Thursday, August 6, 2020

BEQ 12:28 (Ade) 

 


LAT 4:04 (GRAB) 

 


NYT 8:15 (Ben) 

 


WSJ 17-something (Jim P) 

 


Universal 4:30 (Jim Q) 

 

The Fireball is on hiatus until September.


Paul Coulter’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Beam Me Up”—Jim P’s review

Now this is more of what I like to see in a Thursday, some really tough trickery!

There’s some TELEPORTING (59a, [Futuristic travel method (which explains how the last words of the theme answers got there]) going on between the main theme entries. Each one has the word DOOR in it, but on the other side of that door is a word that belongs in one of the other theme entries. What’s left in the grid are the results of horrific transporter malfunctions. Oh, and did I mention that the DOORs are all rebussed into single squares? They are.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Beam Me Up” · Paul Coulter · Thu., 8.6.20

  • 17a. [Very near] AT ONE’S (DOOR) NAIL. Should be STEP.
  • 26a. [Didn’t rule out further discussion] LEFT THE (DOOR) STEP. Should be OPEN.
  • 44a. [Definitely deceased] DEAD AS A (DOOR) OPEN. Should be NAIL.

It’s impressive that Paul found phrases that each have a four-letter word after DOOR and that he could get everything to fit symmetrically. Nicely done in that department.

Now, yes, when I think of teleportation I think of Star Trek where teleportation has nothing to do with doors. But there are plenty of examples in sci-fi and fantasy where a character passes through a door to go to another land or place. The one sticking out in my mind is the video game Portal (specifically, Portal 2) in which the player has to negotiate teleporting portals in order to avoid traps and solve puzzles (highly recommended).

Back to this puzzle. As you can imagine, the theme was difficult to suss out and threatened to leave me frustrated (see my god-awful solve time). Because of that, I think the rest of the fill and cluing needed to be a tad easier than the usual Thursday.

There are a number of stinkers in the fill starting with the theme-crossing DOOR CASE and Let’s Make a Deal‘s DOOR ONE (I’ve only ever heard “door number one”). And then there’s GSA, LAI, AS IESTOP, PAS, SHEARER (not clued as Harry), SNORTER, ADAS, OEIL, SIE, a phrase I’d never heard (MASS NOUN) and two long answers at the very edges of my memory (OLEASTERS and EN PASSANT).

I don’t see a need for all this kludgy fill. The stacked nines in the NE and SW corners could be reduced to one in each corner, and while starting off the grid with BASMATI and OCTAGON looks great, the stacked sevens only add more constraints to the fill. I’d much rather see a cleaner grid giving the solver a fairer chance at uncovering and enjoying the theme. I did like MANDELA, FANNIE MAE, and HOME GAMES though.

Cluing is filled with ambiguities which is par for the course on a Thursday, but as I said, the puzzle would have been better served if these were toned down a notch.

The theme is great. I love it. But when you’re fighting to grok it and trying to put things in order, to have to contend with so much junk in the fill and heavily ambiguous cluing, it’s a lot harder to enjoy a fun, imaginative theme. 3.3 stars.

Derek Allen and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

After having A Bad Time with last Thursday’s NYT puzzle, this week’s was bound to be a step up.  Derek Allen and Jeff Chen have cooked up a grid with some GRAY/AREAS, as 28D and 32D spell out.  Each of the (gray) shaded squares in the grid has a mixture of BLACK and WHITE happening within:

NYT 0806 – 08/06/2020

  • 9A: Ingredient separated and whipped in meringue — EGG [WHITE]
  • 12D: Outer space phenomenon photographed for the first time in 2019 — [BLACK] HOLE
  • 19A: Political party founded in 1966 — THE [BLACK] PANTHERS
  • 3D: Old Glory — RED [WHITE] AND BLUE
  • 56A: Saying “You’ve never looked better,” maybe — TELLING A [WHITE] LIE
  • 25D: It might prevent an overload of the power grid — ROLLING [BLACK]OUT
  • 67A: Many a country road — [BLACK]TOP
  • 52D: “Grimms’ Fairy Tales” heroine — SNOW [WHITE]

It’s fun (though the app switching things over to GRAY at the end was a little annoying for screenshotting purposes), though some of these phrases feel “off” to me.  I kept trying to throw the word “little” with WHITE LIE, since that’s so often the phrase. Similarly, I can make the mental leap to get from “Old Glory” to RED WHITE AND BLUE, but it also feels like I’m missing a step. that a different clue would provide.

Minor gripes aside, this had some nice moments – “DC Reporter” as a clue for LOIS LANE felt particularly clever.

Here’s a real nice track from the latest ROLLING BLACKOUTs Coastal Fever album, “Cameo”

Stay safe!  Happy Thursday!

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1285), “Coverage Areas”—Ade’s take

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword solution, No. 1285: “Coverage Areas”

Good day, everybody! Hope all are well and that you are continuing to stay safe.

We have a timely theme and a rebus in today’s puzzle, with intersecting answers sharing the letters PPE, which are all squeezed into one box. Of course, PPE, short for personal protective equipment, has been in the news throughout the spring and summer as we hope all of the people on the front lines of fighting COVID-19 have all of the PPE needed in plentiful supply, which clearly was not the case not too long ago and still continues to plague many essential workers in hospitals.

  • BIG TO[P PE]EWEE (16A: [1988 comedy that takes place in a circus?]) + PU[PPE]T SHOW (5D: [Entertainment that some performers have a hand in])
  • HO[PPE]R (15A: [“Easy Rider” star]) + A[PPE]ASE (11D: [Placate])
  • YOUNG WHI[PPE]R SNAPPER (38A: [Little twerp]) + WHO[PPE]RS (25D: [Burger King selections]) + A[PPE]AR (36D: [Seem])
  • U[PPE]RS (65A: [Speed]) + CLA[PPE]R (51D: [Coats’s predecessor as National Intelligence director])
  • STUFF HA[PPE]NS (62A: [“Them’s the breaks”]) + JAW-DRO[PPE]RS (35D: [Stunning revelations])

Before talking about the tricky portion of the puzzle in the middle of the left side, totally want to acknowledge the untimely and tragic passing of NAYA Rivera, whom I never really got to see perform in her acting roles on television, but, from what I have read, was very talented (26D: [Actress Rivera of “Glee”]). And to know that she passed soon after saving her son from drowning is even more heart-wrenching. Rest in power, Naya.

The last part of the grid that fell included the area that included NFC, where I totally wished for a football reference than wireless technology (26A: [Like contactless payments: Abbr.]). The intersection with FLIM (2D: [First half of a con game]), one-half of flim-flam, and YMHA could have been tricky, especially the latter being an abbreviation that I have not yet fully put to memory (19A: [Jewish youth grp.]). Not a huge movie buff, but liked seeing two movies that I have seen in today’s grid feature, with Big Top Pee-wee crossing the nice fill of FIGHT CLUB (1999 movie with the tagline, “Mischief. Mayhem. Soap.]). Along with those entries, AOL also took me down memory lane, back when I tried to have the longest buddy list in my circle of friends when we were all using Instant Messenger in college (33A: [Buddy List company]). There’s an obvious sports reference in tennis legend MCENROE (50A: [1984 Wimbledon winner]) right on top of EL NIÑO, which is the nickname of one-time golfing phenom Sergio Garcia (55A: [Meteorological disrupter]), but the next paragraph will talk a little bit more about the Woonsocket Rocket…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROCCO (32A: [Twins manager Baldelli]) – Drawing comparisons to Joe DiMaggio, another fast centerfielder of Italian heritage who wore No. 5, a lot was expected from former Major League Baseball player Rocco Baldelli when he came up through the Tampa Bay [Devil] Rays system and made it to the bigs in 2003. He showed flashes of that brilliance, but numerous injuries, caused by a mitochondrial channelopathy disorder, did not allow Baldelli to go full seasons in which he did not develop some type of muscle injury. Baldelli was named the manager of the Minnesota Twins after the 2018 season, then led the Twins to the 2019 AL Central Division title. Baldelli was named AL Manager of the Year.

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!

Ade/AOK

Matthew Sewall’s Universal crossword — “All the Hits” – Jim Q’s Write-up

THEME: Comic book “punching” sound effects are hidden in long down theme answers.

Universal crossword solution · “All the Hits” · Matthew Sewell · Thur., 8.06.20

THEME ANSWERS:

  • 4D [The Granite State] NEW HAMPSHIRE. Wham! Not the band.
  • 5D [One who’s got the goods?] SHOP OWNER. Pow!
  • 34D [Diver’s face cover] SCUBA MASK. Bam!
  • 23D [Belittling the less powerful, or a hint to the circled letters] PUNCHING DOWN. 

A standing complaint I’ve had with Universal puzzles is that when it comes to circled letters, they are not able to provide them in their widely published format. Only here, in .puz format made for this site. I have always been befuddled as to why they were willing to provide two different experiences, but while today is no different in that respect, I have great news! I have been assured that Andrews McMeel is aware of the problem, has recognized it as a problem, and is working towards a fix. Hope that fix comes soon, because Universal runs a lot of themes that are better presented with circles.

Today’s puzzle is a hidden word theme with “punch” sounds. I like this theme type just fine as long as the hidden word bridges the words in the theme (check!) and all the phrases are familiar. I’m not sure about the latter… PUNCHING DOWN is not a phrase I’m familiar with, but according to Google, I should be. But SHOP OWNER and SCUBA MASK both feel a bit vague as stand-alone phrases.

Fill was mostly fine- favorite clue was 5A [“Success!”] SCORE! That’s a fun way to clue that.

Coulda done without PAH, ARI, and NSC in the SW. ORY is quite the stretch as fill too.

3 stars from me.

Looking forward to the introduction of circles in Universal grids!

John Lampkin’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times
200806

Today’s revealer is wrong! But deliberately so, with five answers with inedible desserts: a BROWNIETROOP, FUDGEFACTOR, CREPERUBBER, CAKEWALK and PIECHART. The inedible nature of the answers is for me a key indication of the care that has been put into assembling the puzzle. A degree of separation makes the revelation all the sweeter. I’m not sure all of these would be always a dessert here, with some being served with tea or as a savoury, but they can definitely all be a dessert!

Other notables:

  • [Father’s Day pin], TIETAC. Have only the vaguest idea what this is. I am consistently amazed that there are still people out there wearing ties.
  • [Comparable to a pin], ASNEAT. An answer I would like to see banished. Six letter partials are tres awkward.
  • [Payback for lousy service], NOTIP. I see far more examples of unrealistically demanding expectations from customers though… Personally, I maintain the solution is restaurant and othern service-based industries providing their employees with living wages so they don’t have to rely on the whims of entitled arseholes though.

Gareth

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37 Responses to Thursday, August 6, 2020

  1. Lise says:

    NYT: Congratulations, Derek! I hope it’s not as long until your next puzzle as it has been. Thanks, Derek and Jeff, for a fun solve.

    BLIND PIG was new to me. There seem to be quite a few pubs with that name now.

  2. Stephen B. Manion says:

    My first thought on the WSJ door was TIME BANDITS, one of my favorite movies.

    NYT was fun.

    Steve

    • Lise says:

      I loved that movie! Thanks for the memories.

      I enjoyed sussing out the theme entries in the WSJ. I can’t recall having seen BASMATI in a puzzle before, and now I want some 😀

      I had OLEANDERS before OLEASTERS. I see that the wild olive is used for bonsai trees. That is a fascinating art form.

    • Lise says:

      Also: Steve, how is your QB streak going? I usually miss several words, and am in awe of your performance.

      • Gary R says:

        The Spelling Bee has been a real slog lately. A couple of days ago, I had to come up with 60 words just to get to the “Genius” level – ugh! Seems like since they introduced puzzles with three vowels, the word count has gone up.

        • Michael Hanko says:

          I agree. For me, solving is fun up to a genius level of about 70; after that, it starts feeling like a chore. I generally skip days that go over 150, which is disappointing, as I need my SB as much as my cuppa to get my day started. I often wonder what kind of attention is given to choosing the center letter, which of course has a big effect on the length of the word list.

          • Me says:

            Yes, I would call the last few days a SB slog, too. The pangram a few days ago was also pretty obscure (CALORIFIC). I always thought that was kind of a slang term. I imagine it’s harder than it would appear to have a letter selection that gives you a bunch of words but not too many, along with a commonly-known pangram. But there have been too many days recently with too long a word list IMO.

      • Stephen B. Manion says:

        Thank you for asking. I got today’s at 55/216 to make 59 in a row. I was lucky two days ago. CARIOCA (pronounced CARE E O KEY) is an exercise I have done for years but did not know how to spell and I was very lucky to guess RAFFIA. FOCACCIA , which many probably did not know, I knew because there is a store called FOCACCIA FIORENTINE in the Phoenix airport. The last three days have been very tough but had a letter commonality that eased the difficulty.

        • Lise says:

          Congratulations! That is indeed impressive. I thought CALORIFIC was a made-up word and didn’t even try it. Okay, all words are made-up, I know. 😁

          It is interesting to see what is acceptable and what isn’t. I did get QB a few days ago but am unlikely to get there today (43/159). I normally can get P and G, and move on a little, and be reasonably happy about it.

          Keep it up!

          • Stephen B. Manion says:

            The other day the pangram was INVINCIBLE. It was my first entry. I thought I might as well try VINCIBLE just in case. It was also accepted and was also a pangram. There’s no penalty for a wrong answer,

            Steve

  3. jack says:

    WSJ
    Thought I was a darn good solver until this one!
    Getting humbled can be a positive thing……

  4. Rachel Fabi says:

    NYT: Added a minute to my time by spelling it GREY instead of GRAY in the rebus squares and then trying to figure out my error. Should have double-checked it against the spelling in the revealer, but when both are acceptable spellings of an unchecked word, it feels like they should have accepted either?

  5. Billy Boy says:

    WSJ-WOW
    That was tough to figure out and fill in as many clues were rather tough, quite the feat.

    NYT, OTOH works very well and had very simple cluing. Did not know of OTHELLO, thought – “Is there a longer name for GO?”

    Interesting juxtaposition of difficulties. I worked a very long time on that WSJ. (Your experiences may differ)

    Cheers,

  6. David L says:

    NYT was clever although it wasn’t clear to me that you have to put GRAY in the appropriate squares to be credited with a correct solution. I tried W/B, for want of a better idea, and that didn’t work.

    BLINDPIG was new to me too.

  7. Gary R says:

    Got a bit fouled up with the rebus squares in both the NYT and WSJ. I entered “DOOR” in each of the rebus squares for the WSJ, but AcrossLite just wanted the “D.” Spent quite a while looking for a typo before I asked it to reveal the solution.

    In the NYT, I got that the rebus squares needed to be BLACK across and WHITE down, so I just went with BLACK throughout. I understood the revealer, but didn’t think to go back and put GRAY in the rebus squares.

    I’m familiar with the THE BLACK PANTHERS, but didn’t realize it was actually a political party. Unlike for any of the other themers (I think) THE GRAY PANTHERS actually exists (or did exist), too.

    Where I grew up, a BLIND PIG was a party where they charged an admission, and once you were in, the drinks (typically beer) were free. It was supposed to be a way around being charged with selling alcohol without a license, but I think the laws were fixed to deal with that. I believe I’ve heard of people being charged with “running a BLIND PIG.”

    • Martin says:

      The rebus version of the wsj .puz is back on Today’s Puzzles. Glenn is kind enough to make a version for us (the wsj puzzle site is not rebus-aware so this has to be done manually). My power was off for a few hours yesterday while they were replacing a transformer, and when my network came back Glenn’s file got wiped out. Sorry about that.

      • Gary R says:

        Not a big deal. I don’t solve the WSJ on a regular basis – just when it gets high rankings or generates a lot of comments – and I appreciate being able to access the puzzle here. I’m accustomed to messing something up in a rebus puzzle – today was a little unusual in that it was two in one day.

    • GlennG says:

      I regularly tweak WSJ files to add the rebuses when they offer those. Anyway, here’s a place where you can get that file.

      https://www.dropbox.com/s/rm30h74dwht19l7/wsj200806-fixed.puz?dl=1

  8. Norm says:

    I remember the Black Panthers as an advocacy group, not an official political party, but I suppose you can yourself one if you want.

  9. Adam says:

    NYT: solving online, I tried to leave the grey squares blank, but that didn’t work. then tried putting GRAY in each one, and that didn’t work. finally I put in WHITE/BLACK and got the gold star. Feel like it would have been fun if you could have just left those squares blank as an acceptable solution, since they’re already greyed out.

    Also, loved the clue for LOISLANE

  10. marciem says:

    I must’ve downloaded the Across Lite WSJ too early in the a.m., there was NO rebus signal there and that completely ruined the experience for me. I knew there was a door someplace (because of “dead as a doorxxxx” at 44a, but that was it.

    Sorry, I rated it 1 for being too tough and obfuscating without the rebus signal. Then I read here and re-downloaded and there was the signal and I probably would have enjoyed it at least a little. That’ll teach me being an early bird. It’s happened before, don’t know if it was WSJ but one other time a puzzle didn’t show the rebus signal for me but came up later in the day.

  11. Karen Ralston says:

    LAT – Wednesday’s puzzle. Posting today so perhaps some people with see this! One of the themers was “Winner of 18 Grand Slam tennis titles from 1839 to 1940,” – ALICE MARBLE , and that name was new to me. Anyone else hear of her? Unfortunately the write up didn’t explain who this was, so after googling I was amazed to read about her, especially because I do follow women’s tennis. Furthermore, a book was just published about her last month (maybe why the constructors used her name?) and this is certainly material for a great film, if ever the studios go back to work. Tennis champion, editor, spy, darling of the Hollywood glitterati: read all about her here. (Couldn’t find a review in the NYT).
    https://nypost.com/2020/07/14/the-incredible-mystery-surrounding-tennis-legend-alice-marble/

    • Stephen B. Manion says:

      I knew of Alice as a pre-war tennis champion, but almost nothing else, After reading the terrific article you linked, I read the Wikipedia article. Even though my father was a high school baseball coach, I have always had a dripping contempt for baseball because of its exclusion of blacks (and self-righteous justification).. I am now officially in love with Alice as this is what she wrote on behalf of Althea Gibson in 1950:
      “Miss Gibson is over a very cunningly wrought barrel, and I can only hope to loosen a few of its staves with one lone opinion. If tennis is a game for ladies and gentlemen, it’s also time we acted a little more like gentle-people and less like sanctimonious hypocrites…. If Althea Gibson represents a challenge to the present crop of women players, it’s only fair that they should meet that challenge on the courts.” Marble said that, if Gibson were not given the opportunity to compete, “then there is an ineradicable mark against a game to which I have devoted most of my life, and I would be bitterly ashamed.”

      Steve

      • Karen Ralston says:

        Steve: Great about Althea, who was the woman I waned to put in the crossword yesterday. and did you read what Billie Jean King wrote about Alice? (Think it was in the Wikipedia article).

        • Stephen B. Manion says:

          I don’t think it was in the Alice Wikipedia article. I just learned that she coached the young Billie Jean, who also was a modern athletic power player. I found this quote from Billie Jean:
          Alice Marble was a picture of unrestrained athleticism,” Billie Jean King told the New York Times. “She is remembered as one of the greatest women to play the game because of her pioneering style in power tennis. I admired her tremendously because she always helped others.”

          Steve

  12. David L says:

    That _FC/_AYA cross in the BEQ got me — I knew the reference was to the actress who died recently, but I couldn’t remember her name, and I had to google NFC to find out what it meant regarding wireless apps — Near Field Communication, it turns out.

    I thought there were a lot of proper names in the puzzle today, even by BEQ standards, but I managed to get them all except that one.

  13. Kelly Clark says:

    In Detroit, where I grew up, BLIND PIG referred to a tavern that stayed open after the mandatory 2:00 AM closing hour.

    Many congratulations to Derek!

  14. Cynthia says:

    Can someone tell me how to fill in multiple letters in one square for BEQ’s rebus puzzles?

    • Martin says:

      BEQ’s Across Lite file isn’t rebus aware, so you just enter the first letter. I usually circle the letter to remind me that it’s a rebus. You circle a letter in Across Lite by typing * (shift-8) in the square.

    • GlennG says:

      Are you using Across Lite or something else? I will note in the PUZ I got today as well as the software on BEQ’s site that I see rebus squares. If it’s Across Lite, you might need to update your software to get the rebuses…

      • Cynthia says:

        Thank you both. I do the puzzles on his site via the link under “Today’s Puzzles” on this site. I figured out what the answer should be, but could only type one letter into the rebus squares. They were marked wrong when I was done.

      • Martin says:

        Thanks, Glenn. The .puz file is rebus-aware.

  15. Ken says:

    I’m sure I’m missing something obvious, but I can’t figure SEAT for “Run for it!”

Comments are closed.