Thursday, October 19, 2023

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 5:46 (Gareth) 


NYT 18:59 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker 2:53 (Kyle) 


Universal tk (Sophia) 


USA Today 7:09 (Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Fireball a long long time (Jenni) 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fall in the Garden”—Jim’s review

Day three of My Adventures in Blogging with Covid. Doing better today, but still going to keep this short.

First off, that title. Is it referring to the time of year or the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. You decide.

The revealer is FLOWER (65a, [Garden sight, and, if reparsed, a hint to making sense of 10 answers in this puzzle]). The re-parsing is F LOWER. Once again, theme entries come in pairs. The upper entry needs an F but it’s found in the lower entry. Both entries are still crossword-valid in their modified form. Clues match the modified forms (i.e. the words I’ve italicized below).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Fall in the Garden” · Mike Shenk · Thu., 10.19.23

  • CLOWNISH and TEXTFILE become clownfish and textile.
  • INCHES and FAT become finches and at.
  • INGER and CUB FANS become finger and Cubans.
  • REUSE and GRAFTER become refuse and grater.
  • LITTERED and FAIRLANE become flittered and air lane.

Really nice theme! The penny fully dropped once I got to the third pairing and really helped with the lower entries. I was a little disappointed that the revealer didn’t participate in the F-moving, but it makes sense that it didn’t.

Best part of the theme is discovering the wordplay in each entry pre- and post-modification. The not-best part of the theme is the revealer with its groan-worthy re-parsing. Still, I enjoyed it overall.

One clue of note: 28d. [Shape of a Belize dollar coin]. DECAGON. Let’s have a look at that thing.

Four stars.

Colin Ernst’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Challenging (18m59s)

Colin Ernst’s New York Times Crossword, 10/19/23, 1019

Today’s theme: DOUBLE DOWN (Gamble boldly, in a way … or a hint to the answers to this puzzle’s italicized clues)


Another instance where jumping to the revealer may have helped, as I immediately plunked in the stacked rebuses of DOUBLE DOWN, and was able to go back and take on the rest of the puzzle rather quickly.  Otherwise, this played very hard; there are pretty significant fill constraints when you’re stacking 5-6 consecutive rebuses in vertical entries, and the grid is fairly segmented as a result.  Finished very slowly in the NE corner in particular, a result of having “paste” in place of DRIED (Partner of cut), forgetting how to spell CITROEN, and thinking that VIBISTS are, like, you know, the cool kids, hey?

Cracking: GO IT ALONE, clued as (Ditch assistance), really had me looking for a AAA/tow job angle, was angry at first but now appreciate the misdirection and the fillworthiness.

Slacking: tie between AEOLUS, the Greek God of vowels, and GARRETS, which are people, not places.

Sidetracking: USAIN Bolt, at the 2016 olympics, a full stride ahead of the field, in which he appears to be sheepishly mugging for the camera, almost certainly one of the greatest photographs in the history of sport:


Jim Hilger’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeful Crossword” – Jenni’s write-up

This was one of the hardest Fireballs in my recent memory. Not a complaint! It had an ACPT Puzzle 5 vibe for me with a very satisfying aha! moment. I’m posting Peter’s grid because it shows the theme more clearly than I can.

At first I thought there was a rebus, because 31a [Dancer coworker] has to be COMET but there were only three letters. That’s not how it works. The ME is up above. I figured it out when I got to the two revealers. 47a [Energizers…and six answers in this puzzle in relation to six other answers] is PICK UPS. You can see ME right below that answer, so if we follow the instructions we get PICK [ME] UPS. At 54a we have [Much-worn wear…and six answers in this puzzle in relation to six other answers]: HAND DOWNS. Add in the ME from the line above and you get HAND [ME] DOWNS. The rest of the theme answers:

Fireball, October 18, 2023, Jim Hilger, “Themeful Crossword,” solution grid

  • 5a [P.T. Barnum and others] is SHOW[ME]N.
  • 15a [Follower of boo or yoo] is HOO with an extra ME to make HOMEO.
  • 23a [Scanty] is [ME]AGER.
  • 27a [Storage structure] is SHED with the ME in front. I kind of like the idea of a ME SHED. That ME also drops down to
  • 31a, the aforementioned CO[ME]T.
  • 26a [Construction material] is CE[ME]NT.
  • 29a [Finishes] is ENDS, presenting as EMENDS and that’s above
  • 35a [Vitriolic post], FLA[ME].
  • 50a [Line dance] is CONGA with ME on the end to make CON GAME.
  • 52a [ ____ boom] is SONIC, which turns into MESONIC which Google tells me means “of or pertaining to a meson.” Those lend the MEs to the revealers.
  • 56a [Greek goddess of agriculture] is DE[ME]TER, getting the ME from
  • 64 [Article in the constitution], AN which turns into AMEN.
  • 67a [Second] is MO[ME]NT.
  • 60a [A la vapeur] is STE[ME]AD.
  • 66a [Some notes] are, apparently, ES which looks like ESME.
  • 69a [Nomad] is ROA[ME]R.

Phew. I think that’s everything. And it’s a thing of beauty and a joy to behold and solve. What fun! I could never think of anything like this, let alone execute it, and I’m so glad there are people like Jim and Peter! And I just figured out the title – THE ME FUL CROSSWORD. Ha.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Jon Batiste won a Grammy in 2021 for WE ARE.

Paolo Pasco’s New Yorker crossword – Kyle’s write-up

Thanks Paolo for today’s New Yorker offering. Intriguing design today–you don’t often see 2×2 black squares in a grid. Lots of fun answers and clues throughout:

The New Yorker solution grid – Thursday 10/19/2023 – Paolo Pasco

  • 45A [“Might as well try!”] “SHOOT YOUR SHOT“. I can’t help but think of “Hamilton” when I see this phrase. Does anyone know if it originated from the musical?
  • Speaking of musicals, we have STAGE PRESENCE at 20A [Intangible asset for a Broadway actor]. Mini-theme?
  • 5A [2023 film in which Cate Blanchett plays a world-renowned conductor] TÁR. A very current cluing angle for this entry–in fact Jennifer Marra and I just had a puzzle in the LA Times last week with a similar clue. One quibble: is it a 2022 or 2023 film? It was released in the US in 2022, and nominated for several Academy Awards in the last award year (for the 2023 ceremony), but according to Wikipedia it came out in Germany this year. *shrug*
  • 3D [American poet who wrote “Only a Dad” and “It Couldn’t Be Done”] EDGAR GUEST. I couldn’t say I’d heard of him. Here’s the poem “It Couldn’t Be Done“. Fun fact per Wikipedia: Guest is the only person ever made Poet Laureate of the state of Michigan.

David Distenfeld & Seth Weitberg’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

David Distenfeld & Seth Weitberg’s puzzle seems to be doing two different things: first, phrases are combined using the template DOUBLETEAM – four answers are made up of two “Big 4” US teams (although the my mind definitely goes to the Super Rugby team Wellington Hurricanes first). Secondly all four are clued as “works as…” and are formed as plural verb / objects pairs. I’m not sure how the two parts enmesh, but the clueing angle didn’t feel forced:

  • [Works as a decoy vendor?], HAWKSDUCKS. NBA / NHL
    [Works as a political consultant?], BILLSSENATORS.
    NFL / NHL
    [Works as a weatherperson?], BRAVESHURRICANES.
    We just braved THEWEATHER yesterday, odd repeat! MLB / NHL
    [Works as a fast-food cook?], BROWNSNUGGETS. NFL / NBA

The clues felt a step up today compared to most LA Times puzzles:

  • [Where to find bands on bands], RADIO; I’m still not quite sure how this works. Bands as in areas of the electromagnetic spectrum?
  • [Gas up?], BLOAT. As in the frequently fatal disease in dogs and some livestock?
  • [Sport with takedowns, for short], MMA – a lot of those about!
  • [Step in the shower?], RINSE. Clever misdirection! Not a physical step.
    [Helpful item when it’s time to bounce?], TRAMPOLINE. This one felt a bit more try-hard though…
  • [1990s series starring David Cross and Bob Odenkirk], MRSHOW. Not the clue, but I only barely recognize the name or the actors…
  • [Tamale dough], MASA. Again, not the clue, I just blanked on this word again.
  • [Kwik Seal maker], DAP. I thought that was throwing stones?


Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today Crossword, “The Kids Are All Right” — Emily’s write-up

A smooth solve today, which is perfect for this time in the week.

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday October 19, 2023

USA Today, October 19 2023, “The Kids Are All Right” by Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

Theme: each themer ends (on its right) with a word used for a kid


  • 20a. [Constellation also known as the Little Dipper], URSAMINOR
  • 37a. [Mariah Carey hit with the line “Our love will never end, no”], ALWAYSBEMYBABY
  • 53a. [Rock band that featured Kim Gordon on bass], SONICYOUTH

A fun themer set today of URSAMINOR, ALWAYSBEMYBABY, SONICYOUTH. Two out of the three were music related which was a nice bonus. I heard Mariah as I solved this puzzle today! With the theme, we get: MINOR, BABY, and YOUTH. As for the puzzle title, there are a couple of things that it might be referencing: a 2010 movie or the slightly different spelling for The Who song (and in turn bands riffing on that title including the Offspring).

Favorite fill: LICORICE, SUBIN, and OVERDUE

Stumpers: FORAY (needed crossings), ABUT (also needed a couple of crossings), and SUI (new to me)

This was a quicker solve for me today, with lots of great cluing and entries. Enjoyed the grid too!

4.0 stars


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25 Responses to Thursday, October 19, 2023

  1. Greg says:

    Sometimes, I’m not thrilled when it’s a rebus-heavy puzzle. But I found today’s NYT — with 27 (!) double-letter entries — to be a complete delight. Clever theme, dazzling feat of construction.

    • Dallas says:

      I’m with you… I’m not a fan of rebuses, and I’m also not so fond of gambling clues, as I’m not too familiar with all the different terms, but I agree that this was a very fun Thursday, and it was even a bit slower than my average. TEEPEE was where I first suspected the rebus, and I wanted to write in both VIGODA and BARBIE, but had erroneously put PASTE in instead of DRIED, which made me think I had both wrong (my wife and 8 yo have watched BARBIE but I haven’t had the chance yet). I really enjoyed the revealer, and also that the down clues themselves were doubled, too.

      As a material scientist, I’m not in love with ANNEALED for “did some metalworking on”; it’s a processing step, but doesn’t involve mechanical manipulation. Fine enough I’m sure :-) I also think my neurologist wife would balk at “internal review” for MRI… that seemed a bit of a stretch. But we’re not here to pick nits, so: kudos to a fun Thursday!

      • Jenni Levy says:

        Not a neurologist, just an internist, and I’m just grateful they have (mostly) stopped cluing EEG as some kind of “scan.” [Internal review] made me smile a bit.

  2. Maxine Nerdström says:

    NYT was great fun today

  3. JohnH says:

    The WSJ confused me for a while. I first got the three themers to the left, where the F begins the word and was looking for more like that. But then, too, in those first three, F precedes the letter above it. In the other two it follow that letter. Slowed me down.

    • Zach says:

      I realized what was going on pretty quickly, but only because this theme was very similar to the mechanism Mike used for the Friday meta puzzle a few weeks ago where you had to interpret “LEFT OFF” as “LEFT OF F” to solve the meta. I wonder if he came up with the idea for this theme at the same time he developed the meta puzzle from a few weeks ago.

  4. Allen K says:

    I do the NYT puzzle by printing out on paper…not on an app. There were no italics in the print version on my computer so I had to visit a blog site to see what I was missing. Frustrating and sort of copmromised a good puzzle.

    • Mutman says:

      If you’re going to print and solve, I recommend printing the ‘newspaper version’. The other ‘version’ often leaves out features, like todays italics, which were in the former.

      • Eric H says:

        Or even just look at the newspaper version. Today, it would have been easy to highlight the appropriate clues on the puzzle one had printed out from the .PDF.

      • Lois says:

        Rather than printing out the newspaper version every time, which uses a lot of black ink, I scan it every day for italics first (which never are offered for some reason), and if there aren’t any italics, or other differences from the inksaver version I use, I go ahead with the regular Times inksaver version. I have missed a couple of special features, such as reverse numbering when the solver was supposed to be climbing to a summit. In some other odd cases, only the newspaper version is offered on the Times blank crossword page. Eric H’s idea below, of using the newspaper version online while printing out the inksaver version, seems to be a nice alternative.

    • MaryS says:

      I actually prefer it when, like today, the version I print doesn’t have the italics. I enjoy the fun of discovering what’s going on without help.

  5. David L says:

    It was pretty obvious that the NYT had doubled-up letters, but it took me a while to see the extent of it. Nicely done, although slow work because of all the extra keying.

    I don’t understand ZDL’s comment about GARRETS being “people, not places,” unless it’s some cute joke that I’m not getting.

    I had the same thought as Dallas above about ANNEALING.

    • JohnH says:

      Agreed about ANNEALING, but of course still a terrific puzzle. I also hadn’t heard a vibes player or vibraphonist called a VIBIST before, but it makes sense. But the tough section for me is untouched by the theme, due S.

    • huda says:

      I interpreted the GARRETS comment from ZDL as a joke, since Garrett is a name (but with 2 T’s). I thought it just meant that it didn’t readily occur to him as the name of a place in a building.

  6. Art Shapiro says:

    I didn’t see anything italicized, including Print Preview on the printable version. I use Nexus solver.

    This was possibly the first puzzle all year I gave a 5. Minimal pop culture garbage, fantastic gimmick, and a pleasure to solve.

  7. MattF says:

    Fireball was quite crunchy. Looked up the river and the album… then realized the trick was the -absence- of rebuses. Nice contrast with NYT.

  8. MarkAbe says:

    Loved the NYT. Of course, I enjoy rebus clues, poker, and blackjack. It took me a while to see the pattern, even though I was SURE of both Barbie and Karnak and neither fit.

  9. Lois says:

    NYT: I’m wondering about the use of the word “rebus,” used in the review here, in the comments here complaining about rebuses, and by the discussion and by the constructor on Wordplay. The word seems to be used as having more than one letter in a box, but why? Merriam-Webster says it means “a representation of words or syllables by pictures of objects or by symbols whose names resemble the intended words or syllables in sound” or “a riddle made up of such pictures or symbols.” Those are the meanings I know, and I think it would be useful to confine the word to those meanings. Apparently the meaning has widened so much in these specialized circles that the original useful definition has vanished.

  10. David Ritchey says:

    Regarding the puzzle 10/19/2023. Clue for 6 across is “Woodstock supergroup, briefly” with the answer being CSNY. Crosby, Stills and Nash are indeed a supergroup that played Woodstock, but Neil Young was not a part of that performance.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Young was definitely on stage with Crosby, Stills and Nash at Woodstock. The set started out with CSN doing a few acoustic songs and then Young joined them for an electric set.

      • Seattle DB says:

        Wow, SFMan, that link really gave me an insight I’d never known before. Thx!

      • Gary R says:

        Seems like I’ve read that Young had an issue with the camera people being on stage shooting footage for the movie and so they shot just Crosby Stills and Nash. So Young apparently doesn’t appear in the movie (I’ve seen it, but it’s been a long time). I guess that could lead to the impression he wasn’t there.

      • David Ritchey says:

        I stand corrected! I had no idea …

        “This was just the band’s second performance together.[15] Neil Young skipped most of the acoustic set (the exceptions being his compositions “Mr. Soul” and “Wonderin'” and the final acoustic song, Stills’ “You Don’t Have to Cry”) and joined Crosby, Stills and Nash during the electric set, but refused to be filmed. Young felt the filming was distracting both performers and audience from the music. As a result, Young’s name was dropped in the concert film and on its soundtrack”

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