Thursday, June 3, 2021

BEQ untimed (Jenni) 


LAT 4:10 (GRAB) 


NYT 11:52 (Ben) 


Universal 4:32 (Jim Q) 


WSJ 8:38 (Jim P) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Sweet Stuff” – Jenni’s write-up

I figured out what was going on with the first theme answer, and the revealer made me smile. Each theme answer has a rebus square with the name of a sweet treat. The rebi are not entirely symmetrical, which made it a bit more challenging. Peter’s grid is easier to read than mine.

Fireball, June 2, 2021, Peter Gordon, “Sweet Stuff,” solution grid

  • 16a [Front line reporter?] is a METEO[ROLO]GIST crossing P[ROLO]G
  • 31a [Mitzvah] is COM[MANDM]ENT crossing WILLIA[MANDM]ARY.
  • 42a [Stratego piece the Spy can capture] is the [MARS]HAL, crossing GRAM[MAR S]CHOOL.
  • 58a [Clutter fighter at the office] is a DE[SK OR]GANIZER, crossing [SKOR]TS.
  • 65a [Singer of “America the Beautiful” at Biden’s inauguration] is LO[PEZ], crossing 56d [Saint of France?], TRO[PEZ].

And the revealer: 10d [With 46d, popular phone game….and a hint to this puzzle’s theme] is CANDY CRUSH.

My husband has just presented me with a cocktail (Captain’s Blood), so I’ll skip to “what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the Spy can capture the MARSHAL in Stratego.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Weightlifting”—Jim P’s review

I didn’t catch on to the theme until the last revealer. Thus, I was befuddled for most of the way until I finally got the aha. I blame the fact that I’m physically worn out from wrangling what felt like a one TON stone into position at the top of a rise for a waterfall/pond feature I’m installing in the garden. How appropriate for this puzzle since each entry ends in a TON which is “lifted” up in the vertical direction.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Weightlifting” · Mike Shenk · Thu., 6.3.21

  • 18a. [Common place, formally] CITY OF BOS(TON). I solved this correctly but couldn’t make sense of it with such on opaque clue. I left it alone to come back and check the crossings later.
  • 36a. [Master of the Royal Mint at the start of the 18th century] SIR ISAAC NEW(TON). This one was hard to parse when missing a few crossings. I let it be to return to later.
  • 44a. [Leading to suspicions about] CASTING DOUB(T ON). This one seemed fine just as “casting doubt,” so I didn’t recognize the final word going up. I guess I failed to notice that the clue ended in a preposition which is a hint that the entry will end in a preposition.
  • 64a. [Internal support structure] ENDOSKELE(TON). Finally, this made everything clear, as I knew what the answer had to be, and I spotted the TON going up inside of NOTCH at 56d.

The not-quite-one-TON stone I was wrestling with is in the middle of this picture. I lifted it into position then came inside for a break and a puzzle. (The stone has a vertical hole running up inside it and will be a bubbling fountain feeding into a little stream leading to a waterfall and pond below.)

I enjoyed finally sussing out the answer and then realizing the coincidence with what I was physically doing a half hour before the solve. I just had to smile.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot to smile about in the fill. The long marquee answers are workmanlike (IRON ORES, ASCENDED), and there just seemed to be a lot of fusty entries in the grid (Biblical URIAH, Tippi HEDREN, Danny KAYE, EDITH Head, Mt. OSSA (crossing “NOTA bene”), NO TV, N-TESTS, ODESSA, ILIAC. Meh.

One thing I didn’t know that I was glad to learn was SATORI [Sudden enlightenment]. Wikipedia says, “Satori means the experience of awakening (“enlightenment”) or apprehension of the true nature of reality. It is often considered an experience which cannot be expressed in words.” Maybe we can change “aha moment” to “SATORI moment.”

Clues of note:

  • 55a. [Robert Louis Stevenson’s Admiral Benbow, for one]. INN. Tricky. From Treasure Island, right? I started reading that once, and the beginning takes place in an inn, so I’m assuming that’s the one. Correct me if I’m wrong.
  • 30d. [“Freedom ___ free”]. ISN’T. This is a favorite phrase of those who support the military, especially with respect to those who have given their lives. But you know what? The phrase also applies to the average citizen who sometimes may be called upon to make a sacrifice in support of the country (such as, ahem, wearing a damn mask!).
  • 38d. [Child’s punishment, at times]. NO TV. This isn’t much of a punishment these days with the plethora of devices at kids’ fingertips. Consequently, constructors might want to think about excising it from their word lists.

Nice theme, especially for me. Not much in the fill to get excited about though. 3.4 stars.

Kyra Wilson and Sophia Maymudes’ New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

NYT #0603 – 06/03/2021

I had an AHA moment on today’s puzzle that was so loud my roommate poked their head out into the living room to ask what was up.  I had noticed there were a bunch of places in the across clues where double letters were being placed in one square, but then I realized they were all converging in the same down squares:

  • 2D: Candlelit dinners for four, say: DD AA TT EE SS
  • 11D: React to a gut punch, maybe: OO VV EE RR
  • 59D: Spy with questionable loyalty: AA GG EE NN TT
  • 62D: Hotel chain operated by Hilton: TT RR EE EE
  • 22D: Strengthen one’s commitment…or a hint to four answers in this puzzle — DOUBLE DOWN

Each of the answers can be preceeded by the word “double” to make sense with the clue — DOUBLE DATES, DOUBLE OVER, DOUBLE AGENT, and DOUBLETREE.  It was such a nice lightbulb moment.

Here’s TT RR OO UU BB LL EE…er, “Double Trouble”, from last year’s Eurovision movie

Of the various across words affected by this theme, I particularly like ECOSAVVY, ESSENE, DOGGO, and REEMERGE, all of which helped me realize what was going on under the hood here.

Happy Thursday!

Abigail Doctor and Amanda Rafkin’s Universal crossword, “Space Invaders” — Jim Q’s write-up

This puzzle is part of the Universal Pride Month series.

This appears to be a debut puzzle for Abigail Doctor. Congratulations!

THEME: Celestial bodies are hidden in common phrases.

Universal crossword solution · “Space Invaders” · Abigail Doctor · Amanda Rafkin · Thur., 6.03.21


  • 17A [Pro-womxn works] FEMINIST ART. Star. 
  • 26A [Many include seat numbers] AIRPLANE TICKETS. Planet. 
  • 44A [Starts operating secretly] GOES UNDERGROUND. Sun. 
  • 57A [Levies that Nevada and Alaska lack] INCOME TAXES. Comet. 

I’ll get my usual gripe about Universal puzzles like this out of the way first: I find it extremely bizarre that the publication is okay with asking solvers to count and mentally circle letters in their widely available publications (in print syndication and on its web applet) rather than updating the program being used to publish their crosswords so it can handle circles. The fact that their puzzles are available on this site with circles through Across Lite seems to be an acknowledgment that the one given to the masses is subpar by comparison.

Okay, moving on.

Nice finds in this hidden word theme. Strong base phrases (though I suppose no one really says AIRPLANE TICKETS, it’s a thing(s). And it’s better than AIRPLANE TOILETS to hide the word PLANET :), the hidden words bridge the phrases, and the words themselves are all strongly related. So it hits all the hidden-word marks.

Enjoyed the fill- GOT A SEC? and I CAN SEE YOU! in particular. I saw G.I. JANE a long time ago when I was in high school. Don’t remember much about it. But boy, that flick has legs in Crossworld.

I was unaware of the spelling “womxn” (in the clue for FEMINIST ART). There’s an interesting article on it here, which now after reading it, I do recall learning of it. It just didn’t sink in well enough the first time. Now it’ll stay there.

Fun fact in 57A! No state income taxes in Alaska or Nevada?!

Anyone else notice COMET shooting right through Rudolph’s RED NOSE? Take that, Rudolph!

3.5 stars with circles. 2.5 stars without.


Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1371), “Keep Your Eye on the Ball” — Jenni’s review

All the theme answers contain the word BALL.

Brendan Emmett Quigley, Puzzle #1371, “Keep Your Eye on the Ball,” solution grid

  • 16a [Movie sequences involving dancers in toe shoes] are BALLET SEQUENCES
  • 37a [They’re often cast from overseas] are ABSENTEE BALLOTS.
  • 57a [Resting period for some Mariners] is the MLB ALLSTAR BREAK.

Parikshit S. Bhat’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

The theme is very basic and nearly infinitely repeatable: add an “S” to the start of the first word and create a “wacky” phrase. So: (S)PAWNSHOP, (S)PEAKTIME, (S)PINMONEY, (S)PORTWINE & (S)PUNKROCK.

The rest of the puzzle played more like an early week. Odd to include BIPOLAR and then clue it as [like Earth]. Is the other meaning considered overwhelmingly negative then?


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16 Responses to Thursday, June 3, 2021

  1. Robert Smith says:

    NYT: Such an awesome puzzle! Wow!

  2. Billy Boy says:

    NYT: figured out the trick in seconds.

    So, it was the equivalent of a lay-up, the fill left a lot to be desired, any resistance I had came from random two word pairings and proper names.

    I did learn something useful, thanks to M-W

    Definition of doggo
    : in hiding to avoid notice or detection —used chiefly in the phrase lie doggo
    Lucan said that he would “lie doggo for a bit”, and nothing has been heard of him in the past thirteen years.
    — Julian Symons
    … nuclear submarines can lie doggo for months on the ocean bed until the designated target comes within reach.
    — Alain Jacob

    And that there are DoggoLingo memes. But – Sunglasses on dogs is so 1970 Colorado Cool.

    • janie says:

      DOGGO is a word i learned thru the daily spelling bee (and wouldn’t have otherwise known)… thx, sam!


    • Mutman says:

      I’d have rather seen it clued ala the Dr Seuss book: “Go, ____!”

      Go Dog, GO!

    • JohnH says:

      I didn’t know DOGGO either (or GRU, PAYA, and TRACI). Very fine puzzle.

      I would disagree on one point. While I caught onto the doubling pretty soon (and onto the revealer only later), I had no idea how far it would extend. Would it, say, include the down clues due east and west as well, to complete the columns? So it wasn’t a layup for me by any means.

      • Billy Boy says:

        The shape of the grid and the clear (Only? possible) location of the revealer – connecting the two halves of the grid vertically – was pretty transparent. That and a lack of other double down locations.

        Spatial Math at work …

        DOGGO seems a language devolution to this old fart.

        • R says:

          The modern pronunciation and usage of every single word and grammatical feature of English was seen as language devolution by old farts over the last few centuries, so I think it’ll be fine.

  3. Jim says:

    Perhaps even more apropos for today’s NYT

  4. Jim says:

    PUPPER (under 1 year) and DOGGO (over 1 year) were popularized by the “We Rate Dogs” Twitter feed @dog_rates. Perhaps we’ll soon see BOOP, BLEP, AND MLEM?

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    @Jim P re “such as, ahem, wearing a damn mask!” … Amen! Also, getting a damn vaccination! We’re still only at 46% of Ohioans who are at least partially vaccinated and 40% fully vaccinated. That’s in spite of the governor commending Ohioans for “having done a great job during the pandemic” and then opening the floodgates for everyone to return to partying like it’s 2019. I’m fully vaccinated, as are most or all of the people in the world who are most dear to me, so I guess it doesn’t really matter to me personally (at least according to the CDC). For the sake of those who haven’t been vaccinated, I pray that enough of us have immunity that there won’t be quite as much carnage as we experienced last year if (when?) the virus surges again.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Amen on both masking and vaccination! I’ve been vaccinated myself, but as a kidney transplant recipient taking immunosuppressants, my immune system just laughed at the vaccine. “Antibodies? Oh no honey, we don’t want to make any antibodies.” So I and others like me are reliant on everyone else getting vaccinated to arrest the transmission of the COVID virus’s various strains.

  6. A says:

    Anybody else having trouble getting the LAT to load after the ad (which is freezing on my screen)?

  7. stmv says:

    Regarding today’s BEQ puzzle and Jenni’s review: It’s more than just having BALL in each theme answer, you also have EYE in the grid just above each BALL, so you literally have an “eye on the ball” in each case.

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