Thursday, July 30, 2020

BEQ 9:36 (Ade) 


LAT 5:08 (GRAB) 


NYT 5:04 (Ben) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


Fireball 4:02 (Jenni) 


David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “It’s Time to Turn In”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Letters I and N have been switched in the main theme entries according to the revealer IN REVERSE [Backwards, and a hint to four of this puzzle’s answers].

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “It’s Time to Turn In” · David Alfred Bywaters · Thu., 7.30.20

  • 16a [Performance in a Bollywood film?] RANI DANCE. Rain.
  • 19a [Huddles on a San Francisco football field?] NINER CIRCLES. Inner.
  • 36a [A visit to the nail salon?] MANI EVENT. Main.
  • 56a [Recesses in a Bauhaus-inspired cathedral?] SQUARE NICHES. Inches.

I started my solve quickly in that NW corner, but then things ground to a halt with tough (but fair) cluing, some less than stellar fill, and a rather uninspired theme. I slogged my way through, but really, I found no joy or humor in these theme entries and some of that fill really set of the scowl-o-meter. See: AS TO, MSED, AT NO, LA TI, and LINE A.

Initially, I scowled at IKO IKO [1965 hit for the Dixie Cups] as well, not recognizing the title or the musical group. But this is a New Orleans classic that’s been covered many, many times over the years, so I should have known the title. I do now.

Song title aside, the fill and lackluster theme was enough to weigh down the puzzle heavily. I liked EVANSTON, Ill., EPITHETS, MARQUEE, and WAHINE, though.

Clues of note:

  • 5a. [Eight-movie co-star of Daniel and Rupert]. EMMA Watson, aka Hermione.
  • 15a. [It can be seen in “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”]. SEINE. Seurat’s pointillistic masterpiece.
  • 39d. [Star sign]. MARQUEE. Good misdirection here.
  • 61d. [Liquor in a Sneaky Pete]. RYE. The whiskey version of a white Russian. Might be worth a try sometime soon.

This puzzle just wasn’t for me. 2.8 stars.

Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

On one hand, I respect what’s been attempted in today’s NYT from Joel Fagliano, and I think it’s an interesting construction exercise, but it was absolutely no fun at all for me to solve.  Let’s take a look at a few pairs of clues in the grid, since this doesn’t have a theme so much as the theme is the entire across grid:

NYT 0730 – 07/30/2020

  • 1A: With 5-Across, fiancee — WIFE/TO BE
  • 9A: With 14-Across, recyclable material — SCRAP/IRON
  • 15A: With 16-Across, real estate showing — OPEN/HOUSE

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, all the way until 61A’s “With 62-Across, some retirement savings” for NEST/EGGS.  From a visual standpoint, is it an interesting visual to look at a series of across clues that is essentially halved, since half of the clues are a “—“?  I guess.  Is it impressive to find a set of answers that can be spread across two spaces in the grid?  Maybe.  This feels like the sort of thing I would see a joke about on Crossword Twitter and find amusing, but in actual practice this annoyed the heck out of me and led to some awkward fill.  The concept is interesting, but that doesn’t mean I want to solve it.

If you’re going to mention Joni Mitchell in your clue for FOLK MUSIC, I’m going to post “Big Yellow Taxi”. Those are the rules.

Be well, all!

Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Spoon Me”–Jenni’s write-up

The Fireball will be on hiatus until September. I was hoping for a really good, really hard puzzle to send us into the dog days of summer. I didn’t get it.

It’s a perfectly fine puzzle. It’s not exceptional and and it’s not hard. The theme answers are two pairs of Spoonerisms.

Fireball puzzle, July 30, 2020, Peter Gordon, “Spoon Me,” solution grid

  • 17a [St. Louis neighborhood] is DUTCHTOWN. I looked that up to see if it was one word or two and to confirm my suspicion that DUTCH in this instance is a corruption of “Deutsch,” referring to the German immigrants who built up the area in the 19th century. See also “Pennsylvania Dutch.” I have a few patients who still speak with the “Dutchie” accent and didn’t attend school in English until high school.Some of the public schools in the rural areas around here were taught in local dialect before WW II.
  • This pairs with 61a [Result of a Hail Mary, perhaps]: TOUCHDOWN.
  • 33a [Part of a highway where the slowest traffic can be found] is the RIGHT LANE.
  • 42a [Weather occurrence that usually doesn’t delay a baseball game] is a LIGHT RAIN. {rant about the MLB Bizarro World season deleted}.

The theme is solid, consistent, and did not add anything to the solving experience. Seems like Peter really does need a vacation; this is kind of tired. He could have given himself the week off and found a woman with a fresh, challenging puzzle. Just saying. And yes, I know he pays other constructors and pays them well, and that constructing the puzzles himself is undoubtedly a crucial part of his business model. I want him to stay in business. I’d be willing to pay more for the puzzles in return for a commitment that even 25% of the non-Peter puzzles would be by non-male constructors. Given the funding success of the Inkubator, I bet I’m not the only one.

A few other things:

  • At 1a, Peter gives us an original clue for ASHE: [Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year between Jordan and Shula]. At first that confused me, because Ashe won Wimbledon in 1975 and Shula’s undefeated season with the Dolphins was in 1972, so their heydays were contemporaneous. Michael Jordan was 9 years old in 1972. Then I looked it up. The honors were bestowed in 1991, 1992, and 1993, after Shula and Ashe had retired and not long before Ashe died of AIDS. And no, I will not say “transfusion-associated.” The virus doesn’t care how you get it, and the fact that we still see the distinction is frankly homophobic. We don’t see it much these days, thank God, since HIV is a manageable chronic illness if you have access to meds.
  • I’d rather have Greek letters than Roman numerals. IOTAALPHA and OMEGA give us a tiny little sub-theme. I thought it was more, but the other one was in the NYT.
  • We also get a fresher clue for ATEAM: [Ed Sheeran’s first hit, with “The”]. 2011 isn’t exactly right now, but it’s closer than the TV show.
  • My husband loves ELK burgers. We don’t get them much here; when we lived in Colorado, he found them more frequently.
  • The SIERRA Nevada mountain range also appears here and in the NYT. Clue spooky music.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’d never heard of DUTCHTOWN. I also did not know that the famous picture of CHE Guevara has a name, Guerrillero Heroico, and was taken by Alexander Korda. Wikipedia calls it the world’s most famous photograph, citing the Maryland Institute College of Art. You’ve seen it.

I leave you with the music of my youth, released the same year Arthur Ashe won Wimbledon.

David Alfred Bywaters’ Universal crossword — “Stock Exchange” – Jim Q’s Write-up

THEME: Phrases that include livestock are reversed and clued wackily.

Universal crossword solution · “Stock Exchange” · David Alfred Bywaters · Thur., 7.30.20


  • 17A [Painting that shows all of a farm’s nannies and billies?] GOAT SCAPE. 
  • 27A [Earth in a pigpen?] HOG GROUND. 
  • 45A [Athletic shirt that says “Got Milk?”?] COW JERSEY. 
  • 60A [Ovine origami order?] FOLD, SHEEP!

I had fun figuring out the phrases, and it works if you don’t overthink it! If you look closely though, the base phrases from which the wackiness is born are quite inconsistent. For instance, a JERSEY COW is still a COW. A SCAPEGOAT, on the other hand, is not a GOAT. A GROUNDHOG is still an animal, but not a HOG in the clued sense. A SHEEPFOLD is not an animal… yet it still has to do with actual SHEEP.

So again, as long as you ignore that part, the puzzle is just fine. FOG IN is a new term for me (I thought I had something wrong there) and WIPE DRY feels somewhat off as a stand-alone phrase.

Fun clue for FLORIST [Owner of a mum-and-poppy business]!

Not sure about how I feel about the clue for ELEGANT in this puzzle: [Like a beautiful crossword theme]. Feels like it’s navel gazing, and perhaps misplaced in a puzzle that is not super-tight in its consistency.

2.8 stars from me.


Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1283), “Oh!”—Ade’s take

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword solution, No. 1283: “Oh!”

Good day, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well and continuing to stay safe as we get set to usher in August!

We have a “Bingo was his Name-O” element to the them of the grid, with puns being created by changing the final word of the phrases/nouns to create an additional the long O syllable at the end of each.

  • GET OFF OF MY QUESO (17A: [“You’re standing on the burrito cheese I was going to use!”?]) – Get off of my case + queso.
  • FASHION PLATO (26A: [Mold and shape “The Republic”?]) – Fashion plate + Plato.
  • NEW YORK MEZZO (44A: [Soprano from the Big Apple??]) – New York Met Mets + mezzo. Pretty slick with this one given the “t” sound to the “double “zz” in Italian.
  • PEPPERMINT PATIO  (59A: [Deck decorated with red and white stripes?]) – Peppermint Pattie + patio.

Any puzzle with a reference to members of the Wu-tang Clan will automatically hit a soft spot, and this one is no exception with the inclusion of The Genius, a.k.a. GZA (43D: [“Liquid Swords” rapper]). Looks like a wide variety of music is represented in the grid today, from BOWIE (42D: [“Boys Keep Swinging” singer]) to TULL (31D: [“Thick as a Brick” band, for fans]) to LIAM (16A: [Payne of One Direction]) to ONO, even with the no-but-yes musical reference (41A: [Hawaiian mackerel (hey, it’s better than another Yoko clue)]). Hope you all are up on your Spanish with JEFE (pronounced “HEFF-ay”) being the word for boss/chief (7D: [President of Mexico?]). A possible homage to the Chicago NBA team in the grid, with KERR (53D: [Steve with the NBA record for the most regular season wins for a rookie head coach]) winning three championships as a BULL in the 1990s during his playing days (40A: [“Hogwash!”])? Not sure if BEQ meant it, but today (and tomorrow) are holy days in ISLAM, as today is the day that a lamb is slaughtered and the meat is shared between family and the poor (28D: [Eid al-Fitr religion]). Eid al-Adha is tomorrow, which honors Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son, Ishmael, and God’s intervention of that by providing a sheep to sacrifice instead. Hey, when you grow up in a family that is majority Muslim on one side of it, you get to know these things sooner or later!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TY LAW (39A: [2019 Pro Football Hall of Famer who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots]) – How did former New England Patriots cornerback Ty Law help usher in a sports dynasty? Well, in Super Bowl XXXVI back in 2002, the Patriots, a 14-point underdog against the mighty St. Louis Rams, shocked everyone in attendance at the Louisiana Superdome — including my brother and me, as we sat in the first row of the second tier of the stadium — and the sports world by winning the game, 20-17, sparked by Ty Law’s 47-yard interception return for a touchdown for the game’s first score. Law ended his career with 53 career interceptions, including leading the league in picks in 1998 (9) and 2005 (10).

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

Take care!


Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Today’s puzzle theme lies between two different answers in four across rows. There are four WORLDS APART, planets separated by a black square. It’s a clever visual, though, as with many of this kind of theme, it doesn’t fertilize the puzzle with interesting entries.

I’m also not convinced by ANKLETAT – which seems pretty arbitrary.


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28 Responses to Thursday, July 30, 2020

  1. Billy Boy says:

    NYT extremely easy to solve, I’m sure it was an effort to construct and it’s reasonably clean. Really weird is my honest opinion. I’ve never constructed a puzzle, so I look forward to all your comments. I’m going to bed without doing any more puzzles until tomorrow.


  2. Stephen B. Manion says:

    I thought the concept was OK, but it was Monday easy. Maybe there was a fear that if both halves of one or more of the across entries were tough to get and the downs were also hard, it would have the potential to not provide enough information to be solvable.


  3. pseudonym says:

    I basically agree with Ben. Nice idea, not very fun.

    Just realized, after completing his Hard Crossword today, that Stanley Newman’s pseudonym, Anna Stiga, anagrams to Stan Again.

  4. davey says:

    NYT: the more i look at the grid the more my mind boggles at its construction. very natural pairings of words across the board, and few to no weird down entries! impressive but not thursday difficulty imo. some trickier cluing may have helped in this regard

  5. pannonica says:

    Solved the NYT using downs only. Did I choose the wrong day? Was something else going on?

    • Billy Boy says:

      haha cute, don’t know if I believe ya.

      I filled in the so-called NW as a unit and understood the puzzle, much easier to fill in vertically than it needed to be, that’s for sure.

  6. Sherman says:

    Easiest Thursday ever for me. Between a Monday and a Tuesday.

    It’s awesome when a puzzle that’s extra difficult to construct also makes for a neat solve, but I guess it doesn’t always work out that way. In the end, puzzles are for solvers, not constructors. While this was definitely a constructing feat, it was a solving “meh,” which is a shame.

    Having said that, I’m glad it was published and not tossed aside (“not a fun solve” or whatever) because it’s interesting – we’re talking about it, right? Maybe on a Monday or Tuesday, it would have been better received.

  7. MattF says:

    Annoying. Easy. Annoying. Annoying. That is all.

  8. JohnH says:

    Looks like the NYT pdf is back.

  9. Gary R says:

    NYT was a bit different, but like others have said, awfully easy for a Thursday. The concept didn’t really make much difference in the solve, other than there being only half as many answers to come up with.

    Most of the across answers were familiar enough phrases – GOOD TONE and LAND USERS, not so much. The downs were pretty straightforward, though I had never heard of the movie LIKE A BOSS! (and a quick look at some reviews suggests that’s just as well). The clue on 31-D was kind of cute, except I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen ETA printed on a ticket – isn’t it always just ARR?

    • Ethan says:

      I think “like a boss” is just a colloquial expression. I’m not aware of the movie by that title but the phrase is familiar to me.

  10. WhiskyBill says:

    One more Spooner pair in Fireball: FOGHAT and HOGFAT.

  11. Billy Boy says:

    WSJ indeed had its groaners today with a meh theme. I expect more.

    “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” (Un dimanche après-midi à l’île de la Grande Jatte) – An absolute marvel of the human spirit. I have spent some serious time in front of that one back in the late 70’s; anyone who has never gone to the Art Institute of Chicago RUN, there’s so much more.

    Plus, a great place to eat lunch and kill a bottle of wine.

    • Me says:

      Billy Boy, I am a big fan of that painting also. You may know this already, but if you haven’t seen Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George,” I think you’d like it. A significant portion of the first act revolves around the creation of that painting.

  12. Bryan says:

    NYT: I largely have the same thoughts everyone else has expressed. I didn’t really find it annoying, though — just surprisingly easy. I got my fastest ever Thursday time, which I didn’t expect when first opening up the puzzle. Granted, the puzzle only had 14 rows, but I think even with 15 rows, I still would have gotten my fastest Thursday time.

    Anyway, my one nit is TOILETBAG. I’ve only ever heard “toiletry bag.” When I Google “toilet bag,” Google asks me if I meant “toiletry bag.”

  13. David Roll says:

    WSJ–Auspicious/ripe?? Can’t find that synonym anywhere–or is it something else?

    • Martin says:

      That struck me as a bit oblique but okay. Auspicious polling might mean that the seat is ripe for the picking.

      Auspicious is a cool word. The root is “avis,” and it means “foretold by the flights of birds.” Bird-watching was as good a way as tea-leaf reading to commune with the fates.

      • David Roll says:

        Thanks, but it seems like a real stretch to me. But then I never do well on Thursday’s puzzles.

  14. WhiskyBill says:

    Ade/AOK: In the BEQ puzzle, I think that it was based on the New York Mets + O, rather than the New York Met + O.

  15. A says:

    re BEQ music references: don’t forget PIL….great band

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