Note: Fireball is a contest this week. We will have a review once the contest closes.
Paul Coulter’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Stormy Weather”—Jim P’s review
RAINDROPS keep falling in this grid,
And just like the guy whose eyes are too big for his lids,
Nothing seems to fit.
Those RAINDROPS keep falling in this grid, they keep falling.
But there’s one thing I know
The clues they send to beat me
Won’t defeat me, it won’t be long
Till Happy Pencil pops up to greet me
RAINDROPS kept falling in this grid.
But that didn’t mean my brain got up and ran and hid
Solving is for me
‘Cause I’m never gonna solve the grid by complaining.
Now I’m carefree…
Nothing’s puzzlin’ me.
Technically, it’s not RAINDROPS falling, but RAIN dropping three theme answers. The revealer at 62a is clued [Shower units, and a hint to three answers in this puzzle]. The RAIN drops in those answers in the Down direction, but then the entry continues on in the Across direction (except the first one which ends with the RAIN).
- 17a. [Wasted] DOWN THE D(RAIN) with 8d SPRAIN.
- 28a. [Mental ability] B(RAIN) POWER with 23d GRAIN.
- 50a. [Fiasco] T(RAIN) WRECK with 41d STRAIN.
This was some good Thursday-level trickery and I needed the revealer to get the aha moment. Once I did, everything started falling (haha) into place.
Still, I struggled with a number of the more challenging small bits of fill, especially MAIS, HONI, and SYLPH. OSS, EIDER, and OTOES are more common bits of crosswordese so they were easier to suss out.
I did like STEAM SHOVEL, OPINION POLL, CRAYOLA, “ACT NOW!,” NOT EASY, GO SOFT, and HOLE UP.
Clue of note: 26a. [Gangster in Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana”]. RICO. If I wasn’t already embedding the RAINDROPS song below, I’d have done “Copacabana”. Here, I’ll link to it instead.
Tricky little theme. Fill was a little heavy on the crosswordese, but there was still plenty to like. 3.9 stars.
Francesca Goldston and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
Today’s NYT is a collab between Francesca Goldston and Jeff Chen. I think I like the idea of what today’s puzzle is going for, even if the grid itself is a little underwhelming:
- 16A: *When many people solve crosswords — SPARE CHANGE
- 28A: *Rough patch — HARD CASH
- 33A: *Occupied oneself — PASSED THE BUCK
- 42A: *Cheat on, say — TWO CENTS
- 56A: Benjamin Franklin adage … or a hint to interpreting the answers to the four starred clues — TIME IS MONEY
Replacing the various values of currency (CHANGE, CASH, BUCK, CENTS) with TIME gives you four phrases that fit the clues – SPARE TIME, HARD TIME, PASSED THE TIME, and TWO TIME.
Again, I like the idea of this theme (replacing TIME in common phrases with money), but I’m not sure I dig the final execution in this grid. I don’t love HARD CASH as a phrase – COLD HARD CASH is a thing, but I think you need both the COLD and HARD descriptors for the proper phrase. I’m also trying to figure out if the black squares in the grid are meant to evoke a dollar sign and some T’s (for time), or if I’m just looking for more in the grid than there is.
look, if you give me KNEE DEEP and HOOPLA in your grid, I’m giving you a song from “Knee Deep in the Hoopla” by Starship. Those are the rules.
On the origins of “TIME IS MONEY” as an adage, here’s Ben Franklin in his essay “Advice to a Young Tradesman”:
“Remember that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labour, and goes abroad, or sits idle one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, it ought not to be reckoned the only expence; he hath really spent or thrown away five shillings besides.”
Don Gagliardo’s Universal crossword — “Preposition 2” – Jim Q’s Write-up
THEME: Common phrases made up solely of two prepositions
- UP AGAINST
- INSIDE OUT
- ALONG WITH
- DOWN UNDER
Hey! Neat! I didn’t really figure out the theme until I read the title halfway through, and it was a nice AHA! It also helped me figure out DOWN UNDER as for some reason I had OTIS instead of OTTO (despite the Simpsons bus driver being a staple in crosswords) and refused to change it.
Thought this one had a lot more bite than usual, probably because there are a lot more longer entries than usual. A very fun solve for me.
- Helen REDDY. Timely. RIP.
- AIR LANE. I can’t be the only one who was confident with AIRLINE as the definite answer, can I?
- EARLE being found in the name Roone Arledge. I had to google who Roone Arledge was, and I’m not sure if he is affiliated with an EARLE, but I love those clues. Very Universal-esque.
- SHE GOAT. Ha! New term for me. Sounds like something a kid would say (no pun intended).
Not a fan of DO UP (looks so weird!), I can never spell SEURAT, and I think ON CREDIT is somewhat inelegant solely because it starts with a preposition. Other than that, solid!
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1303), “The Word on the Street”—Ade’s take
Good day, everybody! Hope all is well with you today and that a fly does not land on your head and is visible on it for a couple of minutes for the whole country to see!
There is a decent chance that, upon learning that today’s theme was HIP HOP parlance (29A: [With 52-Across, genre of music that uses the slang in the theme answers]), some solvers might have said FML, aloud or internally or both (53D: [We’ve reached peak 2020 and everything sucks,” in three letters]). Well, not only is it nice to have this change-up, but it serves as the perfect reminder of how so many actions/words that first gained traction in Black communities ended up being adopted into the mainstream after initially being seen as uncivilized by many white people in the establishment and upper management. (e.g. the fist bump, backwards baseball hat, the hip-hop music genre in general). Even a good number of the words in this theme are now staples in our everyday language, no matter your background. So you better recognize!!!!
- TIGHT CRIB (18A: [Sign that your baby is growing up fast)]) – Tight = adjective denoting a close, amicable relationship. Crib = someone’s home.
- CHRONIC BITE (24A: [Long-lasting tang?]) – Chronic = marijuana. Bite = to copy someone’s style..or, if you want to say “style” in hip hop slang, “steez” or “stee-lo.”
- DOG BATTLE (38A: [Skirmish between two boxers?]) – Dog = admired friend. Battle = freestyle hip-hop competition/sing-off.
- FRESH CHEESE (53A: [Just unpeeled Edam?]) – Fresh = stylish and up-to-date. Cheese = multiple meanings, from money, a wide smile or the yellow bus schoolchildren take. (“The cheeeeeese bus!” I got taunted a few times for taking that when my older friends in elementary school had public transportation passes.).
- CHILL BEEF (59A: [Put a steak on ice?]) – Chill = relax, calm down. Beef = disagreement that usually leads to bad blood.
Most of the stuff I would want to talk about with this grid was said above, so just adding that that I liked the clue for ELEPHANTS (36D: [Hannibal’s transports]) while digging AM I RITE as my favorite fill (12D: [Eh? Eh?]). Speaking of art that originated and/or was popular in the Black community, the people in the group who are my age and older probably saw the movie adaptation of ROOTS at least twice while growing up (44A: [Kunta Kinte’s novel]). That, along with The Wiz and The Last Dragon, were staples of our movie-watching experience during the 1980s. And to continue with Black excellence, seeing PLUG reminds me of the stage names of the super-popular hip hop group De La Soul: Plug One, Plug Two and Plug Three (15A: [Hair transplant piece]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NBA (41A: [League that played their 2020 games in the Disney Bubble]) – Along with the NBA, the WNBA played its season in a bubble at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The NBA season could conclude on Friday, as the Los Angeles Lakers have a 3-1 series lead over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. The Seattle Storm just won the WNBA championship earlier this week, sweeping the Las Vegas Aces 3-0. Congratulations, Storm!
Thank you so much for your time, everyone! Have a great rest of your Thursday, and hope you have a good weekend coming up!
Paul Coulter’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Anyone else read [Colleague … and, when preceded by “the,” what the end of 16-, 24-, 37- or 50-Across is] a couple of times, blink, and decide parsing it is an “end of solve” problem. It turns out the puzzle’s revealer should be WORKTHEMATE, but the clue is not particularly clear; I decided WORKMATE should be proceeded by “the” making THEWORKMATE, but that goes nowhere. I think the puzzle theme would’ve been clearer ditching the cute revealer and just being WORKTHE, awkward as that is. In any case, you need to WORK(the) ROOM, SYSTEM, LAND and PROBLEM.
[Fissile rocks], SHALES. Feel like that clue describes SHALE. [Fissile rock types] is SHALES?
- [Colorful ring], AREOLA. Really rough intersection with ABM that, given how many missile abbreviations there are.
- [Clash of personalities, say], EGOPROBLEM. Not sure this clue works? Isn’t an EGOPROBLEM the thing that may trigger a clash of personalities, but not the clash itself.
- [Weatherproof, as a swimming pool], INDOOR. Also kind of weird, as clues go.
NYT: I too like the theme but not the rest of the grid. So many short entries that are little pieces of fuzz, adding nothing to the fabric– TMC, GRP, EPA, PSP, UGH… I think there are over 20 3-letter words, many abbreviations or acronyms.
The concept that time is money feels very American to me. I remember hearing it the first time and trying to process it. The idea of “wasting time” was familiar in both Arabic and French, but not that what I should be doing instead is making money.
And somehow, wasting time felt more acceptable overall. I’m still fine with it!
Yes! Shout out for the creative review Jim P ! Nicely done, ‘had a little chuckle.
LA TIMES Have never seen an uglier north east grid. Had to quit.
Huh? It’s perfectly fine to me.
NYT: I must be having brain cramp today. Can someone enlighten me on ’44 years’? OBAMA ERA — not getting it …
Obama was the 44th President.
Makes sense. Other than the first few, I rarely associate presidents with numbers.
ON ICE two puzzles, same meaning, starting in the same area one UP one DOWN
The PSP wasn’t a console, it was a handheld! I wanted to fill that last square with an X or a 2 but neither would have made any sense on the crossings so I was at a loss for a bit. It was the last square I filled too.
Yep, a handheld console.
NYT: Didn’t notice the grid shape while solving, but no way it’s coincidence, right? I like little touches like that, though as another comment noted there was a little too much 3-letter junk in the puzzle, perhaps as a result.
I’ve also heard HARD CASH on its own often enough.
Some parts of USA you will hear the almost oxymoronic “CASH MONEY”!!!
Jim P…. 5 stars for your song parody!
I enjoyed it more than the *^%$#% rebus puzzle.
I did finish it, but did I enjoy it?
WSJ: Loved Jim’s lyrics. Thanks to the links to the two songs.
I love Thursday puzzles at WSJ, and of course your review was entertaining, but I dont understand the oar clue…. is it 8 oars in a shell or some boat ? thanks
getting ready for hurricane Delta..yikes
I totally missed that clue since I filled in the entry via the crossings. But apparently, yes, a rowing boat designed to be propelled by eight rowers can be called an “eight.” See this Wikipedia page.
Please stay safe!
Count me in as loving Jim’s lyrics! (Also liked the puzzle a lot!)
HARD CASH was (is?) a BBC program(me). I know that only because Richard Thompson helped organise (I’ll use the spelling he probably uses) a “various artists” album of songs “from and inspired by” that series, and it’s pretty good.
LAT: I agree with all of Gareth’s points. Also, PINUPS as “locker hangers” was skeevy, and ONEROUSLY seemed pretty roll-your-own to me. But I liked seeing ALLEGORY and CANASTA.
In my collection.
LAT – Explaining the 1.5 I gave it. l agree with all the comments Gareth made. Shook my head after seeing the revealer and themers. Didn’t make sense. And still doesn’t after reading Gareth’s explanation. I remember a lot of good Coulter puzzles.