Thursday, July 28, 2022

BEQ untimed(Darby) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


LAT 4:29 (Gareth) 


NYT 9:59 (Ben) 


The New Yorker 8:09 (malaika) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


USA Today 2:46 (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Brad Wiegmann’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Voice Lesson”—Jim P’s review

SPEAK UP is today’s revealer (27d, [“Louder!”…and a clue to the starts of four Down answers]). The other theme answers are familiar phrases whose first words can also be synonyms for “speak.” In addition, those particular words are written upwards, testing your ability to spell words backwards.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Voice Lesson” · Brad Wiegmann · Thu., 7.28.22

  • 6d. [Pandemonium] RETTU CHAOS. Utter.
  • 11d. [Spot for speedier motorists or shoppers] SSERPXE LANE. Express.
  • 25d. [It’s classified] ETATS SECRET. State.
  • 31d. [Valet’s handout] MIALC CHECK. Claim.

Nice, tight theme. Each phrase is well in-the-language, and each “speak” word is used differently in its base phrase.

That’s not to say I picked up on the gimmick very easily. It took quite a while for the penny to drop, despite the fact that I was staring RETTU at 6d for a long time. The aha moment I was rewarded with was quite satisfying, and I appreciate the extra layer to the theme. Nicely done.

TIGGER is a fun way to start a grid, and we also get SPINAL TAP, PAPA BEAR, AIRSTRIP, PACE LAP, and tropical PAPAYAS. Gotta say I’m not a big fan of PAPAYAS, but at least they’re better than guavas. Neither holds a candle to a fresh, ripe mango though.

Not crazy about sexist-sounding MINXES [Pert flirts], but I will note there is a current HBO comedy titled Minx which generally gets favorable reviews and was renewed for a second season.

Officer LOU from “The Simpsons”

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [Bouncer of children’s lit]. TIGGER. My first thought had me imagining kids trying to get into a bar.
  • 7a. [Winner of three “Channel Slams”]. BORG. Hadn’t heard that term before. It means to win both Wimbledon and the French Open in the same year.
  • 40a. [One of Springfield’s policemen, on “The Simpsons”]. LOU. Automatically filled in STU based off the U, but of course, Disco Stu is someone else entirely.
  • 43a. [What a Scotsman might hike up]. KILT. Ha! Well, Ben Nevis didn’t fit.
  • 12d. [Fire alternative]. IPAD. The Amazon Fire, that is. Why did they call it that anyway? Will their next product be the Amazon Deforestation?

Well-constructed theme and grid with a nice twist. Four stars.

Bill Pipal and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

NYT #0728 – 07/28/2022

Today’s NYT is a collab between Bill Pipal and Jeff Chen that’s cute, once you piece it all together.

A bunch of entries in the grid wrap around one of the circled squares, skipping the circled letter, which otherwise spells out valid entries both across and down:

  • 1A: Like some face creams and serums, supposedly — ANTI[C]AGING
  • 6A: Cost for a commercial — AD[O]RATE
  • 9A: Class now known as Family and Consumer Sciences, informally — HOME[R]EC
  • 35A: Rumble in the Jungle promoter — DON [E]KING
  • 47A: 1985 benefit concert watched by nearly two billion people — LIVE[R]AID
  • 53A: To boot — AS[S]WELL
  • 69A: With the circled letters, a hint to solving seven Across clues — CUT

taking each of the circled letters along with 69A, we get CUT CORNERS, which is what needs to happen to parse each of the wrapped across answers correctly.  The down clues are all correctly clued for CAGING, ORATE, REC, EKING, SWELL, and RAID.

Here are many many many years’ worth of BBC 2 Idents (32D, “Largest TV network in the world, by number of employees”)

Happy Thursday!

Jack Murtagh’s Fireball Crossword, “Laws of Attraction” – Jenni’s write-up

I tried to do this puzzle Wednesday night after a lovely day wandering around coastal Rhode Island and reconnecting with old friends. I was happy and relaxed and could not for the life of me figure out what was going on even after I got the revealer. Tried again this morning and poof! all became clear. Fun puzzle – when I’m awake.

I could tell there was a rebus, and indeed there is. The revealer at 56a is [Bodies that pull objects in as they get closer, as depicted in this puzzle]. The answer is BLACK HOLES. In my late-night solving session, I thought HOLE would appear in the rebus. Nope. The black squares – one particular configuration – are the black holes, so the words get more compressed as they get closer. So smart.

Fireball, July 27, 2022, Jack Murtagh, “Laws of Attraction,” solution grid

    • 21a [Where you might go when doing research] is DOWN THE R{AB}{BIT} (hole) crossing REH{AB} and HOB{BIT}.
    • 33a [Small unpretentious restaurant] is a (hole) {INT}{HE}WALL crossing {INT}ERN and {HE}NCE.
    • 44a [Become solvent again] is DIG O{UT}{OF A} (hole) crossing CLO{UT} and KEY{OF A}. I made this one harder than it needed to be because I thought the key was F instead of A. Duh.

I love this theme. I love the fact that the squares next to the “holes” have three letters while the ones further away have only two. It’s creative, consistent, and fun to solve. We can send the Fireball off to its summer break with a happy smile.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that EMINEM was elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year.

Erica Hsiung Wojcik & May Huang’s USA Today Crossword, “Bottom Feeders” — Sophia’s recap

Editor:  Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer ends with a word that can precede “feed”. The theme answers are oriented vertically so these words are at the bottom of the puzzle.

USA Today, 07 28 2022, “Bottom Feeders”

  • 15d [Christina Aguilera song with the lyric “You gotta rub me the right way”] – GENIE IN A BOTTLE (bottle feed)
  • 24d [Something lent in assistance] – HELPING HAND (hand feed)
  • 27d [Inside cuddler] – LITTLE SPOON (spoon feed)

Great title, and great set of theme answers! The first two answers fell with basically no crosses for me – I’m curious if this puzzle is much harder for folks who didn’t immediately know GENIE IN A BOTTLE. LITTLE SPOON took me a while to see because I didn’t understand the meaning of “inside” in the clue. I thought the answer was going to be something like “indoor cat”.

Notes on the rest of the puzzle:

  • This puzzle skewed very, very easy for me – basically nothing slowed me down. I think that might have to do with the amount of short fill throughout the puzzle, particularly in the corners. I was able to knock most of them out just looking at the clues in a single direction, and then visually confirming that the crosses were real words.
  • That being said! The pieces of long fill that are in this puzzle are great. My favorites are RAUNCHY and GARGOYLES.
  • HA as I mentioned, I didn’t look at too many of the down clues as I solved, which I’m now sad about because it means I entirely missed the amazing clue/answer pair of 47d [The Babadook, for example] for GAY ICON. If this clue doesn’t make sense to you, google it and be amazed.
  • I will never remember if the second vowel in Elizabeth OLSEN‘s name is an O or an E.
  • I wanted 38d [Pirate’s hello] to be something more strictly pirate-y than just AHOY! Can we get some “arrr me hearties” up in here?

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1491, “Tell Me You’re Into Crosswords Without Telling Me You’re Into Crosswords”—Darby’s review

Theme: Each theme answer is clued as it relates to cruciverbalists, but the answer is part of a commonly known phrase.

Theme Answers

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Crossword #1491, “Tell Me You're Into Crosswords Without Telling Me You're Into Crosswords" solution for 7/28/2022

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1491, “Tell Me You’re Into Crosswords Without Telling Me You’re Into Crosswords” solution for 7/28/2022

  • 17a [“Completely understands what’s asked of you in a puzzle?”] FOLLOWS THE CLUES
  • 26a [“Displays that fill-in look?”] HAS A BLANK STARE
  • 43a [“Confidently enters the answer’s synonym?”] PUTS IN A WORD FOR
  • 58a [“Brings home the bacon, as a puzzlemaker?”] LIVES OFF THE GRID

Okay, I enjoyed this so much. I thought that the theme was really cute and that the theme answers themselves were really clever. HAS A BLANK STARE felt like a little bit of a stretch, but it super works with the symmetry, and I can see why having the partial sentence is necessary. LIVES OFF THE GRID is an incredible pun, and I will be using it in the future.

The fill in this grid was pretty smooth, and I cruised through the first section, getting hung up for a second on 16a [“Eye part”] UVEA, but the crossings here fixed this pretty quickly. FOLLOWS THE CLUES was also a boon in confirming my Shakespeare knowledge with 10d [“Shakespeare character who says ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’”] JULIET (in retrospect, it’s obvious, but I’ve actually never read Romeo & Juliet).

The middle section was nicely down. I didn’t love the reference to PANTY raids in 34a. On the other hand, I did enjoy BEQ’s little HAIKU in 26d [“I tried writing a / poem as an example / of this answer here”], and the clue for 33d [“You used to see a lot more of them”] EXES.

I struggled in the bottom corner partly because I could not remember 39d [“Stand-up comic Jim with the Netflix special ‘Comedy Monster’”] GAFFIGAN. I also thought that 66a [“Al on a track”] referred to AI as in artificial intelligence, not AL as in Al UNSER. This wouldn’t have necessarily made a difference, given that I also don’t watch a lot of racing. Also, between GAFFIGAN, IAGO, and UNSER, there are a lot of names (and men’s names in particular) here. Ultimately, the Down clues got me through.

Overall, this was a really fun puzzle and a nice little ode to crossword lovers.

Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker puzzle– malaika’s write-up

New Yorker– July 28

Good morning, folks! Oof… I don’t love to start out at 1-across with a cross-referenced clue. But ACID did sorta need to be clued in relation to FOLIC, so idk how to avoid it in this case. Other short fill that wasn’t my favorite included the partials I LET and A GRIP, plus LOIRE (new to me).

The two fifteens were great, ILL DO IT TOMORROW and OPTICAL ILLUSION. HOT AND COLD reminded me of my 6th grade gym class where we had to come up with a dance and my group chose the Katy Perry banger. I’ve never heard of BALL OF WAX used in the way the clue describes. It sounds kind of quaint I guess.

Amie Walker’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Today’s puzzle is surprisingly seasonal for us here in Cape Town – there is one of our famous winter COLDFRONTS due to arrive overnight. The letter addition done is a one ar BR to each of three entries:

  • [*Lord of the grill?], BROILBARON. The word broil always trips me up. I think I confuse it with braise? Baron of beef also had me a little wrong-footed.
  • [*Some spring newlyweds?], BRIDESOFMARCH
  • [*Warning words from one holding the reins?], BRIDLETHREATS

It’s quite unusual to only have three examples with a letter addition theme; that said, the revealer occupies one of the four traditional theme entry slots. Not trying for the extra entries tends to give the grid room to breathe and have a more pleasant overall solve.

Individual remarks:

  • [Borrower], LENDEE. A word Spelling Bee doesn’t believe in…
  • [“The Chi” creator Waithe], LENA. Is an updated Lena clue.
  • [Triumphant April Fools’ Day cry], GOTYA. I’d spell that GOTCHA?
  • [Comedy Central’s “Awkwafina Is __ From Queens”], NORA. Another au courant clue for a common entry.
  • [Prime number?], ANESTHESIA. Who else had ANESTHEtIc for a goodly time.


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21 Responses to Thursday, July 28, 2022

  1. Kent Byron says:

    Now USA Today wants your money for their crossword. It started tonight. I have no interest in paying for a puzzle that I have worked for three decades. Screw them!

    • Elise says:

      I don’t find USA Today puzzles as much fun as they used to be. So, I’m certainly not going to pay them to grumble about them. I subscribe to NYT, but they are worth it.

      I wonder why USA Today can’t make more money by getting more advertisements. Maybe not enough people do their puzzles to be worthwhile for advertisers.

      • DJ says:

        Elise has this one right. The quality of the USA Today puzzle has fallen off a cliff over the last few years. It’s not a puzzle I would consider doing when it was free; absolutely zero chance if and when there’s a paywall.

        • Eric H says:

          Every time I did a USA Today puzzle, I was reminded why I don’t regularly do them. The last one I solved had a clue like “Opposite of ‘under’” [4 letters].” Their puzzles are often not much more than typing exercises.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I was able to download today’s puzzle without a problem (or a subscription). It seems that they’re offering a “premium service” that allows users to an “exclusive crossword archive, an ad-free experience and unlimited hints and reveals”. None of that makes any difference to me since I just download their puzzle each day as a .puz file and solve it with my app of choice.

      • Rusty Panda says:

        May I ask how you are able to download the PUZ files from USA Today? I have the scraper extension for chrome but it’s the one website that doesn’t populate a puzzle file for me. Thanks in advance!

        • sanfranman59 says:

          Hmm … I was thinking that I use Crossword Scraper for that, but I was wrong. I get them by running this ancient app that was built by constructor Alex Boisvert many, many years ago (it’s called Crossword Butler and I can’t believe it still works for some puzzles after all these years … shh … don’t tell anyone). He was forced to abandon that project and remove it from his website because the publications objected to it on copyright grounds. Sorry to get anyone’s hopes up.

          In any case, I was still able to bring up the puzzle page on the USA Today website just now, so it appears that they’re still allowing people to solve today’s puzzle there, though you have to sit through an ad before the puzzle comes up.

          • Rusty Panda says:

            Appreciate the reply! Ya I was also able to bring up the puzzle page and play. Was mainly looking for the PUZ file as a group of us play on DownForACross regularly. Guess USA Today just won’t be in our rotation haha. Thanks again!

  2. Jim Peredo says:

    Here are today’s .puz files: WSJ, Universal

    • Papa John says:

      Jim — I really appreciate you providing us with our cruciverble fix. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I wonder, in fact, how many people actually benefit from your efforts. It’s more than a handful. You’re a peach.

  3. Tony says:

    I didn’t see the clue at 69-A for the NYT, but I was able to get the theme of the puzzle.

  4. Jim Jones says:

    Jim P, WSJ guy–please stop all the tired moralizing in your commentary. Today you have a problem with the usage of minx. It’s a word. From a time. It’s not sexist. Get over it. A few weeks ago there was a clue with Charles Lindbergh and you’re compelled to say he was a Nazi sympathizer. Anyone could construe and negatively contort a large percentage of the clues in a crossword.

    Quit contributing to all the strife in the world today and keep your negativity to yourself. It’s comes across as smug self-righteousness.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Honey, you’re in the wrong place. Defending sexism and Nazi sympathizers won’t get you far here.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      I hear you and I get it. I would like nothing more than if the puzzles we do for fun didn’t perpetuate such negativity. Sadly, that’s not the world we live in.

      I am not a confrontational guy. I get uncomfortable when something’s in a puzzle I’m blogging that I need to call out. But I will call it out because I see that as my job in reviewing a puzzle. Not doing so would be worse.

      The aim, of course, is to improve the quality of puzzles over time by reducing said negativity. And on the whole, I’d say they have gotten better. Thanks to the efforts of Amy and Jenni and other bloggers who are more outspoken than I, constructors and editors have realized that entries and clues can still be hurtful, even if it’s “just a crossword puzzle.”

      I wouldn’t call my “moralizing” something I can’t “get over.” I think you spent more words berating me than I did mentioning minx and Lindbergh. The Lindbergh comment was more than 5 weeks ago, so two comments in five weeks of blogging is hardly “a large percentage.”

      Oh yeah, did I mention that Lindbergh was a lying, cheating husband to Anne Morrow? He had children with three different German mistresses, two of whom were sisters, and none of them knew about the others until well after his death in 1974. I guess I’ll remember that next time Lucky Lindy comes up.

      I’ll keep doing what I’m doing in the hopes it makes a difference. You can keep being angry or you can start viewing your fellow humans with empathy. Your choice.

      • Barry says:

        Would it distress you to have the word infidelity used in a puzzle? Clinton? Actually, Bill Clinton would likely have encouraged abortions.

        Love this site. It provides wonderful information for neophytes like me. I finished this puzzle after much effort, but didn’t fully grasp it until I read your post. Thank you.

    • Barry says:

      I quite agree. This is a fabulous puzzle. There is the added issue that devising a puzzle this complex leads to a sometimes desperate need to find words and clues to finish it without losing the key components. I marvel at puzzles such as this.

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