Thursday, July 13, 2023

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 4:13 (Gareth) 


NYT 17:16 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker 2:07 (Kyle) 


Universal tk (Sophia) 


USA Today 8:15 (Emily) 


WSJ 6:33 (Jim) 


Fireball tk (Jenni) 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Drop Everything!”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that end in the letters ALL (65d, [Everything that’s dropped in this puzzle]). Starting with the A, those letters turn downward (are “dropped”) and are part of the corresponding Down entries.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Drop Everything!” · Mike Shenk · Thu., 7.13.23

  • 17a. [It has a 40-millimeter diameter and weighs 2.7 grams] PING-PONG B(ALL) with 9d STALL.
  • 34a. [Still undecided on Election Day night, say] TOO CLOSE TO C(ALL) with 33d GALL.
  • 43a. [Rochester’s mansion, in “Jane Eyre”] THORNFIELD H(ALL) with 42d TALL.
  • 62a. [John Wayne’s co-star in “The Shootist”] LAUREN BAC(ALL) with the revealer at 65d.

My first thought when I got to 17a was to look to the other side of the black square after the A to see if the entry continued there. (That’s a fairly common gimmick editor Mike Shenk employs in his themes.) But then I spotted 9d and figured out what was going on. From there, the other theme answers weren’t too difficult to suss out. Not the trickiest theme as Thursday puzzles go, but it’s consistent and nicely executed. Probably one of my speedier times for a Thursday puzzle, but I’m not complaining.

I enjoyed “I KNOW YOU!” [Cry of recognition], and “I DID IT!” [Accomplished cry], and this October baby always likes seeing LIBRAS (or variations thereof) in the fill. SKUA is an uncommon entry [Predatory seabird], but I feel I’ve seen one at least once at a zoo.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [It might be made with lokelani petals]. LEI. Usually I get off to a slow start on a Thursday puzzle, but this fell right in despite not being familiar with the flower.
  • 27a. [Adams, Grant or Carter]. AMY. Cute. Only of those is related to a president.
  • 32a. [Lotus position?]. EGYPT. Today I learned that the lotus is Egypt’s national flower.
  • 39a. [Wicker took his seat]. LOTT. How well do you know your Mississippi senators? Me? I knew LOTT but not his successor.
  • 54a. [Car with Teletouch Drive]. EDSEL. That sounds decidedly modern for such an old car.
  • 62a. [John Wayne’s co-star in “The Shootist”]. LAUREN BAC(ALL). I would’ve been fine with self-described white supremacist John Wayne not appearing in this puzzle.
  • 35d. [Show that takes place in a junkyard]. CATS. I needed the crossings since I’ve never seen the musical. However, I did know that neither Sanford and Son nor Andy Griffith’s Salvage-1 (remember that one?) would fit.

Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Hanh Huynh’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Tricky (17m16s)

Hanh Huynh’s New York Times crossword puzzle, 7/12/23, 0712

Today’s theme: “pair of” things 

  • GANGSTAS DIE DIE (Pair of dice, “paradise”)
  • LOGICAL DOC DOC (Pair of docs, “paradox”)
  • BULL BULL OF JESUS (Pair of bulls, “parables”)
  • SHIFTING DIME DIME (Pair of dimes, “paradigm”)

On Thursday rebus alert, as per usual, but took me quite some time to realize that we need to rebus consecutive squares with.. I’m not sure what to call them, pseudohomophones?  You have to convert the short a sound to a long a in order to make each themer work — in other words, you don’t pronounce paradise/parable/paradigm/paradox with a long a on the first vowel.  So you may need to do some light linguistic gymnastics in order to stick the landing.

Cracking: Once upon a time, there were only five BOWL GAMEs (Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Orange, Sun), and a bowl berth was a big deal.. that stopped being the case somewhere in between the introduction of the Beef O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl and the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl Presented by Bridgestone.

SlackingISOFF is off.

Sidetracking: speaking of FAN FESTS, the Lollapuzzoola e-mails went out today — August 19th, NYC!

Rafael Musa’s USA Today Crossword, “Left Jab” — Emily’s write-up

Better be light on your feet today and ready to bob and weave since this puzzle doesn’t pull its punches.

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday July 13, 2023

USA Today, July 13 2023, “Left Jab” by Rafael Musa

Theme: each across themer begins with JAB—


  • 17a. [Nonsense poem that starts with “‘Twas brillig, and the slithy tov”], JABBERWOCKY
  • 30a. [Houston Rockets forward], JABARISMITHJR
  • 49a. [Sluglike “Star Wars” villain], JABBATHEHUTT

Delightful themer set today. JABBERWOCKY was on the tip-of-my-tongue but I needed a couple of crossings to get started as only Alice in Wonderland came to mind. JABARISMITHJR is new to me though crossings were mostly fair for me, except ELI (which is new to me too). Despite his smarminess, JABBATHEHUTT always brings a smile to my face—he’s just so intriguing and likable, as typical of a good villain.

Favorite fill: ODOREATER, RUSE, and JDATE

Stumpers: ELI (new to me), RESIDED (needed crossings), and SCABS (so close but could only think of “scars”)

Great puzzle with an enjoyable grid and smooth solve overall, plus there’s amazing lengthy bonus fill! Impressive indeed!

4.25 stars


Brian Callahan’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary


Hoo-boy. This puzzle has a cute revealing answer, WHOVILLE, but it still meant nothing to be for a long time. Now that I have, it feels, at least from this non-American’s perspective, that half those towns are pretty small potatoes. Basically, each of four people’s surnames satisfies “___VILLE” to make an American . Jacksonville and Nashville are pretty big deals, but I’m not sure I can find Evansville or Asheville.

The collection:

  • [*Nobel-winning mathematician portrayed in “A Beautiful Mind”], JOHNNASH
  • [*”Captain America: The First Avenger” star], CHRISEVANS
  • [*Gospel legend with the hit “Move On Up a Little Higher”], MAHALIAJACKSON
  • [*Tennis great for whom the ESPY Courage Award is named], ARTHURASHE

Clues that need highlighting:

  • [Sharing a cultural identity], ETHNIC is a kind of awkward way to clue that.
  • I’m guessing if [Archie’s boss, in detective fiction] is NERO, that’s NERO Wolfe? Yes.
  • [“___, Vikings”: Minnesota fight song], SKOL. Skol being a Norwegian toast. There may have been temptation to link to ATOAST at 19A.
  • [Comment said with a nudge], HINTHINT is the first of two fun reduplicative answers, the second being [Guitar pedal], WAHWAH.


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

Getting to the puzzle late today, as my usual morning solving time got subsumed into other things. But it’s also nice to get through a busy day and have a gentle Robyn Weintraub treat to wind down with.

The New Yorker solution grid – Thursday 07/13/23 – Robyn Weintraub

But–what a grid for a Thursday TNY! We have a central 13 stair-stack trio of VALENTINE’S DAY / MINIATURE GOLF / WISH UPON A STAR. And look at all these other great entries: VOYAGER, MACARENA, WILD PITCH, CLOUD NINE, RAG DOLL, SOAP OPERA, TONE DEAF, GET NOWHERE, “IT’S A LIVING”, HALL PASS. Sure, there’s ASSTS in the bottom-right, but to be honest I didn’t even see it until after I was done so I can’t say it detracted from my solve.

Another gem of a Thursday puzzle, smooth and full of delightful Weintraubian sparkle. Thanks Robyn!

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38 Responses to Thursday, July 13, 2023

  1. Gary R says:

    NYT: I thought this was a pretty good Thursday. I knew ANDIE MacDowell and EDDIE BAUER, so I knew there were rebus squares, but the Coolio song wasn’t familiar, so I needed LOGICAL DOC DOC to understand what was going on. Got slowed down again in the SE when I stuck with cHangING DIME DIME for too long.

    I don’t see the linguistic gymnastics @ZDL points to. To me, it’s just converting “pair of” to “para” – no long-a involved.

    • ZDL says:

      In my mind, it’s pair-a-docs, sort of like will-o-the-wisp.

      • Gary R says:

        Yeah – I agree. But to my ear, “pair-a” and “para” sound the same. Could be a midwestern thing.

        When you mention a “long a,” to me that means the sound of the “ai” in “pain,” not in “pair.” (I think I had phonics in third grade – it’s been a lo-o-ong time.)

        • DougC says:

          I agree that “pair-a” and “para” sound alike.

          The problem I had is that the final syllable in “parables” does not sound at all like “pair-a-bulls” to me. The former has a barely detectable schwa sound (bəl) while the latter has a more strongly pronounced mid-u sound (bʊl) like the vowel in the word “could”.

          This is the perennial problem with “sounds-like” puzzles: there are so many regional variations in pronunciation that what “sounds alike” to one person may not sound even close enough to be recognizable to another.

        • JohnH says:

          I’d agree that the identity in sound of pair o’ and para is midwestern, like the more frequently cited example of mary and marry. It’s not how I pronounce them. Still, it’s good enough for a bad pun, which is all one can ask of a decent theme, and I enjoyed it. Didn’t hit me right away either, which is nice.

          I’ve a little more trouble accepting dies/dice (like eyes/ice). Also, after the first two, I expected the theme fill all to end a phrase and, after the third, guessed that the top half would end phrases that way, the bottom half shift things around and start phrases that way. So I was a little disappointed but shrugged and got over it.

          The SE was hardest for me, too, because of beginning with “changing” for “shifting.” (Also didn’t know actor Wilson.) But had a rush of recognition in that, when I was first reading up on philosophy and philosophy of science, I joked about a dismissal of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. What’s this about paradigms? Four nickels.

      • David L says:

        I agree with ZDL — ‘para’ and ‘pair-a’ are not precisely homophones for me. But then I still have my English accent after all these years.

        But I also agree with Gary R that what I learned as ‘long a’ is the vowel in PAIN or PANE.

        I don’t know what the official name is for the vowel in PAIR.

        • RCook says:

          It’s a diphthong, but I don’t know of a name beyond that.

        • Sophomoric Old Guy says:

          There have been several puzzles using this “homophone”. I found a NYT example that had PAIRAGRAPHS, PEARAMOUNT, PAREAPHRASE, PEREAMOURS.

          I’m not hearing a difference.

          • Eric H says:

            I can hear a word like “paradigm” being pronounced with an A closer to “pat” than “pate,” but the difference is subtle.

            • David L says:

              For those of us of a formerly British persuasion, the first vowel in PARADIGM is like PAT, and is noticeably different from PAIR.

  2. Greg says:

    Wow. The NYT was really clever and generated a first-class “aha” moment when I finally doped it out.

  3. Eric H says:

    NYT: Quite a fun puzzle to solve. I confess that I solved it by making the Down answers work, and it wasn’t until I had finished that I tried to make sense of answers like GANGSTER’S[DIE][DIE].

    For some reason, I always waffle when the answer is AN[DIE] MacDowell. She’s very much an actor from my prime movie-going days, and I always enjoyed her performances. But some part of my brain is convinced that there must be a more recent “Actress MacDowell” whom I have never heard of.

    The puzzle reminded me of a song from my childhood:

    • placematfan says:

      I find Andie MacDowell’s performances somewhat grating, as she’s a certain type of actor that seems to confuse “elocution” with “acting”. In particular, she insists on pronouncing every T as a hard T. That always makes me feel less like I’m watching a movie and more like I’m listening to someone giving a speech. For example, the word “button”: pronouncing it with a hard T sounds very off to me. I realize there are people, most who probably took an elocution class or public-speaking class or something, who walk around pronouncing all their T’s hard; fine, okay, still sounds weird to me. But what I don’t respect about Andie MacDowell is that she’s obviously one of those people and she insists on dragging that personal trait into her performances, as if all her characters just automatically have that trait as well.

      • Mutman says:


        Never understood the appeal.

      • Eric H says:

        Interesting, placematfan. I had never noticed that about Andie MacDowell’s performances before, but I will try to listen for it the next time I see her in something.

        I do understand why you might have found it annoying. The NPR affiliate here used to have an announcer who articulated every single word so precisely that it drove me crazy.

        • placematfan says:

          Drives me crazy, too. BUT… the opposite does as well. I can’t listen to Billie Eilish–when she sings the girl just will not shape her mouth or move her tongue to form a complete consonant sound. I want her to, like, take an elocution class or something.

    • PJ says:

      Thanks for the apt Allan Sherman song. I didn’t recall him by name but do recognize some of his songs. His life story seems very sad.

      • Eric H says:

        You’re welcome. We listened to that record many times when I was a kid.

        Sherman’s parodies have made it impossible for me to listen to some of the original songs without hearing his lyrics.

      • JohnH says:

        Where is the reference to Sherman?

  4. pannonica says:

    NYT: I remember seeing most of the same para-formations ages ago in cartoon form, either in the pages of Games Magazine or The Four-Star Puzzler. Not a criticism, just indicative of how difficult it is to come up with something genuinely new.

  5. Mutman says:


    Error, had gangstaH intersecting niHei. No way of knowing that one.

    Fun puzzle and very clever!

  6. NotAnOrca says:

    Fun crossword, but sperm whales hunt squids, not orcas

    • Martin says:

      Orcas definitely eat squid. They don’t battle giant squid like sperm whales do, but most orcas (the seal-eating kind) are fond of the normal-sized cephalopods.

  7. Tony says:

    The theme for the NYT fell pretty quickly for me. I knew 16-A was GANGSTA’S PARADISE. The rest of the themes fell fairly quickly, but I did have DAWGS at 47-D for a while.

  8. dh says:

    NYT – I’m very familiar with the Allan Sherman songs; I listened to his albums endlessly when I was a kid.

    I found a slightly disturbing (even if unintentional) subtext to a couple of the answers.

    The first subtext is at 1-A, which reads “Gangsta Die Die”; which may be a little too soon considering that Coolio was a Gangsta rapper who suffered an untimely death last year at 59 years of age.

    Another one appears at 46-A, and could have been written by a proselytizing atheist – “Bull Bull of Jesus”

    To be clear, I’m in this for the wordplay and I enjoyed the puzzle for the most part, but I wonder if anyone else had the same observation.

  9. dh says:

    re: BEQ 53A – I learned this morning that today is National Fry Day. Apparently it was initially set for July 13, but a few fast-food chains lobbied for it to be on the 2nd Friday of the month so it would always land on its homophonic counterpart.

    Most of these restaurants offer free fries today and over the weekend, some with no purchase required (though some require you to have their app to order, presumably so the FBI can see who’s eating what).

  10. cyberdiva says:

    NYT and others. Right now (1:15 PM PDT), the page listing all the puzzles being blogged today is somewhat messed up. The NYT is not mentioned, and some others are messed up. I tried both my computer and a tablet–they show the same problem, so I think it may not be a problem restricted to me.

  11. cyberdiva says:

    Hmm…I just posted a message but I don’t see it here. I wanted to add that the date in the listing is “postdate=”2023/07/12″‘ even though today is the 13th, not the 12th. Perhaps this is the cause of the problem?

  12. Eric H says:

    LAT: EVANSville would be Indiana; ASHEville would be North Carolina.

    Thanks, Gareth, for explaining the theme. I couldn’t see what linked those names, but then, I didn’t put a lot of effort into it.

Comments are closed.