Thursday, December 31, 2020

BEQ tk (Ade) 


LAT 5:18 (GRAB) 


NYT 9:28 (Ben) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


Constructor Bruce Venzke conveyed some sad news:

“It’s with a very heavy heart that I inform everyone in the crossword community that we have lost a most remarkable figure in puzzle construction with the passing of Gail Grabowski on Christmas eve in Peru, Illinois. Her husband Gary was with her, and the end of her battle for life was peaceful.

I was immensely privileged to have collaborated with her on over 175 puzzles over the past 10 years, most in the Los Angeles Times and The Crosswords Club. But Gail was an indefatigable constructor, and also had many hundreds of solo puzzles in Newsday, USA Today, CrosSynergy, and several other markets. She did all the cluing on our collaborations, and her fine work made her a particular favorite with the L.A. Times Crossword Corner bloggers.

She will be sorely missed by editors, collaborators, and solvers alike.”

The Fireball is on hiatus through the end of the year. And like last week, the Thursday WSJ puzzle is the weekly contest appearing a day early because of the holiday.


David J. Kahn’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

NYT #1231 – 12/31/2020

Well, here it is, the final NYT puzzle of 2020.

David J. Kahn has prepared a tribute to SMALL BUSINESSES (7D, “Local economy makeup … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme”), and it manifests in four squares that affect four sets of clues:

  • 19A: Broker’s request for funds — MARG[IN C]ALL
  • 4D: Diner or sleeper — TRA[IN C]AR
  • 26A: Digital currency — BIT[CO]IN
  • 8D: Faces of the digital age? — EMOTI[CO]NS
  • 38A: Epic collapse — ME[LTD]OWN
  • 31D: Winner of a record 26 Oscars — WA[LT D]ISNEY
  • 46A: Highlighter of tihs clue? — SPE[LL C]HECK
  • 40D: Violently temperamental sorts — HE[LLC]ATS

We’ve got four common abbreviations for businesses (INC, CO, LTD, and LLC) crammed into the small space of one rebus square each.  Small businesses!  I totally figured that’s what was going on as soon as I hit 7D, but that didn’t stop me from tripping myself up trying to figure out what phrases could accommodate LLC and LTD.  Overall, this is nicely constructed but didn’t blow me away like some other Thursdays this year.


53A: “Like Haydn’s Symphony No. 12” — IN E

Other thoughts:

  • I love that Mahershala ALI‘s Oscar wins have propelled him to the top of the list for cluing that particular triad of letters.
  • Today I learned that there are approximately 7 glasses of wine in a LITER.  I wonder who did the pouring.
  • “A one-hit Wonder he’s not” STEVIE Wonder has had 10 Billboard number ones, and 25 Grammy wins on top of that, including winning Album of the Year for three consecutive albums in a span of four years.

See you in 2021!

Brad Wilber & Richard Shlakman’s LA Times crossword–Gareth’s summary

LA Times

There are 4! or 24 ways to arrange the letters COIN. Five are found here. There was a decision to go for six examples (two intersecting pairs) and two more acrosses with a short revealer, rather than four or five examples and say COINTOSS. I’m not totally sure which makes the better puzzle. Even though BINOCULARS was personally targeted, I enjoyed the answers like SUCTIONCUP, CARSONCITY & DAYINCOURT more where the letters span the parts of the answer. I’m a non-American, but have vaguely heard of MENDOCINO county, in the Redwood Empire. Nice to see some “local” content in the LA Times!


    • [“Stress cannot exist in the presence of ___”: Mamet], APIE was particularly mystifying given I read it as painter Manet.
    • [Afghan constitution?] for YARN was particularly clever clew. I decided YAPS might make sense – as in the dog breed?
    • I didn’t know celebrity chef Ray spelt her name RACHAEL.
    • I call BS on a SYST being a [Betting aid: Abbr.]; you wouldn’t refer to that system as a “syst.” Personally, I’d run a mile from using that entry, convenient as it is.


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13 Responses to Thursday, December 31, 2020

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Good puzzle.
    And good riddance to 2020…
    I hope 2021 will be better for humankind.

    • JohnH says:

      Ditto on all counts.

      A hard NYT Thursday for me, not so much because of the ingenious theme, but more the fill. I got the theme almost immediately. Not sure why, but once I found a Spanish number that fit in the second across entry, SMALL BUSINESSES occurred to me right way, and I was grateful it fit. My last to fall was past the theme squares in the NW.

  2. Frank says:

    Meh, not a big fan of rebus puzzles, especially ones that use abbreviations.

  3. Stan Newman says:

    Gail was with me for 18 years. A master of the easy Newsday Mondays–as you all know, a grid with all-easy answers is far from easy to construct. And a Newsday Sunday regular, with easy and not-so-easy themes.

    She continued to submit to me during her illness, which I’m sure was helpful for her.

    A sad loss for all who enjoyed her work, and of course for me personally.


  4. Billy Boy says:

    A ‘glass of wine’ is generally offered as 5 oz. or 150 ml, 750 ml is the standard wine bottle yielding 5
    1 litre is A) not any wine standard outside maybe AT or CH B) certainly not seven (7), yet I knew that answer, but it is still too loose for me bogus. Nebuchadnezzar is 15l, I’d like to see that in a CWP.

    Happy New Year!

    • Martin says:

      I’m having trouble parsing all of that, but a liter is a common carafe size. Perhaps wine sold by the carafe is not worthy of your consideration but it’s a thing, really. That will serve 7 reasonably generous pours of 5 2/3 oz. And the clue says “about.”

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    Oh dear! I’m so sad to learn of the passing of Gail Grabowski. I’ve done hundreds of her puzzles over the years and consider her and Andrea Carla Michaels to be the best early week constructors in the business. It’s a fine art to construct a relatively easy puzzle without boring solvers to tears. Such a loss for cruciverbalists. RIP

  6. RichardZ says:

    Somewhat off-topic, but re today’s TNY Holiday Crossword (by Natan Last), one of the answers had me mystified:

    – Clue (25D): Peace out
    – Answer: DIP

    I can’t make heads or tails of the answer. If anyone has a plausible interpretation, please pass it along.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I’m at a loss on DIP, too. On “The Good Place,” the character Jason used “dip” as an expression of happy surprise, but that doesn’t mesh with “peace out.” Urban Dictionary includes a “depart” definition for DIP, and “peace out” is a way to say goodbye. Maybe Natan’s generation uses “peace out” as a verb meaning “to depart”?

      • RichardZ says:

        Okay – glad to hear I wasn’t the only one who’s not seeing it. I thought perhaps the “peace out” gesture was accompanied by a dip – à la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – or by offering someone a serving of guacamole (only kidding).

      • R says:

        That’s right, both “peace out” and DIP are pretty standard terms for “depart,” especially in an abrupt or unannounced way, or at least were when I was a teenager 20 years ago.

  7. Scott says:

    Thank you all for this blog. I do the LA Times puzzle and this is immensely helpful when I am stuck or think something is off.

    Have a Happy New Year!

  8. James Hart says:

    New to New York Times cross words, I would never have figured out how to finish Thursday’s puzzle and learn about rebuses without finding your post. (Had to search for another site on how to fill in boxes with multiple letters.) Thanks!

Comments are closed.