Thursday, May 19, 2022

BEQ untimed (Darby) 


LAT 6:16 (GRAB) 


NYT 8:50 (Ben) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


USA Today 4:23 (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


The New Yorker tk (malaika) 


Note: Fireball is a contest this week. We’ll have review once the submission period closes.

Hanh Huynh’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Little Advice”—Jim P’s review

The revealer is SUGGESTION BOXES (38a, [Slotted containers, and a clue to four of this puzzle’s squares]). Said squares are rebussed with synonyms of “suggestion” contained within.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “A Little Advice” · Hanh Huynh · Thu., 5.19.22

  • 17a [Proverbial preventative] STITCH IN TIME crossing 15d [Izumo Oyashiro faith] SHINTO. Hint.
  • 18a [Blow-dryer part] HEATING ELEMENT crossing 4d [Representative group] CONTINGENT. Tinge.
  • 60a [Business attire worn with knee-high socks] BERMUDA SHORTS crossing 50d [Furious] MAD AS HELL. Dash. Fun entries on this one. But wait…since when are BERMUDA SHORTS “business attire”?
  • 68a [Sex ed subject] CONTRACEPTION crossing 59d [Metaphorical daily grind] RAT RACE. Trace.

This took me some time to unpack. I got nowhere in the top half of the grid, even after uncovering the revealer. I next came to 68a which I thought wanted CONCEPTION thus making 59d simply RACE (though I knew it had to be RAT RACE). Finally, BERMUDA SHORTS saved me and gave me the aha moment I needed. A fun time and an impressive execution of a rebus theme.

There are plenty of theme constraints everywhere in the grid yet we still get a couple of long entries (AREA CODES and IN PURSUIT) plus LOST DOG and pinball BUMPERS.

Didn’t know the Bluegrass musician Molly TUTTLE though the surname seems familiar to me. Google tells me there aren’t that many famous people with that name nor even fictional characters. Not sure where I know it from.

Clues of note:

  • 21a. [Opposite of full]. NEW. Took me a few seconds after getting this right to realize it was about lunar phases.
  • 15d. [Izumo Oyashiro faith]. SHINTO. This isn’t a person; it’s the name of the most important SHINTO shrines in Japan.

Impressive rebus grid. 4.25 stars.

Alex Rosen’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

NYT #0519 – 05/19/2022

Alex Rosen couldn’t make it any clearer what needs to be done with the theme clues in today’s puzzle:

  • 17A: Punishes — DISCIPLES
  • 19A: Interrupt … or what to do as you enter the answer to the previous clue — CUT IN
  • 29A: Backed financially — SPORTED
  • 31A: Prep for surgery … or what to do as you enter the answer to the previous clue — SCRUB UP
  • 48A: Workplace with no commute — HOME ICE
  • 50A: Leave … or what to do as you enter the answer to the previous clue — TAKE OFF
  • 64A: Brazenly disregarding — FLING
  • 66A: Flail at home plate … or what to do as you enter the answer to the previous clue — STRIKE OUT

The second clue of each pair of clues gives you the letters to cut, scrub, take, strike, or otherwise remove from the answer to the first clue to fit it into the grid.  DISCIPLINES becomes DISCIPLES sans “IN”, SUPPORTED turns into SPORTED without “UP”, and HOME OFFICE and FLOUTING become HOME ICE and FLING minus their “OFF” and “OUT”, respectively.

Marty Feldman’s IGOR is legendary in Young Frankenstein

Happy Thursday!

Michael B. Berg’s Universal Crossword, “Irrigation”— Jim Q’s write-up

This theme is slightly watered down.

THEME: Add the word “water” before the starred clues (not entries) in order for the entries to make sense.

Universal crossword solution · “Irrigation” · Michael B. Berg · Thursday. 05.19.22


  • [*Loo] CRUSHING BLOW. Waterloo, that is. 
  • [*Shed] TRANSITION POINT. Watershed. 
  • [*Logged] SOAKED TO THE BONE. Waterlogged.
  • (Revealer) JUST ADD WATER. 

Really enjoyed solving this one, which is high praise considering I’m in Disney World at the moment after a 26-hours-without-sleep day of getting high school seniors on a plane, into a hotel, and into parks in suddenly-oppressive heat.

I admit I didn’t figure out the theme until a solid minute or so after I finished the solve. I was trying to add “water” in some form into the entries… like cramming two H’s and an O in there or something. A nice AHA (or “Oh, duh”) moment for me when I figured that out.

Lots of fun clue/answer pairs:

  • RARER was a nice way to start with the fun fact that blue lobsters  are RARER than the red.
  • MSN reminded me that Bing is still a thing?!
  • Mah-jonng suit that’s also a plant is BAMBOO… not BONSAI
  • Nice misdirection in the clue for RUDOLPH. I was thinking mythology with Cupid in the clue.
  • RANDOS is a great entry.

New to me: TOTORO

Nit of the day:

  • [Word hidden in “washrooms”] ASH. I really like these types of clues when the entry is apt with the word in which it is hidden. Otherwise they’re really just… bizarre. ASH? Why is that clued via “washroom”? So strange!

4.5 stars from me. Thanks for this!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1471, “Replacement ID”—Darby’s review

Theme: Each theme answer includes an anagram replacing the place of “ID” in the typical phrase.

Theme Answers

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Crossword #1471, “Replacement ID” solution for 5/19/2022

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1471, “Replacement ID” solution for 5/19/2022


  • 14a [“Cash used for a bathroom feature”] BIDET MONEY / DEBIT MONEY
  • 16a [“Chiefs coach Andy in a remake of ‘Aladdin’?”] MAGIC CARPET REID / MAGIC CARPET RIDE
  • 53a [“Lateral movement between the jungle gym and the swings?” PLAYGROUND SIDLE / PLAYGROUND SLIDE
  • 57a [“Whatever author Gore meant to say”] VIDAL POINT / VALID POINT


  • 4d [“That je ne sais quoi of the cleaning staff”] MAID’S TOUCH / MIDAS TOUCH
  • 29d [“Texter’s response to ‘What’s UR lazy dog doing?’”] IDK NAPPING / KIDNAPPING

I thought that this was an interesting theme. MAGIC CARPET REID made it pretty clear from the start, and so that was useful as I finished the rest of the puzzle. I think anagrams are fun within puzzles, and so I’m always excited to see them appear, and it was nifty that BEQ kept ID together in each. I also appreciated the Across/Down combo and the fact that so many themers squeezed into this puzzle, especially in IDK NAPPING. That’s exactly what my dog is doing as I right this.

BEQ notes that this was a tight fill because of the theme answers, and you can see that in the stacks of threes on the left and right sides of the grids, but I think it was nice that the corners opened up a bit for words like ONE NOTE, WEIGHTY, ABANDON, NOT A LIE, etc. 37d [“Song sung by Maple Leafs fans”] O CANADA could also be clued in reference to the Sabres, since Buffalo always plays the Canadian national anthem in addition to the American one.

Overall, a fun puzzle with a bunch of great themers.

Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Pop Trio” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: The second word of each theme answer is a type of soda.

USA Today, 05 19 2022, “Pop Trio”

  • 19a [“Spirited Away” creature that sheds black dust] – SOOT SPRITE
  • 37a [“I sooo want to be besties with that person” feeling] – FRIEND CRUSH
  • 54a [Another name for pico de gallo] – SALSA FRESCA

Every time I solve the USA Today, I try to guess what the theme is going to be from the title alone. Today, I was pleasantly surprised that the theme was more interesting than just “the letters POP appearing three times”. Each of these theme answers turns the soda name on its head, and is a lovely answer besides. I’ve never seen “Spirited Away” (I know, I know), but the clue was very helpful in seeing SOOT SPRITE, and I found it to be an intriguing answer. I also love the term FRIEND CRUSH and use it often.

Other notes:

  • I recently had a long debate/argument with a friend about whether the 90’s fad was SLAP or SNAP bracelets. I’m glad to say that the puzzle agrees with me and that SLAP is totally the correct answer here. It did make me smile that SNAP turned up later in the puzzle (at 64a [Sound made by fingers])
  • I enjoyed that the last two across answers were TEAS and TEES – fun with homophones!
  • The hardest part of the puzzle for me was 10d[Hybrid Indian language], HINGLISH. I overthought the 22a [Juniper-flavored alcohol] (it’s just GIN), and thought that the fourth letter was going to be a D, giving HINDxxxx. But no! Oh, and I also thought raita had “cilantro” instead of CUCUMBER at first for some reason. No excuse for that one, it’s on me.

Katherine Baicker’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

In this puzzle by Adrian Johnson, the grid is one square longer to accommodate WHATABOUTISM, the [Rhetorical strategy of countering an accusation with another accusation, and an apt description of the answers to the starred clues] even-numbered central revealing answer.

Each of four other long across entries are bookended by WHAT, i.e. have WHAT about them:

  • [*Easy order for a bartender], WHISKEYNEAT
  • [*The place to be, informally], WHEREITSAT
  • [*Toast choice], WHOLEWHEAT
  • [*”Is it almost time for dinner?”], WHENDOWEEAT

Error: [Homeopathic treatment for bruises], ARNICA – should read “herbal”. The homeopathic treatment for anything is water or possibly another diluent like alcohol…


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33 Responses to Thursday, May 19, 2022

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I loved this puzzle. I liked the very literal nature of the theme, the selection of the words and their missing pieces and the partnering instructions in the adjoining entry.
    Mostly, given how much of the puzzle is used up by the theme, I was impressed with the fill. Even when I was very unsure somehow the answers revealed themselves through crosses. I find that very satisfying.

  2. Eric H says:

    NYT: Really fun puzzle. I was baffled until the crosses gave me CUTIN and SCRUBUP, but then I was able to use the theme to get HOME[OFF]ICE and FL[OUT]ING.

    Wonderful misdirection with the clue for TASTIER.

  3. BryanF says:

    NYT: Is “Scrub up” more common than “Scrub in”? That one threw me for a bit as I had “in” there and it wasn’t making sense.

    • Eric H says:

      “Scrub up” versus “scrub in” had been much discussed over at Wordplay.

      I don’t have a medical background (other than having received more than my fair share of treatment), but “scrub up” sounds more natural to me. Maybe because it’s analogous to “wash up”?

      • DH says:

        I’m no authority, nor have I seen the conversations on WordPlay but I did work in an OR for a while. I think a surgeon will individually “scrub up” before an operation – but if they want a colleague or student to participate they would ask them to “scrub in”. I’ve always held that shade of meaning, never seemed controversial to me.

      • Gary R says:

        Some pretty serious limitations in the use of Google’s ngram viewer with phrases like these. I looked through several pages of the recent instances of “scrub in,” and nearly all of them were referring to “scrub” as flora. For “scrub up,” a majority of the instances on the first couple of pages are from a medical/hygiene context. (And I don’t mean to suggest this is conclusive – just that it would take a lot more digging to figure this one out using ngram viewer.)

        • pannonica says:

          Agreed. It isn’t meant to be definitive but evidentiary.

          It’s easy enough for a search to distinguish scrub verbs and nouns, but I’m not sure how to go about it when they’re parts of prepositional phrases rather than single words.

      • Billy Boy says:

        GO SCRUB
        35 years in the OR and one can SCRUB IN (into surgery/into the case)

        SCRUB UP fits the needs of the constructor, so it must be right – even if it is technically redundant and non-specific, SCRUB IN at least creates a direction with linguistic value and it is inviting

        Then again, that ^ from the last 20 years is now what constitutes history so it must be scrub up

        I didn’t do this particular puzzle, just the New Yorker and WSJ – but I still come here to keep my knowledge current

  4. steve says:

    LAT: yeesh x yifei, really?

    • Alan D. says:

      I had to hit the reveal button to get that y.

    • Jose Madre says:

      I originally had GEESH crossed with GIFEI, then thought maybe JEESH with JIFEI, third time was a charm. But yeah, seems like either you know the celebrity’s name or you don’t on some level

    • Eric H says:

      I’d read your comment before doing the puzzle, and still struggled with that Y. Yeesh indeed.

      As to Mr. [Very] Grumpy’s question, I’m damned if I understand the theme. I get that each theme answer begins with WH and ends with AT, putting a WHAT “about” some letters that don’t really seem to equal an ism.

      • Mr. [Very] Grumpy says:

        Yeah. I guess you can describe the structure of something like WHOLE WHEAT as a “what about” -ism but that’s stretching things pretty darn far.

  5. Alan D. says:

    The way BEQ fits his themers into today’s puzzle is nuts!

  6. Eric H says:

    Universal: Isn’t the puzzle title “Irrigation”?

    I agree that the ASH clue would be better if there were some logical relation between ASH and “washrooms.” Perhaps they just wanted something different. Or they just wanted to echo the clue for 38D, OAK.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      That was the title of a Uni puzzle from earlier this week. I’m sure that Jim copies the format of his posts from the previous one and just neglected to change the puzzle title in the header.

      One RANDO, lazy clue like the ones for ASH and OAK is more than enough for me, let alone two. Yeesh.

    • Jim Q says:

      Thanks! I’ll try to fix that copy/paste error!

      • Eric H says:


        I wasn’t trying to be critical. It confused me a little, so I thought it might confuse others, too.

        I do appreciate all the time and work y’all put into this site.

  7. JohnH says:

    I thought that HOME ICE in the NYT wasn’t on a par with the other theme fill, but still a really fun puzzle.

    Oh, I promised I’d never say I like seeing a proper name just because I like the person, but I’ll make an exception, surprised to see Mark ROTHKO in a puzzle. I took an overnight trip to Houston after an academic convention in San Antonio largely on account of the Rothko Chapel, although the Menil Collection up the street, the Houston museum, and Texas BBQ factor in there, too.

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Really enjoyed Caitlin Reid’s breezy New Yorker themeless! Took me a Monday NYT’s amount of time.

  9. Barry says:

    Where have you heard Tuttle? Holmes Tuttle Ford and Lincoln Mercury car dealerships.

    • pannonica says:

      “… TUTTLE though the surname seems familiar to me. Google tells me there aren’t that many famous people with that name nor even fictional characters. Not sure where I know it from.”

      Merlin Tuttle, bat expert and founder of Bat Conservation International?

      • PJ says:

        Captain Tuttle was a fictional officer invented by Hawkeye (crossword regular ALAN ALDA) and Trapper John in an early season of M*A*S*H.

    • Dave S says:

      Molly Tuttle is a wonderful singer/songwriter and virtuoso guitarist.

  10. David L says:

    I don’t understand 14A in the BEQ. In all the other themers, unless I’m mistaken, the ID has moved from one place to another to create a wacky phrase. But turning BIDET into DEBIT separates the I from the D. And DEBIT MONEY doesn’t sound like a familiar phrase to me. OTOH, I can’t see any other phrase …. oh wait … is the base phrase supposed to be I’D BET MONEY? That’s consistent with the other themers but, again, it doesn’t strike me as a particularly idiomatic expression.

    • Clay says:

      I also agree with David L and DH that it’s “I’d bet money” rather than “debit money.” In every other theme answer the ID is just moved to a different location, and in all cases just one letter away from its original position.

  11. DH says:

    Re: BEQ – If the “ID” is kept whole in each anagram, then “BIDET/DEBIT” doesn’t fit. I thought it was “I’d bet money”

    • marciem says:

      “I’d bet money” that that was the original phrase BEQ worked with :D. Debit money is not a phrase in MY vocabulary. It also keeps the ID consistency, although making an extra word.

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