to critics — H8RS GONNA H8
  • 40A: Parking lot event — TAILG8 PARTY
  • 59A: Adult — X-R8D
  • 61A: Att dinner and then the cinema, say — ON A D8
  • 62A: What a volcano may leave — CR8R
  • 53A: Pirate plunder…or a hint to interpreting an appropriate number of squares in this puzzle — PIECES OF EIGHT

I used rebus squares since I started with the down clues while solving, but you could also put an 8 in the eight special squares of this grid and interpret those PIECES OF EIGHT as the double-Os in SCH(OO)L DAZE, G(OO)F UP, SN(OO)PS, T(OO) S(OO)N, WHIRLP(OO)LS, WH(OO)PI, and F(OO)LS.

Happy Thursday!

Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary


STUFFEDANIMAL makes for a great thematic centrepiece. Here, it’s a hint that four answers have hidden Eutherian mammals, which is but one infraclass of one class of one phylum out of around 35 that make up Animalia.

Other notes:

  • [Nos. on driver’s licenses], HTS. Must be an American thing. Only data I have on mine are things like “must wear glasses” and which types of vehicle I am licensed for.
  • [Succulent plant genus], ALOE. As in [em]Aloe vera[/em]. There is not enough taxonomy in crossword clues!
  • [Club alternative], BLT. Americans can seem mighty preoccupied giving specific names to seemingly pretty generic sandwiches. I am not sure what makes something a club sandwich and not just say a turkey sandwich.
  • [Covers with goop], SLIMES. (in Ghostbusters).
  • [Trips where big cats are spotted], SAFARIS. In two ways!
  • [Superhero acronym involving Hercules, Zeus, Achilles and three others], SHAZAM – trivia time!


Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1237), “Hot Snacks”—Ade’s take

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword solution, No. 1237: “Hot Snacks”

Whoa! A BEQ Thursday review! It’s about time, I know! Thank you for your patience while I tried my best to be available for more Thursday reviews on Fiend, and I hope you’ll forgive me for the lack of commentary in this space for a good while.

Today’s puzzle definitely is one that probably would not have passed the breakfast test — unless the idea of “breakfast” included having breakfast in bed while being sexually aroused by your partner in the process of chowing down! (Hey, sorry to be so suggestive, but, honestly, have you seen the finished grid/theme?!?!) In the grid, four of the theme entries are multiple-word, food-related answers in which the second word also can be used, normally in slang, to identify sex organs. The reason we have to have such a carnal frame of mind with the grid is because of its reveal, FOOD PORN (70A: [Pictures of tasty things, and the theme of this puzzle]).

  • JUICE BOX (7A: [Drink that comes with a straw]) – “Box” = vagina.
  • MATZOH BALLS (23A: [Passover soup fillers]) – “Balls” = testes.
  • CHICKEN BREAST (39A: [White meat selection]) – “Breast” = umm…breast(s).
  • SPOTTED DICK (55A: [British dessert made with suet and dried fruit]) – “Dick” = penis.

Enough BEQ grids do end up mentioning marginal-to-good (but not legendary) sports figures, which can be infuriating to a number of solvers, and examples of those today include PEDRO (56D: [Dodgers reliever Baez]) and TOBIAS, though the latter may very well make an NBA All-Star Game in the next year or so since he is a very talented player on a very talented — though maddeningly inconsistent — team (2D: [76ers forward ___ Harris]). Probably the only entry in which I had a tough time in figuring out was CAMISE (10D: [Loose-fitting tunic]). Can’t say that I’ll make it out to the movie theaters for The Irishman, though the grid helped in filling at least one element of the movie with TEAMSTER (18A: [Extra in “The Irishman”]). I have never needed to receiver an EPIDURAL, but I’ve heard from mothers and/or athletes that it is an absolute bear to go through (42D: [Labor day shot]). Oh, and congratulations to the latest (and probably final) full-time Montreal EXPO to make it in into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Larry Walker, who will be inducted into Cooperstown this summer (41D: [Event when new products are previewed]). Speaking of Hall of Fame baseball players…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: POPS (27D: [Man of the house]) – Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Pirates winning their last World Series title, a run to glory that was led by the man called “Pops,” first baseman Willie Stargell. In that 1979 season, at age 39, Pops smacked 32 home runs and was the emotional leader of the “We Are Family” Pirates — yes, the Sister Sledge song was team’s/city’s anthem, given the majority of the team’s starting lineup was black/Latino — on their way to winning the World Series over the Baltimore Orioles, as Pittsburgh came back from a 3-1 series deficit. Stargell won both the NLCS MVP in the Pirates’ win over the Cincinnati Reds, then won the World Series MVP after batting .400 with three home runs (including the go-ahead two-run HR in the sixth inning of Game 7) in the series against the O’s. Stargell, who finished in the top three of regular season NL MVP voting in 1971 (second), 1972 (third) and 1973 (second), finally won the award in 1979, sharing it with the St. Louis Cardinals’ Keith Hernandez. Stargell became the oldest player in Major League history to win an MVP, and held that mark until 40-year-old Barry Bonds won the award in 2004.

Thank you so much for your time, friends! Have a great rest of your Thursday, and hope you have a good weekend coming up!

Take care!


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21 Responses to Thursday, February 20, 2020

  1. David Glasser says:

    There is no Fireball tk today fyi

  2. Bryan says:

    NYT: Clever theme! And by the way, if you do the Mini (I always do the Mini as a warm-up before doing the main puzzle), it would have tipped you off to the “8” theme, or at least have gotten your brain thinking in that direction, as it did mine. Joel Fagliano, who creates the Minis, incorporated an 8 into that puzzle. That surely wasn’t a coincidence.

    • Me says:

      Is this the first number of rebus in a Mini? Don’t remember seeing that before.

      • Bryan says:

        I don’t think so. Every now and then, Joel does something out of the norm for the Mini. I’ve seen numbers before. As someone who has been doing the Mini and then the main puzzle for years now, I do notice that once in a while, Joel seems to put something in the Mini that is then echoed in the main puzzle. I suspect it’s intentional in a playful way.

  3. JohnH says:

    I just wasn’t made for this WSJ. I never did parse “Bail, bond” and I, too, struggled with CUTS OF BEEF and LAVA. I wasn’t sure what to make of DOT, although it did occur to me that the clue wanted somehow to point to the dot on the i. I didn’t understand PWN, so for a while “corrected” it to “own,” only that of course made things worse, with “aso” instead of the obvious. I also had SCARF (down), which is at least a word, although clearly it wasn’t go work to have “hec” instead of HEN.

    • Norm says:

      To bail is to run & to bond is to marry, so ELOPE [minus the ANT].

      • JohnH says:

        Thanks. I figured it was something like that, although it’s not terribly well supported. You generally have to “bail out” on something or other.

  4. davey says:

    the completed NYT grid with OOs instead of 8s has made me laugh. TAILGOO PARTY; HOORS GONNA HOO!

    • reybo says:

      I was so saddened by how far Will strayed from a good puzzle on Thursday by publishing that thing from Joe Deeney that I marked February 20, 2020, as when Will jumped the shark.

  5. MattF says:

    Took a while to grok the NYT today, but it was worth the effort. A rebus that reads differently across and down is pretty unusual. Probably should have gone directly to the revealer, though then I’d have missed the puzzlement phase.

  6. pseudonym says:

    “…you could also put an 8 in the eight special squares of this grid…”

    I think this is how the rebus works as 8 reads across and the os down. Very clever, enjoyable gimmick.

  7. Cynthia says:

    On the topic of crosswords having titles: I wish today’s Universal wasn’t titled “Chemistry Countdown.” It threw my mind back to my much-hated high school chemistry classes when we had to memorize the periodic table. That thing was the bane of my junior and senior years (yes, I had to take the class twice to do better than a D, thanks in part to the table!).

    As I worked through this puzzle, I had a nagging fear that I’d be required to recall that damned chart to get the theme answers. It put a damper on my enjoyment of the puzzle. In the end I was relieved that it wasn’t necessary to remember anything about the periodic table. (As has mostly been the case throughout my entire life, and likely the lives of 90% of the students who have ever taken high school chemistry classes. Ironically, my biggest use for it has been in crossword puzzles when I needed to know the symbols for common elements).

    • Scott says:

      I haven’t finished it yet but why do some of the clues have (X to X) appended to the end of it? For example, 15 Across had the clue Legalizes Gambling?(C to B). I got the answer but still have no idea what the (C to B) part meant

      I assume it has something to do with the periodic elements but can’t find anything that correlates back to the answer

      • sanfranman59 says:

        — ‘enable cookies’ –> ENABLE BOOKIES {15A: Legalizes gambling? (C to B)} … the ‘C’ in ‘cookies’ becomes the ‘B’ in BOOKIES
        — ‘bar magnet’ –> BEAR MAGNET {22A: Picnic lunch in Yellowstone, say? (B to Be)} … the ‘B’ in ‘bar’ becomes the ‘Be’ in BEAR
        — ‘get to know better’ –> GET TO KNOW LITTER {33A: Learn about cat boxes? (Be to Li)} … the ‘Be’ in ‘better’ becomes the ‘Li’ in LITTER
        — ‘click farms’ (???) –> CHECK FARMS {47A: Assignment for a USDA inspector? (Li to He)} … the ‘Li’ in ‘click’ becomes the ‘He’ in CHECK (my question is, what are ‘click farms’?)
        — ‘headless chicken’ –> HAD LESS CHICKEN {56A: Eased into a vegetarian diet? (He to H)} … the ‘He’ in ‘headless’ becomes the ‘H’ in HAD LESS

        The five elements in question (boron, beryllium, lithium, helium and hydrogen) are in descending order by atomic number in the periodic table (5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, respectively). This was pretty tough to grok.

        • Me says:

          Carbon is 6, so it’s a 6-element countdown.

          It’s quite a clever puzzle, but it took a while for me to figure out what it all had to do with “chemistry countdown.” Almost a meta, in a way.

          • sanfranman59 says:

            Doh! How could I forget about carbon? Thanks for the correction, Me.

          • John says:

            Ok. I’m appreciative you folks wrote about this one. Wasn’t a fan of the puzzle while I was solving and will begrudgingly admit it was clever. Still wasn’t enjoyable.

  8. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT: The hidden animal in SEARCH AREA might be either CHAR (a fish) or HARE. I don’t know if this is a feature or not. I wanted the hidden animal in HAD A GO AT IT to be AGOuTI since I had the perfectly reasonable FLuKE instead of FLAKE {6D: Oddball}. I wonder if this was intentional on Bruce’s and/or Rich’s part? I also mangled HEADING OFF {48A: Intercepting, as at the pass} with ‘pickING OFF’ because I read the clue as “Intercepting, as a pass” (argh!). Here again, I wonder if this was intentional?

    I don’t understand why the clue is worded as it is for RED ALE {44D: Killian’s, originally}. According to their website, they still call their product “George Killian’s Irish Red”. Hmm.

    • Martin says:

      Coors changed Killian’s from a red ale to a lager at some point. In Europe, Heineken France still brews the red ale. The original Irish brew is no longer made, but it was a red ale. Now it’s just a marketing name.

  9. scrivener says:

    That was a fun NYT. I originally had ATE00 in those squares and tried to make them 800 and 8/00 before I caught on. And yay for two Hawaii clues. :) Took me 17:42 but I’m happy.

  10. reybo says:

    I was so saddened by how far Will strayed from a good puzzle on Thursday by publishing that thing from Joe Deeney that I marked February 20, 2020, as when Will jumped the shark.

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