Thursday, May 27, 2021

BEQ untimed (Jenni) 


LAT 3:51 (GRAB) 


NYT 7:45 (Ben) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


Bojan Koprivica’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “We Hear You”—Jim P’s review

UM…NO (1a) is an appropriate place to begin with this grid. I did not enjoy this one very much. The theme is totally fine, but the fill is another thing altogether. Let’s start with the revealer.

HIDDEN MIC (61a, [Source’s sound source, appearing six times in this puzzle]). MIC is to be found, rebus-style, in the other theme answers. It’s not often the WSJ runs a rebus, so it caught me unawares.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “We Hear You” · Bojan Koprivica · Thu., 5.27.21

  • SEIS(MIC) crossing (MIC)ROBE.
  • OPTICAL (MIC)E crossing MI(MIC).
  • (MIC)HELIN GUIDE crossing CO(MIC)-CON.
  • O(MIC)RON crossing CO(MIC)E
  • FOR(MIC)A crossing A(MIC)I.

Before I realized what was going on, I was hugely thrown off by the fact that the first themer I worked out was FORMICA at 64a which I first wrote as FORMA because there happened to be an I and C in perfect position right below the M as part of STOIC. So my first thought was that the MIC was going to be hidden as part of other entries. Add to that the M in 57a YAKIMA which, based on my previous experience with FORMICA, seemed to want to be YAKIMICA. I was so thoroughly confused at this point I just had to go look elsewhere. Finally EPIDE(MIC) set me straight, and it was a relief to realize this was a rather normal rebus puzzle.

But oy, the grid. Where did I have trouble? Let me count the ways.

  • Proper names: In that first corner is BAUM, ALSTON, and TEO, and I wanted UH..NO at 1a which made 2d [It can be tapped] nearly impossible to see. BAUM was easy; the rest, not so much. And elsewhere there are names of lesser-known world cities and counties. Good luck if you don’t know ALAN HALE (the Skipper) from Gilligan’s Island or LAMAR Odom of the NBA.
  • Naticks: IMARI [China from Japan] crossing REB [Yiddish honorific] at the R (I wanted T), CESURAS [Breaks] crossing COMICE [Large pear variety] at the C (I wanted P), and ABT [Dance company based in NYC] crossing OTERO [County of southern New Mexico] at the T (I wanted C). Fortunately my second guesses for each of these three was correct, but any one of these is not a good crossing. Three is just unfair to the solver.
  • Crosswordese: So many initialisms and abbreviations, I was surprised when there was a three-letter entry that turned out to be an actual word. LAL, ENS, LDS, AMA, ETS, SMU, RUS, ABT, IRA, DIX (okay, not an abbreviation, but a foreign number). Plus, STOLAE, NAIFS (instead of the WAIFS that I wanted), E-CARD, ADENI, and P’SHAW. Feh.

Was there anything I liked? Yes, I did like the theme. Judging by the kludge in the fill though, it should have been pared back to allow for a cleaner grid. But COAT RACK, MATINEE, and UPTURN are good, and I’ve even come around on EARLY DAY (as in “I’ve got an EARLY DAY tomorrow”). I also liked NUTSO (which this puzzle kinda was) and GIMME (which this puzzle was not).

This could have been a fun grid with an unexpected theme. Instead it turned into quite a slog because of the density of the theme material. 2.5 stars.

Barbara Lin’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

NYT #0527 – 05/27/2021

Barbara Lin has today’s NYT and it’s a tribute, of sorts:

  • 17A: Young woman living in a city, as 58A would say — URBAN MYTH
  • 24A: Minnie’s promise, as 58A would say — WORD OF MOUTH
  • 35A: When an armistice is signed, as 58A would say — MOMENT OF TRUTH
  • 50A: Looking pretty, as 58A would say — IN GOOD FAITH
  • 58A: Animated character who’s the subject of this puzzle’s theme — SYLVESTER

The revealer on this one felt a little anticlimactic.  Reading the phrases with Sylvester’s trademark lisp makes them make sense with the clues (“urban miss”, “word of mouse”, “moment of truce”, “in good face”), but overall I was underwhelmed.

other fill of note: CRESS is our “peppery salad ingredient” (I was trying to fit ARUGALA somehow), RED TAPE, GAS-X, TENUOUS, PARADE, SKITTISH, and 17-time host of the CMAs Reba MCENTIRE

Happy Thursday!

Alan Massengill’s Fireball Crossword, “Fresh Off the Grill” – Jenni’s write-up

Quickly because – well, that seems to be how it’s going for me these days. I found this a little more difficult than recent FBs because of some tricky cluing. I knew what was going on with the theme immediately, although I didn’t expect the revealer.

FIreball Crossword, May 27, 2021, Alan Massengill, “Fresh Off the Grill,” solution grid

  • 10d [*Fast-growing racket sport] is PICKLEBALL. The first time I heard about that I thought the person who told me was joking. Nope.
  • 17a [*Bestselling video workout series] was BUNS OF STEEL. Kids, ask your parents.
  • 27d [*Exasperates, to a Brit] is CHEESES OFF.
  • 50a [*”Call Me Anna” autobiographer] was PATTY DUKE.

And 56a [Texas-based fast-food chain….or an apt remark about the beginning of the answers to the starred clues?] is WHATABURGER. Never been there. It’s vaguely familiar. I had no idea the chain is based in Texas, so that’s also “what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle” and that’s it for me this morning!

Tim D’Alfonso’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

The 8-letter revealer in the centre, HOTSTUFF, is accommodated by a 16-wide grid. Theme-wise the revealer is apt on two levels; all four entries use different meanings of HOT: BESTSELLER, GHOSTPEPPER (great entry), STOLENGOODS & EROTICFILM (is 50 shades erotic?).

The number of abbreviations (including four iffy plural ones NOS, RTES, SSGTS, MTS) and other awkward suffixes, plurals and other crutches was over the top and really sucked the life out for me. BEERME is not worth EELER, ABEAM and generic NHLTEAM. I don’t know if a less open grid would have facilitated a more controlled fill?


Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1369), “Piggies” — Jenni’s review

“This little piggy went to market….” The revealer tells us what to look for at 40a [Auto wheel alignment and a phonetic hint to this puzzle’s theme]: TOE IN. Each theme answer has TOE added.

Brendan Emmett Quigley, Puzzle #1369, “Piggies,” solution grid

  • 17a [One smacking Romo?] is a TONY SLAPPER (knee slapper).
  • 24a [What grows in Marisa’s garden?] are TOMEI FLOWERS (May flowers).
  • 52a [Those who refuse to eat soy?] are TOFU FIGHTERS (Foo Fighters).
  • 62a [Rachael raising her glass?] is TOASTING RAY (sting ray).

I enjoyed this! What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that I M PEI designed the Dallas City Hall.

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20 Responses to Thursday, May 27, 2021

  1. pseudonym says:

    “I did not enjoy this one very much.”

    Did anyone?

  2. Sarah O says:

    So it turns out, “Elmer Fudd,” “Daffy Duck,” and “Sylvester” are all nine letters… Also turns out there are a lot of cartoon characters with speech impediments.

    • marciem says:

      I started with Daffy Duck which didn’t work. Tweety Bird has 10 letters so wouldn’t fit nor Porky Pig, and theirs weren’t particularly lisps. A lot of speech impediments in cartoon characters. PC wasn’t a consideration at those times and in thinking about it they might have contributed to bullying of those children who had those same impediments. I hope we’re evolving from that.

  3. Anne says:

    NYT seemed too easy for a Thursday.

    • JohnH says:

      Not for me, but then it took me a long time and some crossings to remember which cartoon character talked like that. And the crossing of Beano and Harry Potter was unfamiliar to me.

      I also did the WSJ and have to agree with the pile-on. Jim’s review is right on in listing many of the annoying entries, but note, too, that NUTSO, which he happens to like, could just as well be “nutty” or “nutsy” if you don’t know ALSTON and TEO, which he didn’t. (I dredged up their memories at some point.)

  4. Jan O says:

    I rarely don’t like a crossword, and even more rarely do I comment here about a puzzle I didn’t like. Since when is it entertaining to point out a lisp? Ok, it’s a thing that’s in a cartoon, but not all of the stuff that is in the cartoons of my youth have aged well. Besides, it was indeed not the usual difficulty of a NYT Thursday. (I had actually thought I already solved the NYT puzzle today after I did the WSJ, which did have a Thursday-like gimmick.)

  5. Russ says:

    WSJ – hated it

  6. dh says:

    NYT – While I’d consider Oreos to be an add-IN at Ben & Jerry’s or even when making ice cream at home, I initially had “add ON” for 19-A, because I’d expect to see a bowl of crumbled Oreos next to the nuts and Maraschino Cherries on a self-serve side bar at an ice-cream parlor. Which (because I hadn’t filled in HONKS yet) made me wonder about what made Scottish people so easily scared …

    • Ethan says:

      IMO, either the crushed Oreos are sprinkled on the top, in which case they are a topping, or they are a MIX-IN. ADD IN doesn’t work for me.

  7. armagh says:

    RE: NYT
    A theme that mocks speech impediments? How low can Shortz go?

  8. Papa John says:

    I have an entirely different take on the NYT’s “lisp” theme.

    Consider a child with a speech impediment. Perhaps it’s empowering for them to see others, especially entertainment notables, sounding like them. I don’t recall any of the cartoons actually “mocking” the impediment (nor do I believe this puzzle does that). It was merely a trait of the character. Speech impediments are a real thing. Are we supposed to simply ignore them?

    I’d love to hear from some lispers and get their take, which would be much more useful than mere conjecture.

  9. marciem says:

    BEQ: Any hints on how 27d down works? I got it from the crosses but can’t figure how it fits.

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