Thursday, September 3, 2020

BEQ tk (Ade) 


LAT 4:38 (GRAB) 


NYT 7:02 (Ben) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal 6:03 (on web app) (Jim Q) 


Fireball 7:20 (Jenni) 


Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 141”–Jenni’s write-up

The Fireball resumes without missing a beat with another man-made puzzle. This one is satsifyingly chewy.

I like puzzles that are difficult because the clues are vague or tricky, not deliberately obscure, and Peter delivers. BE STRONG is not the only possible answer for 1a, “Keep on fighting!” and it’s totally fair. The rest of that corner fell fairly easily. I enjoyed [Thing some people store their contacts in] for ROLODEX, although the present tense surprised me. I think of ROLODEXes as an artifact of the last century.

Other things I liked:

Fireball, September 3, 2020, “Themeless 141,” Peter Gordon, solution grid

  • 9d [Implements used toward the end of a wedding] had me wondering about things used to throw rice (or birdseed, these days). Nope. It’s CAKE FORKS. Now I want cake.
  • 11d [Sport, for short] is a great clue for RHYME.
  • 24d [They often get hammered] is a fresh clue for SOTS.
  • 29a [Camels sometimes follow them] is about ice skating; the answer is AXELS.
  • 56d [Perseverance can help us understand it better] references one of the MARS rovers.

What I didn’t like: DESALTER. It’s definitely a thing, but Google tells me the term is more often used for machinery that removes salt from crude oil, not from seawater.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: That EVE ARDEN starred in “Three Husbands,” that RICHARD I was the son of Eleanor of Aquitaine, that REGAN‘s last line in “King Lear” is “My sickness grows upon me,” or that the Fall Out Boy song UMA Thurman samples the theme from “The Munsters.” Here it is:

Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Finalize”—Jim P’s review

The main theme answers are well-known phrases with an added I at the end, hence the title.

Oh, we are embedded into a cabin a half-hour outside Yellowstone National Park. Tonight, a campfire. Tomorrow, the park. This post will be brief.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Finalize” · Gary Larson · Thu., 9.3.20

  • 17a. [Still reeling from an Abominable Snowman encounter?] NOT OVER YETI
  • 24a. [Chose to walk, for now?] DEFERRED TAXI
  • 39a. [Trendy Pueblo Indian?] HIP HOPI. Hmm. I’m not really a fan of utilizing Native American tribe names for crossword jokes.
  • 51a. [Deep voices in the men’s prison choir?] STRIPED BASSI. Do prisons still use striped clothing?
  • 63a. [Give props to “Bodak Yellow” rapper?] CREDIT CARDI

This theme had its moments and I thought it was cute for the most part.

Good highlights in the fill: “WHAT A SHAME!,” EASTER EGGS, and ALI BABA.

Did not know ROS [Esmé Bianco’s “Game of Thrones” role], a small-part character from the TV show, not the books.

Clues were quite chewy. I especially liked [Load-bearing machine] for DRYER.

3.5 stars. Gotta go light the fire.

Sid Sivakumar’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

Today’s NYT put the BIGGEST smile on my face when I figured out what was going on with the theme, and it’s been a while since it’s done that.  This was a stella experience, Sid Sivakumar!  Let’s look at why:

NYT 0903 – 09/03/2020

  • 17A: Fried Hanukkah treat — EKACNAPOTA
  • 25A: Apollo command module, for one — ELUSPACE
  • 38A: Home of Whitman College — NOTGNIHSAWALLAW
  • 51A: Fruity loaf with a moist texture — DAERBANA
  • 64A: Recover … or what 17-, 25-, 38- and 51-Across do? — BOUNCE BACK

The lightbulb moment I had with 17A was such a delightful experience.  A “[f]ried Hanukkah treat” has to be a LATKE, but there’s more squares in the grid.  Maybe POTATO LATKE?  Nope, too few squares in the grid.  Coming back a little later once I had the acrosses, I realized that starting at the circled square (where I had a P) and continuing to the right, I could spell out the start of POTATO…which doubled back on itself to finish the rest.  Continuing backwards (or allowing this to BOUNCE BACK), I could make POTATO PANCAKE.  Using this on the rest of the spaces in the grid, you get SPACE CAPSULE at 25A, WALLA WALLA WASHINGTON for 38A, and BANANA BREAD at 51A.  This felt so straightforward, and yet felt so cleanly done.


I can’t think about WALLA WALLA WASHINGTON without thinking of Mike Bribiglia’s story about sleepwalking. (It involves the La Quinta in in Walla Walla)

Elsewhere in the fill: I spent far too long trying to figure out the letter I needed to complete GA? RODEO for 39D’s “Sporting event profiled in the 2014 documentary “Queens & Cowboys””.  Don’t make my mistake – it’s about GAY RODEO, not GAL RODEO.

Stay safe!  Happy Thursday!

Peter Collins’s Universal crossword — “Look Inside” – Jim Q’s Write-up

Universal goes a little meta today with Peter Collins’s puzzle!

THEME: One word in the theme answer can be found within the other word.

Universal crossword solution · “Look Inside” · Peter Collins · Thur., 9.03.20


  • 17A [With letters 5 to 7, maze runner] LABORATORY {RAT}.
  • 25A [With letters 2 to 4, karate or jujitsu] MARTIAL {ART}.
  • 34A [With letters 4 to 6, antepenultimate driving place for many a golfer] SIXTEENTH {TEE}.
  • 49A [With letters 4 to 6, Hefty purchase] GARBAGE {BAG}. 
  • 59A [With letters 7 to 9, some special agents] GOVERNMENT {MEN}. Is that what G-MEN means? I never stopped to wonder that…

Usually I want to bang my head against a wall when the Universal asks me to count letters in theme answers, but this one didn’t suffer from that pitfall in the least today. In fact, I rather preferred it without circles. Something about finding the word on my own was more fun I think (I never paid attention to which letters I was supposed to be counting).

Some of the themers are a touch awkward in order to make it work. I mean, no one says LABORATORY RAT, do they? It’s LAB RAT! SIXTEENTH TEE is so oddly specific too, especially clued with the fantastic word “antepenultimate”!

MARTIAL ART and GARBAGE BAG landed most solidly.

Fun idea and a smooth solve!

4 stars with or without circles.

David Poole’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Wow! This is a clever little theme today from Canada’s David Poole! It’s one of a genre you don’t see too often, and which I seem to associate with BEQ, personally. The 70’s focused puzzle theme ends with BANDONTHERUN by Paul McCartney & Wings. Elsewhere in the grid, another three 70’s (to early 80’s) bands are balanced atop equal-sized synonyms for run: TOTO/RACE, ACDC/DASH & EAGLES/SPRINT. I added circles to make the theme more obvious.


    • [Starbucks rival owned by a fast-food chain], MCCAFE. Are these separate institutions in America? Here they are little corners inside every? regular McDonalds.

Some Canadian content: [Home of the Senators], OTTAWA & [Montreal Alouettes’ org.], CFL

  • [Hosp. test in a tube], MRI. Tricksy – a giant tube, not a test tube.
  • [Derek Jeter, e.g.], EXYANKEE. These answers are getting out of hand. What’s next? EXALOUETTE?
  • [Middle-earth trilogy, to fans], LOTR. Lord of the Rings. Don’t see it presented thusly in too many puzzles!
  • [Tank top], GASCAP. Another tricksy clue without a “?” the top of a fuel tank.



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26 Responses to Thursday, September 3, 2020

  1. janie says:

    in the FB puzz, peter also does his signature move of bookending the first and last across entries. yes, there’s a one letter difference, but still, BE STRONG gets re-parsed as BEST (S)ONG.

    close enuf for jazz in my book!


  2. Rob says:

    NYT: what an awesome puzzle! Best Thursday in a long time! The aha moment really brought a smile ? to my face.

  3. janie says:

    and oh! that NYT. sussing out the gimmick made for a great thursday solve —


  4. NYT: Brilliant puzzle, and my fastest Thursday ever. I picked up on the gimmick early on, before I even looked at the revealer at 64A, which helped me quickly fill in the backwards WASHINGTON and BREAD and then later 64A when I got to it.

    WALLA WALLA always makes me think of this gag from The Simpsons episode “Homie the Clown”:

    Krusty: OK, memorize these funny place names: Walla Walla. Keokuk. Cucamonga. Seattle —
    Homer: [laughs] Stop it, you’re killing me! [laughs more] Seattle.

  5. Huda says:

    NYT: terrific theme and execution!
    To my mind, BOUNCE BACK doesn’t quite describe the action taking place in each of these theme entries… It’s more like a tetherball because there is this stable anchor point…

  6. Barry Miller says:

    Lighten up. The WSJ puzzle was terrific (and the NYTimes puzzle, for a change, superb). IMHO.

  7. pseudonym says:

    filled in circle back first

  8. Billy Boy says:

    Easily the most clever, well-executed fun and groanless puzzle in some time from NYT. The Latke answer being early and easier to suss out made this puzzle a joy. I had TIETAC not TIEBAR at first and that was really my only real error*. THIS is a Thursday for everyone, I’d bet even a NOOB can work through this one. ALTIMETER, nice!

    So by contrast the fun little puzzle in the WSJ might seem a bit pale, but that is a lovely effort as well.

    I do these two with a mug-full and sometimes breakfast on getting out of bed virtually every day and today was really fun.


    *OK, SEIKO is a correct answer, but interestingly SEIKO, GRUEN(?), ROLEX, HEUER (good Saturday answer), and the current long-running OMEGA, are all correct 5-letter James Bond watch answers. Fleming put a Rolex Submariner on him in Casino Royale and there were plenty of them, the current long-running contract is a placement with OMEGA, long my preferred watch from the Mercury 7 days. Timeline:

    Long-time Bond fans wonder how all the hashtags will be addressed in No Time to Die release date November. Bond has changed on film with the times …. Yeah, I know he’s UNPC, but there is no bigger film franchise, retro-history or not.


    • Ethan Friedman says:

      I mean there are many bigger film franchises than Bond. He may be the longest-running, but Star Wars, Marvel, etc. have all grossed far more. Top 5 (distinct franchises, not sub-franchises within them; the list gets very granular):

      MCU (Marvel) 8.5B
      Star Wars 4.2B
      Harry Potter 2.8B
      Spider-Man 2.5B
      X-Men 2.4B

      James Bond 2.1B

      • Billy Boy says:

        There are 25-28Bond films.
        How many? Casino Royales (There are 3, one is from 1953)
        So longevity and number of films, continuous character presence?

        I think Marvel has 24 films, fwiw.

        I wasn’t talking money, box office gets skewed. however (The Internet never fails to amaze me) … pardon my faux pas

        Ok, you win.

  9. marciem says:

    Great Thursday all around, for me!!

    My hangup with the WSJ, having just bounced back :) from the NYT, came with the first themer, which I perceived as somehow being a play on Not Over IT yet (more common to my ears) and I wanted the others to bounce around too. I finally got over IT and had fun with the rest.

  10. Ty Kaplan says:

    I LOVED today’s puzzle. I thought the folks here might enjoy watching my giddy real-time solving video:

    • Huda says:

      Thanks for linking. It was fun to watch someone else solve. I stumbled at some of the same places… It was comforting…

  11. Mutman says:

    NYT: Took me a while to ‘get it’ even after I saw the revealer. I was down on the puzzle when I had E-CAPSULE — I’m thinking what is that! In the 60s-70s no less! Then when the AHA came, it was well worth it!

  12. armagh says:

    Today’s Fireball tests the limits of how many proper names need to be in a puzzle. In this case, too bleeping many.

  13. mike hodson says:

    The specially curated database for the spelling bee has reached a new nadir of jaw drop today:
    “COPE” is “not in word list.”

  14. Mark says:

    Today’s LAT puzzle was very clever! Loved the aha moment when the theme became clear.

  15. joel roman says:

    NYT Thursday – made me cachinnate when I got it!

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