Thursday, January 5, 2023

BEQ  untimed (Darby) 


LAT  5:29 (Gareth) 


NYT  19:27 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker 2:59 (Amy) 


Universal  4:32 (Sophia) 


USA Today  8:00 (Emily) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Jesse Goldberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Crosswalks”—Jim P’s review

Theme: BLACK CATS (38a, [Unlucky symbols, four of which can be found in this puzzle]). Four entries are clued as words that contain the letters CAT, yet those CATs are disguised as black squares in the grid. Note that each part of each entry is a valid crossword word, even though the first halves aren’t clued separately.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Crosswalks” · Jesse Goldberg · Thu., 1.5.23

  • 14a. [Outmoded library fixture] CARD (CAT)ALOG with 15a [Slept like ___] A LOG.
  • 26a. [How sensitive subjects should be handled] DELI(CAT)ELY with 27a [English cathedral city] ELY.
  • 54a. [Kingbird, for one] FLY(CAT)CHER with 55a [Oscar winner with four #1 Billboard hits] CHER.
  • 68a. [They’re not going places] STAY(CAT)IONS with 69a [Charge carriers] IONS.

Nice! I caught on almost right away and knew what to look for by the time I got to the second theme answer. The revealer then gave me the verification I was expecting.

I’m not sure I’m sold on the title though. Obviously it’s a bad omen to have a black cat cross one’s path, but I’m not sure how that translates into the title.

ELY Cathedral

There’s quite a lot of nice long-ish fill, especially in those big corners (though nothing longer than seven letters). Highlights include “ACT FAST!,” GALILEE, ALFALFA, DAY TRIP, PRALINE, BASSINET, ARAPAHO, and LUNCHEON.

Clue of note: 27a [English cathedral city] ELY. Most of you only know ELY from crosswords, but you won’t catch me complaining about it since I’ve visited the cathedral multiple times and my daughter even had her high school graduation ceremony there. Beautiful church!

Nice puzzle. 3.75 stars.

Emily Carroll’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Very difficult (19m27s)

Emily Carroll’s New York Times crossword, 1/4/2023, 0104

Today’s theme: SQUEEZE PLAY (Risky baseball strategy that’s indicated four times in this puzzle?)


This was my slowest Thursday in recent memory.  I caught the rebus quickly, but couldn’t figure out what exactly I needed to SQUEEZE — synonyms for PLAY, maybe?  But then CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM yielded Rent, and I was on the move.  Unfortunately, my momentum didn’t last long.  I proceeded to sit in the NW corner for the better part of five minutes, with Evita proving to be an inscrutable rebus inside of LEVITATE and INEVITABLE.  The NE corner wasn’t much better; couldn’t remember Bret Easton ELLIS (and also, he is always, always, always referred to by his full name), wanted SINAI to be the crossword staple ARARAT, and just had no clue about NAURU.

Cracking: SQUEEZE PLAY — revealer aside, it’s a great entry, along with the related SAFETY SQUEEZE and SUICIDE SQUEEZE.

SlackingCATSUP — I reject the validity of this spelling.  It sounds like a casual greeting between tabbies.

Sidetracking: LILACS — my grandfather’s essay of the same name was published in March of 1966, chronicling his flight from Russia as a child.  Sadly, it rings true now more than ever:

And I thought to myself: How is it possible, in Russia, a land celebrated for its dreamers of liberty – Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy – that such a terrible enslavement should exist? How is it possible that in the birthplace of Moussorgsky and Tchaikovsky, where once strummed the plaintive balalaika, now whined unceasingly the shrill bullets; where once gaily tiptoed the lovely ballerina, now grimly trod the heavy boot of the Red conqueror?

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s Universal crossword, “Around We Go” — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: The word EARTH travels from the left side of the grid to the right as the theme answers progress.

Universal, 01 05 2023, “Around We Go”

  • 17a [*Singer who portrayed Catwoman] – EARTHA KITT
  • 23a [*2004 comedy whose title is stylized with a symbol of love] – I HEART HUCKABEES
  • 50a [*”What a bummer for you”] – SORRY TO HEAR THAT
  • 60a [*Type of steel-producing furnace] – OPEN HEARTH
  • 36a [Globe-trotter, or a hint to the word progressing through the starred clues’ answers] – WORLD TRAVELER

When I was first solving the puzzle, I thought “oh, each theme answer has EARTH in it, that’s kind of cool”. I was very impressed when I saw the second layer of the puzzle and how the “earth” literally moves. Enrique laid out the puzzle so that the first and last “earth”s are at the two sides of the puzzle, which is elegant. Also elegant is that the earth is split between words in the longer theme answers, and fully embedded in a word in the first and last ones (since it would be impossible to split it between words there). EARTHA KITT is my favorite answer, as an “Emperor’s New Groove” fan.

Quick takes on the rest of the puzzle:

  • 37d [Place for elevated music appreciation?] is a great clue for OPERA BOX
  • I lost a bunch of time because I had “trio” for  [Jazz group] rather than BAND, and “ulnae” and not ULNAS for [Forearm bones]
  • I had seen the word BOKEH before but never knew what it meant, so thanks to the puzzle for teaching that to me!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1537, “Gliders”—Darby’s review

Theme: Each theme answer inserts SKI (the gliders of hte puzzle’s title) into a common phrase.

Theme Answers

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Crossword #1537, “Gliders” solution for 1/5/2022

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1537, “Gliders” solution for 1/5/2022

  • 18a [“Platonic ideal of some ‘SNL’ bits?”] MODEL SKITS / MODEL TS
  • 21a [“Stubborn fishtail?”] TENACIOUS SKID / TENACIOUS D
  • 38a [“Parisian cat food?”] FRENCH FRISKIES / FRENCH FRIES
  • 60a [“Critic’s piece that’s more annoying?”] PESKIER REVIEW / PEER REVIEW
  • 65a [“Tell the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist to not bother?”] FLEA SKIP IT / FLEA PIT

Five themers packed this puzzle with content, and the clues did a nice job helping us make a jump to these creative phrases. I got MODEL SKITS first and then TENACIOUS SKID fell into place once I parsed out the mechanism better. FRENCH FRISKIES made me laugh, as did PESKIER REVIEW.

I felt like this was an easier BEQ puzzle for me, moving in a rotation between Across and Down clues. I guessed KIM for 1d [“Jimmy’s girlfriend on ‘Better Call Saul’”] and needed the crosses to get INNIE since I don’t have Apple TV to watch 15a [“The ‘work life’ persona of a Lumon industries employee in ‘Severance’”]. Shout out to Top Chef’s latest season in Houston for making me familiar with 5d [“‘The Queen of Tejano Music’”] SELENA. Other particular challenges came in the form of NO SOAP (9d [“Just forget it”]) and 57d [“‘Call ___’ (1992 Television single)”] MR. LEE.

Fave fill: PIETAS, BEER COASTER, and the well-clued 19d [“Insta post”] SNAP.

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

New Yorker crossword solution, 1/5/23 – Weintraub

Robyn has crafted yet another satiny-smooth grid accompanied by easy clues.


For those of you stumped by 45d. [Whom Lil Nas X gives a lap dance, in the music video for “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”], you can watch the video and gain some contemporary cred:

Four stars from me.

Chandi Deitmer & Darby Ratliff’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Chandi Deitmer & Darby Ratliff give us a fairly typical LAT theme type – hidden letters. The revealer is ECHOLOCATION, and each of four answers have ECHO across two of their parts:

  • [*Person destined for greatness], THECHOSENONE
  • [*Nocturnal bird known for its cry], SCREECHOWL
  • [*Cocoa butter confection], WHITECHOCOLATE
  • [*Board-breaking move], KARATECHOP

The puzzle felt like it had quite a few unique / interesting answers:

  • [Black Power leader Kwame __], TURE.
  • [Period with a noticeable lack of feline fossils], CATGAP, which I thought must be made up initially, but it’s a thing.
  • [Pencil puzzle], DOTTODOT
  • [Jellystone resident], YOGIBEAR
  • [Cereal with collectible boxes], WHEATIES
  • [Some gender-fluid people], ENBIES
  • [Swahili for “thank you”], ASANTE

all of which more than offset the appearance of [Drought-damaged], SERE!


Erik Agard’s USA Today Crossword, “Rising Tears” — Emily’s write-up

Enjoyed today’s bonus fill in particular but got misdirected by the title for the theme.

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday January 05, 2023

USA Today, January 5 2023, “Rising Tears” by Erik Agard

Theme: each themer contains RIP going up since they are in the downs


  • 5d. [Say “Arrr” and “Shiver me timbers”], TALKLIKEAPIRATE
  • 9d. [“Heartwarming” stories about disabled people for abled audiences], INSPIRATIONPORN
  • 10d. [Fish known for its bite], PIRANHA
  • 41d. [Offspring of a vampire and a human], DHAMPIR

September 19 is International TALKLIKEAPIRATE Day. INSPIRATIONPORN was new to me but Forbes has an article explaining it and its term coined by Stella Young. Every time I think about a PIRANHA, the image that comes to mind is a toothy ravenous version drawn in cartoons. My favorite DHAMPIR is Fen (portrayed by Tanya DePass) in the Dungeons and Dragons actual play show The Black Dice Society that is available to watch on YouTube. Today’s theme stumped me but thanks to Sally’s blog for the explanation—I got misdirected by the title, reading it as “tears” as in “cries” instead of “tears” as in “rips up” so I kept looking for words related to crying and given the lengthy bonus fill, was unsure of the themer set for a bit.


Stumpers: PEEK (“glance” and “glimpse” can to mind first), PERALTA (new to me, needed crossings), and TRIX (couldn’t think of it)

Overall, a fun puzzle with lots of great fill! Creative theme, especially paired with the potential misdirection in the title that certainly got me today. How’d you all do?

4.5 stars


Sam Acker’s Fireball Crossword, “Blocked Canals” – Jenni’s write-up

I figured this had something to do with ears from the title, and the revealer confirmed that. I still couldn’t for the life of me figure it out and since it’s already late, I consulted Peter’s explanation.

The revealer starts at 6d [With 29- and 45-Down, heard but ignored…and a hint to this puzzle’s theme]: IN ONE EAR/AND OUT/THE OTHER. And indeed that’s what happens. Two of the black squares stand for EAR and four answers go in one of those squares and come out the other, on the other side of the puzzle. Here’s Peter’s grid.

Fireball, 1/4/2023, Sam Acker, “Blocked Canals,” solution grid

  • 1od [Unwarranted detention] starts with FALS and then jumps to REST at 63d. The E from FALSE ARREST is in the NE and the AR are down in the SW.
  • 25a [Participate (in)] is HAV/E/AR/OLE.
  • 33d [Accurate touchdown?] is ON TIM/E/AR/RIVAL.
  • 55a [Pitched lower than usual] is SID/E/AR/MED – “pitched” as in baseball, where the release point is lower with a sidearm delivery.

It’s very clever and remarkably tight, with each EAR square providing E to two clues and AR to the other two. I might have figured it out if I hadn’t been so convinced that 1od was FALSE IMPRISONMENT. And if I hadn’t waited until after dinner and drinks to solve it.


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

31 Responses to Thursday, January 5, 2023

  1. huda says:

    NYT: It took a while to figure out where to put the rebus(es) until I tumbled to the idea that they were PLAYs.
    Of course, it would have helped if I knew what a SQUEEZE PLAY was. I actually deduced the revealer from the rest of the puzzle and then looked it up. Someday, I will retire and devote time to figuring out the ins and outs of baseball. Meanwhile, I hang my head in shame at my ignorance of the great American pass time. Is it weird to be learning about it from puzzles?
    On the positive side, my little adventure says that the puzzle revealer was perfect since it could be figured out with no prior knowledge…
    @Zachary David Levy, I also went in search of your grandfather’s essay. I believe this is it:

    Very moving…

  2. Eric H says:

    NYT: It took me longer than usual to spot the first rebus. My CURB YOUpHUSIASM crossing PApAL (type of guidance) answer was obviously weird, but for some reason the rebus didn’t become apparent until I had the revealer.

    And thanks to whoever wrote the revealer clue for telling us how many rebuses there were. After getting [RENT], it was obvious that the answers containing [EVITA] and [HAIR] needed help.

    But those [CATS] were almost impossible to find! SCAN makes as much sense for “Body image?” as [CATS]CAN does (especially since that imaging is generally called a “CT scan” now). SUP as a cutesy way of saying [CATS]UP was entirely too plausible.

    But it was fun and just under my Thursday average, so I’m not complaining. (Well, OK — Where’s my TRES leches cake?)

    • Eric H says:

      Zachary David Levy — Try to remember Mount SINAI and Mount Horeb (which might be the same place as Mount SINAI). I’ve seen both in enough puzzles that they’re my go-to Biblical mountains when Ararat doesn’t fit.

      Also, I’m fine with CATSUP as a word. My family ate Heinz Catsup when I was a kid and I always wondered why it was pronounced “ketchup.” (As a condiment, I’ll put it on a hot dog, but since I don’t really eat hot dogs . . .)

      • Mutman says:

        I’m sorry Eric, Your family never had HEINZ CATSUP. It doesn’t exist. Only Heinz KETCHUP does, which happens to be the best and all other are imposters, such as HUNTS CATSUP.

        Great Thursday puzzle — I struggled as well to find EVITA and HAIR, but the persistence paid off!

        • Eric H says:

          Perhaps my family ate Hunt’s Catsup.

          I did check Wikipedia before commenting and I understood it to say that Heinz also used the “catsup” spelling, but since I can’t find a photo to back me up, I’ll admit I erred.

          • marciem says:

            Heinz changed from catsup to ketchup in the 1880s, to stand out from the rest of the tomato condiment brands, so you probably didn’t have it sitting on your dinner table.

      • Judith says:

        Your family may have consumed DelMonte Catsup, Eric. There’s a picture of it in Google images. Plus, my grandfather, born in the 1880s, always referred to the condiment as catsup and that’s good enough for me.

    • JohnH says:

      I faced much the same problem but differently. The spelling CATSUP just didn’t occur to me, and I thought of combining S from SCAN with KETCH from KETCHUP to make “sketch” and then tried to turn that into the basis for a rebus theme, but my next two theme entries refused to play along.

      I too started with PAPAL for PA _ AL, and I also was slow to get the clever “runs together” for CO-CHAIRS. Didn’t help that I thought of a stent as implanted in an operating room (dedicated to heart or general surgery), while CATH lab is new to me, and I didn’t know CLEA. From there I had to rethink, eventually coming up with the alternate spelling for a condiment I no longer use but not thinking of the rebus entries yet as plays. More like slightly tacky musicals. Alas, I admit to still be working on the fourth themer, no doubt somewhere in the NW. I am new to the Amy Lowell quote and some other stuff.

      So not complaining at all, but a hard Thursday.

  3. Martin says:

    Major storm here and power is out again. They are so swamped they are not expected to even determine the problem for another 24 hours. Puzzles (WSJ, Universal, Jonesin’, WaPo) will be affected. Sorry about this.

  4. J says:

    LAT had same theme with 3 same themers 9 months ago

    • placematfan says:

      Huh. Interesting. I wonder if this is an oversight or if the editor doesn’t consider theme duplication within a year a Thing.

    • marciem says:

      I wonder if it had to do with the timing of Patty Varol taking over as editor? She started in April last year, but the puzzle may have already been in the chute and escaped her notice??? I don’t see a byline for the editor, but the duplication of the theme and 3 themers is pretty obvious.

    • sanfranman59 says:


  5. joe bankman says:

    Your grandfather’s story was wonderful – thank you – and thanks to Huda for giving us the cite.
    I’d love to hear a bit more about your grandfather!

  6. Craig says:

    Are musicals and plays interchangeable? I thought it was a bit strange that all four rebus entries are musicals rather than plays.

    • marciem says:

      not all plays are musicals, but all musicals (stage-wise) are plays. (most or a lot of musical movies were adapted from plays).

      All the rebuses were musical plays.

      so no, the terms are not completely interchangeable, but are in this particular situation.

    • Eric H says:

      As marciem said, musicals are plays.

      For people who don’t really follow the New York theater scene, the names of the musicals that were in the puzzle are probably much more familiar than those of most “straight” plays.

  7. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: My dad (native Guamanian) still calls soy sauce “catsup” because the Chinese ke-tsiap was originally a dark-colored fermented fish sauce, and my dad likes to think he’s being cute. Maybe also because soy sauce is as ubiquitous to Chamorro culture as ketchup is to American culture.

  8. PJ says:

    I really enjoyed the first Fireball of the year. The theme seems NYT adjacent with black squares housing the rebuses and functioning as portals.

  9. Seattle Derek says:

    WSJ: I thought it was a terrific puzzle because of “hidden cats” and the four corners that each had triple-stacks of 7-letter answers. Kudos!

Comments are closed.