Thursday, May 14, 2020

BEQ 12:44 (Ade) 


LAT 6:20 (GRAB) 


NYT 7:25 (Ben) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal 4:46 (Jim Q) 


Fireball 5:42 (Jenni) 


Two puzzle alerts!

  1. Matt Gaffney‘s got a new 10×10 mini-themed crossword running five days a week at the Daily Beast. Puzzles here, Matt’s intro there.
  2. The trio of Brendan Emmett Quigley and Hex (Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon) have followed in Matt’s MGWCC footsteps and have a new Patreon subscription crossword called The Hub Crossword. Support them to the tune of $3 a month to get a Sunday-sized puzzle emailed to you each Sunday (chip in more and you’ll get additional treats like Marching Bands variety puzzles and themeless crosswords).

Zachary David Levy’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Heavy Metal”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Phrases with a metal—normally as the first word—have that metal “sink” to the bottom, presumably because it’s “heavy,” and the entries are in the vertical direction.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Heavy Metal” · Zachary David Levy · Thu., 5.14.20

  • 3d [Sunscreen brand since the 1940s] TONECOPPER
  • 9d [Figurative East-West divider] CURTAIN IRON
  • 16d [Wear down in small increments] AND DIME NICKEL
  • 24d [Bygone source of popular songs] PAN ALLEY TIN
  • 29d [Fielding awards] GLOVES GOLD

Cute theme, not so much in the wordplay department, but it did keep me guessing, especially when I was trying to parse those third and fourth entries. Oy!

I’m not a baseball watcher, so I didn’t know the Gold Glove Award. I’m not a boxing watcher either, but I do know the phrase “Golden Gloves,” so this entry puzzled me more than I was expecting.

Fill-wise, I’m liking CRANKS UP, SWANEE RIVER, SURVIVALIST, and ADULT THEMES. This last one sure looked like ADULT SCENES since I had SCAM for SHAM [Charade] and DRONIO for DROMIO (hey, why not?). I needed that TV-Y entry [Rating for “DuckTales”] to set me straight.

Another trouble spot might be that TAU/TAI crossing ([Terpsichore’s start]/[Red snapper, on a sushi menu]). Throw in the TAU/ELIHU crossing at the U, and you might be in trouble if you didn’t know who [Benefactor Yale] was.

Clues of note:

  • 62a. [Person planning for the apocalypse]. SURVIVALIST. I wonder how most of these are faring these days. Apparently they go the term “preppers” now.
  • 13d. [Champagne pop?], as in a dad from the French city, ergo PERE. Love this clue!
  • 39d. [Donnie played by Jake Gyllenhaal]. DARKO. Never saw the film this is referring to, but I had assumed the title character was played by Johnny Depp, and I don’t know why. What is it that I’m thinking of?

Solid Thursday puzzle. 3.6 stars.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 138”–Jenni’s write-up

Peter Gordon is a man. The streak continues.

In addition to the paucity of women in the Fireball lineup, there’s a character from “Dilbert” at 1a. Why is that a problem? Because Scott Adams is a nasty misogynist (he might call himself a “Men’s Rights Activist,” which is the same thing). Don’t believe me? Just ask him:

The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It’s just easier this way for everyone. You don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner. You don’t punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don’t argue when a women tells you she’s only making 80 cents to your dollar. It’s the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.

Yes, that was 2011; trust me, he hasn’t changed. I won’t link to anything he said about the 2016 election because I value my mental health and don’t want to give any of it more traffic than it’s already had. As we’ve said before, 1a and 1d set the tone for the entire puzzle and Adam’s racist caricature of an intern is not the tone I want in my puzzles. Or anywhere else.

This puzzle and I did not get off to a good start. My experience improved as I worked my way through the grid. It would have been hard for it to get worse.


Fireball, May 14, 2020, Peter Gordon, “Themeless 138,” solution grid

  • GILBERT GRAPE and AGATHA RAISIN for a delightful symmetrical mini-theme.
  • Local favorites THE EAGLES and their Super Bowl win. I’m not a football fan. I do enjoy seeing my neighbors deliriously happy, and they were.
  • THATS SO YOU, which I’ve never heard uttered in a clothing store and which I enjoyed anyway.
  • Scottish assents and dissents AYES and NAES.
  • SQUEEZE BOX clued with reference to the Who song. Ah, music of my youth.

MEDICAID is clued as [Debate topic concerning healthcare]. We would also have accepted [Life-saving safety net often placed on the chopping block by politicians who think poor people should die]. Hey, the Fireball is know for Very Long Clues.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Verna LISI was in “How to Murder Your Wife” and that EELPOTs have funnel-shaped openings.


Michael Schlossberg’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

Happy Thursday, all!  We’re here, and that counts for something.

My initial reaction on solving this Thursday’s NYT was “that was it?”, which is not the best first reaction to have.  On further reflection, there’s more going on under the surface than I first thought, but it’s still a little underwhelming:

NYT 5/14/2020 – No. 0514

  • 17A: Bingo, in Scrabble — FIFTY POINT BONUS
  • 27A: “B-I-N-G-O,” e.g. — NURSERY RHYME
  • 46A: Bingo, for one — GAME OF CHANCE
  • 61A: “Bingo!” – ABSOLUTELY RIGHT

It’s all about BINGO, complete with a FREE space in the center of the grid allowing GLUTEN FREE CEREAL going across (“Breakfast aisle option for a wheat allergy”) and CRY FREEDOM (1987 drama set in apartheid-era South Africa) going down.  It’s a nice idea, but the execution on the theme feels underwhelming.  BINGO as a scrabble booster is great, as is B-I-N-G-O the nursery rhyme and BINGO as a way of saying “spot on!” or “ABSOLUTELY RIGHT”.  But then throwing in that BINGO is a game of chance is one of those things that’s not like the others.  Not quite, anyways.



  • TONGANS are residents of the Friendly Islands, nicknamed that because of the congenial reception Captain James Cook received upon arriving during the ‘inasi festival in 1773.  The chiefs wanted to kill him but couldn’t agree on a plan; meanwhile, dude just thought “what a lovely party!”
  • Love that text-speak like SRSLY has made it into the crossword.
  • I leave you all with John Mulaney talking about CAPTCHAS, aka the ROBOT test

Be well, all!

Zhouqin Burnikel’s Universal crossword — “Golf Goofs”

Is it just me, or do golf and crosswords have a very strong relationship?

Universal crossword solution · “Golf Googs” · Zhouqin Burnikel · Thur., 5.14.20

THEME: Golf “oopsies” are found at the beginning of common phrases.


  • 16A [*Seder plate item that isn’t for eating] SHANK BONE. 
  • 23A [*Realistically representing everyday events] SLICE OF LIFE. 
  • 34A [*You might open a window for one] WHIFF OF FRESH AIR. 
  • 45A [*Sign flashed at a University of Texas game] HOOK EM HORNS. 
  • 57A [Shots one may take after the starred answers’ starts] MULLIGANS. 

Solid, simple concept to today’s offering. I was unfamiliar with SHANK BONE (that goes in my “glad I know that now” part of the brain). I found the wording to the clue for SLICE OF LIFE somewhat odd: [*Realistically representing everyday events]. It doesn’t feel like the clue is asking for a noun phrase. I would think SLICE OF LIFE would be clued as a “Realistic representation of everyday events,” but I could also be reading it incorrectly and either underthinking it or overthinking it.

Everything else was par for the course! Pun intended.

Enjoy this… Thursday (Had to think about it. Losing track of the weekdays quite a bit!).

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

LA Times

The theme’s revealer is doing an awful lot of lifting: NOTFITFORTHEJOB. I’d say the idea is that, if you divide answers in two, the first part is an occupation, and the second is a thing not usually connected with said occupation; however, in each case, the occupation is used as a verb, and in that usage creates a valid association with the thing? Convoluted? But an ambitious theme nonetheless! So – NURSE/ADRINK, BUTCHER/ASONG, DOCTOR/APHOTO, and TAILOR/APLAN.


  • [Takes public transport, slangily], BUSESIT. New to me. Wanted RIDESIT (the train).
  • [Ewoks, e.g.], ETS. Not sure “Star Wars”, which doesn’t explicitly have an Earth frame of reference, is a good angle for this.
  • [Monkey named for a mythical Greek king], RHESUS. Interesting, although it also seems the exact connection is still debated.
  • [Part of a foot], ARCH. Clear fake out for inCH.
  • [Course load?], SETOFCLUBS. Very tricky clue! >Golf< course.
  • [1954 #1 hit for the Crew-Cuts], SHBOOM. Great entry and song. Wish they had referenced the original Chords version, since the cover was one of many of the period that were essentially white remakes that were hit songs because the black original wasn’t allowed to be exposed in many parts of society.


Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1261), “Unit Test”—Ade’s take

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword, No. 1261: “Unit Test”

Good day, everyone! Here is hoping you all are continuing to stay safe!

Also hope that you’re believing in the science that’s out there, and some science you surely had to believe when solving today’s grid. Common phrases and/or proper nouns are “measured” and turned into puns as one of the words is replaced by a homophone that also happens to be a unit of measure.

  • WINES AND DYNES (19A: [Entertains with force?]) – Wines and dines.
  • RUN THE JOULES (25A: [Energetic rap act?]) – Run the Jewels, the collaboration of singer Killer Mike and one of the best hip hop producers out there, El-P.
  • NO MATTER WATT (42A: [Powerful in any event?]) – No matter what.
  • THE TRUTH HERTZ  (51A: [“Facts are facts,” frequently?]) – The truth hurts.

Usually only see one of the three four-letter states in a grid at a given time, but two sneak in here with both IOWA (40A: [Its motto is, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain]) and UTAH making it (41D: [State with the lowest income inequality]). Sorry, Ohio! The “wire fu” term in the clue to THE MATRIX is completely new to me in terms of those types of scenes, where the kung fu action scenes are aided by wires strapped to the actors and/or stunt people, having a name for it (32D: [1999 sci-fi movie that used wire fu]). Is there any person who was more of a fan of HAGAR instead of David Lee Roth during their times as the lead singer to Van Halen (26D: [Van ___ (sobriquet for a hard rock band when Sammy was their lead singer])? Instead of thinking of the Civil War, seeing ANTIETAM made me think of the times I had to travel to Hagerstown, Maryland to broadcast Minor League Baseball games that included the Hagerstown Suns, and the baseball stadium was near to Antietam Creek (38D: [Civil War battle that led to the Emancipation Proclamation]). Traveling through the American South was very interesting during those times as a baseball radio announcer, but, for our next segment, we are going to go much further south, to the Land Down Under.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROCHE (57A: [Maker of Tamiflu and Valium]) – Australia produced a number of tennis greats in the 1960s, with one of them being Tony Roche, the left-handed doubles maven who won one Grand Slam singles title (1966 French Open) while teaming up with countryman John Newcombe to win 13 Grand Slam doubles titles. Roche also went on to become one of the great tennis coaches ever, leading players such as Roger Federer and Patrick Rafter to Grand Slam titles while also coaching Ivan Lendl and Lleyton Hewitt.

Thank you so much for your time, friends! Have a great rest of your Thursday, and hope you have a good weekend coming up! Stay safe! Keep six feet apart from fellow citizens! Wash your hands! Stay positive, if you are able to!

Take care!


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13 Responses to Thursday, May 14, 2020

  1. Cory says:

    WSJ: Johnny Depp was in Donnie Brasco.

    • Constant Malachi says:

      Those are both pretty good movies, but Donnie Darko was better.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      That must be it, thanks. Though I never saw that one either.

      • Billy Boy says:

        I think I’ll go watch Donnie Darko again.

        Such a good movie. Your tastes may vary
        Gary Jules cover of TFF Mad World is worth the listen.

  2. maxine nerdström says:

    I think about that John Mulaney bit multiple times a day at work and it always makes me smile. PROVE! PROOOOVE!

  3. Frank says:

    Sorry, the clue for 25D is not a thing. could have clued it as mai TAI, TAI chi, or TAI Lopez. And crossing it with the clue for 25A? Could have done that way better. Other than that a pretty good puzzle. And yes, Donnie Darko was a great movie!

  4. MattF says:

    NYT… I missed the BINGO theme until now, so I’m duly impressed, belatedly. Good puzzle.

  5. JohnH says:

    For the NYT, I probably haven’t played bingo since age 10 or scrabble all that much more recently, so I just had to take the puzzle’s word for a lot, and it took me a long time to come up with completion for the first theme entry (BONUS). Even then, that corner defeated me.

    I couldn’t bring myself to enter the S in PULPS seeing that it led to something beginning SRS, wondering if maybe a bingo card had a blank corner, and what with the pun on “assembly” had trouble completing NAY. In the end, I just stared at SRSLY wondering where my mistake could be. Oh, well.

  6. RichardZ says:

    Re today’s Fireball puzzle – some clues/answers I particularly enjoyed were:

    18A They might give you cold shoulders [HALTER TOPS]

    40A Parties with liberals in congress? [ORGIES]

    Hadn’t seen “congress” used in that sense for a long time. In fact, the last time was probably a long-ago article from National Lampoon titled “How Your Parents Had Sex” (enough said).

  7. Jenn says:

    NYT- I think of Bingo as a song. Not a rhyme. Don’t you sing it leaving out a letter each time? I’m likely being too literal!

    • R says:

      Most definitions I can find for NURSERY RHYME include both poems and songs. Makes sense as any short metered and rhyming poem can be sung, and most don’t have a definitive original composition to indicate their intended performance directions.

  8. Reid says:

    no one’s going to mention that the NYT could have used any way of cluing SPF, but used “50” even though it crossed the word “FIFTY?”

    Certainly made that section a little easier to figure out with the answer right there in front of you

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