Fireball is a contest this week. We’ll post our review after it closes.
David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bless You!”—Jim P’s review
The theme today removes letters B when they precede letters U.
- 17a. [Call a game, then moonlight at a coffee bar?] UMP AND GRIND.
- 30a. [Emulate Keats’s aesthetic response?] FEEL THE URN.
- 47a. [The National Pork Board, for one?] BACON URGER.
- 61a. [Respond to a bartender’s “What’ll you have?” in a way?] UTTER SCOTCH.
Most of these are pretty groan-worthy, but if that’s how you like your crossword wackiness, you probably enjoyed this.
I’m not so keen on the title which is the basis for the entire puzzle. I get that we’re meant to re-parse it as “B less U,” but should it be interpreted as a mathematical problem (“B – U”) or is the first part adjectival (i.e. “B-less U”)? This latter one makes the most sense, but as most U’s are already B-less (whatever that means), it’s kind of awkward. And if a solver didn’t even recognize that they needed to re-parse the title, they probably just shrugged it off at best, or else they were left scratching their head.
Elsewhere, I didn’t know SECCO [Painting on dry plaster] nor ACTA [Official proceedings]. You can also throw in the prepositional phrases TOSS AT (TOSS TO makes more sense to me), RAN TO, and PEN UP in the irksome fill category.
There are definitely highlights, though: the Queen of Hearts’s HEDGEHOGS, a peaceful MANATEE, and the fun word DIMINUTIVE. Hannibal LECTER is always creepily fun as well.
Clues of note:
- 21a. [Making it]. TAGGING. I’m still not on the right wavelength with this one. Anyone?
- 33d. [Movable type?]. NOMAD. Nice clue.
- 49d. [Summer destination]. RESORT. Yeah. Not so much, this year.
3.25 stars from me.
Evan Kalish’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
Evan Kalish has this Thursday’s NYT, and something doesn’t make sense:
- 20A: Cause of death in the Sherlock Holmes novel “The Sign of the Four” — POISON D
- 29A: Part of the constitution establishing the executive branch — ICLE II
- 47A: Diagram at a business meeting — FLOWCH
- 55A: Protagonist in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” — HURDENT
- 21D: Lifesaving prosthetic — IFICIALHE
- 68A: Witchcraft…or what each block of three black squares in this puzzle represents — DARK ART
As the revealer says, each set of three black squares represents the letters ART, making our theme answers the much more sensible POISON DART, ARTICLE II, FLOWCHART, ARTHUR DENT, and ARTIFICIAL HEART. This was relatively straightforward as a theme, but some tricky cluing helped keep this at a Thursday difficulty level.
Is there anything more NEW AGE-Y than the commercial for Pure Moods?
- It’s nice having some (relatively) modern entries in the grid, like MTV’s JACKASS, WIIMOTE, and OK CUPID going across, and DOWNTON Abbey and GROUPON heading down
- I was coy when filling in the grid and figured it wanted to know that “Fifty Shades of Grey” was a TRILOGY. Nope, EROTICA it is.
Be well, all!
Al Hollmer and Zhouqin Burnikel’s Universal crossword — “Pet Carriers”
I just searched for phrases for my new pup that would work with this theme today, but the only slightly viable one I could find was HELLISHNESS, which is a shame. Haha!
THEME: Famous dogs’ names hidden in common phrases
- 16A [*Pretends] PUTS ON AN ACT.
- 23A [*”Good question!”] GLAD YOU ASKED.
- 37A [*Multiarmed ocean critter] SEA STAR.
- 46A [*Faces off] GOES TOE-TO-TOE
- 57A [Junkyard warning, and a hint to the starred answers’ hidden category members] BEWARE OF DOG.
As far as hidden word themes go, this one hits all the standards: The hidden word bridges parts of the phrase, they are all very common phrases, and the dogs themselves are all iconic. Guess it would be hard to include LASSIE or RIN TIN TIN in this one!
The revealer didn’t quite land for me though. I’m not sure what the BEWARE part has to do what the themers. The title, Pet Carriers, seems much better to me.
There is, of course, the circled letter issue (Universal can’t circle letters in its normal publications, though solvers can come here to access the grid as it “should” appear). For this grid, it didn’t bother me as much as it usually does though. I still find it strange- just the volume of puzzles that Universal is willing to publish that would benefit from circled letters when they’re unable to circle the letters.
Nice clue for TIC! [What the odd letters in “twitch” spell]. Universal runs a lot of clues in this style. Love em.
4 Stars with circles, 3.9 Stars without.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Today’s unusually specific theme conceals EDGAR/ALLAN/POE in three entries, which is revealed at a generic DETECTIVESTORY. I’m guessing it’s a cold climate thing to talk about an UNHEATEDGARAGE? Because here we’d call that a garage.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen IHS in a puzzle before? I actually considered initially that the answer was INRI and those black squares were representing some kind of shenanigans. The LA Times is far less likely to have Thursday shenanigans, but one never rules out the possibility.
Also, what kind of privileged monsters leave the pizza CRUSTS?
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1279), “Shark Sightings”—Ade’s take
Good day, everybody! The weekend is nigh, and hope you’re all continuing to stay safe out there!
Well, outside of beachgoers in states that have opened up its beaches, the closest enough people will get to seeing a shark is either a) during Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” or b) solving this puzzle, as nouns are reimagined as puns when the letters “FIN” are added in them!
- FINICKY THUMP (18A: [Overly particular noise?]) – Icky Thump
- LANCE FINITO (26A: [Knight’s weapon that goes “poof” after use?]) – Lance Ito.
- BADFINGER STATE (37A: [Commonwealth where they play “Baby Blue”?]) – Badger State.
- PINE CONFINE (50A: [Cage with a nice foresty smell?]) – Pine cone.
- FINDING DONGS (58A: [Stumbling upon phalluses?]) – Ding Dongs.
Outside of “Seven Nation Army,” I really do not have a strong knowledge of the albums and music produced by The White Stripes, and that meant not recognizing what “Icky Thump” was until looking it up after finishing today’s solve…and then realizing I had heard the song a couple of times before without knowing the title of it. Speaking of songs, I have heard LET IT GO a few times, but not enough that it becomes an earworm — and I am aware that “Let It Go” can be a vicious earworm the likes of what “Baby Shark” has been the past couple of years (26D: [“Frozen” showstopper]). In my haste to solve quickly, I initially put “FML” then “OMG” before arriving at WTF (31D: [“UR kidding, amirite?”]). Each corner had some long fill, from the seven-letter across entries in the northwest and southeast, and the eight-letter entries in the northeast and southwest. I highlight one of the entries in the next graph, but probably the one that stands out the most is IF I DID IT, and not for the right reasons (12D: [2007 book that’s a so-called murder confession]). In sum, we have entries that allude to both O.J. Simpson and Lance Ito, plus two entries in which the clue includes “trial participant,” with ATT (33A: [Trial participant: Abbr.]) and PEER (34A: [Trial participant]). All of that has just thrown me back to 1994, when my worries included trying to get the highest overall grade point average in my sixth-grade class and watching to see if the New York Knicks would win the NBA Finals and I could go to the parade if they did. (Alas, both the Knicks and I finished as runners-up.) Speaking of 1994…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: THE MASK (15A: [Cameron Diaz’s first movie]) – One could easily argue that there was a person even more popular than the actor Jim Carrey whose name was pronounced exactly the same way. And that that person was known for wearing a mask, and did so right around the time the 1994 movie The Mask was still very relevant in pop culture. Well, in the Washington, D.C. area during the mid 1990s, Capitals fans cheered on every performance from former National Hockey League goaltender Jim Carey (one “r” in last name), who burst onto the scene in the 1994-95 season with 18 wins in 28 games and was named to the NHL All-Rookie team. The following season, Carey, who was nicknamed “The Mask” and “The Net Detective” (the latter a play on Jim Carrey’s lead role in the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), was the best goaltender in hockey, winning 35 games while posting a goals-against average of 2.26 as he was awarded the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender. Carey’s NHL career soon went up in smoke like Carrey’s Fire Marshal Bill character in those recurring skits on In Living Color, as he won only 24 games in the NHL after that 1995-96 season.
Thank you so much for your time, everyone! Have a great rest of your Thursday, and hope you have a good weekend coming up!
I gotcha. It really does need the quotation marks or at least a question mark.
My chief gimme was George Eliot, so I started in the SE and, with the revealer, got the idea in no time. The trick for me was waiting to see if ART would enter the crossings, too. Of course, it didn’t. (I needed every crossing BTW for “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”)
Re Universal: Didn’t we just have this puzzle, or one very much like it? Or am I thinking of a puzzle from a different source? I know I did one recently with at least two of the same dog names as hidden theme answers.
You might be thinking of BEQ’s “Dog Catchers” (June 25).
Thank you! That is one of the other puzzles I do regularly.
You’re it in game of tag
WSJ 21A – in the game of Tag, when you tag someone. they are “IT”.
I have a question about the WSJ clue, “Possessors of Y chromosomes,” for MEN. When Will Shortz relates gender to biology there’s always lots of discussion. But in the WSJ, nary a peep.
I certainly understand how some could find the notion offensive, and I don’t mean to start that dialog again, but I am curious about the inconsistency. Is it perhaps because, as the benchmark, the Times is held to a higher standard? Or is it a function of the reviewer? (I don’t recall if past discussion of transphobic, etc. cluing was always kicked off in the review, or whether commenters began the threads.) Or is it merely random. I know when I did the puzzle yesterday I winced a bit and expected to see Mike called out for it here.
Agree completely, as that’s a naïvely reductionist and incorrect clue. Genetically speaking, as well.
BEQ – thank you ADE for your write-up today. I do all of Brendan’s puzzles and always look to see the write-ups here. Glad to see you back. And thank you for the explanation of ICKYTHUMP. Saved me googling!
Jim P. Many times I think you’re a sour puss in your reviews, but this one I was shaking my head in agreement the whole time. Everything I was thinking.