Thursday, December 8, 2022

BEQ untimed(Darby) 


LAT 3:20 (Gareth) 


NYT n/a (ZDL) 


The New Yorker 3:10 (Amy) 


Universal 2:55 (Sophia) 


USA Today 8:49 (Emily) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Chase Dittrich & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “To Be Continued…”—Jim P’s review

Our revealer is HAS THE FINAL WORD (60a, [Possesses ultimate authority, like each starred answer in relation to the previous one (and wrapping around)]). The other theme answers each share a word with the preceding and following theme answers, and should be viewed as a set.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “To Be Continued…” · Chase Dittrich & Jeff Chen · Thu., 12.8.22

  • 17a. [*…”Ain’t gonna happen!”…] WHEN HELL FREEZES (over).
  • 27a. [*…”That’s all from me”…] OVER AND (out).
  • 30a. [*…”Move aside!”…] OUT OF MY (way).
  • 43a. [*…”In the old days”…] WAY BACK (when).

I like the gimmick here. After getting the first one, I probably scowled because it seemed like the puzzle was trying to get away with leaving out a word of the phrase (as I know it). But I caught on when I got to the second one, and that made getting the rest of them pretty quick work. Nice, Thursdayish theme.

I enjoyed all of the long fill today: FORMULA ONE, EMMA WATSON, KANGAROO, and FREE LOVE. Plus, HOSER, KABUL, and Greta GERWIG.

That’s not to say everything was perfect in the grid. We have ungainly MT IDA, an unusual plural proper noun (DAMONS), a longish partial (A STAGE), and an unsightly crossing of PAWL and TEMPI. No idea what a PAWL [Windlass part] is, nor even what a windlass is. (Ah, nautical stuff. That explains it. I was in the Air Force, not the Navy.) And TEMPI [Players’ paces] as plural of tempo is just meh.

Clues of note:

  • 22a. [Breaks in cases]. LEADS. I like this clue; there are multiple ways to read it.
  • 25a. [Human embryo feature that’s gone by birth]. TAIL. Did not know this. Turns out it’s exceedingly rare but possible for a child to be born with a true tail. There have been about 40 known cases worldwide.
  • 35a. [Runoff election, e.g.]. REVOTE. Timely. Absolutely amazing to see almost half of the Georgia electorate vote for someone who is clearly unsuitable for the job (Walker).
  • 4d. [Hopper in a “mob”]. KANGAROO. Apparently groups of kangaroos are called “mobs” because when their group is threatened, each individual goes its own way, i.e. they don’t move as a group.
  • 7d. [Capital nicknamed “Tigerstaden”]. OSLO. “The Tiger City” nickname seems to have originated from this poem in which a horse, representing the peaceful countryside, and a tiger, representing the dangerous city, do battle. Spoiler alert: The tiger didn’t fare so well.
  • 59d. [Purviance who appeared in many Chaplin films]. EDNA. Wow, um, really? How many solvers know this name?

Nifty theme, mostly nice fill. 3.75 stars.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Getting Up There” – Jenni’s write-up

This is at most a Wednesday NYT difficulty level and the theme could be an NYT Monday or Tuesday. I guess Peter’s giving us a break after last week’s. I prefer the difficult ones. Oh, and there was a totally unfair crossing where I was Natick’ed.

Each theme answer has circles. For this performance, the role of the circles will be played by the color orange.

Fireball, December 7, 2022, Peter Gordon, “Getting Up There,” solution grid

  • 21a [Person who is lusted after] is a SEX OBJECT.
  • 26a [“In addition…”] is FURTHERMORE.*
  • 36a [1988 Shirley MacLaine film with a screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala based on a novel by Bernice Rubens] is MADAME SOUSATZKA. The Z was the Natick square. I probably should know that NJ Senator Bob MENENDEZ spells his name with a Z rather than an S. Since I didn’t know that and had never heard of the film, I was stumped.
  • 45a [Device used by John Madden to diagram plays] is the TELESTRATOR.
  • 54a [Slug, e.g.] is a GASTROPOD. Not to be confused with a gastropub, where one might be served a GASTROPOD.

And in case it wasn’t obvious, there’s a revealer stretched across two answers. 66a [When combined with 67-Across, the theme of this puzzle] is ATMO/SPHEREEXOSPHERETHERMOSPHEREMESOSPHERESTRATOSPHERE, and TROPOSPHERE are the layers of the ATMOSPHERE. Here’s a handy diagram.

Handy diagram

It’s a perfectly fine theme. There’s nothing to figure out and no “aha” moment (at least not for me since I figure it out with THERMO). Hence the NYT Tuesday comparison.

*If you did the first version of the puzzle Peter sent out, there was a circle missing. There is no THERMSPHERE.

A few other things:

  • I’m going to make chili in the slow cooker later this week. I can’t remember the last time I used the slow cooker to make STEW.
  • 20a [Shtetl shout] is OY VEY. Oy. For one thing, that term has moved well beyond the shtetl. For another, in my experience it is more often a moan than a shout.
  • I’m not an 80s kid and I’m still happy to see REN clued by reference to “Footloose” rather than Stimpy.
  • 42a [Golf driver’s power source?] is GAS. Aren’t golf carts electric? What am I missing?
  • I’m amused at the juxtaposition of ADELAIDE and DAMASCUS with only one of them clued as a city.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: the Shirley MacLaine movie and NJ Senator. I also did not know the word odontiasis. I didn’t have any trouble inferring that it’s related to teeth.

The New York Times — 12/8/2022

For those unaware, there will be a one-day walkout at the NYT beginning at midnight tonight. In solidarity with the union, the Thursday puzzle will be omitted this week (apologies to Grant Thackray, as their puzzle will unfortunately run during the first walkout at the paper since the late 1970s).

From the Guardian:

The New York Times is bracing for a 24-hour walkout on Thursday by hundreds of journalists and other employees, in what would be the first strike of its kind at the newspaper in more than 40 years.

Newsroom employees and other members of the NewsGuild of New York say they are fed up with bargaining that has dragged on since their last contract expired in March 2021. The union announced last week that more than 1,100 employees would stage a 24-hour work stoppage starting at 12.01am on Thursday unless the two sides reached a contract deal.

Negotiations lasted for more than 12 hours into late Tuesday and continued on Wednesday, but the sides remained far apart on issues including wage increases and remote-work policies.

On Wednesday evening the union said via Twitter that a deal had not been reached and the walkout was happening. “We were ready to work for as long as it took to reach a fair deal,” it said, “but management walked away from the table with five hours to go.”

“We know what we’re worth,” the union added.

The Thursday write-up will return next week.

John Ewbank’s Universal crossword, “Term Limits” — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Each theme clue is constructed using the first and last character – the “sides” of each theme answer. This will make more sense with an example:

Universal Crossword, 12 08 2022, “Term Limits”

  • 17a [JD] – JAGGED EDGES
  • 30a [WE] – WIDE MARGINS
  • 45a [ON] – OPEN BORDERS
  • 61a [Showing partiality… or a hint to how the clues for 17-, 30- and 45-Across were constructed] – TAKING SIDES

This is a very cool theme, in my opinion. I love that the constructed two letter clues are all real words/common abbreviations – much more interesting than if they were just two random letters. I’m not sure the revealer works 100%…. but I think there needs to be some kind of revealer or something that says “hey, literally read the answer for this to make sense!”… so I don’t mind it. The title, on the other hand, is excellent.

The only problem with this theme, for me at least, was that I only realized what was going on after I was done with the puzzle. I solved it like a themeless while just treating the theme answers like they had no clues, thinking “I’ll go back to them after I run through all the across and down clues and see what’s going on then”. But after I had taken my first pass through the across and downs, I had under 10 squares left to fill in. I think this puzzle fell a little bit on the easier side, which honestly makes sense to balance the high concept theme for newer solvers! But for anyone who solves crosswords regularly, this is so easy that it takes away from the “aha” moment the theme deserves.

Quick notes:

    •  Such great long bonuses in TWIN SISTER, HOOTENANNY, BON APPETIT, GUTTER BALL. And they’re stacked, too!
    • A lot of time when a puzzle has a lot of rare letters, the rest of the fill can struggle in those areas – it can feel like the constructor tried to force it in. Today, though, there are 3 Z’s, 2 X’s, and a J, and the puzzle flows really well still. Well, except for LOIRE, which I had no idea on.
    • Best clue in the puzzle: 23d [Someone opening a can of worms?] for ANGLER!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1529, “Sick Jokes”—Darby’s review

Theme: Each theme answer uses a cold symptom to replicate the sound of a common phrase.

Theme Answers

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Crossword #1529, “Sick Jokes” solution for 12/8/2022

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1529, “Sick Jokes” solution for 12/8/2022

  • 17a [“‘Think about it,’ with a cold?”] ACHOO ON THAT / CHEW ON THAT
  • 27a [“Apprehended while doing something bad, with a cold”] COUGH IN THE ACT / CAUGHT IN THE ACT
  • 44a [“Combat with knives, with a cold?”] SNICK OR SNEEZE / SNICK-OR-SNEE
  • 59a [“Pompous ‘I,’ with a cold?”] ROYAL WHEEZE / ROYAL WE

Winter weather always brings colds with it, and this year is no different. As always, these were really clever and relatively easy to parse, especially with some help on the crosses.I was unfamiliar with SNICK-OR-SNEE and so SNICK OR SNEEZE was harder to figure out. I really liked ACHOO ON THAT. ROYAL WHEEZE was also pretty fun.

I moved threw the top section relatively quickly but struggled with some of the proper nouns in the middle section. I thought that 38a [“‘Emily in Paris’ star Collins”] LILY was fair (and super timely given the upcoming release of its new season, even though I needed some help from CALF and ENOLA GAY to fill it in. Around this time of year, I have a feeling there were be a few holiday puzzles that will clue Catherine O’HARA’s name as related to Home Alone rather than as 34a [“‘Schitt$ Creek’ actress”]. I also enjoyed the mention of 41a [“‘The Crown’ actress Claire”] FOY. There was also 32d [“‘Blade Runner’ actor”] RUTGER HAUER and 31d [“River through Turin”] THE PO. Included the definite article here was a bit odd, in my mind, and so I got it on the crosses. Speaking of names, I grew up watching the made for TV Librarian movies and ER, so it was a treat to see 51d [“Noah of ‘Leverage: Redemption’”] WYLE.

Very seasonally apt puzzle. I hope y’all stay healthy!

David Alfred Bywaters’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Today’s theme by David Alfred Bywaters relies a lot on forcing clues. It’s very creative, in that each of four phrases are cliched mottos – saws – and their clue is a type of cutting saw. Getting the two parts to line up well is quite tricky, and I’d say this puzzle succeeds 3/4’s of the time: [Band saw?], UNITEDWESTAND; [Power saw?], MIGHTISRIGHT; [Coping saw?], ONEDAYATATIME; all seem apt. I’m not sure [Circular saw?], ITISWHATITIS matches its clue as precisely.

Fast five:

  • [“Cheers” bartender Woody], BOYD. I sure don’t remember a lot of sitcom characters by their surnames.
  • [Wizard], MAGUS. Fun, uncommon singular form!
  • [Imitate a rooster], CROW. The roosters (and their hens) in the homeless camp opposite work have learnt, like the dogs, to knock on our gate for food…
  • [Rum-and-water quaff], GROG. Sounds unappealing…
  • [“Stick a fork in me”], IMDONE. A very dad-joke clue.


Erik Agard & Malaika Handa’s USA Today crossword, “He’s Right Behind Me, Isn’t He?” — Emily’s write-up

Awesome theme today, with lots of fresh fill, and fantastic cluing!

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday December 8, 2022

USA Today, December 8 2022, “He’s Right Behind Me, Isn’t He?” by Erik Agard & Malaika Handa

Theme: each themer contains —HEME— (or “he” immediately preceding “me”)


  • 17a. [Short-lived], EPHEMERAL
  • 41a. [“Rap Sh!t” track with the lyric “living’ rent-free in his pockets”], SEDUCEANDSCHEME
  • 66a. [“Where You Lead,” for “Gilmore Girls”], THEMESONG

A fun set of themers today: EPHEMERAL, SEDUCEANDSCHEME, and THEMESONG. I’m most intregiued with the theme that was pulled off, connecting them all, and the pitch-perfect title with its playful hint. It’s overt but made subtle by the second half in its use of a common turn of phrase that renders it playful (though depending on the situation, it could be ominous too). Everything about this is just fun—and what better crossword for a day like today!

Favorite fill: NORUSH, UNBAKED, THAI, and HERB

Stumpers: BIEL (“Alba” came to mind first), EASTTIMOR (needed a couple of crossings), and KATSU (“karaage” was my initial instinct)

Smooth solve and really enjoyed the grid design as well. Fantastic collab and I hope that we see more from them!

4.75 stars


Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 12/8/22 – Weintraub

Usually I slide below the 3-minute mark on Thursday New Yorker puzzles, many of which are by Robyn. This one was a bit slower for me. Still much easier than a Friday NYT themeless, though!

Fave fill: I liked the VOW/WED/OATH combo meal. GO FOR A SPIN, AIRPORT BAR, elusive WORLD PEACE, VEGAN MAYO, GAME SHOW, and “AHA” MOMENT.

Two bits:

  • 1d. [Condiment that might use soy milk or aquafaba in place of egg], VEGAN MAYO. If you don’t know, aquafaba is basically the water that chickpeas have been cooked in. It can replace egg whites in recipes.
  • 53d. [Tech used by Waze and Google Maps], GPS. The curious and funny Adam Conover (who explains things on the cable show Adam Ruins Everything) has a Netflix series called The G-Word (exec-produced by Obama!) about various areas of the US government. Entertaining and informative. The “Future” episode focuses on the military defense group that operates the entire GPS system that so many businesses rely on and profit from. Watch the whole series–you won’t regret it.

4.25 stars from me. There aren’t many crosswords that I routinely solve unless I’m blogging them, but Robyn’s easy themelesses are a fun speed-run.

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

21 Responses to Thursday, December 8, 2022

  1. Me says:

    I was able to do the Thursday NYT puzzle before the walkout started. I think the puzzle will be extremely polarizing. I think the constructor was aiming for variety in having three different types of theme answers, but it seemed scattershot to me. For me, the different elements didn’t really come together.

  2. Leading Edge Boomer says:

    I also finished the puzzle before the NYT walkout. There were three different gimmicks, each appearing just once. What sense does that make?

  3. Jose Madre says:

    I came here so that someone could explain the NYT Thursday puzzle. I solved it before I knew about the walkout. I solved the puzzle but have no idea what the ‘catch’ is. Others here are saying 3 unrelated themers? Really? ugh

    • Eric H says:

      Per 47D:

      Eye patch = black square over the I in LONG JOHN S[I]LVER/MAR[I]NERS

      Hook hand = circled letters in the NW spelling FLUSH, a type of poker hand

      Peg leg = Shaded squares in the SE, par of SHAKE A PEG

      [Edit: It looks like Martin and I were typing at the same time.]

      I solved it quickly, had a gazillion typos to find, and then tried to rebus P/L into 62A/34D.

      Kind of a cute idea, but it’s not my favorite Grant Thackray puzzle.

  4. Martin says:

    The hook hand spells out FLUSH, a poker hand. The crossing of 20-Across and 9-Down is a black square that needs to be I to complete the entries — the “I” (eye) patch. 34-Down is SHAKE A PEG rather than SHAKE A LEG. Those are the three things a PIRATE has.

  5. Amanda says:

    This one lost me with the FLUSH. Thanks for the explanation. Is a hook really a poker? Why not just have HOOK instead? If you can change PEG to LEG, why not SWINEHOO? Ha.

    • JohnH says:

      This one lost me a lot. I got FLUSH quickly enough but could make no sense of its relation to “hook hand.” I did get after a little thought the change from LEG going down to PEG going across (and admired it), but then the NE almost completely stymied me. At first I wondered if “tar” hadn’t become a plural noun (for seagoers), sloppily missing that a dash clue was present going down as well as across. I wasn’t sure whether “bail” might just as well be “heave,” as in removing water from a boat. And then I didn’t know the crossing proper names of the rapper and Spielberg’s company.

      I eventually got it (apart from the relation of FLUSH to hook) and didn’t at all object to three devices for the three parts of a coherent 47D, but somehow it all felt like a stretch. (And do all pirates have those attributes?) One upside: I always wondered how the day’s puzzle decides whether to shade or encircle squares. Here I could have both. (Well, of course I still don’t know.)

    • Dallas says:

      The hook is the shape of the circles; and a “flush” is a poker hand, hence: putting FLUSH in the circles makes a “hook hand”. This puzzle really seemed to be all over the place. When I first saw the I, I thought the theme was going to be “crossed-eyes” but then there weren’t any more. After I finished it, it took me a while to see the circles, and get the “hook.” I dunno… it went by fast, though.

    • Mutman says:

      And PEG was in the clues and the grid. What’s up with that.

      Add me to the “generally confused about the puzzle” list.

  6. Eric H says:

    WSJ: Jim P writes, “59d. [Purviance who appeared in many Chaplin films]. EDNA. Wow, um, really? How many solvers know this name?”

    At least one. It’s been so long since I’ve seen a Chaplin movie that I’m not sure
    I’ve ever seen Ms. Purviance in anything, but I probably have.

    I think it’s just one of those uncommon names that had stuck with me for years.

    • Lise says:

      I assumed that “purviance” was a noun that meant some type of person or function. After solving, I looked it up and found it was a person. I hadn’t heard of her, but it’s fun to have yet another way to clue EDNA.

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    What does “tk” mean in the summary of at the top of the page here? I’ve been looking at that for years without knowing what it means.

    • Pilgrim says:

      I believe it means “to come.” I think it’s a printing/journalism thing.

    • PJ says:

      I don’t expect today’s NYT to be reviewed until at least Friday, if at all. It’s a show of solidarity with the New York Times Guild members who are currently in a 24 hour walkout.

    • Martin says:

      “To come” is tk for the same reason journalists use “lede,” “graf” and “hed.” They misspell these tags so they stand out as editorial mark-up and don’t accidentally wind up in the published article.

  8. Gary R says:

    NYT: I’m afraid I didn’t care much for this one. The three different “tricks” didn’t do much for me, but the larger issue is that this just seems to be three things that are *sometimes* associated with pirates. And none of them is associated with the one pirate named in the puzzle – LONG JOHN SILVER. As I recall, he didn’t have an eye patch or a hook hand and, while he was missing a leg, he used a crutch, not a peg-leg. So, not a favorite.

  9. Larry says:

    Anyone understand the title of John Ewbank’s puzzle today? (Boston Globe and others) “Term Limits” ?


    In the Fireball puzzle I’m pretty sure the Golf driver’s power source is referring to a Volkswagen Golf.

  11. Jay Kippel says:

    Business training can improve your profession.

Comments are closed.