Thursday, March 30, 2023

BEQ untimed (Darby) 


LAT 4:45 (Gareth) 


NYT 9:28 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker 2:59 (Kyle) 


Universal 3:43 (Sophia) 


USA Today tk (Emily) 


WSJ 7:03 (Jim) 


Note: Fireball is a contest this week. We’ll have a review after the submission period closes.

Adam Wagner & Brooke Husic’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Easy (9m28s)

Adam Wagner & Brooke Husic’s New York Times crossword, 3/29, 0329

Today’s theme: word + synonym = common phrase

  • RIB ROAST (Tease / Tease)
  • CRAP SHOOT (“Drat!” / “Drat!”)
  • DROP KICK (Quit / Quit)
  • POT HEAD (Toilet / Toilet)
  • GOT CAUGHT (Heard / Heard)

A tale of two grids.  I had everything done except the SW quadrant at a crisp four minutes and change, and then — on the verge of shattering my Thursday record, set only two weeks ago — idled for another 5 minutes as I struggled with GAH instead of BAH or DOHPC HELP instead of IT HELP, and ERHU instead of ECRU or URDU or ETTU or anything else I might have guessed from the pattern alone.

As for the theme, it doesn’t require much explanation.  A bit incongruous in that the central theme entry is the only noun of the bunch, but otherwise it checks out.  There was some particularly clever Friday/Saturday level cluing, such as GOING ONCE (Presale alert?), MICRO (Soft opening?), and ARM HAIR (Tricep curls?).  And déjà vu — SUHWEET makes its second appearance in 2 weeks.

Cracking: RAGE ROOM — I’m sure it feels cathartic, but the violence of it seems ultimately counterproductive.

Slacking: SET TO — not any worse than the other awkward partials I’ve used a thousand times before.

Sidetracking: “He’s got the YIPS!”

Freddie Cheng’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Play On!”—Jim’s review

Today’s theme answers go into overtime. Strike that; reverse it. Overtime goes into today’s theme answers. Specifically, the letters OT are added to familiar phrases causing crossword wackiness. The revealer is IN OVERTIME (61a, [When some contests are resolved, and a hint to ending this puzzle’s theme answers]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Play On!” · Freddie Cheng · Thu., 3.30.23

  • 17a. [Archie Bunker, for some?] DREAM BIGOT. Hmm. Who would consider him thus, and why?
  • 24a. [Easiest gig ever in a Beckett production?] PLAY GODOT. This was the first theme answer I resolved and the duplication of PLAY (from the title) confused me quite a bit. I would’ve changed the title. Maybe to “The End of Regulation” perhaps? Also, I’m not sure the clue matches up. It seems to want a noun where the entry is a verb phrase. What say you?
  • 38a. [Ordinary winter jab?] STRAIGHT FLU SHOT. A surprising bit of re-parsing after there was none in the first two entries.
  • 48a. [Almost never conventional?] WEIRD A LOT. I liked this one best. Simple, clean, and funny.

Nice to end on a high note which helped me to overlook some of the nits I picked along the way. I like crossword wackiness as long as we’re provided a good basis for it, and IN OVERTIME suffices for me. OT comes at the end of each entry (as it comes at the end of regulation time in a game) wherein each entry (or the game) is resolved.

BEEN THERE,” WHITE WINE, ARMRESTS, MAFIOSOS, and “OH STOP!” top the fill. I also liked the ORANGE and YELLOW weather alert level mini theme. Didn’t remember Angela Lansbury’s MAME, but got it via crosses.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [Transient]. HOBO. I’m sure there are better clues for this. Or better yet, try to excise it from the grid.
  • 34a. [Parliament members]. OWLS. As in a “parliament of OWLS.” Good clue for which I needed a couple extra beats to resolve.
  • 54a. [Andalusian dance call]. OLE. Nice to have a different cluing angle for this.
  • 68a. [Outdo]. BEST. How many of us had BEAT here making 58d AMOA [“Mission Bell” singer-songwriter Lee]? Didn’t know the name so it seemed plausible. Thankfully I spotted it after only a few seconds and corrected it.

Solid puzzle. 3.75 stars.

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

Good morning! Today’s New Yorker puzzle is brought to us by Robyn Weintraub, who is also one of the constructors for ACPT coming up this weekend (I’ll be solving in the virtual tournament from home). Robyn constructed the ACPT final puzzle a few years ago, and I’d be glad to see her work in the finals again this year, though of course she also makes excellent themed puzzles so she could pop up at any time in the tournament!

The New Yorker solution grid – Thursday 03/30/23 – Robyn Weintraub

On to today’s crossword – we’ve got 9s and 10s stacked around the sides of the grid. Two 11s, PATIENT ZERO and IMAX THEATER extend into the center of the grid from the NW and SE triple stacks on either side of a propeller-like set of black squares.

  • 15A YARDSTICKS [They have three feet but no legs] – feels very much like a classic riddle. “Forwards I’m heavy, backwards I’m not. What am I?”
  • 10D NO PEEKING [“Keep your eyes closed until I say”] – the quintessential Weintraub conversational entry. See also 6D SHINE [“Rise and ___!”] and 48D LIAR [“You’re not telling the truth!]
  • 29D TINKERERS [People who take things apart and (maybe) put them back together] – Nice choice for a noun of agency entry.
  • 21D FRUIT FLY [Insect attracted to ripe produce] – in a tougher puzzle, you might see this clued as a model organism for biology research. Science!

Thank you Robyn!

Ella Derschowitz’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

It’s autumn here, so although most of our trees are evergreen, today’s theme by Ella Dershowitz feels timely, at least here, with its revealer of CHANGECOLOR. Apart from that, it’s a pretty standard LA Times theme, with COLOR scrambled across two parts of four long entries:

  • [*Office meeting spot], WATERCOOLER
  • [*Time for a cold one, facetiously], BEEROCLOCK. Great answer!
  • [*First love, perhaps], HIGHSCHOOLCRUSH. Late bloomer?
  • [*Small-scale investments], MICROLOANS

There were quite a few answers I was clueless about today:

  • [__ yum: Thai soup], TOM; not exposed enough to Thai cuisine I guess…
  • [Korean short ribs], GALBI; more asian cuisine that I haven’t seen around these parts.
  • [Blues guitarist Baker], ETTA.
  • [Mint variety used in Japanese cooking], SHISO. A third Asian cuisine tidbit that was unknown to me.

There were also more creative clues than usual:

  • [Pool resources], UNITE. I was thinking “pool” (n.)
  • [Baa nanas], EWES.
  • [Melting point, maybe], ICICLE

Lastly, why is [Singer known as the “Goddess of Pop], CHER not in the RORHOF yet?


Dylan Schiff’s Universal crossword, “Alternating Current” — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer contains a word meaning “current” with the letters alternately spaced throughout the base phrase.

Universal Crossword, 03 29 2023, “Alternating Currents”

  • 17a [Achieve something thought to be unachievable (In this answer, read letters 4, 6, 8)] – DO THE IMPOSSIBLE
  • 33a [Blintz or pierogi filling (… 1, 3, 5, 7, 9)] – FARMER’S CHEESE
  • 51a [High-level humanities degree (… 3, 5, 7, 9)] – DOCTOR OF LETTERS

Whenever I solve a Universal puzzle where the theme clues say “in this answer, read letters X, Y, Z…” I always solve it as a themeless and then come back and look at the theme once the puzzle is complete. I do this because counting letters is annoying (please, Universal, figure out how to add circles in your software!! If Amuse Labs can do it, so can you!!), and as such I get an easy themeless puzzle with a fun aha moment at the end. Lucky for me, today’s puzzle actually works great on both those fronts!

The theme answers themselves are great today (I love the grid-spanning DO THE IMPOSSIBLE), but this puzzle really shines in its down fill. Look at all the great answers: TAP DANCES, FADES OUT, TELLTALE, HUSH HUSH. Sometimes the fill of themed puzzles can be a little weaker due to constraints, but today’s kept me interested the whole way through.

The theme itself is nice too! The title works great, and all the embedded words are solid. FRESH inside of FARMER’S CHEESE is especially impressive as it’s a full 5 letters long.

Favorite clues: 20a [Short notice?] for IOU, 44a [Prince’s legacy?] for POP HITS.

New to me: Rap pioneer Mac DRE

I’ll be attending the ACPT this weekend, come say hi if you’re there too!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1561, “North by Northeast”–Darby’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer takes a common phrae and inserts an extra NE by an N in the answer, making it “North [N] by Northeast [NE].”

Theme Answers

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Crossword #1561, "North by Northeast" solution for 3/31/2023

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1561, “North by Northeast” solution for 3/31/2023

  • 20a [“Announcement that you’re surrounded by those who have scarlet letters”] I’M WITH THE BANNED / I’M WITH THE BAND
  • 36a [“MIT played a prank on Yale, say”] COLLEGE FUNNED / COLLEGE FUND
  • 55a [“Became a super obsessive fan over a 2016 Beyoncé album?”] LEMONADE STANNED / LEMONADE STAND

This theme was such a fun play on words, and I really appreciate the little bonus sound adding the NE adds to each of these phrases as you’re parsing out themers. I got LEMONADE STANNED first and then I’M WITH THE BANNED. COLLEGE FUNNED is admittedly a little awkward, but I think it’s still cute.

This puzzle had such great fill in each of its corners. I struggled with 11d [“His ‘4’”’ composition is entirely silent”] JOHN CAGE crossing 19a [“‘60s jacket style”] NEHRU, it all worked out in the end. 8d [“Silver bullet victim”] WEREWOLF was nifty, as was 37d [“Like those in a Zoom meeting”] ON CAMERA. 34a [“St. Louis City SC league”] MLS was nice as well, given that the team is undefeated five games in (I’m a little biased since this is my team.”

Overall, very fun.

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

34 Responses to Thursday, March 30, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: I flew through this brightly filled and wonderfully clued puzzle only to get the obnoxious “Not quite there” message at the end. It turned out I was misremembering Awkwafina as Nora LiM. PiT somehow made sense for “place.” (A pit is a place, right?) GAH!

  2. Jeremy says:

    TSAPRE was my only disappointment since the other answers were actual words or phrases

    • ZDL says:

      It’s frequent flyer slang, so it feels pretty idiomatic to me, but I can see TSAPRE looking like inscrutable gibberish otherwise.

    • damefox says:

      ERHU stood out to me as questionable fill; according to, it has only been seen in one other newspaper crossword (and they track all the way back to at least the 1990s) and never in the NYT. TSAPRE does seem like a real thing — even if you don’t use it, if you’ve been to an airport in the US in the last decade, you’ve probably seen signs for it. My problem with that entry is the clue; as satisfying as “Lax LAX” is to work in there, it’s not accurate to describe TSAPRE as “lax.” You have to go through a fair amount of rigmarole to get approved for it, and I’ve heard of people who thought they were approved not being allowed through because some detail in the system didn’t match up exactly right with their boarding pass.

      Other than that, fun puzzle! Not sure if it’s Thursday-hard though. Maybe Wednesday.

      • pannonica says:

        I loved seeing ERHU in the grid, but I have a thing for ‘exotic’ instruments.

        Here’s some jazz featuring ERHU:

        • Philip says:

          There used to be a Chinese musician who played beautiful erhu in Metro stations in Montreal, and sold cassettes. (I bought a cassette.)

        • Jim Peredo says:

          Someone whose name is on this very page played ERHU in college and even received one as a graduation gift (my daughter, whose name you’ll find down below).

      • Me says:

        I wouldn’t call ERHU “questionable fill,” as opposed to fill that’s not known to the general public. The erhu is one of the main traditional Chinese musical instruments and I filled it in immediately. I agree that this will be a “today I learned…” answer for most solvers, but I think that’s fine.

        SUHWEET, on the other hand, . . .

  3. Mr. [not this time] Grumpy says:

    WSJ: I took DREAM to mean fictional [or something along those lines[, which works well enough for Archie. Fun puzzle.

  4. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT … INIGO Montoya? … One of the mysteries of CrossWorld to me is why “The Princess Bride” continues to spawn obscure (to me at least) crossword clues 50 years after the book was published and 36 years after the movie was released? I never read the book, but I saw the movie when it came out. I generally like Rob Reiner’s work and recall being entertained by it, but don’t really remember all that much about it other than what’s been kept alive in my memory by doing crosswords. It wasn’t exactly “Citizen Kane”, “Casablanca”, “Gone With the Wind” or “The Godfather”, for cryin’ out loud.

    • Eric H says:

      “The Princess Bride: Home Movie” was strung together during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most regular production was shut down. I believe it was fairly popular; that may explain the continued relevance of the original movie.

      Also, the repeated use of “My name is Inigo Montoya . . .” makes that one of the most memorable parts of that movie.

      No, the original is not a classic movie. It’s not even equal to “This Is Spın̈al Tap.” But I imagine way more people are familiar with Inigo Montoya than with the 17th century English architect Inigo Jones.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        Thanks for the info. I wasn’t aware of the re-release (or whatever it was) in 2019. It’s possible that there’s been an uptick in “The Princess Bride” crossword references since then, but I took note of this mystery well before that. The original movie just never struck me as something that would have this kind of lasting power and I’m surprised that someone felt that it merited a reboot. Then again, pop culture has often surprised me over the years.

        • Eric H says:

          The original may be one of those things that is constantly finding a new audience, the way many Disney movies do.

          • Jim Peredo says:

            The Princess Bride has been a cult classic ever since it came out on VHS. It’s widely regarded as one of the most quotable films, as evidenced by this 2014 ESPN episode of NFL Kickoff in which the hosts dropped as many references to the film as possible. The New Yorker has dubbed it The Movie That Won the Internet. It’s on AFI’s list of most romantic movies and on a few other “Greatest Comedies” lists as well.

            In addition to the Home Movie mentioned above, there was a cast reunion in September 2020 to raise funds for Democrats in the battleground state of Wisconsin. Much of the cast returned to do a live reading of the script and in doing so raised $4.25 million.

            Seven years ago, Cary Elwes came out with a behind-the-scenes book which debuted on the NYT bestseller list, and guess what. He’s still touring to this very day (tomorrow night at the Louisville Palace in Louisville, KY).

            So don’t tell me it’s not a classic and don’t tell me there’s an uptick in references to it. It’s been around and popular for decades.

            • Eric H says:


            • sanfranman59 says:

              Yikes … sorry Jim … I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I genuinely wasn’t aware that this movie has become a cult classic. I don’t hear about it anywhere but in my crosswords, though I admit that I don’t have my finger on the pulse of pop culture in 2023.

              Now that I’ve been informed, I’ll try to remember never question it again. I’ll go back to my corner now.

  5. Dan says:

    Re NYT: A fine theme and a mostly fine puzzle.

    But I thought it a bit unfair to be asked about the (for me) utterly obscure Chinese instrument along with an informal spelling of a colloquial usage (SUHWEET) nearby, plus “Gah!” clued as “Blast!” (wha?) all in the same part of the puzzle.

  6. e.a. says:

    folks with strong feelings about how words are used (i think there’s one or two of you here) – can i get a ruling on the phrase “obscure (to me),” since it appears a couple times in today’s comments? i was surprised to see it because i thought “obscure” meant objectively not well-known (which would make that phrase an oxymoron), but maybe i’m wrong or its meaning is evolving

    • David L says:

      Familiar stringed musical instruments: guitar, violin, harp
      Obscure musical instrument: ehru

      To claim otherwise is disingenuous. You want objectivity? Ask 100 people in this country which ones they’ve heard of.

      • e.a. says:

        i didn’t say or ask anything about the erhu

        • David L says:

          Then I don’t know what you were asking about. Perhaps you could have been more clear about what you wanted to know.

          • d105 says:

            Don’t feed the troll, David!

            • Amy Reynaldo says:

              @d105: I’ve known Erik for years and would never consider him a troll. He does like to nudge people to interrogate themselves and their biases (we all have our own biases), and sometimes that makes people feel defensive.

              For too long, things outside the white, straight, cis, Christian, US/Western Europe, and male categories have been deemed “obscure” and not part of the canon or expected cultural literacy. You close yourself off to so much if you deem things you don’t already know as beneath your notice, and you better believe that people take note when you denigrate something tied to their culture.

          • e.a. says:

            can something be obscure “to you”, i.e. subjectively obscure, or is any given thing just either obscure or not?

    • pannonica says:

      I feel obscure can be objective or subjective depending on whether/how it’s modified.

      In a more literal but perhaps analogous (verb) example, my view of some object may be obscured by something (stage, pillar), while you, my seatmate, may have a clear line of sight. It’s all relative?

      • e.a. says:

        thanks. not to go all “oprah with meghan and harry” but: i would say “the stage is obscureD (by the pillar)” but not “the stage is obscure” (unless the stage is so beset by pillars that no seat with a clear line of sight exists)

    • PJ says:

      My guess is that those who use it mean it as not prominent or famous (MW free dictionary 3b). Particularly in the user’s personal experience.

      • R says:

        I would guess that this sense constitutes the majority of today’s use of the word, and trying to square it with other senses won’t be very fruitful. A quick check on COCA seems to bear this out.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Note to self … add “obscure to me” to the ever growing list of things that I, as a white, straight, cis, middle-aged male of European descent should never say

    • e.a. says:

      i literally genuinely was just asking about word usage, not sure how this spiraled into allegations of claiming/trolling/nudging/censorship

    • Seattle Derek says:

      Probably the greatest asset of this website is that not only do we constructive praise or critiques from the reviewers about puzzles, but that readers get their opportunity to voice their opinion. And maybe that’s why I keep coming back here, so that I can learn to expand my horizons, get educated, and be more tolerant of differing opinions.

    • Me says:

      I think “obscure to me” is okay. I take that to mean, “from my vantage point, I would call this obscure, but I know that not everyone is looking at things the same way I do.”

      To build on the erhu example, I think it’s reasonable for someone to say that erhu is relatively obscure, but since there are over a billion people in China who know what it is, I’m not sure you could say that a worldwide poll would call it obscure. I think this is a time when one could say “obscure (to me).”

Comments are closed.