Thursday, December 1, 2022

BEQ untimed (Darby) 


LAT 4:13 (Gareth) 


NYT  12:30 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker 2:37 (Amy) 


Universal 3:58 (Sophia) 


USA Today 11:02 (Emily) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


David P. Williams’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Floating Upstream”—Jim P’s review

The revealer is RISING TIDE (49a, [Reportedly, it lifts all boats, as evidenced by the starred answers]). The rest of the themers are comprised of two entries: the main Across entry, and a Down entry whose letters are used going upward as part of the Across entry. The Down entries themselves are all types of boats.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Floating Upstream” · David P. Williams · Thu., 12.1.22

  • 19a. [*One liable to erupt] ACTIV(E VOL)CANO with 9d [Type of boat for sweethearts] LOVE.
  • 24a. [*Endeavor that can lead to swimming with the fishes] (DEEP S)EA DIVING with 13d [Type of boat for smugglers] SPEED.
  • 41a. [*Grounds keeper] COFFE(E FIL)TER with 33d [Type of boat for survivors] LIFE.

There’s a lot going on here, so it took some time to sort it out. And I’m not sure I’m on board (haha) with what’s going on here conceptually. Does reading the letters of a boat upwards mean the boat is “lifted”? Wouldn’t it make more sense if the boat type itself went upward (e.g. if 13d was DEEPS instead of SPEED)?

Another of my problems is that I’m turned off by clues of the sort [Type of ___]. Is LIFE really a type of boat for survivors? “Hello, excuse me sir, what is LOVE?” “Oh, it’s a type of boat for sweethearts.” Bzzt! No, it just doesn’t work. What’s wrong with each boat being clued with a simple  [___ boat]?

Those nits aside, I was able to look past them, and I really did enjoy sussing out this theme.

And there’s plenty to like in the fill as well: TIE CLIPS, CRIMINAL, “HONESTLY…,” “I SAID SO,” INFIDELSCAT TOY, SAMURAI, IRON AGE, and PALERMO. That SE corner with EXHIBIT, LIBRARY, and STOOGE is quite nice.

I also enjoy seeing IT ME [Recognition of oneself, modernly]. I can’t imagine this phrase having long-lasting staying power, so let’s just enjoy it while it’s here. On the other hand, I could do without pretentious SOLI [Divas’ pieces].

Clues of note:

  • 17a. [Severely censures]. REVILES. Today I learned the meaning of this word. I had thought it simply meant to hate or abhor.
  • 21a. [Setting for NY Yankees double-headers]. EDT. Why double-headers, exactly? Are those only played in the summertime when there’s more light?
  • 1d. [Floats through town?]. PARADE. Nice clue.
  • 43d. [Foe of the Jedi]. EMPIRE. Hmm. I’d argue the foe of the Jedi are the Sith. The EMPIRE is the foe of the Rebellion.

Nice puzzle, though not without issue. 3.5 stars.

Alex Eaton Salners’s Fireball Crossword, “Down-Shifting” – Jenni’s write-up

Well, this is what I get for complaining that the last Fireball was too easy. I struggled with this one for quite a while even after I understood the theme – or at least thought I did. I figured out what I needed to do to get the theme answers. I opened the answer sheet Peter sends out because I figured his grid would be easier to see than mine. That’s when I realized I missed a whole dimension to the theme.

First the gimmick: each theme answer is missing some letters. We have to look at the row below to find them.

Fireball puzzle, 11/30/2022, Alex Eaton-Salners, “Down-Shifting,” solution grid

  • 16a [It might be full of crap] is POOPER SCOOPER.
  • 32a [Jeep alternatives] are RANGE ROVERS.
  • 45a [About to be called, perhaps] is NEXT IN LINE.
  • 58a [Hall of Fame pitcher with a record six consecutive shutouts] is DON DRYSDALE.
  • 74a [Was dead to the world] is SLEPT LIKE A LOG.

I thought that was pretty cool and I noticed that the dropped letters were all the same in each entry and different from all the other entries. I didn’t notice that the dropped letters are P R N D L – the gears on a car. Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, Low. I liked the theme before I knew that and I like it even more now. Really well done.

The fill was challenging in a good way. [Solo player] for FORD (Harrison, playing Han). OBIE clued as a rap artist rather than a theater award. [Completely] for CLEAN. A worthy struggle.

A few other things:

  • [Pitch] for TAR is one of those totally fair and challenging clues because there are so many possible definitions.
  • 41a [Cultural icon?] is PETRI. I hadn’t completely sussed the theme yet and this one left me scratching my head until I thought of the dish. Duh.
  • 46a [Number on some faces] is I I I I. Thanks to Alex and Peter for not making me do Roman numeral math – which I guess they couldn’t have anyway because that’s not the way Roman numerals write the number four.
  • 64a [Circular medium] is a DVD. My husband figured that one out. I was stumped.
  • 57d [Performer noted for their gag reflex?] are STOOGES. I really wanted it to be SWORD SWALLOWERS which I guess is kind of the opposite.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: oh, so many things. Never heard of RHEA Seehorn. Did not know that GASX has a competitor called Wind-eze. I’ve certainly heard of DON DRYSDALE but didn’t know about the shutout record. I’ve also heard about Chekhov’s writing advice, quoted as “One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn’t going to go off. It’s wrong to make promises you don’t mean to keep.” I did not know that his play IVANOV concludes with a gunshot (never heard of the play, to be honest). And LEAL is completely new to me. confirms that it means faithful and that it is Scottish. Also archaic. The crossings were eminently fair, for which I am thankful.

Daniel Mauer’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Challenging (12m30s)

Daniel Mauer’s New York Times crossword puzzle, 11/30/22, 1130

Today’s theme: ANTICI PATION 


Wasn’t sure what was going on here during the solve; I figured it was something jokey, given the first few themers — it reminded me of John Ficarra and Patrick Merrell’s April Fools puzzle from 2020.  ANTICI initially looked like gibberish to me, and I was sure I had made an error somewhere in the first row of vertical answers (between INGA and TRISTAN, maybe).  After PATION fell into place, it clicked, although ANNA SUI was unknown to me and I questioned whether I had made an error in that corner as well.  Overall, the fill put up a lot of resistance.

CrackingBRET — can’t see his name without hearing Jermaine Clement pronouncing it “Brit”, in the deadpan Kiwi fashion.  Could have used a few more seasons of that show!

Slacking: PYE — Given _YE, there are 25 other possibilities I would consider before PYE.  Give me RYE, DYE, LYE, NYE, BYE, AYE, EYE.. oh, it’s PYE?  Ok, sure.

Sidetracking: CONCHS — one of my favorite little chapters in the history of obscure Americana took place on April 23rd 1982, when Key West seceded from the U.S., formed the Conch Republic, declared war on the mainland, and then immediately surrendered.  Conch Republic flags can be seen all over the keys to this day, bearing the motto “WE SECEDED WHERE OTHERS FAILED”.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1527, “Modern-Day Monsters”—Darby’s review

Theme: Each theme answer is a monster combined with a modern technological innovation or trend.

Theme Answers

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Crossword #1527, “Modern-Day Monsters” solution for 12/1/2022

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1527, “Modern-Day Monsters” solution for 12/1/2022

  • 17a [“Rejecting societal expectations and living in an unkempt, hedonistic manner”] GOBLIN MODE
  • 27a [“They’re not paying attention while they’re swiping”] PHONE ZOMBIES
  • 43a [“Insincere commenter”] CONCERN TROLL
  • 57a [“They don’t appear to be made by anyone”] GHOST CALLS

I thought that this was a great theme, even if it gave me a solid dose of existential dread when it comes to thinking about what technology has done to us. Ironically, maybe my WiFi signal is giving me a hint about this, given that it’s gone out a few times this morning already. GOBLIN MODE and PHONE ZOMBIES are the most familiar to me, and though at first I filled the first half of the latter with GHOST since I knew the theme. GHOST CALLS was also relatively easy, and I caught the CONCERN of CONCERN TROLL on the crosses.

There was a lot of good fill in this grid. I struggled with the center section. 35a [“Big daisy”] OX EYE and 30d [“Perceptual psychologist Karl who created cards to test ESP”] ZENER were tough for me. I also was hung up on 38d [“Raised one’s shoulders”] SHRUGGED because I was thinking about shrugging as both a raising and dropping of the shoulders. Ultimately, 9d [“Boxers bite down on them”] CHEW TOYS, 28d [“Off”] NOT ON and 29d [“Be joyful”] EXULT helped to fill this area.

The other area where I struggled was the SE corner, but GHOST CALLS cracked this wide open. I initially had 55a [“Alternative to gruit or a gose”] IPA rather than ALE, and I struggled to remember 47a [“Aromatic tree resin”] BALSAM. My favourite clue is also in this area: 45d [“Final passage?”] OBIT.

Other fave fill: YORICK, JEST, BBQ RUB, JILL, and LAWN PARTY. It was a really fun time, and a great way to start my Thursday.

Freddie Cheng’s Universal crossword, “We’re A Team” — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer is a phrase with US in it twice.

Universal Crossword, 12 01 2022, “We’re A Team”

  • 19a[*Dormitories and such] – CAMPUS HOUSING
  • 31a [*It’s no joke] – SERIOUS BUSINESS
  • 39a [*Bushy upper-lip growths] – WALRUS MUSTACHES
  • 52a [*Likely culprits] – USUAL SUSPECTS
  • 51d [“We also want in!” … and a phonetic hint to what’s found in the starred clues’ answers] – US TOO

Today’s Universal puzzle has a nice enough theme that is really lifted, in my opinion, by the stellar quality of the two grid-spanning answers. SERIOUS BUSINESS and WALRUS MUSTACHES are just so fun – and they’re only a row apart in the grid, so a bunch of answers have to run through them both! I’m so glad it worked out fill-wise because this puzzle would be worse without them. There are a fair amount of phrases with the double US string, so the puzzle might have been more interesting with a tighter theme set, but I like the ones Freddie chose here.

Highlight clues: 49d [Blessed sound?] for ACHOO, [Class-conscious org.?] for PTA (a great way to jazz up an overused answer!)

Highlight fill: RAVIOLI, TOASTY, UPQUARK (I didn’t know that one though)

Thing I’m still wondering about: Can you really take the GRE as an *alternative* to the MCAT or the LSAT? I thought they were for different things.

Erik Agard’s USA Today Crossword, “One and …” — Emily’s write-up

A fun title hint that’s really the full theme plus an awesome themer set made a delightful puzzle!

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday December 1, 2022

USA Today, December 1 2022, “One and …” by Erik Agard

Theme: the first word or phrase can be added to the end of the puzzle’s title to create a new phrase


  • 17a. [Lead single from Rihanna’s “Loud”], ONLYGIRL
  • 28a. [“I’ll have what she’s having”], THESAMEFORME
  • 47a. [bell hooks book published in 2000], ALLABOUTLOVE
  • 64a. [It’s been agreed to], DONEDEAL

ONLYGIRL took me a few crossings to get, as well as THESAMEFORME since I kept getting distracted by the movie scene referenced in its cluing. ALLABOUTLOVE examines the concept of love and explores what it truly means. DONEDEAL is a great phase and also makes for a fun final themer to this set. With the title for the theme, we get: ONE AND ONLY, ONE AND THE SAME, ONE AND ALL, and ONE AND DONE.


Stumpers: ENIGMA (kept thinking in terms of puzzles or logic but a few crossings helped), RUNIN (needed crossings), and OTTO (new to me, needed crossings)

Loved the theme and themer set most of all today, though it also had an excellent grid design and nice overall fill.

4.25 stars


Shannon Rapp’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Shannon Rapp’s puzzle feature’s a common enough theme trope, but with an excellent revealing answer. Each of four entries has the tetragram HAND scrambled within them, explained as a SECRETHANDSHAKE.

  • [*Bounce around the Caribbean, say], ISL(ANDH)OP
  • [*1983 film that won an Oscar for Best Original Song], FLAS(HDAN)CE. Rest easy, Irene Cara.
  • [*School of Hindu philosophy], JAI(NDHA)RMA
  • [*Was completely clueless], (HADN)ODIEA

Interesting spots:

  • [Inca __: Peruvian soft drink], KOLA. Oddly, not cola flavoured…
  • [Pack it in], EAT. Found this inscrutable. Pack it in… your mouth.
  • [“Darkwing Duck” character Dr. __ Dendron], RHODA. Rather a deep cut, appearing in a single episode; but inferrable, based on the pun…
  • [Cold temperatures], TEENS. In Fahrenheit; in centrigrade, merely cool; In kelvin… deadly.
  • [50-50, facetiously], HALFSIES. Not sure what the “facetiously” part is doing in this clue?


Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 12/1/22 – Berry

Amy here, popping up a quick grid and some brief notes.

Easy-peasy! Quicker than I finish a Tuesday NYT (I rarely do the Monday NYT, so no sense of comparative solving times for Monday).

Fave fill includes MASQUERADE BALLS, “AS I UNDERSTAND IT…,” bizarre TV cook SANDRA LEE (Google her Kwanzaa cake video if you want to see some weirdness), MORAL OBLIGATION, BLACK FRIDAY SALE (skipped it myself, along with Cyber Monday), sports PLAYOFFS.

4 stars from me.

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25 Responses to Thursday, December 1, 2022

  1. Me says:

    NYT: I really liked the theme, but I thought the SW corner was very frustrating. Never heard of NEODADA or its immediate neighbor ANTARES, didn’t know BASK or BASK shark in this context, and I had HAUNT rather than DAUNT. Couldn’t figure out SENSORS or IDEA, either. So I had a lot of blank/wrong squares all concentrated together, and it took a very long time to find a toehold. I came very close to throwing in the towel.

    I kind of wish that BASK had been clued in a less obscure fashion, which would have provided the toehold I needed. But I’m sure others welcomed the challenge of this area.

    Not sure if there’s some trick to Canberra’s state being New South Wales. That’s clearly wrong as a straightforward statement and really should have been caught if there’s no twist that I’m missing.

    • Martin says:

      I’m a Scorpio, so Antares is a personal favorite. The brightest star in Scorpio, Antares has a beautiful red color. In fact, the name means “rival of Mars.” When Mars is in that part of the sky and it and Antares are close, the sight is awesome.

    • Eric H says:

      I was slowed by the SW corner by not knowing NEODADA, tAUNT instead of DAUNT, and not knowing the constellation ANTARES is part of (though I have hear of the star).

      Regarding NSW: The constructor commented at Wordplay that he wanted to avoid clueing it with Sydney, but didn’t look closely enough at the map. Will Shortz’s team should have caught it.

  2. Cavin says:

    NYT: a RHPS-themed crossword! I am DELIGHTED!

  3. Andy says:

    NTY: Being Thursday I didn’t think much of only having 6 squares for CONCHES, and put HE in one square. Thankfully I realized quickly enough there was no rebus, and also learned that /kahnk/ is the prevailing American pronunciation. Only ever pronouncing it /kahntsch/, the plural CONCHS just looks wonky to me. Seems it’s one of the few words in the language ending in -NCHS. Fittingly most of the others are also molluscoidal, such as NUDIBRANCHS, but of everyday words, SYNCHS looks to be the only other one. I will note that, yes, those are all pronounced with a /k/ at the end, but I’ll probably keep saying “conch” the other way.

    In any event, an enjoyable puzzle, even without a rebus

  4. placematfan says:

    For me, IT’S A NO-GO is a dealbreaker. When your three core themers are time-descriptive statements, the last thing you want in your grid is a sort-of time-descriptive Across statement of comparable length. Nuh-uh. Rework that corner. Throw a cheater in the 20 square if you have to. This is too inelegant.

  5. Zach says:

    WSJ: @Jim, regarding the Yankees clue at 21A, my interpretation is that the entirety of the baseball season takes place during Daylight Savings Time, but I was thrown off by “double-headers” with a hyphen. I thought there was some wordplay involved because doubleheaders should not contain a hyphen. Maybe I also missed something. Otherwise it’s an editorial oversight.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Terrible clue, IMO. Double-headers just seems to be haphazardly included in the clue with the express purpose of confusing the solver, as if just “Setting for NY Yankees games” wouldn’t be tricky enough. Yeesh.

      I’m trying to picture a solver 5 or 10 years from now encountering this puzzle and IT ME. My guess is that the reaction will be “WTF???”. You know, kinda like my reaction to this annoyingly selfish expression the first time I encountered it in a crossword puzzle. I have the same feeling about “Yay me” and “I rule”. Ugh. I’m not a violent person at all, but I might very well slap someone if I ever hear one these expressions outside of crossword puzzles.

      • Matthew Gritzmacher says:

        huh, I haven’t seen “It me” used in parallel to “I rule” or “yay me” at all. I understand it to be something like “I feel a connection to this/this resonates with me” usually with an element of “it’s good to know I’m not alone in feeling a connection to this.” Perhaps it’s shifted more rapidly than I can keep up!

        • sanfranman59 says:

          Hmm … “Recognition of oneself” suggested an “I rule”/”Yay me” vibe to me. But who really knows since there’s no authoritative source for understanding the meaning. Are we cruciverbalists expected to use Urban Dictionary as a language authority now in addition to the OED and Merriam-Webster?

          A little more research suggests that I misinterpreted the clue. I’m trying to understand why someone would use this ambiguous phrase instead of the easily understood “I can relate” or “Me too”, but language evolves over time I suppose. Nonetheless, if someone said “It me” to me, I’d probably just look at them quizzically and wonder what the heck they meant.

      • Ethan says:

        But if the Yankees (God forbid) played in the World Series, the game would be at the end of October and during Standard Time. “Doubleheaders” was maybe a qualifier to exclude the postseason, as “regular season games” is a bit more wordy.

        • Gary R says:

          DST doesn’t end until the first Sunday in November. This year, the Astros won the series in six games. Game 6 was November 5 and DST ended November 6. Of course, Game 7 would have been played in Standard Time, and in a different year, the time change would be earlier than November 6.

  6. huda says:

    @NYT- Zachary David Levy review…
    You described my experience- the puzzle put up a lot of resistance and that got in the way of any sense of antici-pation.
    I loved the Key West-Conch Republic story! Thank you.

  7. JohnH says:

    NYT: Done! Seriously, I enjoyed the theme, and it went quickly, but no question I like others here ran into snags along the way.

    I too hesitated at CONCHS, but no getting around that this is the preferred spelling in the dictionaries I checked. I did know ANTARES from, well, somewhere, which aided me on the SW, so it wasn’t a killer. Still, sure, BASK felt a bit odd, and I hesitated between BARED ALL and “dared all,” leading to the meaningless DIB. But done.

    I also had options in the SE, where I turned out to need the expected PATION to finish. For REVAMP , first tried “revise,” thought of “tweeter” for PREENER (well, ok, that fits birds better than cats), didn’t know ANNA SUI, and there’s always the ambiguity in the NYT of a different, less familiar final letter for ET ALIA. But again the theme carried it. Made for a good puzzle.

  8. Reid says:

    NYT: I think the bottom left was hard but do-able, but the bottom right was just plain unfair. The A in PATION could just as easily be an I, and I think most people would put an E at the end of ANNASU. Add to the fact that PATION is very obscure, and ITSANOGO for me.

  9. David L says:

    NYT: HOUSTON was the first word spoken on the moon? A widespread belief, but not actually true, it sez here.

    • JohnH says:

      “Print the legend?” Well, at least the first words don’t turn out to have been a four-letter word said under his breath.

  10. mani says:

    LAT 47A: Jainism may be an offshoot of Hinduism, but for centuries it has been a separate religion with its own philosophy.

    • Judith says:

      LAT: You’re right about that — although it shares many beliefs with the two, Jainism is considered a third religious tradition, independent from both the Hindu and Buddhist faiths.

  11. Reddogg says:

    BEQ puzzle contains this clue: FULL OF SHIT, SAY. I shall see if my post makes it.

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