Thursday, July 6, 2023

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 5:17 (Gareth) 


NYT 7:42 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker 3:29 (Kyle) 


Universal 4:34 (Sophia) 


USA Today 9:07 (Emily) 


WSJ 6:27 (Jim) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless #161” – Jenni’s write-up

This is Fireball Year 14, #28 and the 161st themeless of that series. Many (I’d say most) of the FB themeless puzzles are Peter’s, and I am in awe of his ability to continue to create original, challenging, and enjoyable puzzles day after week after month after year. I’m also grateful to have (I hope!) many more to look forward to.

Peter often has the first and last entries (1a and 68a, in the case) relate to each other in some way. This time it’s FANTASIA and EAST ASIA. The clues are appropriately difficult without being tricky. 1a is [Film that came out a year after “The Wizard of Oz” and followed it into the National Film Registry by a year as well] and 68a is [Joro spider’s native habitat]. FANTASIA was one of my dad’s favorite movies and the only one I remember him taking us to when we were kids. Dad was a doc and he worked pretty much 24/7/365, but when they re-released FANTASIA he took a whole Saturday afternoon off and we saw it at the old Pix Theater in White Plains. And then he took us to Carvel for ice cream cones. It was a good day.

Fireball Crossword, July 5, 2023, Peter Gordon, “Themeless #161,” solution grid

Other things I liked:

  • 16a [Figures in vital statistics] are BIRTHS. This puzzle is a great example of the fact that the level of difficulty in a puzzle is often determined by the clues, not the entries. There are lots of obvious ways to clue this word. The answer to this one could have been DEATHS and I’m sure that didn’t escape Peter’s notice.
  • 20a [Thing that’s hard to flip] is a SAFE SEAT. As in Congress.
  • 28a [Good thing to bring to a knockout tourney] is A GAME. It took me a while to parse this once I’d finished the puzzle.
  • 33d [Feature of Chatty Cathy?] is ASSONANCE. I looked this up to figure out the difference between ASSONANCE and alliteration. It’s the diphthong that does it.
  • 66a [Angel on the head of a pine, e.g.?] is my favorite clue of the puzzle. The answer is ORNAMENT. Love it.

I do have one nit to quibble over. 17a [Beverage option for celiacs] is RICE MILK. While many people with celiac disease become lactose intolerant due to intestinal damage, it is not a universal hallmark of the disease. I’d be happier if the clue said “many.” I’d be even happier if it said “people with celiac disease” rather than “celiacs.” It’s worth remembering that the person matters more than disease. William Osler was racist and misogynist and is wildly over- and mis-quoted. He was still right when he said “It is much more important to know what sort of patient has a disease than what sort of disease a patient has.”

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: the year FANTASIA was released. I’d also never heard of the Joro spider. Do not do a Google image search unless you really like big spiders. And ARI Aster, author of “Beau is Afraid” was new to me.

You probably saw this coming.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Fantasia

Blake Slonecker’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Number Crunching”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that use mathematical terminology.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Number Crunching” · Blake Slonecker · Thu., 7.6.23

  • 17a. [Bud multiplied by the square root of -1?] IMAGINARY FRIEND.
  • 22a. [Dairy product without fractions?] WHOLE MILK.
  • 33a. [Fowl not divisible by 2?] ODD DUCKS.
  • 41a. [Bone only divisible by 1 and itself?] PRIME RIB.
  • 51a. [Mood divisible by 2?] EVEN TENOR.
  • 57a. [Idea expressed as the quotient of two integers?] RATIONAL THOUGHT.

For the most part, these were on the too-wacky side without a lot of surface sense. I didn’t lol, but I was able to just go with the flow. The hints to the math portion of each entry were clear enough to make resolving most of the entries relatively quick.

I do like the long fill today (and a healthy portion of the short fill is quite nice, too). Highlights include HAMSTRING (clued as a verb) and SPICY TUNA.  That KAZOO/MAIZE/CAIRN/NAAN section is pretty fun, too. I did end with an error since I went with WHOOP at 22d [Crush], thinking that 37a [Conservative columnist Charen] was named OONA. So it took about 30 seconds of post-solve searching to realize those should’ve been WHOMP and MONA.

Didn’t know the name KODI Smit-McPhee but the crossings are fair, assuming you’ve heard of IDRIS Elba (which, if you’re doing Thursday puzzles, you probably have, even if you’ve never watched Luther). The other name I didn’t know was PHIL Keoghan of The Amazing Race. I inferred the I, even though I didn’t know the Mexican folk tune “Cielito LINDO.”

Clue of note: 59d. [Beach fan’s Indian destination]. GOA. I didn’t know this about the state on India’s west coast. Might have to put it on my bucket list.

A pleasant theme with nice entry choices, though it didn’t tickle my funny bone. 3.5 stars.

GOA is famous for its white sandy beaches.

Alison Perch’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Easy (7m42s)

Alison Perch’s New York Times crossword puzzle, 7/5/23, 0705

Today’s theme: TAKE ME OUT (Request regarding “the ball game” … or instructions for answering the starred clues) and MAKE MONEY (Earn … or what answering the starred clues will do in each case)

  • COmeIN
  • WOmeN
  • YEmeN
  • CEmeNT

Very straightforward cluing on the revealers, which certainly helped with the finish time.  The fill was also clean.  It’s impressive, from a construction perspective, to find four symmetric entries that can all lose ME to become various currencies (although the YEN and WON are specific currencies, while COIN and CENT are general terms.)

Cracking: GO FLY A KITE!  Pound sand!  Take a long walk off a short pier!

Slacking: almost had a clean sheet here, and then I remembered how awkward partials are AREAL bummer.

Sidetracking: …when I make it to MOAB, I’ll get my canteen filled…

Michael B. Berg’s Universal crossword, “Workouts” — Sophia’s write-up

Universal Crossword, 07 06 2023, “Workouts”

Today’s theme is all about workouts and muscles, which is very much not my area of expertise (even when I’m not on vacation like I currently am). So I found this one to be a little trickier than most Universal puzzles.

Theme answers:

  • 17a [Leg press video for paramedics?] – RESCUE QUADS
  • 29a [Chest fly video for carpenters?] – BUILDING PECS
  • 44a [Abdominal crunch video for composers?] – MUSICAL CORES
  • 59a [Shoulder raise video for jockeys?] – SADDLE TRAPS

Each theme answer is constructed by taking a two word phrase where the second word is comprised of S + [muscles]. The S is then moved to the end of the word and the whole thing is clued via a job – so WORK out S, get it? Because it’s a job and the S is moved to the end? Very clever.

Other notes:

  • I had “deserts” instead of DEPARTS for [Leaves], which made BUILDING PECS very hard to see since only two letters are different there.
  • I hope, in the style of Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve, that Wheel of Fortune is renamed “PAT Sajak’s Wheel of Spinnin’ Fortune with Ryan Seacrest”. I’ve never been a big Wheel watcher, but I assume he’ll be good.
  • Fave clues: [John Williams was last to receive this title from Queen Elizabeth II] for SIR, [“Glass Onion,” to “Knives Out”] for SEQUEL

Brooke Husic’s New Yorker crossword – Kyle’s write-up

Thanks to Brooke Husic for today’s New Yorker offering. I believe this is the first time I’ve seen Brooke’s byline on a New Yorker Thursday puzzle. Given her association with challenging themelesses (her most recent “experimental” themeless took me about 2.5 hours to solve), I was very curious to see what would be in store in this “beginner-friendly” puzzle.

The New Yorker solution grid – Brooke Husic – 07/06/2023

We have an extra-wide grid to accommodate two 16-letter marquee entries: CLOTHING OPTIONAL and “MISTAKES WERE MADE”. The width also enables a central 12-letter entry, TURTLE ISLAND. Running through all three of these long Across entries we have the symmetrical conversational entries “I GOTTA ASK” and “TALK LATER”. That’s a nice framework to build a grid around.

Couple clues/entries of note:

  • 10A [Trinidadian music genre] SOCA. I wonder why we don’t see this entry more often.
  • 59A [Air Swoopes sneaker brand] NIKE. Named for basketball legend Sheryl Swoopes.
  • 53D [Bed spread?] SOIL. Took me a second to grasp this one. I like it.

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

LA Times

In today’s puzzle, I saw the circles, saw they were vertical, and got fairly quickly that the first spelt TSEZ. I didn’t think to read bottom to top, so it was a very pleasant surprise to arrive at [Products of a child’s wand…], SOAPBUBBLES and discover that the circles spell (US) soap brands, but “backwards”. I also thought the “child’s wand” descriptor was very evocative.

The long entries containing the bubbles are as follows:

  • [Snooze], CATCHSOMEZS; zest
  • [Whoopi Goldberg comedy with a “Back in the Habit” sequel], SISTERACT; caress
  • [Got carried away], WENTOVERBOARD; dove
  • Quaint [Act as a matchmaker], PLAYCUPID; dial.

I think I’ve only seen DOVE here, though something tells me Dial was sold here at some point.

Other interesting clues and answers:

  • [Regional measure], STATELAW. Subtle misdirect as you may have been thinking Imperial.
  • [Actress Catherine who played Donna Noble on “Doctor Who”], TATE. I know her as a skit comic, but I feel like that show isn’t known in the US? I found it unwatchable in any case.
  • [Candymaker Russell], STOVER. In which we learn it’s a person’s name.
  • [Party app], CANAPE. Don’t know what this is. I know what a canapé is. Google seems to come up with some engineering app?
  • [__ fly], TSETSE. I’ve booked for northern Kwazulu-Natal at the end of the month which is theoretically the one place in South Africa that has them! But luckily not (human) trypanosomiasis.


Neville Fogarty’s USA Today Crossword, “Get the Ball Rolling (Freestyle)” — Emily’s write-up

Once you get started, you’ll just keep on moving through this puzzle!

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday July 06, 2023

USA Today, July 06 2023, “Get the Ball Rolling (Freestyle)” by Neville Fogarty

Today’s freestyle has oodles of fantastic lengthy fill:

Stumpers: TOMEI (needed crossings, despite having seen the movie a couple times), PITHY (needed crossings), and ABYSS (only “gorge” can to mind)

Despite all my stumpers being crossed in the middle, which really tied me up for a few minutes, my solve was otherwise smooth and I adore the grid and its flow. Such a delightful treat today!

4.5 stars


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32 Responses to Thursday, July 6, 2023

  1. Dallas says:

    Pretty good Thursday; got caught in the NW: I wanted PLUM not SUET, and OBVI wasn’t, well, obvious to me, but my wife suggested it and the rest fell into place after that. I liked “cream alternative” for ECRU, too.

    • pannonica says:

      I personally favor obvs, fwiw.

    • Eric H says:

      I fell into the “plum” trap, too, but 2D had to be UBOAT, so SUET it was.

      Do you have any idea how hard it is to find real SUET for baking in the United States?

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I was very comfortable with ‘figs’ at 1-Across and, like you, OBVI wasn’t to me. I really enjoyed this theme and the solving experience, though I prefer a little more of a challenge from a Thursday puzzle. I look forward to more from this constructor.

  2. Mark says:

    A pleasant Thursday!

    NYT – Definitely on the easy side for a Thursday and I enjoyed the theme. Didn’t know BLEDEL but easily inferable by the crosses. I googled her and she’s a white woman from Texas, so I think I’m safe for not having heard of her.

    NYer – always worried when I see Brooke Husic (I’ll never forget the crazy, brilliant puzzle she made for Boswords a couple of years ago). It was a pleasant, easy solve with a few names I didn’t know, but again with fair crosses. Really good for an accessible Thursday NYer puzzle.

    WSJ – my favorite of the day. I really enjoyed the theme and I thought some of the cluing was incredibly clever. I smiled my way through it.

  3. Jenni Levy says:

    We were in Moab, Utah, a few weeks ago and hiked in both Canyonlands and Arches, so that clue/answer combo brought back some lovely memories! And the Torah portion for next Shabbat also talks about Moab, and not in a good way. It’s been a very Moab-y couple of days around here.

    • Eric H says:

      We’ve been to that part of Utah many times over the last 30 years. It’s amazing.

    • ZDL says:

      Just booked a room at the Hyatt Moab yesterday with plans to do the exact same thing — Canyonlands and Arches!

  4. JP says:

    What a snooozefest.

  5. Eric H says:

    LAT: I’m not crazy about themes based on product names, but this was innocuous enough. I liked some of the long Down answers like WENT OVERBOARD.

    Two things from Garett’s write-up: “Doctor Who” is available in the USA and has some devoted fans. We might have tried to watch it once, eons ago. And in the “Party app” CANAPÉ, “app” is short for “appetizer.” (Once in a while, something I learned from a crossword puzzle comes in handy.)

    • Garetj says:

      I meant her own show, the Catherine Tate Show… Would never have guessed app was anything but a phone thingy.

      • Eric H says:

        Oops. My mistake.

        I have no idea whether Catherine Tate’s sketch comedy show is available here. (I didn’t recognize that name.)

  6. JP says:

    Looks like Massa Reynaldo scared everyone away.
    Apparently people of color don’t like to be told what to think about their own race by some random white lady.
    It’s like a left wing version of the MAGA Karen.

  7. MiloDumbFuk says:

    Now, now!
    You oafish philistine!
    Cast thyself out of here!
    Be off with you!

  8. marciem says:

    BEQ: no write up… any ideas on the theme? I haven’t been able to get it yet.

  9. PJ says:

    I really struggled with 2D and 33A.
    But then I figured out 31D and 37A.
    However 457D and 892A confused me.
    But 21D and 22A made sense, and so 43D and 78A fell into place.
    I’d explain more of my experience but I just bored myself to sleep.

  10. AmosRedondo says:

    I insist this tomfoolery stop at once.

    Are you not aware of your ignorance and racism? I just taught a group of Muslim students about the Koran. We were interrupted by Indian tourists who insisted that I enlighten them on the Vedas.

    The world needs me. I can’t run this blog and be the beacon of progress at the same time.

  11. Blind Spots says:

    Did someone just call my number?

  12. Blind Spots says:

    Stop telling us how to think.
    As people of color, we have had enough.
    Explain your own culture. Don’t try to teach us about our own.

    An apology should be made. But it isn’t coming. Because white saviors don’t have time to apologize. They are too busy explaining.
    And they are absolutely certain that they are never wrong.

  13. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Surprised to see both ILLINI and ILL clued as Illinois’s abbreviation in the Fireball, particularly given that “ill” and “I’ll” offer distinct ILL clue angles.

  14. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Note to legit commenters: Somebody is using multiple names to troll the comments thread here. “Blind Spots,” “Amos Redondo,” and the “PJ” with a fake “pjdull” email address are all from the same IP address. (Sorry to legit PJ that this other dude has hijacked your display name!) Trolls add nothing to the discourse and we’re unapproving the comments as we see them. (Blocking the IP address altogether is also an option.) So tiresome, so predictable.

  15. Blind Spots says:

    So now you’re moderating.
    Because you’re terrified of the truth.
    Check out Rex Parker’s site. He moderates – but he allows dissent. That’s why people participate.
    You don’t want dissent? You get a dull experience that few want to be a part of.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      “Terrified of the truth”? No, that’d be you. Got your knickers in a twist because I said it wasn’t a good look to cry “Natick” on the crossing of two Asian names.

      Where the hell is the truth in posting a bunch of comments purporting to be three different people? It’s just boring.

  16. Neville says:

    Thanks for your kind words about the USA Today puzzle, Emily! Will try to spread the stumpers out better next time :)

Comments are closed.