Thursday, September 1, 2022

BEQ untimed (Darby) 


LAT 4:57 (Gareth) 


NYT 10:35 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker tk (malaika) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


USA Today 4:23 (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Michael Schlossberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “The In Crowd”—Jim P’s review

Today’s theme clues are familiar(ish) phrases in the form X in Y. The theme entries are also familiar phrases (or words) with circled letters spelling words that represent the Xs and the entries themselves representing the Ys.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “The In Crowd” · Michael Schlossberg · Thu., 9.1.22

  • 20a. [Back in the game?] SPORTING EVENT. The SPINE is part of one’s back, and a SPORTING EVENT is a game.
  • 35a. [Minor in mathematics?] PROBABILITY. A BABY is a minor, and PROBABILITY is a discipline in mathematics.
  • 41a. [Puss in Boots?] WELLINGTONS. This is far and away the best entry. Puss in Boots is a well-known title (or character), a LION is a cat, and WELLINGTONS are boots (“Wellies” to you Anglophiles).
  • 56a. [Dog in the manger?] FEEDING TROUGH. This one’s good too, if you knew that The Dog in the Manger is an ancient Greek fable (I did not) and that a manger is a FEEDING TROUGH (I did not).

Pretty nice theme! Not all of them are sure-fire winners, but it can’t have been easy to find these, so some leeway should be afforded. I don’t recall seeing a theme like it, so kudos for originality.

VAPORWARE, PANTOMIME, PRINCETON, RARE COINS, NEWTONS, and MARINER top the fill. Interesting that MARINER crosses SEAMAN, but they are not cross-referenced. The entry RELIEF ORG feels weird to me. That lower left section with ARIANE crossing ASWAN and EMERY proved a little troublesome but gettable in the end. I also stumbled in the NW especially since [Herbicide target] seemed to want WEED and AU COURANT was tough to see (and spell).

Clues of note:

  • 22a. [Fleet fellow]. SEAMAN. The clue had me trying to thinking of someone known for their speed.
  • 45a. [SpaceX competitor]. ARIANE. The ARIANE family of launch vehicles are a European effort.
  • 9d. [Change of value?]. RARE COINS. Good misdirection here.
  • 11d. [Silent show]. PANTOMIME. But not in Britain where Christmastime “pantos” are raucous affairs.
  • 29d. [Column people are dying to appear in?]. OBITS. A bit on the morbid side.
  • 36d. [Aid for the back burner?]. ALOE. The same “back” pun as in a theme clue?
  • 43d. [Nabisco cookies]. NEWTONS. Those are cookies?

Clever theme and plenty of long, interesting fill. Four stars.

John Wrenholt’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Average (10m35s)

NY Times crossword solution, 9/1/22, no. 0901

Today’s theme:  Arithmetic.

  • 21a: TWO TIMES (Cheats on)
  • 23a: FIFTEEN (What comes after love)
  • 40a: TRIPLED (Didn’t quite make it home, say)
  • 54a: PLUS ONE (Date for a party)
  • 62a: DO THE MATH (“Figure it out!” … or how to arrive at this puzzle’s solution, using the answers to the italicized clues) — which gives us:
  • 17a: NINETY ONE (This puzzle’s solution)

I haven’t seen anything this straightforward on a Thursday in quite some time.  I suppose the prestige here is a) six theme entries in a 15x puzzle, and b) a math equation made up entirely of symmetric components that can be rephrased accordingly.  Outside of that, I couldn’t divine anything significant* from (2 x 15 x 3 + 1).

Cracking:  NADA COLADA (Mocktail with a rhyming name) — I am a Professional Gentleman of Leisure, and nothing says “I’m on vacation” like a piña colada with a giant slice of pineapple.  Hadn’t heard of the virgin variety, but it reads real nice.

Slacking:  NINETY ONE — I’m still not over the arbitrary* solution.

Sidetracking:  ERICIDLE (With 68-across, co-creator of the British parody band the Rutles) — Epcot superfans recognize Idle as Dr. Nigel Channing, Figment’s would-be foil on the “Journey into Imagination” ride.  Some people hate the cheesy visuals and simplistic ride elements; those people are dead inside.

Overall, feels like a Wednesday puzzle that got lost in the shuffle, even though my time was in the average Thursday territory.  3.5/5, because the math checks out and the grid made me think of Figment today.

* ADDENDUM:  I have now been informed that the puzzle running on 9/1 is part of the revealer.

Erik Agard’s USA Today Crossword, “Machine Parts” — Sophia’s recap

Editor:  Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer includes the string “cog” bridging two words.

USA Today, 09 01 2022, “Machine Parts”

  • 27a [Instrument with a golpeador] – FLAMENCO GUITAR
  • 40a [Tennis star from Delray Beach] – COCO GAUFF
  • 53a [Formula One race that Ayrton Senna won six times] – MONACO GRAND PRIX

I’m always intrigued when USA Today published a puzzle that’s both written and edited by Erik, since they’re often some of the more experimental or boundary-pushing offerings of the publication. Thus, when I solved today’s puzzle, I actually went and double-checked myself on Sally’s Take to see if there a layer I was missing, but there doesn’t seem to be (let me know in the comments if that’s wrong!). The theme itself is fine, just very standard. I didn’t know any of the answers from their clues alone, but once I got some crosses they all fell into place.

Notes on the puzzle:

  • Whoa, there were a lot of repeated clues today! [Comparison word] for MORE and LESS, [A very long time] for EONS and AGES, [Knowledgeable type] for GEEK and NERD, and then [Underground molten rock] for MAGMA and [Aboveground molten rock] for LAVA.
  • I had never heard of LEDISI, she’s a R&B and jazz musician. “Anything for You”, the song mentioned in the clue, won the Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance in 2021! Very cool.
  • Places I slipped up: “soap bar” instead of BAR SOAP for 37d [Item in a dish in the shower], “like” instead of LESS for the first [Comparison word].

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1501, “Cypher Text”—Darby’s review

Theme: Each theme answer begins with an O, which stands in for a synonym or meaning of zero. The title refers to the meaning of cypher as a zero.

Theme Answers

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Crossword #1501, “Cypher Text” solution for 9/1/2022

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1501, “Cypher Text” solution for 9/1/2022

  • 17a [“Deadpan look”] O EXPRESSION / BLANK EXPRESSION
  • 22a [“Prepared entirely with base ingredients”] MADE FROM O / MADE FROM NAUGHT
  • 38a [“Plastic criminal restraints”] O TIE HANDCUFFS / ZIP TIE HANDCUFFS
  • 53a [“‘Sorry if I offended’”] O PERSONAL / NOTHING PERSONAL
  • 59a [“Couldn’t care in the slightest”] GIVES O FUCKS / GIVES ZERO FUCKS

This puzzle led to a big eureka moment for me as I figured out what the Os were. I’ve not used cypher/cipher in this meaning before, and the Google dictionary lists it as dated but Merriam-Webster does not. MADE FROM NAUGHT was the hardest to crack the O while I thought that ZIP TIE HANDCUFFS was the easiest.

41d [“One with numerous fake passports”] SPY felt like a bonus in the more coded meaning of cypher, and 67a [“Like 59-Across’s answer”] LEWD was also a nice tie-in to the theme. I didn’t like 55d [“‘Yes, yes’ to Juan”] SI SI at all since it stereotypes.

Other fun fill: 41a [“Sound heard repeatedly in ‘snug as a bug in a run’”] SHORT U, 24d [“Chart with craters, e.g.”] MOON MAP, and 62d [“Cro-sharing system: Abbr.”] CSA.

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

new yorker– sep 1

Good morning squad! I loved all the long stuff in here, which was a good mix of nouns like PET PROJECT and LION TAMER and concepts like SNOWBALLING and RISING TIDE. The clue for RED VELVET gave me pause– beets?? Really?? Are people doing that? It feels incredibly blasphemous to me. Now I’m off to listen to “I AM A Man of Constant Sorrow.” I freaking love that song. (I read an interesting discussion about people’s favorite “fictional” song– that is, a song that is created in a piece of fiction by a fictional artist but still, ya know, exists. This was one of the frequently mentioned ones, but I have to say that my favorite is “Seduce and Scheme.”)

Huang-Kim Vu & Jessica Zetzman’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times

Another very creative theme execution today, this time by Hoang-Kim Vu & Jessica Zetzman. It has left/right symmetry, which is usually a sign something is intricate. Here, we have TITLE/CARDS: answers that are TV shows or movies that start with card games, a mix of playing-card based and other:

  • [*Channing Tatum film series featuring strippers], MAGICMIKE. Magic: The Gathering, a trading card game of 25 years and more… A fun Magic related website is, which uses machine learning to make cards…
  • [*Martial arts series based on the writings of Bruce Lee], WARRIOR. War, playing cards.
  • [Netflix series starring Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury], BRIDGERTON. Bridge. Ditto.
  • [*Emmy-nominated miniseries about a woman leaving her Hasidic community], UNORTHODOX. Uno. Distinct set, but can be played with playing cards…

Favourite five:

  • [Studio rollout?], YOGAMAT. Love clues that are both playful and succinct.
  • [God of war], ODIN; [God of love], EROS
  • [TV series from Seoul, e.g.], KDRAMA. New to me, but inferrable.
  • [*Emmy-nominated miniseries about a woman leaving her Hasidic community], UNORTHODOX. Really well written clue, as it allows you to figure out the answer without knowing the show.
  • [Updates the backstory to accommodate new material, for short], RETCONS. A frequent necessity, given some of the voluminous “fictional universes” existing…


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15 Responses to Thursday, September 1, 2022

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Thanks to the Professional Gentleman of Leisure for the entertaining review… I agree it’s a pretty straightforward puzzle. I did like the fact that it takes an expression “DO THE MATH” very literally. But also the fact that the elements of the EQUATION (which I count as part of the theme) are all clued along two different dimensions- sports (tennis and baseball) and social relations (party and cheating).
    NADA COLADA was also news to me (but gettable). As was this meaning of BURN.

  2. Lise says:

    NYT: I finished this puzzle more quickly than I usually do on Thursday, despite the lack of the italicized clues specified in the revealer (62A). Nothing in the pdf is italicized. But it didn’t really matter, as everything is gettable.

    I liked the clue for DRAKES (Duck that doesn’t lay eggs), and agree with what Huda said about the theme clues. URDU was news to me, as I had thought those were Hindi words. It’s nice to know where the words we use come from.

  3. Michael+Cornfield says:

    NYT: Per the clue for 42A, 91 is 9/1, which is today’s date. The full equation is 2 x 15 x 3 + 1, BTW.

    Weak, but thematically consistent.

  4. Gary R says:

    NYT: I thought it was a fun solve – about right for a Thursday in my mind. I liked the cluing on the parts of the equation, and there was a nice “aha” when I got to the revealer. I had to go on a little hunt for the equation, as AL didn’t have any italicized clues (Scraper renders them in quotation marks, which I always forget about).

    I also thought the long downs were good, and especially liked the clue for WINE FRIDGE.

    Given the theme, I thought the clue for 44-A should have referred to a math teacher (I know they come up, but I don’t particularly associate ratios with stats).

    I was fine with NINETY ONE being arbitrary. If the constructor actually intended it to indicate today’s date, I would ding him for that – his own clue for 42-A basically demonstrates that doesn’t work.

  5. Mister [Not Really] Grumpy says:

    WSJ was the puzzle of the day for me. “Puss in Boots” for WELLINGTONS was one of the best clues ever, and “Dog in the manger” for FEEDING TROUGH was not far behind. Would have liked something other than the first theme answer, since the other three are living breathing creatures and a spine … is not, but that’s a minor nit.

    • marciem says:

      I close to agree with your ‘puzzle of the day’ assessment, though not with the nit :)… they were all fine with me and I enjoyed the AHA when I figured out what was going on (I think it was the Puss in Boots”)

      Tied for first (IMO) was BEQ’s. Loved that each o stood for a synonym for nothing, & as noted by Bob below, “scratch” makes a lot more sense than naught, since “made from scratch” is very much in the language usage for home-made goodies.

      NYT: Nice puzzle, good theme, but runs a bit behind in the x-word Thursday race… again, IMO. I don’t think constructors have a choice exactly when their submitted puzzles run, so I think the 9/1 date could be coincidence. It doesn’t work with ninety one at all. but p.s. Nada Colada is new to me, and I love it!

    • gyrovague says:

      WSJ: I liked this one a lot too. Nice and chewy, it took some finessing to finally suss out what was going on. In fact I had to grow a SPINE and summon my inner Meryl to complete it. “The DINGO’s got my BABY!!!” I ain’t LION.

  6. Bob says:

    BEQ – “Made from scratch”. Scratch another euphemism for zero/nil/nothing.

  7. gyrovague says:

    NYT: Plenty of folks here and elsewhere in the blogosphere have noted that the italicized clues referenced in 62-Across are not, in fact, italicized. Half a day later, and such an easily fixed oversight still hasn’t been addressed? Sadly, this is about the level of competence I’ve come to expect from the Times editors.

  8. Papa John says:

    While I was able to complete today’s NYT, I was flummoxed by it all, particularly because there were no italicized clues, as referenced in 62 Across. Reading all the comments caused only more confusion, although Lise’s observation seems to make the most sense: “But it didn’t really matter, as everything is gettable.” Not knowing the theme really didn’t matter and I did complete the fill, albeit without much satisfaction.

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