Thursday, February 10, 2022

BEQ Untimed (Darby) 


LAT 5:40 (GRAB) 


NYT 9:22 (Ben) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


USA Today  3:06 (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “The Little Chill” – Jenni’s write-up

I realized there was a rebus fairly early on and couldn’t figure out what it was. Once I saw it, the whole puzzle fell very quickly. It’s not a perfectly symmetrical rebus, which I prefer because it’s a bit more challenging. I enjoyed this puzzle!

The rebus is the word ICE in one square – hence the “little chill” of the title. Several of the theme answers feature two cubes.

Fireball, February 9, 2022, Peter Gordon, “The Little Chill,” solution grid

  • 1a [What’s underneath a pole sitter?] is {ICE} CAP crossing [Entertainment often featuring camels] which is {ICE} SHOW. Both clues are amusingly tricky.
  • 5d is [Super-inexpensive] which gives us the grid-spanning CHEAP AT TW{ICE} THE PR{ICE}. It crosses [In reserve] for ON {ICE} and [Inveigle] for ENT{ICE}.
  • 9d [Ingredient in Singapore mei fun] is R{ICEVERM{ICE}LLI. Crossings are [Get frosty], {ICEUP  and 37a [Curling iron target?], B{ICE}PS. Another fun tricky clue.
  • 13d [“Guys and Dolls” guy] is N{ICE}LY N{ICE}LY, which would have given me the rebus immediately if I’d managed to dredge that up from my memory. The first crossing should also have given it to me. I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me to realize that [Places to check in when you’re ready to check out?] are HOSP{ICE}S. The other is [Whims] for CAPR{ICE}S.
  • 34d[ Flatfeet, so to speak] is POL{ICE} OFF{ICE}RS. The crossings are [Author of the 2018 book “The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the President”], SP{ICE}R (I’d forgotten about him!) and 68a [Disney character voiced by Kathryn Beaumont], AL{ICE}.
  • 43d [Break down in order to analyze, as data] is SL{ICEAND D{ICE}. One crossing is a bit obscure: [Person who acts in place of a sovereign] is a V{ICEKING. The other is another double: [[1990 #1 hit with the lyric “If my rhyme was a drug I’d sell it by the gram”], {ICE} {ICEBABY. I see why he’s now a contractor. That in turn also crosses [Prepare for takeoff, in a way], DE{ICE}.

Lots of fun! I am not overly bothered by VICE KING because the rest works so well and was so enjoyable.

A few other things:

  • 15a is [What you might catch if you’re caught with you hand in the cookie jar?] is HELL. I’m sure that “you” is a typo but they’re rare enough in Peter’s puzzles that I spent some time trying to figure out if that was part of the theme.
  • 24d [Musical biopic about an Australian soprano] is MELBA. Never heard of the movie but I did know the singer. She is the eponym of both MELBA toast and peach MELBA, both purportedly invented in her honor by Escoffier.
  • 25a has the same clue as 68a. Kathryn Beaumont also voiced WENDY in the Disney version of “Peter Pan.”
  • Loved seeing ANITA Diamant in the grid! “The Red Tent” is one of my favorite novels.
  • I misread 55a [ ___ ligation] at first as “litigation.” Duh. The answer, of course, is TUBAL.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of Kathryn Beaumont, although I certainly know her voice. Didn’t know that Sean SPICER wrote a book. Didn’t know that Eugene Levy voiced LOU the porcupine in “Over the Hedge.”

I can’t resist posting this because it’s one of my favorite movie quotes.

Daniel Okulitch & Doug Peterson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Migration Pattern”—Jim P’s review

We have a word-swapping theme today in which the first words of familiar two-word phrases (or compound words) move to the ends. Since all entries are in the Down direction, these words are “flying south” as we’re told by the revealer FLIES SOUTH (32d, [Migrates for the winter, and a hint to the shift in the starred answers]). Further, these words that move are all words that can precede “flies”.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Migration Pattern” · Daniel Okulitch & Doug Peterson · Thu., 2.10.22

  • 3d. [*Soccer-playing ram?] BALL BUTTER. Butterflies.
  • 8d. [*Conflagration at the saltine factory?] CRACKER FIRE. Fireflies.
  • 15d. [*Manhattan’s cherry, e.g.?] COCKTAIL FRUIT. Fruit flies.
  • 24d. [*Dwelling you never want to move out of?] KEEPER HOUSE. House flies.

I think the intention is that not only do those keywords “fly south,” but collectively they are somehow “flies” that are in the south. I’m not so enamored of this idea since a house is not a fly, for example, but on the other hand, I was hoping for some other element to tie these entries together, and this did the trick.

It took me uncovering at least three entries before I saw the gimmick, so it was reassuring to have everything tied together with the revealer. Nicely done.

Not a lot of long fill today, just a couple stacks of 8s in the NW/SE corners, of which ACADEMIC and TIPPY-TOE stand out. IN A SLUMP ain’t too shabby either. I needed every crossing to get ALAR [Controversial orchard spray], though.

Clues of note:

  • 4a. [Monk’s music]. BOP. CHANT didn’t fit so it seemed the clue was referring to pianist Thelonious.
  • 7a. [Hill’s husband]. MCGRAW. Country-singing wife and husband team of Faith Hill and Tim MCGRAW. I’m not a country music aficionado, but with enough crossings I was able to piece this together.
  • 22a. [Milk, so to speak]. USE. As in, “milk something for all it’s worth”.
  • 43a. [Martin with an honorary Oscar]. STEVE. And a wonderful speech he gave, too.

Fun puzzle. 3.75 stars.

August Miller’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

NYT #0210 – 2/10/2021

Last week we covered the importance of CROSS[ing] YOUR TS, and apparently we’re still on a careful proofreading kick at the NYT:

  • 62A: Attend to details … or a hint to entering six Down answers in this puzzle — DOT THE IS

Replacing each I in the puzzle going across with a DOT for its corresponding down clue helps fit some oversized answers into the grid:


with every I in place

  • 7D: Certain martial arts takedown — JU[DO T]HROW
  • 4D: Southern border city in a Larry McMurtry title — LARE[DO T]EXAS
  • 10D: Trendy brunch order — AVOCA[DO T]OAST
  • 25D: “It’s not hard to guess how this will end” — YOU [DO T]HE MATH
  • 33D: Underwater weapon-launching apparatus — TORPE[DO T]UBE
  • 40D: Spotty pattern — POLKA [DOT]S

23D: 1982 film set in a mainframe — TRON

Happy Thursday!

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today Crossword, “Three Wishes” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Mollie Cowger & Erik Agard
Theme: Each of the three theme answers is a thing to wish on.

USA Today, 02 10 2022, “Three Wishes”

  • 20a [Something to wish upon] – SHOOTING STAR
  • 38a [Something to blow on to make a wish] – FALLEN EYELASH
  • 57a [Something to blow out to make a wish] – BIRTHDAY CANDLE

Cute theme! It took me a while to see FALLEN EYELASH since, solving from the top of the puzzle downwards, I was looking for that answer to be birthday-cake-related as I hadn’t seen the 57a clue yet. Plus, I had erroneously put in “swag bags” instead of FREEBIES for 38d [Promotional event giveaways], and not having the leading F in place made the theme answer harder to see.

The grid is symmetric except where it needs to accommodate theme answers of different lengths. Given that these are the three essential things to wish on in my mind, being able to have all three in the grid together is totally worth switching up the symmetry. Plus, losing the two black squares in the lower left corner gives us some extra long down answers that aren’t present anywhere else in the puzzle, which is fun.

Other notes:

  • All I have to say about the 10a [Disney villain voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor] clue for SCAR is that the CGI version of this movie *barely* counts as canon. However, I could be persuaded to change my opinion if they ever make a photorealistic version of “Lion King 1 1/2”.
  • I didn’t know there was a 16a [Fatty tuna] called TORO. Feels like it should be a kind of beef, with that name.
  • KELELA (49d [“Take Me Apart” singer]) was also new to me, and combined with my trouble parsing the center of RED HOT meant that the southeast was the final area of the puzzle I completed.
  • Loved the clue [Shout that might get a sibling in trouble] for MOM – felt very applicable to my brother and I! Looking at the grid now, I also like that MOM crosses MAY [Mother’s Day month]. A sweet mini theme.
  • Various other neat clues/answers: 7a [Word before “ship” or “shorts”] for CARGO, 32d [Nonmonogamous, in a way] for OPEN, the symmetric placement of INHALE and IN KIND in the grid.

Happy Thursday all!

Emma Oxford’s Universal Crossword, “Rolling Stones”— Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: Types of rocks can be anagrammed in the first word of common phrases.

Universal crossword solution · “Rolling Stones” · Emma Oxford · Thurs., 02.10.22


  • (revealer) ALTERNATIVE ROCK.

I’m not a big fan of anagram themes, especially when they’re this straightforward with no wackiness to bring levity to it. So this one falls squarely in that category for me.

I did, however, very much enjoy the revealer. A nice throwback with the Nirvana reference. The titular Rolling Stones make a sorta-kinda appearance too!

The hints in the clues as to what type of rock we should be anagramming were a cute touch. Perhaps unnecessary, but benign at the very least.

I don’t understand the clue for IOWA [State where Captain Kirk will be born?]. If Star Trek knowledge is needed to suss it out, then I don’t feel so bad for not getting it. Help!

2.75 stars from me today. Anagram fans would probably think this puzzle rocks though :)

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1443, “Bank on It”- Darby’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer uses only the capitalized letters within its clue as a word bank, which is nodded at in the “only” repeated in each clue.

Theme Answers

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Crossword #1443, "Bank on It" solution for 2/10/2022

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1443, “Bank on It” solution for 2/10/2022

  • 18a [“Only A TEST (make less tense)”] SET AT EASE
  • 20a [“Only CHILDREN (hackneyed writing)”] CLICHE RIDDEN
  • 38a [“Only FRIENDS (commissions paid to agents)”] FINDER’S FEES
  • 58a [“Only DAUGHTERS (sat around doing nothing)”] GATHERED DUST
  • 60a [“Only a THEORY (ship-to-ship shout)”] AHOY THERE

It took me until writing out this post (and reading BEQ’s notes again) to figure out exactly what the theme of this puzzle is, but I think it’s really clever and definitely a fun one. I’d almost love to see this again with another set of word banks. Even though I didn’t quite catch on until right now, I knew there was some anagram-adjacent move being made, and that did help as I solved. FINDER’S FEE fell into place first.

Outside of the themers, I enjoyed the wider corners in the upper left and lower right. I struggled with 2d [“Body of water that’s more desert nowadays”] ARAL SEA, especially with the crossing of 17a [“Largest island of the Cyclades”] NAXOS and 22a [“‘Ascending and Descending’ artist”] ESCHER. I struggle with geography in general in puzzles, and the added name here left me adrift for a bit.

In terms of my solve-process with this one, I was grateful for the middle of the grid, which I filled in first, creating an odd sort of dividing line between the left and right halves. The DRE-EXPO-SELL-OUR move descending through the middle made FINDER’S FEE really apparent. From there, I moved through the bottom of the puzzle before cracking that upper left puzzle I mentioned above.

Again, a great theme that I would love to see again just because it was both a fun one to figure out (despite any frustration) and because it is so clever.

Bruce Haight’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Bruce Haight’s LA Times puzzle has, loosely, five two-word phrases for triumph, and clues each with a matching vocation. BREADWINNER is repurposed, but I think the cute factor wins out over strict adherence to pattern. There is a mini-theme going on about the sport of curling, which is curiously timely given the turn-around time of the Times. Anyway, the clean-up crew get a TIDYPROFIT; the elephant trainer has a HUGESUCCESS; the curling team has a SWEEPINGVICTORY; the baker has a BREADWINNER; and the horror film producer has a MONSTERHIT.

Best clue: [Accident report?], OOPS.


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26 Responses to Thursday, February 10, 2022

  1. Tina says:

    Can anyone tell me what the rules are for inputting the rebus for the nyt puzzle app? I input dot/I into the rebus box but the ny times app didn’t take it. When I did the reveal option it flashed the I and then the dot. How am I expected to input this into the app correctly? I don’t have a flash one answer and then flash another answer option to put into the rebus box. Seems to me that The NY Times app should be a little more consistent and clear about how to input the rebus to make the app happy. Rules like acrosses go first and then separate by a slash for the downs.

    • R says:

      The rule is that there are no rules. If it’s anything beyond a simple rebus, there’s no way to know what the app is going to take, and you need to be prepared to take a few minutes to retype all the odd entries.

    • Mr. [sometimes] Grumpy says:

      In general, the first letter of the across will suffice. I prefer AcrossLite, but I tried the NYT app this morning when it became apparent that across & down were different, and a simple I worked just fine — and, upon completion, the app did its back and forth thing. Big whoop. Not leaving AcrossLite am I.

  2. Arthur Shapiro says:

    AcrossLite flagged all the rebus squares where I had entered “DOT”. I suppose “I” would have worked, but maybe not.

  3. Eric H says:

    Wordplay says any of these will work:


    I think I tried every one of those and more before realizing I had misspelled the name of the “Gomer Pyle’ character.

    Maybe you had a mistake elsewhere in the grid?

    • David L says:

      I thought I’d put DOT in all the rebus squares, but the app didn’t accept the solution. Maybe I had an extraneous character, like DOTI, in one of them. Frustrating…

  4. Frank says:

    Where does one find the NYT in Across Lite these days. I did this on the NYT site and ruined a nice long streak because I couldn’t hit on the specific variation of DOT I they wanted in the rebus. Perfectly good puzzle ruined by an a terrible rebus. Not to Times editor: You blew it on this one.

    • Anne says:

      I put the I in each of the I/dot squares. Worked like a charm. (NYT app on iPad).

    • BryanF says:

      Doing the puzzle on the NYT website, I just put in “DOT” for the rebus squares and it gave me the congratulations at the end.

      After it’s solved, the site animates “DOT” transforming into an “i” and back to “DOT” and so on.

    • Gary R says:

      @Frank –

      Do a Google search for “crossword scraper.” It’s a plug-in for Chrome (and, I think, Firefox) that will allow you to capture the puzzle from the NYT app and convert it to a .puz file. It’s three or four more clicks than it used to take when the Times offered .puz files on their site, but it has worked pretty well for me.

  5. Billy Boy says:


    Had this puzzle run first, the “Cross your T’s” puzzle would have likely been a lot easier to suss out, or at least quicker to pick up on. Interesting juxtaposition – successive Thursdays.

    This one was a snap coming after the other, but the concept of this puzzle was much more straightforward and very easy, even without having already solved that other puzzle.

    I guess one had to go first …

    Any other thoughts?

    Android Tablet app, I just changed “i” to DOT. Animation began after closing the “Solved in 2:45” 😇 screen

  6. marciem says:

    UC: Jim Q…. 42d: Star Trek takes place in the unspecified future so I’ sure that’s what the clue means when it says “…Kirk will be born…” .

    No special Trekkie knowledge required to.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      For the record, Captain Kirk will be born 3/22/2233 and the original series is set in the mid- to late-2260s.

  7. Camille says:

    Hello Jim Q- I agree with “marciem.” No special Trekkie knowledge is required because Captain Kirk will be born in the future. As I became curious as to the exact year, I decided to spend a little time researching Captain Kirk’s exact birthplace and birthdate, a fact I’m sure all Trekkie’s know. There is a marker in Riverside, Iowa that states that the town is Captain Kirk’s future birthplace (March 22, 2228). Other Trekkie sites mention March 22, 2233. Pick whichever year suits you, but the day stays the same because it is William Shatner’s actual birthday. By the way, Gene Roddenberry’s book, Making of Star Trek (1968), merely stated that Kirk will be born in a small town in Iowa. In 1985, the Riverside Town Council voted to make their town the future home of Captain Kirk. It became part of the Star Trek canon in 2009 when the town was mentioned in a Star Trek movie. Whew, that was more information than I expected when I started my brief search. Well, as Spock stated, “Insufficient facts always invite danger.” I guess that I have avoided danger.

    • Mr. [not] Grumpy says:

      Camille, ROFL. In the running for post of the year, IMO.

    • Jim Quinlan says:

      Wait… so it’s common knowledge that Captain Kirk will be born in IOWA? I love that I know this now, but to a non-Trekkie that does sound a bit trivial. Do casual watchers of Star Trek know this as well? Or is this a “deep-dive” sort of factoid?

      • Jim Peredo says:

        If by “casual watchers” you mean people who have only seen the films (old or new), they may have picked up on it.

        From Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, there’s this quote: “No, I’m from Iowa, I only work in outer space.”

        And the opening to the reboot film is set in Iowa when Kirk is a youngster taking a joyride in his dad’s corvette.

      • marciem says:

        No, it isn’t common knowledge (i.e. I am no Trekkie, not even a casual watcher, most of what I know I learned from x-words and some names and that it is futuristic sci fi) but there are only so many states of four letters… Utah and Ohio didn’t work with the crosses, and the crosses filled in Iowa pretty easily. I thought you were confused by the wording of “will be born”. My mistake.

        Love Camille’s post!! :)

        • Jim Q says:

          I was confused about everything! I don’t even really know the premise, so I had no clue there were terrestrial references in Star Trek. I thought everything was in space.

  8. marciem says:

    NYT: The first themer I got was “(you) do the math” but I messed it up. Knowing that dotting I’s was somewhere in there, I had DOTIHEMATH (the word dot above the stray I) so I figured that was it… and put in the word dot above all the theme answer “i”s I could find. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt! LOL. Took me a bit to straighten that out.

    just the letter ‘i’ in the rebus boxes got the happy pencil in AL, but also tried ‘idot’ and it worked.

    • John Daviso says:

      I don’t pay no nevermind to AL rebus fills. I know it I’m right or not, no matter what AL will accept.

  9. Karen says:

    BEQ: probably too late for anyone to see this and reply, but I don’t get the theme. I see the anagram used, then have extra letters in the fill which matches the clue in parens. Darby, please explain. Anyone?

    • marciem says:

      Darby explained it pretty well. The only letters in the answer are the ones capitalized in the clue. That is your letter “bank” . No extra letters, some are used more than once is all.

  10. Brenda Rose says:

    Right on John Daviso! Plus I could give a fig about maintaining a winning streak. Puzzles are ephemera.
    Don’t ask me what episode but I remember watching on TV Star Trek in the ’60s & Iowa was mentioned…stuff like that glues to the trivia portion of my brain…like for 50 years???
    WSJ was excellent & don’t understand Jim’s nit that a house isn’t a fly. Wasn’t that the point of the theme? Butter isn’t a fly either. Shrug.

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