Thursday, April 28, 2022

BEQ untimed (Darby) 


LAT 4:25 (GRAB) 


NYT 5:28 (Ben) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


USA Today 2:52 (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


The New Yorker 6:21 (malaika) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


Dave Taber & Laura Moll’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Missing Link”—Jim P’s review

IT’S DISCONNECTED is the revealer today (39a, [“Check the plug!” (and a hint to solving four rows in this puzzle)]). Said rows have one black square separating two entries. The solver must imagine the letters DIS residing in that square in order to satisfy the left-most entry’s clue. The right-most entry is clued normally.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Missing Link” · Dave Taber & Laura Moll · Thu., 4.28.22

  • 17a. [Accident waiting to happen…] RECIPE FOR / (DIS) / ASTER
  • 23a. [School closing…] CLASS / (DIS) / MISSED.
  • 51a. [Store amenity for a baby boomer, maybe…] SENIOR / (DIS) / COUNT.
  • 63a. [Peaceful protests, sometimes…] CIVIL / (DIS) / OBEDIENCE.

Nicely done. I enjoyed sussing this out. I especially liked how the letters after each DIS comprise their own standalone words and are able to be clued without a hint to their participation in the theme. It adds just a bit to the challenge and makes for a more elegant solve.

I’m only lukewarm toward the revealer, though. It’s not really such a common in-the-language phrase, but I get the wordplay in that the two entries in each row are DIS-connected.

I guess the sign maker didn’t think too much of the survey.

Moving on, I had a tough time in that NE corner where I really wanted A-PLUS for the clue [Above average, technically]. It’s that “technically” that eventually made me realize the first letter wasn’t going to be A. The 9d crossing [Head cases] seemed like it wanted something ending in -MANIA. Adding to the difficulty was 10d, clued [Payment place, briefly]. I initially tried ATM (which, I know, is not a device for making payments), but it ended up being POS which we don’t see clued as an initialism very often. In this case it stands for Point of Sale…and not the other thing.

As for fun fill we have a NO-HUDDLE offense (football), “AS IF I CARE,” MAIL ORDER, RED HOT, and KOALAS. For those of you who loathe Harry Potter, you can be satisfied that FILCH was clued as a verb, and not the caretaker of Hogwarts.

Clues of note:

  • 14a. [“Whoop-de-doo!”]. “AS IF I CARE.” Love this clue. It definitely helps to read it snarkily.
  • 43a. [Not John Wayne’s alma mater]. DUKE. It took just a heartbeat to realize what was going on here.
  • 46a. [Freight platform]. SKID. I’ve never heard this word used this way. Apparently it’s almost synonymous with “pallet,” but there are differences.
  • 6d. [Some surfing sites]. CAFÉS. Sure, people get on the internet at CAFÉS, but if the clue is referring to internet cafés in particular, do those even exist anymore?
  • 60d. [“The Martian” author Weir]. ANDY. His Project Hail Mary is even better. Highly recommended.

Nice puzzle. Four stars.

Pau Roy’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

NYT #0428 – 04/28/2022

After yesterday’s fantastic puzzle for the AV Club, Pao Roy is already back with another great grid for the NYT.  This one needs a little more that explaining when read left-to-right.

  • 1D: Part of a sun salutation, in yoga — IVWARD FACING DOG
  • 4D: Cut the small talk — GOT IV TO BUSINESS
  • 7D: Concept in Reaganomics — TRICKLEIV THEORY
  • 10D: Handles discreetly — KEEPS ON THE IVLOW

each of the IVs, when read from top to bottom, looks like a DOWN arrow, filling in for that word in the phrases DOWNWARD FACING DOG, GOT DOWN TO BUSINESS, TRICKLEDOWN THEORY, and KEEPS ON THE DOWNLOW.

The cluing throughout this puzzle had a real freshness to it that I appreciated, as did the fill – this was right on my wavelength.

Happy Thursday!

Ryan Patrick Smith’s Universal Crossword, “Puzzle Pieces”— Jim Q’s write-up

A very meta puzzle today.

THEME: Phrases where the last word is an element of a crossword puzzle.

Universal crossword solution · “Puzzle Pieces” · Ryan Patrick Smith · Thur., 04.28.22


  • (revealer) CROSSWORD SOLVER

I’m not a big fan of crossword navel gazing. Universal does this with some frequency (once cluing ART  as [Crossword construction, for one] or something like that), and it makes me cringe. This theme doubles down on that conceit and it falls flat for me. I mean, it follows all the conventions of a theme that’s just fine (last words in common phrases have something in common…), but if you’re going for something that self-referential, then the THEME better *wow* the CROSSWORD SOLVER (an entry that I don’t really consider a stand-alone in-language phrase).

But this is a theme that’s for solvers. It doesn’t necessarily invite people on the crossword train. It’s rather a wink for those who have been on board for a while and are having lunch together in the dining car. I just asked several people (adults) sitting around me if they know what FILL is with respect to crosswords. They did not. One inferred that it was just all the words in a crossword, but did not differentiate from THEME. To that point, many less-than-casual solvers may understand the concept of THEME but may not think of it as an element in the same way that they would think CLUES as one. I mean…THEME is not a necessary element, as anyone who solved the recent Saturday and Sunday 15x Universal puzzles could attest to.

Anyway, I don’t mean to sound overly negative. This is constructed fine and has fun with its clues. NERDY and BOXES caught my eye as sub-theme entries (although BOXES is not clued as such). Also liked the clue for ACTOR [One who’s a different person at work?] which is a fun way to start a puzzle.

This idea is bound to delight some, who are going to enjoy the wink and like the idea of being “in on the joke.” I can’t help but roll my eyes when a meta theme like this is presented to the masses.

2.5 stars from me.

Malaika Handa’s USA Today Crossword, “Tart Shells” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer begins with TA and ends with RT

USA Today, 04 28 2022, “Tart Shells”

  • 17a [Skin designs] – TATTOO ART
  • 35a [Romance novelist known for “Get a Life, Chloe Brown”] – TALIA HIBBERT
  • 59a [Covering that hides legs but isn’t a garment] – TABLE SKIRT

Cute theme! The TABLE SKIRT clue is surprisingly tricksy for USA Today and I’m here for it. I’ve never heard of TALIA HIBBERT before but all the crosses on her name are fair, and now I want to read her books. I signed up to do a “read 10 books by the end of Q2” challenge at work, so I’m in need of recommendations.

Speaking of work, I have to get there soon, so here’s a few more things about today’s puzzle:

  • I loved the clues on 10d [Angie Jones or Hedy Lamarr] for ENGINEER and 2d [These: <3 <3 <3] for HEARTS.
  • I’ve never heard of TEMA so it took me a bit to get a foothold in the NW corner.
  • Love MALAIKA putting her own name in the puzzle, I haven’t managed to do that myself yet but I totally want to :)

Caitlin Reid’s New Yorker puzzle– malaika’s write-up

Caitlin Reid’s New Yorker puzzle

Good morning, besties! I was nervous about this puzzle because when the grid is split up into sections like this one is, sometimes I can get stuck. But this was a breeze! (Except I didn’t finish actually… had the OU of COUP and couldn’t fill in the last two boxes. The Book of Arts? The Book of Ants? etc.)



  • [Pan handler?] for CHEF is sooooo good. Chef’s kiss, if you will.
  • Puzzles always clue ABORT in reference to aborting a mission. I would be fine with it referencing women’s healthcare. What do you think?
  • When I went to see “The 355,” the usher asked me what movie I was there to see and I had to say “I don’t know the name actually, but it has all the spy girlies.”
  • I have never heard of GOAT RODEO! What demographic is using this slang?
  • I was proud of myself for getting the Shakespeare (WHENCE, LEAR) and opera (TOSCA) entries. Look, I’m learning!!

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

I was frustrated with this puzzle. Some theme answers have rebuses and some do not, which teeters somewhere between misleading and unfair. and until I wrote this review I thought that was random. There is a pattern that I eventually figured out. In addition, all the theme answers are movie titles and one of the rebus crossings was unfair for those of us who are neither movie buffs nor jazz aficionados.

Fireball, April 27, 2022, Peter Gordon, “Cinemath,” solution grid

  • 28a was the first theme answer I encountered. [1996 film starring Glenn Close] in a puzzle called “Cinemath” must be 101 DALMATIANS and there weren’t enough spaces, so I thought maybe the numbers appeared as letter – i, o, i. Nope. Since 1a is [Chihuahua-to-Tijuana dir.] which is some random combo of E, N, W, and S, that was no help, and 2d [Positive or negative] completely stymied me, so I moved on.
  • The next one I saw was 45a [2001 heist film directed by Steven Soderbergh]. I had enough crossings to get OCEANS ELEVEN. No rebus. No numerals. I looked back at the NW corner. Nothing dawned. I was confused.
  • 11d [1952 spy film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz] is 5 FINGERS and that time I was sure FIVE was a rebus because it crosses 11a [Reporter’s questions, familiarly] or the {FIVE} WS. So I shrugged and went on.
  • 14d [2010 film based on the book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”] is 127 HOURS with ONETWO, and SEVEN in rebus squares.
  • 89d [2005 action film starring Wesley Snipes] has the unfair crossing. The rebus is part of 87a [Basic jazz chord]. I didn’t know either of them. Turns out the lucky number is 7, so the chord is a MAJOR 7TH and the film is 7 SECONDS.
  • 95a [1999 rom-com with Matthew Perry, Neve Campbell, and Dylan McDermott] is THREE TO TANGO. No rebus.
  • 110a [2003 sequel directed by John Singleton] is 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS. Rebuses again.

So then I went back and looked at the NW knowing the rebus squares would be ONEZERO, and ONE. [Positive or negative] is NONZERO. 1d [Little kid] is WEE {ONE} and 3d [Messy kiss] is WET {ONE}, which is also a dupe, by the way. And it finally dawned on me as I was typing out the titles that the rebus squares appear in titles that include the numeral and the non-rebus answers are titles with the number written out. That’s less frustrating and definitely more fun – and I probably would have figured it out earlier if I’d seen any of these movies. The only ones I’ve even heard of are 101 DALMATIANS and 127 HOURS. That’s on me, not on Peter; it’s a really good theme. I still say the rebus crossing at 89d is unfair, though.

Oh, and there’s a revealer: 70a [With 72-Across, streaming service on which it would be apt to watch the films in this puzzle] is PRIME VIDEO.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: pretty much anything about most of the theme answers. In addition, I didn’t know there was a RAPper named Q-Tip or a physicist/author named ALAN Guth.

C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

It’s lovely to have another C.C. Burnikel puzzle so soon. Today GETARAISE, [Start to make more money, and what the circled letters do?] is the revealing answer, and, in the four longest vertical answers, there are circled letters that spell out, backwards, words that can be “raised”. These are FLAG, BET, STINK and KID. Shout out to our Dave who has raised some beautiful kids!

The entries themselves are:

  • [Revenue for attorneys], LE(GALF)EES
  • [Garment associated with the Aran Islands], CABLE(KNITS)WEATER. Which causes the puzzle to be one long. I know what an Aran Sweater looks like, but not what makes one “cable-knit”.
  • [Warrior with a lightsaber], JE(DIK)NIGHT.
  • [Option clicked during a Zoom call], MU(TEB)UTTON. Clicked, or tapped?

There were a couple of less encountered proper names to note for the future:

  • [“Riverdale” actor KJ __], APA. It seems he has red hair and plays… surprise, Archie.
  • [Kim __-hyung: full name of the BTS singer known as V], TAE.


Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1465, “Pole Position”—Darby’s review

Sorry for the late post, y’all. It’s been a busy day.

Theme: As pannonica noted in the comments, “POST (=”pole”) has been inserted into the originals.”

Theme Answers

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Crossword #1465, "Pole Position” solution for 4/22/2022

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1465, “Pole Position” solution for 4/22/2022

  • 17a [“Out-of-control environmentalist”] POSTAL GREEN / AL GREEN
  • 24a [“Followers of Jesus who need more sun”] PALE APOSTLES / PALE ALES
  • 37a [“Making fertilizer without any junk”] COMPOSTING CLEAN / COMING CLEAN
  • 48a [“Zingers from ‘Believe’ singer”] CHER RIPOSTES / CHERRIES
  • 58a [“‘Can’t you see I’m covered with stickies’”] POST-ITS ON ME / IT’S ON ME

I appreciated the Cleveland baseball reference in 34a [“Stat for a Guardian”] RBI, as well as the other baseball reference in 22a [“Prepare to advance on a sac fly”] TAG UP. The use of TIME PERIOD to switch up the crossword standard of 29d [“Era”] was pretty fun as well. Also – CUTENSIL is an adorable way of describing a 39d [“Kitchen implement with a novelty design, e.g.”].

I think that 24d [“Outrageously dressed Blacksploitation character, maybe”] PIMP was an attempt to call attention to Blaxsploitation films, but I would have liked to see “Blackspoloitation” spelled with its X and maybe to avoid PIMP as part of the fill.

Overall, I liked the pattern of the grid structure and am looking forward to understanding the theme more. Stay tuned.

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29 Responses to Thursday, April 28, 2022

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Yeah, definitely fresh.
    I figured early on that IV stood for down, but it took a bit for the penny to drop and for me to see the down arrow. Because I got the TRICKLE IV first, my original thought was it had to do with dripping down (as in IV drip). But obviously that didn’t work, so I just finished the puzzle, stared at it for a bit and had a Eureka moment.
    I always thought of it as Trickle Down Economics, but I guess it’s also known as THEORY . I’ve always wondered if that theory held any water…

    • Eric H says:

      I too remember it as TRICKLE-DOWN economics. Maybe they used THEORY simply because it fit in the grid.

      But Wikipedia’s article on trickle-down economics has a quote from David Stockman (Reagan’s budget director) in which he calls it the “trickle-down theory.”

      • sanfranman59 says:

        In a rare moment of honesty, Stockman must have slipped and called it a theory because it wasn’t actually sound economics. Theories like this never seem to take into account the greed that exists at the top of the economic ladder.

  2. Ethan says:

    Nice NUT but had to come here to make the IV-to-down arrow connection. Shame the iPhone app, which is usually great about post-solving flourishes like that, didn’t convert the IVs to downward pointing arrows when complete.

  3. tom says:

    As you move across the grid from left to right, the position of the downward arrows keeps sequentially moving downward.

  4. Jim S. says:

    Naticked by CHAPS / OZMA. No clue on the Oz princess, and CHIPS seemed viable given all the ranch style flavoring / dressings out there.

    • Mutman says:

      My Natick came at SEPT/SAPOR. I guess I could’ve guessed the SEPT, but SAPOR is new to me.

    • JohnH says:

      Mine came in the SW, where to make things worse I guessed DAY rather than DOG. But wow, a tough one, especially for a Thursday. I never did figure out how to translate IV into DOWN.

  5. pannonica says:

    NYT: For the first theme answer I initially had UPWARD … as that fit, then changed it to IVWARD, reasoning that it was a homophone for the Roman numeral four to make {FORWARD FACING DOG}. Took some mental doing to see the proper direction of the theme.

    • marciem says:

      Since I immediately got “image” at 1a, I immediately plopped in “inward” (facing dog) (do I know yoga? NO I DO NOT :D :D )and held on to it for a long spell until I got other theme answers and the theme itself became clear. Loved the aha moment(s).

      Fun fun Thursday puzzle!

  6. John O says:

    LA Times 21-across describes a tomato as a vegetable, which officially should end the ‘is-it-a-fruit-or-a-vegetable’ nonsense! It’s a fun puzzle overall.

    On another note, I greatly appreciate this site for days like today. I figured out that, in the NYT puzzle, IV replaced down – but I could not figure out why until I visited this site. We don’t pay you all enough. Thanks for all your work.

  7. David L says:

    NYT was a nice puzzle but like several others I couldn’t see the connection between the I over V pairs and DOWN. Oh well.

  8. Gary C says:

    John Wayne was a horrible, horrible man. Couldn’t hold a candle to Brando.

  9. Jim S says:

    atomic number of nitrogen is seven.

  10. BarbaraK says:

    Re Fireball, I wish that when I solve the .puz format, the proper rebus entries were recognized as correct.

    I have no idea if that’s a matter of the rules for .puz, the apps I use (Puzzazz on an iPhone and AcrossLite on an iMac) or the way Peter creates them. So I’ll just send this wish out into the universe.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      I have the same issue with BlackInk with the Fireballs. NYT rebus puzzles come up as correct. Mostly.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I think it’s what Peter provides as the correct solution. IIRC, he goes with the first letter of the word, but I think we can agree that rendering 127 as OTS is unsatisfying.

      I did have one wrong square, where MAJOR 7TH crosses 7 SECONDS. Didn’t know either one!

  11. PJ says:

    FB – The numbers in the titles are all prime numbers which relates nicely to the revealer.

    NYT – Lots of nice touches. Since I had IMAGE at 1a and I know very little about yoga I started with inward facing dog.

  12. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I just solved Caitlin Reid’s intended-to-be-easy New Yorker themeless in 2:40, and I haven’t been anywhere near that fast on a Tuesday NYT in eons. If you resist themelesses because you think they’re too hard for you, give this one a try! Caitlin’s grid is super-smooth, so you likely won’t encounter tough crossings that stymie you.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      A very smooth solve for me as well. As usual, I was quite a bit slower than Amy, but my solve time was about on par with an average NYT Monday … a little faster even.

  13. Mark Abe says:

    NYT: I am proud that I got the I-over-V equals “down” and liked that it drifted down as you go left-to-right in the grid.
    LAT: Another good puzzle with a clever theme from Zhouqin Burnikel. It looks like Patti Varol is doing a good job as their new editor. I live in L.A. and have been doing LAT on-and-off since way before you could do it on a computer.

  14. marciem says:

    BEQ: I’m not sure I see the correlation of the puzzle title to the theme… anybody?

    • pannonica says:

      POST (=”pole”) has been inserted into the originals. AL GREEN, PALE ALES, COMING CLEAN, CHERRIES, IT’S ON ME.

      • marciem says:

        aha… thanks! I didn’t equate pole with post :I … I knew that extraneous ‘post’ was the theme but couldn’t connect it.

  15. Leah says:

    NYT: Overall, I loved the puzzle. Fun fill, well-executed theme. I do have one small quibble, with ERs as the answer at 5D. The main characters in Grey’s Anatomy are surgeons, and while some of them work in the ER (and others work there sometimes), they *all* work in ORs. And since I couldn’t quite parse thumbnail / image, but ORs seemed like it had to be correct, I tripped up right in the beginning. Maybe the clue would have worked if it said *some* settings? Or if I hadn’t been so dense about thumbnails. :-)

    From Wikipedia: “The series focuses on the lives of surgical interns, residents, and attendings…”

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