Thursday, June 1, 2023

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 5:50 (Gareth) 


NYT 20:36 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker 2:49 (Kyle) 


Universal tk (Sophia) 


USA Today 5:57 (Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Fireball 22-something (Jim) 


Christopher Youngs’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Shredded”—Jim’s review

We have EIGHT MINUTE (AB)S (that’s eight “tiny” ABs) scattered throughout today’s grid (59a, [1990s video workout fad (or what this puzzle features)]), with most of them doubling up in the longest entries.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Shredded” · Christopher Youngs · Thu., 6.1.23

  • 20a. [Christ the Redeemer keeps a watchful eye over it] COPAC(AB)AN(A B)EACH. I wanted the last word to be BRAZIL, so I had to piece that together slowly.
  • 30a. [John, Paul, George and Ringo] F(AB) FOUR.
  • 40a. [Song with the lyric “Been an awful good girl”] SANT(A B)(AB)Y. A nice find. I enjoyed the back-to-back ABs. (Can you have abs back-to-back?)
  • 47a. [Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque setting] (AB)U DH(AB)I.

Very nice! Once I got the beginning to the first theme answer (COPAC_) and glanced at the title, I sniffed out the rebus and got to enjoy an aha moment. But I was expecting a six-pack, just as I bet most of you were. So when I uncovered the EIGHT, I thought, “Well, sure, I guess you can have an 8-pack.” Formulating that MINUTE took a little bit (partly because I don’t recall that workout fad), but when I did and realized there was an extra bit of wordplay going on, I had a second enjoyable aha moment. A nice surprise zinger at the end! Well done!

In the fill I enjoyed SOLDIER ON, MALAISE, NESCAFE, WASABI PEA, and EDIT WAR. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the verb ABOMINATE, and I’m not so keen on SHRIMPS clued [Little guys] as I’m one of those vertically-challenged types.

Clues of note:

  • 35a. [Polo’s heading]. EAST. That’s Marco Polo, I presume.
  • 37d. [Indian drum]. TABLA. Let’s watch some insanely good TABLA playing, shall we?

Good puzzle. Four stars.

Alex Rosen’s Fireball Crossword, “Cued In”—Jim’s review

Jim here, sitting in for Jenni who’s road-tripping and camping for the month of June.

Whew! This puzzle was kind of a slog even though I caught on fairly early. The first inkling we get at the theme is at 16a clued [16a. Instructions for solving this puzzle, Part II]. “Part II”? What happened to Part I?

Fireball crossword solution · “Cued In” · Alex Rosen · Thu., 6.1.23

I had a lot of white space by the time I got down to 29- and 30d where I had my aha moment and realized some clues had an extra letter. Based on that, I was able to piece together 16a to find REMOVE ONE LETTER.

There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which clues had letters added, so the slog continued as I tried to sort out what was thematic and what was just a tricky clue.

Eventually I resolved 59a into FROM TWENTY CLUES. I was hoping for a hint as to which clues got the theme treatment, but there was none. It was just a matter of brute forcing the solve to find those entries.

My last hope was that the added letters spelled something significant. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. And to save you the trouble, I went through and found each entry with an added letter. You’re welcome.


  • 1 G: [Aspiring heavyweight] -> [Aspirin heavyweight] = BAYER
  • 10 H: [Wash up] -> [Was up] = LED
  • 16 I: [Instructions for solving this puzzle, Part II] -> [Instructions for solving this puzzle, Part I] = see above
  • 24 H: [“___ shucks!”] -> [“___ sucks!”] = THAT
  • 27 Y: [Slimy to the max] -> [Slim to the max] = THINNEST
  • 31 O: [Boobs, e.g.] -> [Bobs, e.g.] = DOS (as in hair-DOS)
  • 35 L: [In the black] -> [In the back] = AFT
  • 36 G: [Finagles] -> [Finales] = EPILOGS
  • 44 T: [Boast, e.g.] -> [Boas, e.g.] = SERPENTS
  • 59 I: [Instructions for solving this puzzle, Part III] -> [Instructions for solving this puzzle, Part II] = see above


  • 7 R: [Mariner of fiction] -> [Mainer of fiction] = KING. Tough one. I wanted it to be Silas Marner or else a Marine, but it’s Stephen KING from Maine.
  • 29 E: [Horse feathers] -> [Horse fathers] = SIRES
  • 30 R: [Dreadlocked] -> [Deadlocked] = TIED
  • 31 L: [Manly men] -> [Many men] = DADS
  • 33 R: [Larger units] -> [Lager units] = PINTS
  • 38 C: [Musical with many hits in the ’40s and ’50s] -> [Musial with many hits in the ’40s and ’50s] = STAN. Another tough one if you don’t know the name.
  • 53 R: [Crooked] -> [Cooked] = DONE
  • 54 A: [Beta preceder] -> [Bet preceder] = ANTE
  • 57 C: [Company known for scandals] -> [Company known for sandals] = TEVA
  • 60 I: [Waiter in a French restaurant] -> [Water in a French restaurant] = EAU

Whew again! This post is even more sloggy than the solve. That’s a lot of cutting and pasting and formatting right there, so I hope you’re happy! (The things I do for you…) ;-)

You may get the impression that I didn’t like this puzzle. That’s not the case. I did enjoy it, and there are some really good tricksy clues both in and out of the theme. Feel free to highlight which clues you liked best.

Good—but slow—puzzle, and I still wanted something to connect the theme clues. 3.75 stars.

David and Karen and Paul Steinberg’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Challenging (20m36s)

David and Karen and Paul Steinberg’s New York Times crossword, 5/31/23, 0531

Today’s theme: Let’s go HALFSIES 

  • 4/8 (HALF CAF) crossing OUT O(F OUR) HANDS and H(EIGHT)EN
  • 2/4 (NOT HALF BAD) crossing I(T WO)NT HURT and PETITS (FOUR)S
  • 1/2 (TOP HALF) crossing AT(ONE)D and CREDI(T WO)RTHY

Another “proper” tricky Thursday.  Didn’t actually notice it was an oversized 16×15 until after I finished, which may have contributed to the slow solve.  Tripped up all over the place — wanted SERRANO to be POBLANO, IFSO to be ELSE, etc.  Wrong guesses left and right.  I realized that there was some sort of rebus in play when I couldn’t make IT WONT HURT (or any such variation) fit at 37a, but didn’t get the half fraction spin until I was all the way down to CREDIT WORTHY.

Cracking: No part of my performance on this puzzle would prompt one to say: SO SOON?

Slacking: DESELECT, particularly clued as “Turn off, digitally”.  I don’t think of anything as being turned off when it is DESELECTED; put into idle or hibernation mode, at most, but not off entirely.  

Sidetracking: VOODOO Child (or Chile, depending on the recording)

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

What a collection of long entries in today’s New Yorker! Just look at these intersecting double stacks:

The New Yorker solution grid – Thu 06/01/2023 – Robyn Weintraub



What’s more, we get some lovely triple stacks in the corners with BARSTOOLS/CALIFORNIA/ART FORGERY and “I DON’T GET IT”/MOBILE HOME/PRICELINE, and nary a junky entry to be found crossing them.

Interesting clue on 19A PEAT [Three-___ (back-to-back-to-back championships). Of course PEAT is a word in its own right, but this is a nice way to put a fun spin on it.

Thank you Robyn!

Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I don’t really get the appeal of today’s theme by Ed Sessa. At its heart, it’s just a list of pasta shapes: CAPELLINI, GEMELLI, TORTELLI, RIGATONI, FUSILLI, MANICOTTI. Then, there’s an attempt in the clues to zhuzh it up by clueing each shape awkwardly to a profession?

My favourite thing in the puzzle was [Target of a new czar in New York City], RATS, because that’s just an amazing fact. Note, a rat-king is a lot crueler than a rat czar, at least I hope so.

I’m not sure, did anyone else feel a little surprised that [Bad collisions], SMASHUPS was used deliberately? Seems like the kind of thing you want to avoid unless desperate? It’s only going to conjure bad feelings for people.


Nate Cardin’s USA Today Crossword, “Acrosses and Downs (Freestyle)” — Emily’s write-up

Smooth puzzle, fun grid, and great cluing with excellent fill!

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday June 01, 2023

USA Today, June 01 2023, “Acrosses and Downs (Freestyle)” by Nate Cardin

Love today’s puzzle! Jumped right in and was causing through until the last third which ate up a bit more of my time so it wasn’t as fast of a solve as what I originally was on track for. PINKYSWEAR tripped me up until I had some crossings and so did SALTFATACIDHEAT even though I knew the book but couldn’t quite get the title in one go.


Stumpers: ITRY (needed crossings), ASSURE (needed crossings), and ILANA (new to me)

The flow for this freestyle hit the spot today and it almost felt like a themed puzzle given the layout and lengthy fill, though part of that is probably due to the lack of restrictions usually imposed by having a theme (having tried to construct a few of my own puzzles that just cannot seem to come together with a clean fill). Besides the lengthy acrosses already mentioned throughout, there’s also in the downs: ROOTBEER, SKITEAM, AMPUTEE, and OHPLEASE.

Kudos, Nate, for such a fun and fresh puzzle!

4.75 stars


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

33 Responses to Thursday, June 1, 2023

  1. C. Y. Hollander says:

    NYT: Can anyone make sense of the clues “Good question” (HOW) and “Good answer” (YES)? I hope it’s something more than that they might, like any other question or answer, be good [or bad], in a given situation…

    • AmandaB says:

      I want to know this, too!

      • Me says:

        Me three! It seems like it’s referring to something specific, but I have no clue what that is…

    • JohnH says:

      I don’t think there’s anything special. I rather liked them.

    • Eric H says:

      Someone on Wordplay commented that “Good question” might be an appropriate response to “How?”and “Good answer” an appropriate response to “Yes.”

      I don’t think there’s anything too specific about those two entries.

      • C. Y. Hollander says:

        “Years of practice” might be an appropriate response to “How?” and “I was afraid of that” an appropriate response to “Yes,” but that hardly makes them appropriate clues!

  2. Pamela+Kelly says:

    Hi! I made a mistake! I voted 3 stars for the NYT puzzle and I meant to vote 4.5 stars! This just happened. Can you fix it? I hope so!! I truly enjoyed this Thursday-worthy puzzle! Thanks!

  3. rob says:

    NYT: Thanks to the Steinberg clan for a brilliant Thursday puzzle! David: I read your write up in Jeff Chen’s blog. I am so sorry to hear about your dad. Dedicating this puzzle to him was a wonderful gesture.

  4. David L says:

    I finished the NYT without the faintest idea what was going on. I wanted DECAF at 17D, NOTSOBAD at 26D and TOP?? at 47D, and I couldn’t see any possible connection to the numbers in the across clues. Swing and a miss for me.

    • Ed+B says:

      Along with those same exact problems, I also hadn’t realized that petits fours is the plural of petit fours. Those all held me back.

    • Dallas says:

      I figured DECAF wasn’t right so I tried LOCAF but that didn’t work. I kinda got that it was 1-2, 2-4, and 4-8, but didn’t turn them into “half” … had to come here to find out :-)

    • Me says:

      I did those same exact 3 answers for the 3 theme answers!

      The first rebus I figured out was OUTO4HANDS, and the 4 was the first square for deCAF, so I thought the 4 was there because D was the 4th letter of the alphabet. Needless to say, that was a very lengthy diversion that went absolutely nowhere.

  5. Bill Harris says:

    Very clever theme … too clever?

    • JohnH says:

      I thought it was wonderful and especially liked how it revealed itself in stages. A few obvious things, like DECAF, not working. The TWO in CREDIT WORTHY. Finding that other numbers were needed. Seeing at last the theme. Watching the reduced fractions kicking in.

    • Cathy says:

      Too clever by half ;-)

  6. JohnH says:

    What does the title, Shredded, refer to in the WSJ? Thank you.

    • Eric H says:

      From the first rebus I got (the AB in FAB FOUR), I assume the theme has something to do with well-defined muscles.

      • JohnH says:

        Ah, I hadn’t heard of shredded as a word for that. Not all online dictionaries have it.

        • Zach says:

          Per Urban Dictionary (hands down the most reliable dictionary on the Internet 🤪): shredded means “well defined muscles especially in the arms and abs”

  7. damefox says:

    NYT: why is HALFSIES capitalized in the write-up as though it’s an answer in the puzzle? Is it? I can’t find it. A revealer really would’ve helped, because I could not figure out what was going on, and even after reading the explanation, it still doesn’t really land for me as a solver. Why 4/8, 2/4, and 1/2? There are infinitely many fractions that simplify to 1/2. Also I kept reading them as just 48, 24, and 12 and couldn’t parse what was going on; deCAF and NOTtooBAD were stuck in my head and HALF never occurred to me as the right word. (I didn’t have a plausible word for TOP??.)

    I can certainly appreciate it from the constructing angle though — fitting rebus squares in a puzzle is hard enough. Getting them to line up with each other is a whole different thing. I imagine that’s why it ended up being 16×15; at first glance, it doesn’t seem like a puzzle with only 6 theme squares should need an extra row, but when those 6 theme squares are very intentionally placed rebus squares, it’s more constraining than it appears. (Possibly this is why there’s no revealer — it just would not fit in the grid.)

    • ZDL says:

      I should have written the theme as HALFsies, for clarity’s sake.

      The fractions are reducing as the puzzle progresses — a mathematical concept. I also could have included this in the write-up.

      For practical purposes, 4/8 is as far as you can go. No one can rebus SIXTEEN into a theme answer

  8. Cynthia says:

    Uni – Cute theme today. I really enjoyed the “Aha moment.”

    • Mr. [laughing and not] Grumpy says:


    • Eric H says:

      We had an LP of the soundtrack to the Disney THREE LITTLE PIGS when I was a preschooler (60 years ago). I can still hear the melody of “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?” line. Sadly, that didn’t help me from trying to stick “bears” in at the end of the revealer.

      Fun puzzle even if I didn’t get the theme as quickly as I would have liked.

  9. MattF says:

    NYT was a nice puzzle. Only really got the ‘Halfsies’ trick at the very end while trying to squeeze the rebusses into the grid. Maybe should have been easier for me, considering that I make myself a pot of half-caf every morning.

  10. Jack says:

    Fireball: can anyone explain 50A for me? I thought for sure it had to be a theme entry because I can’t figure out any way the clue and answer are connected.

  11. Mr. [laughing and not] Grumpy says:

    I hereby nominate WSJ 40A for clue & rebus entry of the year — and if there is no such ORCA category, there should be.

    • Eric H says:

      I know the song, but not well enough that I recognized the lyric. I needed a few crosses in SANTA to see what preceded B[AB]Y.

      Though I must say that I like the idea of a SANTA with shredded ABs.

  12. dh says:

    I wrote out the words for the across clues- i.e., “out o FOUR hands”, etc; in the end the ACL app showed these as incorrect. I went back and changed them all to the numeric entries but it still showed that these squares were incorrect. I clicked on the “reveal this square” for each of these entries, and the app just replaced my numbers with its own and I got the pencil-guy. I wonder why that is.
    I understood all the across answers, but the fractions for the downs were a big “Aha!” at the end.

  13. IAAL says:

    NYT was too clever for this crossword noob. I struggle with the rebus ones and didn’t even know numbers were a possibility. I suppose the good news is that I did know what the answers to the across ones were; I just couldn’t make them fit.

Comments are closed.