Thursday, July 21, 2022

BEQ untimed(Darby) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


LAT 3:56 (Gareth) 


NYT tk (Ben) 


The New Yorker tk (malaika) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


USA Today 3:33 (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Paul Steinberg and Karen Steinberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Movin’ On Up”—Jim P’s review

I finished the solve without an inkling as to the theme. I had to go back and looked at the starred clues’ answers then combine those with the title to make sense of it all.

The starred clues’ answers are entries that, when you add the letters ON, become the entries that appear precisely above them. Ergo…

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Movin’ On Up” · Paul Steinberg & Karen Steinberg · Thu., 7.21.22

  • 45d [*Bidding] BEHEST becomes 3d “BE HONEST.”
  • 46d [*”In actuality…”] “FACT IS…” becomes 6d FACTIONS.
  • 48d [*Self-assured] POISED becomes 8d POISONED.
  • 50d [*Fondness] LIKING becomes 11d LION KING.

Pretty nice. I especially liked the stealth aspect of the theme. Having to figure it out led to a satisfying aha moment. That said, I don’t think I would have found the the theme without those asterisks, so…a perfect balance.

I also like the left-right symmetry employed here. I don’t see that it’s strictly necessary for the theme to work, but it made for a nice change of pace, and the fill was solid.

Speaking of which, highlights include George CLOONEY, MT SINAI, and a SALTINE cracker. I expect some solvers might complain about PWN [Trounce, to gamers]. As my 14-year-old said while looking over my shoulders, “How do you know what that is? I don’t even know what that is.” That shows you how dated the term is; no one uses it anymore.

Clues of note:

  • 1a [Monk’s specialty]. BE-BOP. Thelonious Monk, that is.
  • 9a [Drops down?]. MOLTS. Nice clue that I only just grokked. I was thinking rain the whole time and then didn’t stop to re-think it after filling in the crosses.
  • 22a [Bark back]. STERN. I was not aware of this usage of the word “bark” as a kind of a ship. Also spelled barque, it’s a sailing ship with three or more masts.
  • 30a [Ocean player]. CLOONEY played Danny Ocean in a few movies.
  • 36a [Single, say]. HIT. Think baseball.
  • 49a [From Aberystwyth, say]. WELSH. Hey hey! Shout out to Aberystwyth where we spent a few days around one New Year’s Eve. We were living in England at the time, and my daughter was scouting out colleges, so we went to visit Aberystwyth University. She ended up going to Macalester College in Minnesota, but we had a memorable little holiday in that beautiful seaside city.
  • 58a [Take in]. DECEIVE. How many of us put in RECEIVE first and then end up with RINE at 58d? I know I did. Good, aptly deceptive clue.
  • 63a [Premium product]. SALTINE. More deception. In this case “Premium” is a brand name.
  • 13d [Litter container?]. STY. Another good clue. “Litter” could refer to baby pigs or actual trash in a figurative STY.

Nice theme, solid construction, and excellent cluing. Four stars.

Panorama of the beach as viewed from the ruins of Aberystwyth Castle, Wales

Billy Bratton’s Fireball Crossword, “Spring Seeding” – Jenni’s write-up

It took me a long time to figure out what was going on in this puzzle, and once I did I was delighted. This was fun to chew on and very satisfying to finally figure out.

Early on, I tried to fill in an answer that was too long and figured there must be a rebus or some other trickery afoot. I was right about the trickery even though I had that answer wrong. 15a [“I really appreciate it”] is not THANKS A LOT. It’s MEANS A LOT. Which fits perfectly, of course. I still had a bunch of big blank spots as I hopped around the grid trying to get a foothold (that’s foreshadowing there). The cluing is FB-tough on its own, which increased the challenge (not complaining!). I finally got down to the revealer, understood what I was looking for, and went back and figured out the theme answers. Phew.

The revealer is 56a [Seeds with larvae inside….and what three answers in the puzzle contain?]: JUMPING BEANS. I knew I was looking for three beans somewhere, and I’d gotten enough of the SW to see what was happening at 48a. The clue is [School with revolving doors?] and I had DIPLOMAL which should DIPLOMA MILL. I found the missing LIMA going up. Peter’s grid shows all three “beans” more clearly than mine.

Fireball, July 20, 2022, Billy Bratton, “Spring Seeding,” solution grid

  • 20a [Cuidad donde se encuentra la Sagrada Familia] is written in Spanish to tell us that the answer is in Spanish, and that means it’s BARCELONA ESPANA. What fits is BARCELONPANA. The missing AES is in 8d, SEAN. Turns out SEAN Bean is an actor.
  • 28a [Cargo carrier] looked like DELIVERY and the VAN is in 19d, making a NAVY bean.
  • And the we have the LIMA bean previously noted at 33d.

I loved this theme. It doesn’t bother me that we have two actual beans (vegetables? legumes?) and one person. I liked the struggle and the reward of this puzzle.

A few other things:

  • 1a [Olds of old] is CIERA. Aren’t they all Olds of old?
  • 13d [Joint owner?] is STONER. Heh.
  • 26a [Food eaten in a bowl, maybe] is a HOT DOG. I presume this is the football game kind of bowl.
  • So happy to see EZRA Jack Keats in this puzzle! I loved “The Snowy Day” when I was a kid, and I loved reading it to my daughter.
  • [Démodé] is fancy talk for OUTDATED.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard the word NONAGE, which is clued as [Minor span?] and which Google tells me means “immaturity or youth.” OK, if you say so.

Emily Sharp & Kunal Nabar & Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Fashion Forward” — Sophia’s recap

Editor:  Amanda Rafkin
Theme: Each theme answer starts with a word meaning “to fashion” (as in “create”).

USA Today, 07 21 2022, “Fashion Forward”

  • 15a [Pretend] – MAKE BELIEVE
  • 35a [Proceed despite adversity] – FORGE AHEAD
  • 58a [Tight, like spandex] – FORM FITTING

Great title to go with the theme! The theme answers are solid if not *spectacular* – I like them all, but none of them made me say “OOH” or anything. Where this puzzle shines is in the rest of the grid. It’s super asymmetric, which allows for a bunch of strong answers since the constructors don’t have to worry about finding a match for them – it’s a bit of a tradeoff that comes with moving away from a conventional grid. And this puzzle certainly delivers on great answers: OFRENDA, DIRTBIKE, RINGTONE, LATINE, HABANEROS, I could go on. It was great fun to solve this and be constantly surprised and delighted by words I uncovered all the way through, not just at the theme answers.

Other notes:

  • I can’t recommend “Heartstopper” enough, whether or not you watch a lot of shows with TEENS in them. It’s so so sweet.
  • The one point I got stuck on this puzzle was putting in “das” for DER for [“___ Spiegel” (German magazine whose name means “The Mirror”)]. I’m certain I’ve made this mistake before, which makes it all the more annoying.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1489, “Up to Thumping”—Darby’s review

Theme: Each theme answer includes a pounding noise within the first word(s) that, when removed, would repeat the word.

Theme Answers

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Crossword #1489, “Up to Thumping” solution for 7/21/2022

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1489, “Up to Thumping” solution for 7/21/2022

  • 17a [“Hottie in a dressing gown?”] BATHROBE BAE
  • 52a [“Grossed out a commie?”] REPULSED RED
  • 11d [“NWA rapper consumed a pool hall stick”] CUBE ATE CUE
  • 27d [“High-five-ish motion between two fathers bumping backsides”] DAD RUMP DAP 

Revealer: 26d [“What the first part of each each theme answer packs on vis-à-vis the second”] POUND

I had no idea about this theme for a bit, but that was more because I was thinking about pounds in terms of weight. It didn’t help that 8d [“Liturgical vestment”] ALB with its LB crosses BATHROBE BAE, so I spent too much time searching for hidden pounds in all of the wrong places. Eventually, however, it came to me that each one added its own throbbing noise within it. DAD RUMP DAP is definitely one of the oddest answers I have ever seen, so points to BEQ on that one.

This puzzle was symmetric, and I liked that we got both Across and Down theme answers. It also flowed pretty nicely. I first cracked the upper left corner thanks to my random knowledge of country music with 5d [“Country singer Martina”] MCBRIDE and that nice use of 4d [“Tool for asthmatics”] INHALERS. I also liked the inclusion of two quoted clues in 35d [“‘Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out”] PLEASE GO and 36d [“‘Hate to say it’”] AFRAID SO. They made for a nice one-two punch power clue.

Overall, such a fun puzzle! Needless to say, the theme will be pounding in my head for a while.

Elizabeth Leonard and Carly Schuna’s Universal Crossword, “Your Average Puzzle… or is it?” — Jim Q’s write-up

First of all, here is one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists:

I don’t know how to approach anything about NORMAL, ILLINOIS without that earworm taking control.

If you don’t care to listen, then please know that Ben Folds also found the name of the town Normal, Illinois a bit strange after he passed “Effington” (I assume that the place he is actually referring to is Effingham). I’ve toured Illinois rather extensively, which in and of itself is strange I realize. I wonder if Normal, Illinois is in normal vernacular?  I have no way of knowing.


THEME: Phrases that start with a synonym for “yada yada yada” are reimagined wackily.

Universal crossword solution · Elizabeth Leonard · Carly Schuna · Your Average Puzzle … or Is It? · Thursday. 07.21.22

Congrats on what I think is a debut from Elizabeth Leonard!


  • [Run-of-the-mill state?] NORMAL, ILLINOIS
  • [Run-of-the-mill legume?[ VANILLA BEAN
  • [Run-of-the-mill bazaar?] STOCK MARKET
  • [Run-of-the-mill descendant?] COMMON ANCESTOR

COMMON ANCESTOR is the other one I’m not sure is so heavily pinned in our daily vernacular. Feels like there should be a bunch of phrases that should work with COMMON _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ but perhaps ancestor was the catchiest?

Enjoyed overall! I read the puzzle title first, which I often forget to do, and it lent an air of mystique to the puzzle.

I don’t have a lot else to say. I mean… fill was fine, but dare I say NORMAL, VANILLA.. etc?

Nothing to dislike here. A solid 3 stars. Looking forward to more from Elizabeth!

Erica Hsiung Wojcik & May Huang’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

TURNINGRED is a beautiful movie that explored Chinese-Canadian culture and aspects of female adolescence, specifically menstruation, that despite being part of reality for half of all tweens, are typically still taboo subjects. It could be a coincidence, but the lead character, Mei, has almost the same name as one half of the constructing team of Erica Hsiung Wojcik & May Huang. The rest of the puzzle is three entries, though two span the grid: RUST is found in [Little by little], SLOWLYBUTSURELY and [Opening for some nostalgic stories], WHENIWASYOURAGE conceals WINE. I prefer to use “when I was a young warthog”, but both entries are great choices! The final choice is RUBY in [Some plant-based patties], SOYBURGERS.

As has been typical since Patti’s editing, we have a few different clueing angles for old entries: [Blue-__: pain relief brand], EMU; [Voting rights activist Abrams], STACEY.


This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Thursday, July 21, 2022

  1. Adrienne says:

    I’d be happy to supply PUZ files for the Universal and Wall Street Journal puzzles. In fact, I can supply PUZ files for any AmuseLabs puzzles as well, and I can easily add any others that you’d like to see in PUZ or JPZ format.

    I’m a retired diagnostic/software engineer, with a crossword downloader that I’ve been working on and refining for the past 10 years. I run a subscription service for these puzzles as well, and deliver them daily via email.

    Please let me help!

    • Papa John says:

      I’d be more than happy to let you help me, but I don’t see any links to PUZ. files your mention. How do I get them?

  2. M says:

    My son looked at Macalaster but didn’t go there. It was a long time ago.

    • Mr. [Not Always] Grumpy says:

      Darling daughter had a number of friends who went there. A well-known college debate school, among other attributes.

  3. Eric H says:

    NYT: Clever theme. HIGHPROF-ILE came almost immediately and the other themers weren’t too hard to figure out.

    But the SW corner slowed me down. I blame William ShatNER and “Boston Legal” (which I’ve nevertheless seen). I have a slight quibble with the clue; not all law firm PARTNERs are “bigwigs.”

    And isn’t “Hanging out” what kids might do when they are datING?

    I loved the SPIDER-MAN clue. But shouldn’t CRÈME have been clued as “Oreo filling”?

    • Papa John says:

      Not all law firm PARTNERS need to be “bigwigs”, just some of them for the clue to work.

      • Eric H says:

        That’s true, of course. Thanks.

        I was less upset with the clue than with my own inability to see the obvious answer until I had the P.

        Mostly, I was annoyed with myself for having spent a Friday-like time solving a puzzle that really wasn’t that hard.

  4. Gary R says:

    NYT: Nice puzzle. Caught on (partially) to the theme with HIGH PROFILE, but didn’t grok the whole thing until the revealer had me take another look at the letters that were dropping down.

    My solving time was more like a Tuesday or Wednesday – not sure if it was on the easy side, or just in my wheelhouse. Seemed like a lot of the cluing was pretty straightforward for a Thursday. Thought I was being very clever by entering Jinping at 17-A but, fortunately, crosses made it clear pretty quickly that cleverness wasn’t called for.

    Anyway, a fun solve.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Re “My solving time was more like a Tuesday or Wednesday” … ditto … not so much a Tuesday solve time for me, but much close to my Wednesday median than my Thursday. But then, yesterday’s was the reverse, so I guess it all evens out in the end.

  5. Jim says:

    NYT: The NL Chicago Cubs are CHC, not CHI — the AL Chicago White Sox are CWS.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Yup … boo, hiss to that clue from this solver also … They could have referenced any of the other Chicago professional sports teams. Faulty editing.

    • R says:

      Yep, having CHC there added a good minute to my time.

  6. steve says:

    so, problems with universal and wsj puz downloads?
    is this gonna get fixed??

  7. placematfan says:

    Perchance did David Steinberg teach his parents to make crosswords?

    • sanfranman59 says:

      It’s a battle between the Steinbergs and the Burnikels for the title of First Family of CrossWorld. Does anyone know if Peter Gordon is related to the late long-time constructor Bernice? If so, you’d have to throw that family into the mix, particularly since Peter’s daughter made her NYT debut the other day.

      • Eric H says:

        Bernice Gordon is Peter’s daughter.

        • sanfranman59 says:

          Bernice passed away seven years ago at the age of 101, so unless Peter is some kind of modern miracle, I don’t think she was his daughter. His daughter Phoebe had her first puzzle published in the NYT this past Monday.

          • Eric H says:

            Oops. I didn’t think “Bernice” sounded quite right for Peter’s daughter’s name. And I obviously didn’t read your comment closely enough. Sorry.

          • Eric H says:

            Just read Bernice Gordon’s NYT obituary. It names her three children and numbers her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There’s no mention of Peter Gordon, who by that time had over 100 NYT puzzles. If they were related, I’d think the obit would have mentioned him.

  8. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ: Philosophical question in the vein of “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it actually make a sound?” … If a “word” like PWN (and it’s even more annoying past tense form … PWNED) is used by a tiny percentage of people in texts and on message boards for like 6 weeks, is it actually a word (especially when it originated with fat-fingered typing to begin with)? Most importantly, does it belong in a crossword puzzle? I now have this ridiculous “word” in my crossword-specific memory and, at my age, it probably replaced some other much more useful word up there. Thanks internet.

    • R says:

      If you’ve spend half an hour playing a multiplayer video game online in the last 20 years, you’ll know that PWN is used by more than a tiny percentage of people for 6 weeks.

    • JohnH says:

      I’m not convinced it doesn’t belong. I like learning new phrases, even if they’re ephemeral, and I have no idea whether they cause me to forget something else.

      Here I did have qualms. Since OWN is another contemporary idiom (one that I truly hate) and kinda sorta fits, I kept trying to resolve my “mistake.” So I never did have the satisfaction of finishing. But I do realize that there’s probably not much the crossings could have done to reassure me I had it right.

  9. Karen says:

    Re Fireball: Navy bean and Sean Bean work well. But lima bean leads me to “diploma mali”; no second “l” in there. Am I missing the point?

  10. GlennG says:

    Regarding the notice of yesterday and Jonesin’ puzzles (since someone asked me elsewhere, and the question’s gonna come up here eventually). I got in under the wire and got the 07/21 one, but notice on the official site that the latest one is the 07/14 one. Is there some super-special lead time that the server linked to here gets that I’m not seeing the same one up on that site? Crossword Scraper works on this site, but I notice you can also get PUZ from there using the real date (good question, why is it dated Thursday here?), per:

    (being the latest one posted there). So mainly getting that information out that you can “Crossword Scraper” that site ( assuming it’s reasonably kept up to date.

  11. Ralph Phillips says:

    LA Times, it is bassist, or electric bass player or even Fender bassist. Please no bass guitar!!

    • placematfan says:

      “‘Bass guitar'” gets 23 million hits on Google and is the title of a Wikipedia page.

  12. Ulf Osterberg says:

    Why hasn’t across lite worked this week?

Comments are closed.