Thursday, February 24, 2022

BEQ untimed (Darby) 


LAT 5:11 (GRAB) 


NYT 7:23 (Ben) 


Universal 3:36 (Jim Q) 


USA Today  3:51 (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


Dave Taber & Laura Moll’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Let Your Hare Down”—Jim P’s review

The revealer to this puzzle is at 62a: BUNNY SLOPES [Beginners’ spots when visiting 16-Across, and an apt name for this puzzle]. Words that can precede “bunny” are found in the circled letters sloping down from the NW to the SE. Those words are EASTER, DUST, DUMB, and BUGS. Edited to add: There is a fifth bunny word that was mistakenly uncircled in this version of the puzzle. ENERGIZER starts in square 19 and slopes down to the right.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Let Your Hare Down” · Dave Taber & Laura Moll · Thu., 2.24.22

I don’t know that JACKSON HOLE [Wyoming resort] at 16a is a necessary part of the theme, but I suspect it was put there by design since it’s the grid counterpart to the revealer.

Cute theme. I caught on pretty quickly thanks to the title, but the revealer does a better job of nailing it down.

The tough part about a theme like this is all the triple-checked squares. There were a number of locations that I found clunky: the SOTO/TOE-IN crossing, OGEE, TD PASS, UNU, NIM, and GROANS AT. CO-HEIRS isn’t great, but it gets a great clue: [They share the wealth].

The goodies I did like are: MESS KITS, PODCASTS, MEAT PIE, PULL TAB, BURPEE, TALMUD, and PREGGO crossing PRE-TERM.

Other clues of note:

  • 36a. [Ready for a shower, informally]. PREGGO. I momentarily considered NEKKID.
  • 39a. [Fife player on TV]. KNOTTS. Don KNOTTS played Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show. Tough clue if you didn’t know that.

Cute theme with some strong fill, but I definitely noticed the kludgy bits. 3.5 stars.

Jake Halperin’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

NYT #0224 – 2/24/2021

It’s all about phonetics in today’s NYT from Jake Halperin:

  • 17A: Wight, e.g.? — LONG I ISLAND
  • 28A: Crunch bar and Cadbury Creme Egg, e.g.? — HARD C CANDIES
  • 44A: 1995’s “Johnny Mnemonic,” e.g.? — SILENT M MOVIE
  • 59A: Sloth, e.g.? — CAPITAL S SIN

LONG ISLAND, HARD CANDIES, SILENT MOVIE, and CAPITAL SIN are all phrases on their own, but Wight is an ISLAND with a LONG I, Crunch and Cadbury Creme Egg are both CANDIES with HARD Cs, Mnemonic has a SILENT M, and Sloth (as capitalized in the clue) has a CAPITAL S.

Man, I had not remembered that Johnny Mnemonic takes place in 2021, y’all.

Elsewhere in the fill: I know that BAR-B-QS is a way of spelling that particular kind of get together, but it just looks weird in the grid as BARBQS.

Happy Thursday!

Emily Sharp & Kunal Nabar’s USA Today Crossword, “USB Connection” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: Each theme answer is a two word phrase where the letters USB span both words

USA Today, 02 24 2022, “USB Connections”

  • 20a [Agency whose data determines a state’s representative count] – CENSUS BUREAU
  • 37a [Civil rights campaigns in Montgomery (1955-56) and Tallahassee (1956)] – BUS BOYCOTTS
  • 54a [Piece of legislation intended to spur the economy] – STIMULUS BILL

A classic USA Today theme type today, executed very well. As a former IT worker, struggling through USB connections is relatable to me! It took me a long time to get into this puzzle – I usually run through the first half of the across clues before switching over to the downs, and I think today I had about 4 answers in the top half of the puzzle before switching over. Luckily the down answers were kinder to me and I ended up with an average solving time. All the themers are solid answers that I liked seeing, although I can never spell BUREAU correctly on the first try.

Gorgeous extra answers in MISSISSIPPI and BOUNCED BACK – actually, the whole northwest and southeast sections of the puzzle are lovely. I also liked how open the middle of the grid feels. Of course, this tradeoff means there are a lot of three letter answers in the northeast and southwest corners, but the constructors chose interesting words and clues which helped it not feel like a slog.

My best wrong answer today – For 29d [“Thx” counterpart], instead of PLS I had “plz”, which meant that 36a [Org. issuing nine-digit IDS] was “SZA” instead of SSA. Now that would be an unexpected career move for her!

Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 152” – Jenni’s write-up

Do not adjust your set. This puzzle showed up last week because Peter is on vacation this week. I fouled myself up with 1a so it felt a little slow to me. There’s lots of fun fill in this one!

1a is [Large vessels] and I dropped in URNS. I may have been drinking coffee at the time, so that’s my excuse. Turns out the answer is ARKS.

I absolutely love the word SCHNOODLE. It’s a schnauzer/poodle mix. So adorable!


I also loved the 12-letter Across answers: NUTTER BUTTER and HUGGER MUGGER. As he often does, Peter gives us a couple of related-sounding entries in symmetrical spots.

A few other things:

Fireball, February 18, 2022, Peter Gordon, “Themeless 152,” solution grid

  • SNEETCHES! That is all.
  • [Oxygen source] is CABLE TV. The channel, not the element. It’s the old hide-the-uppercase-letter-at-the-beginning-of-the-clue trick.
  • We have another crossbreed referenced at 12d. The manticore is part LION, part human, and all terrifying.

Not a schnoodle

  • I don’t understand the clue [Big crunch topic] for UNIVERSE. Please enlighten me.
  • The ZAPATEO is a Cuban folk dance, not to be confused with the zapatero, which is a cocktail.

Also not a schnoodle


What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Puerto Rico does not observe DST and that divining rods are made of HAZELWOOD.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1447, “What the H? No”–Darby’s write-up

Theme: Where there would usually be an H in each common phrase, the letter was replaced with NO.

Theme Answers

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1447, “What the H? No” solution 2/24/2022

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1447, “What the H? No” solution 2/24/2022

  • 19a [“Edit so that the viewer falls asleep?”] SNIP TO SNORE / SHIP TO STORE
  • 36a [“Severus’s wide-bottomed glass”] SNAPE SNIFTER / SHAPE SHIFTER
  • 49a [“Goes [humph! Humph!]?”] SNORT SNORTS / SHORT SHORTS

This was a fun theme to figure out, and I thought that the phrases BEQ riffed on were great themers. I got SNAPE SNIFTER first, then SNIP TO SNORE. SNORT SNORTS came together mostly via the crosses at first, but knowing where to replace the H was key. The repeated SNOR in SNORT SNORTS and SNIP TO SNORE was buffered also by SNAPE SNIFTER, both in the set and literally since SNAPE SNIFTER appears in the middle of the grid, which I think was crucial for these themers.

It usually takes me a while to solve BEQ puzzles, and today was no different. I bounced all over the place in my solve. Some of my favorite clues included 48d [“The old man”] POPS, 17a [“Peter Pan rival”] JIF, and, of course, 44d [“Collect $200, say”] PASS GO.

That’s all from me for today!

Jessie Fielding, Pete Muller & Andrew White’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Today’s puzzle is by messrs. Fielding, Muller & White. It features a revealer, USEAN/ALIAS, that starts and ends the puzzle. What the gimmick this reveals is, is more mundane: five entries include the trigram AKA. If it was all names, like the first, ELIAKAZAN, it may have had more oomph, but there must not have been sufficient examples to mine from. SNEAKATTACK, BREAKALEG and STEAKAUPOIVRE are at least interesting answers, though lat220223, especially as plural, strikes rather as an “it fits” moment.

Quite a lot of longer abbrs. today: CMAJ, AUST, RECT all going across. It’s likely a side effect of longer downs plus a crowded theme.

Worth noting: […Korean act…] BTS have had tons of success, and have very handy letters. They are likely to become entrenched in crosswords anon.


Mike Torch’s Universal Crossword, “Lead Single”— Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: “Lady” can precede the starts of each of the theme entries.

Universal crossword solution · Lead Single · Mike Torch · Thurs., 02.02.22


  • (revealer) THREE TIMES A LADY. 

I was really enjoying this one and trucking right along. Spotted the theme and thought “Aha! LEADING LADIES will be the revealer!” But that would dupe the first word in the title… so I was mystified. I was kind of let down by the actual revealer. I don’t really get how THREE TIMES A LADY is all that solid. I get that there are three “LAD(ies),” but how does that connote that each is at the start of the phrase? And there’s only one LADY in each, not three. So I’m confused.

How is the revealer not LEADING LADY?!?! That’s so much better! Or at least make that the title and find another phrase to replace the “revealer.” Seems easy enough. Tons of options! LADY DAY, LADY FINGER, and… well that’s all I can think of now where it would be easy to find phrases for.

I don’t get the title either actually. Are all the LAD(ies) single? Like that Beyonce song?

Anyway, all in all I really enjoyed the solve process.

Anyone have a way to help me remember the difference between AXLE and AXEL? I can never get that straight.

3.3 stars.


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25 Responses to Thursday, February 24, 2022

  1. JeffP says:

    I enjoyed NYT, but I would not call an ion a particle. Unless it was a hydrogen ion…

    • Bernie Haas says:

      The term particle isn’t exclusively reserved for subatomic particles.

      • JohnH says:

        Right. RHUD is quite specific in giving as examples of one meaning of the word an atom or nucleus, and believe me in physics one speaks that way. It’s true that another meaning makes it short for elementary particle, but there’s room in the language for that, too.

  2. Me says:

    NYT: CREAM’s Wheels of Fire is listed in several places in the internet as the first platinum-selling double album, although I don’t see any with a source besides another unofficial internet site. But according to the website of the RIAA (the group that does American gold/platinum certification), Wheels of Fire was only certified Gold.

    It also came out in 1968, and RIAA didn’t start platinum awards until 1976. So the timeline is strange here.

    Wheels of Fire is listed on its Wikipedia page as certified platinum in the the UK (by BPI). But it’s not listed as platinum on the BPI site, either…

    I think the actual first platinum-certified double album is “Frampton Comes Alive!,” which was certified in April 1976. The RIAA search function is clunky, and I’m not completely sure of that. But I’m pretty sure it’s not an album by CREAM.

    • Mutman says:

      FRAMPTON would not fit in 5 letters.

    • JohnH says:

      Could it depend on whether by platinum one means in receipt of the RIAA award or simply selling a million? The notes cited in Wiki, including the Brittanica, aren’t slouches, and they could just have done their homework and found the latter. Still, point taken, and it’s interesting once you raise it. (FWIW, searchable or not, the RIAA Web site does have a reasonably entertaining timeline)

      I’m finding the NYT really hard, especially the NW and N central.

      • Me says:

        JohnH, I see what you’re saying about maybe it sold a million and just didn’t get certified. It’s true that you don’t automatically get certified; the record company has to submit the data (and pay for it). But the record company got their preceding album, Disraeli Gears, certified platinum after the fact, so I think that if Wheels of Fire qualified, it would have been certified. But the record company may have had reasons to certify one but not the other.

        And yes, the RIAA website is pretty fascinating!

  3. PJ says:

    WSJ, Jim P. – “In the south there’s a difference between ‘Naked’ and ‘Nekkid.’ ‘Naked’ means you don’t have any clothes on. ‘Nekkid’ means you don’t have any clothes on and you’re up to somethin’.”
    — Lewis Grizzard

  4. David L says:

    The last themer in the NYT really doesn’t work, IMO. I’ve never heard of CAPITALSIN, only cardinal sin (although Google produces some hits for the former). But more important, capital s has nothing to do with pronunciation, and sloth can perfectly well be written lower case.

    The NW corner was tough. BARBQS and BEGATHON were not words I’ve seen before, and I can’t say I care for either of them.

    • PJ says:

      Gotta agree on BARBQS. And I’ve been to a lot of them. BBQs – yes.

      • Gary R says:

        Seems like I’ve seen “Bar-BQ” or “Bar-B-Q” a few times as part of the name of a restaurant, and it has always struck me as “off.” I thought this was a particularly unfortunate entry to start the puzzle with.

    • Alex says:

      Felt the same way. I’ve only heard of “cardinal”, “mortal”, and “venial” sins.

  5. pannonica says:

    Fireball: “… the clue [Big crunch topic] for UNIVERSE …”

    Think of it as an ending scenario analogous to the Big Bang.

  6. David Steere says:

    USA Today: Sophia is so right about the loveliness of Emily Sharp & Kunal Nabar’s treatment of a classic USA Today type theme. 37 Across and 26 Down were great to discover. It is remarkable to compare their smooth approach to the “kludge” (to steal Jim P’s term) which fills the WSJ and LAT puzzles today. The latter, particularly, was disappointing with a hidden letter theme much more banal than that of the USA Today’s puzzle. “Yeesh!” The abbreviations and partials and awkward cluing made me want to “croak.” ;-) Perhaps too many cooks spoiled the grid?

  7. David Roll says:

    WSJ–“ready for a shower”–“”preggo was news to me. Also, “like molasses” and “oozy” seem to be a stretch.

  8. Michael B Cornfield says:

    Also part of BEQ today: SNAKE SNACK for SHAKE SHACK. 7 & 61 a.

  9. Charles Montpetit says:

    Regarding BEQ: The two Hs in each themer were replaced by Ns, not NOs. That makes the title a bit unclear, no?

    • marciem says:

      that was my thought. The title didn’t really work, since there were already “o’s” in some of the themers, and some had no ‘o’s at all. (snape shifter for one). I guess he was just saying “No” to the “H”…??

      But it was a fun puzzle anyways, with the added bonus that Michael B. Cornfield caught :) .

  10. Joanne Sullivan says:

    One set of circles had been omitted inadvertently from today’s WSJ “Let Your Hare Down” crossword. Jim P wrote his review before the WSJ’s website had been updated to highlight all five theme entries in addition to the revealer.

    • Lester says:

      Wow. That makes the puzzle even more impressive. I gave the puzzle the highest score of anyone rating it today, but now I think it’s even better. I enjoyed it a lot and had some moments when I thought I might not be able to finish it (which in this case I appreciated, rather than resenting). I’m no constructor, but I recognize that it is especially hard to construct a puzzle with triple-checking.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      That is the most impressive entry of the lot and definitely would’ve changed my review of the puzzle. I feel sorry for the constructors that this oversight occurred on their debut puzzle.

  11. Crotchety Doug says:

    Uni – Lionel Ritchie’s “Three Times a Lady” is a nice tune.

  12. pannonica says:

    Jim Q: “Anyone have a way to help me remember the difference between AXLE and AXEL? I can never get that straight.”

    How about: looking at the ‘center’, in axle the x is near the l—which looks like a shaft, whereas in axel the x is near an e, and ‘leap’ has a long e sound?

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