Thursday, November 2, 2023

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 5:21 (Gareth) 


NYT 7:13 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker tk (norah) 


Universal tk (Sophia) 


USA Today 7:05 (Emily) 


WSJ 9:26 (Jim) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


David Poole’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “What’s Up?”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are things that rise that are also “rising” (written bottom to top) in the grid. The revealer is THE SUN ALSO RISES (7d, [Hemingway title, and a hint to a three-letter answer that fits with four stealthy seven-letter answers]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “What’s Up?” · David Poole · Thu., 11.2.23

  • 3d. [Delicate dessert] ELFFUOS. Soufflé.
  • 15d. [Thermometer contents] YRUCREM. Mercury.
  • 36d. [“Around the World in Eighty Days” conveyance] NOOLLAB. Balloon.
  • 43d. [Stage hider] NIATRUC. Curtain.

Nice theme that took a few minutes to figure out. Just right for a Thursday. However, I’m not sold on the whole “hint to a three-letter answer…” thing. 45d is NUS (clued [Greek consonants]) which is obviously SUN going upwards. But I sure don’t see a need for that extra layer. The theme is sufficient with the revealer telling us that THE SUN ALSO RISES (in real life) in addition to the theme answers in the puzzle that we have to find. I solved the puzzle and grokked the theme without even knowing there was an upward SUN in the grid. However, if you really want to include the upward SUN as a hint, I’d say the revealer clue needed to be a little more explicit, perhaps like so: [Hemingway title, and a hint to 45-Down which itself is a hint to four seven-letter answers in this grid].

During the solve, I wasn’t sure where the upward entries were going to be found, so I kept looking for them in the wrong places (i.e. the NE and SW corners). That slowed things down (in addition to the Thursday-level clues). But all in all, it was a fun challenge to suss out the theme.

Fun fill with MACEDONIA, TOP-SEEDED, SETUP MAN, SOUVLAKI, IGUANA, BAMBOO, “ALL MINE!,” Elvis Costello’s ALISON, and “INDULGE ME.” Some eyebrow-raisers in MISUSER, VELO.

Clues of note:

  • 42a. [Brief Bartlett’s byline]. ANON. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, that is.
  • 5d. [Blixen and Black, for two]. KARENS. Notable for not being a derogatory clue.
  • 12d. [Pepper rating]. HOTNESS. Meh. I wanted SCOVILLE, but it was one letter too long.
  • 28d. [“The Problem With ___” (“The Simpsons” documentary)]. APU. Recently I’ve been learning about voice acting. This documentary was a seminal moment in the industry putting the spotlight on a white guy (Hank Azaria, whom I respect for his vocal talents) doing the voice of an Indian man.
  • 38d. [Poor choice for the archery team]. BAD SHOT. Not sure I’m following the clue here. How is a BAD SHOT a “choice”?
  • 62d. [Org. for good students]. NHS. I mainly know the NHS as the UK’s National Health Service, not the National Honor Society.

Good puzzle. Four stars.

Chase Dittrich and Christina Iverson’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Easy (7m13s)

Chase Dittrich and Christina Iverson’s New York Times crossword, 11/2/23, 1102

Today’s theme: no letters, no cry

  • NO S/E JOB

Flew through this, which always makes a puzzle endearing in a confidence-building kinda way.  As for the puzzle itself, I really appreciate how the number of missing letters increases as you progress through the theme answers, and those last two entries were particularly clever (NO R/S/E GODDESS and NO B/E/L PRIZE).

Cracking: ALOHA shirts.. why?  I’ve got a closet full of Reyn Spooners, that’s why.

Slacking: any reference to Sequoia sempervirens should make me all warm and tingly inside, except in this instance — because El PALO Alto is actually tiny by coast redwood standards (barely over 100 feet — I’ve got tulip poplars bigger than that in my front yard!) and is a relatively young pup by the same measures (1000 years, ho hum).  In the sheer mind-bending splendor of sequoia superlatives, El PALO Alto is a speed bump, a footnote, an also-ran to the also-ran-th power.  I am being forced to besmirch trees as a result of its unspectacularness.

Sidetracking: although she hasn’t yet won a NO B/E/L PRIZE, Jennifer EGAN did win the Pulitzer for “A Visit from the Goon Squad”, which means it’s good enough for you to give it a read.

Matthew Luter’s LA Times crossword – gareth’s Summary

Matthew Luter provides us with a sort of thematic amalgam of the list and clue-reversal theme tropes. Four answers are clued as [>THING< with steps] and are indeed, different things that have steps; it’s important to try and make sure all four are different kinds of steps, and they just about are, although some are quite similar to each other:

  • [Device with steps], FITNESSTRACKER. Walking.
  • [Activity with steps], BALLROOMDANCING. Dance moves, which are similar to walking steps.
  • [Structure with steps], SPIRALSTAIRCASE. Which are things you walk on.
  • [Booklet with steps], IKEADIRECTIONS. Which is a bit contrived, but is the most distinct, being parts of a task.

Stumpers, of which there felt like quite a few for a Thursday:

  • [Meredith Grey’s mother], ELLIS. I only realised now this is a TV clue.
  • [Minnesota home to the Mayo Clinic], ROCHESTER. Not Rochester, NY then…
  • [“Wellness you can trust” publication], SELF. Not sure I trust anything that calls itself “wellness”, but it appears to be some kind of magazine…
  • [Lighthouse output], SIGNAL. Eh? I guess..
  • Drop down?], MOLT. As in feathers…
  • [“Queen __”: pop music icon with a “hive” of fans], BEY. Apparently a Beyoncé nickname?


Sally Hoelscher & Olivia Mitra Framke’s USA Today Crossword, “Front Pockets” — Emily’s write-up

Another fun collaboration today with a great theme! Also, today’s puzzle was edited by Jared Goudsmit.

Completed USA Today crossword for November 02, 2023

USA Today, November 02 2023, “Front Pockets” by Sally Hoelscher & Olivia Mitra Framke

Theme: the first word of each themer (or front) can prepend “pockets” to form a new phrase


  • 20a. [Product that’s in demand], HOTTICKETITEM
  • 38a. [Take control of a commodity], CORNERTHEMARKET
  • 53a. [Complain publicly], AIRAGRIEVANCE

As we now barrel towards the holiday season, there will be lots of talk and articles about the latest HOTTICKETITEM, especially when it comes to toys. CORNERTHEMARKET is a phrase I haven’t heard in a long time so it took me a few crossings before I could fill it in. Usually AIRAGRIEVANCE is plural when I encounter it so that threw me off for just a little bit as well. Fun set though and with the theme we get: tasty HOT POCKETS, CORNER POCKETS, and AIR POCKETS.

Favorite fill: IDINA, TOTE, and REDPANDA

Stumpers: DEEM (originally had “seem”), TOPHATS (needed a few crossings), and VEIL (new to me)

In addition to the themer set and lengthy bonus fill, there’s also many talking animals too: OINKS, MOO, MEOW. There’s some fun pairs: OUI and NYET. Plus Spanish is also represented with OCHO. Is it a faux PAS to include or exclude it as well? Ce’st la vie!

4.0 stars


Alex Eaton-Salners’s Fireball Crossword, “Leading Averages” – Jenni’s write-up

Late and brief entry since the site was down.

Fireball Crossword, 11/1/2023, Peter Gordon, “Upon Reflection,” solution grid

The title is “Upon Reflection…” and I had absolutely no idea what was going on until I got to the revealer.

69a [When looking at this puzzle’s answer grid in one, the five long Down entries are unchanged] is MIRROR.

So I guess MOUTH TO MOUTHAWAY WITH YOUI AM WHAT I AMOTTUMWA IOWA, and TUWHIT TUWHOO are all the same when you look in the mirror. Can’t say I care about this at all, and TUWHIT TUWHOO might as well be completely made up.


What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that I AM WHAT I AM is a song from “La Cage aux Folles.”

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

25 Responses to Thursday, November 2, 2023

  1. Greg says:

    Clever theme to the New York Times puzzle. Smooth fill, an enjoyable solving experience.

    • Dallas says:

      Agreed—really smooth solve, great theme.

      Looks like there was a bit of a web connectivity hiccup on the site today; glad to see it back up!

  2. Ethan says:

    Easy smooth NYT. Not all Thursdays need be brutal.

    • DougC says:

      I agree that they need not be brutal, but I found this to be Tuesday-easy, and I prefer Thursday puzzles to be more challenging than that.

  3. Ben Kennedy says:

    Would love to see “abed” clued as a Community reference sometime

  4. Ethan says:

    I have to remark on the cluing of ALEC today. No disrespect to the guy, but Alec Marsh has to be the least-known baseball player to ever be in the crossword. He debuted just this year, is not really considered a big prospect, and had a pretty rough year for one of the worst teams in baseball. I watch at least a hundred games a year, I listen to an MLB podcast, and I had never heard of him until I Googled. Outside of K.C. Royals diehards and the Marsh family, I don’t know who would have heard of him. There are 780 active guys in MLB at any given time and I don’t think Alec Marsh is in the top 700 of most famous players.

    OK, but in the clue he’s paired with the much more well-known (although still not really a star) ALEC Bohm. Alec Bohm does have a teammate on the Phillies named Marsh, but it’s Brandon Marsh. Again, neither of these guys are really stars. They’re not in the top five most famous on their own team. But I’m just dying to know if the constructor wrote that clue as a misdirect, to make the solver think of Brandon Marsh rather than Alec, and think the answer was PHILLIES or some such. If so, that would be the most nerdy, arcane misdirect I’ve ever heard of in a crossword.

    • Mutman says:

      Being from Philly, I filled in Alec and moved in. I love Alec Bohm.

      I think I spent ((all your time) minus 2 seconds) thinking about guys clue.

  5. Lester says:

    WSJ: It would have been fun to see some kind of synergistic cluing between the archery BAD SHOT and ALISON of “my aim is true” fame.

  6. Dan says:

    LAT: Clue 30D is “Baseball rosters” for the answer NINES.

    But I have always understood the word “roster” in this context to mean the group of players eligible to play, *not* just the players on the field or lined up to bat at a given moment.

    (This was 25 for a long while, until it recently expanded to up to 40. But I’m sure someone who follows the game could provide more specifics.)

    • MarkAbe says:

      Agreed, and it bothered me too. The “roster” is all the eligible players. The “line-up” is the current nine batters.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      That clue is just flat-out wrong (at least as it’s used in baseball). Baseball teams have nine players at a time in their batting orders and nine players at a time in the field when the other team is batting, but those groups of players are never referred to as a “roster”. Major League teams have 26 players on their active roster until September at which point they have the option of adding two more players for the last month of the season. There are also 40-man rosters that include between 12 and 14 additional players who are injured, on leave (e.g., bereavement, family medical emergencies, paternity) and minor leaguers the teams wish to protect from being claimed by other teams during the off-season.

  7. Mr. [a little bit] Grumpy says:

    WSJ: I would have been more impressed had the sun been rising in the east and setting in the west. As it was, that was just an extraneous word of no import and no real relevance to the theme.

    • JohnH says:

      Have to say, it made no sense to me either. I kept looking to see how the entries would make more sense if they led to SUN (reversed, of course) and came here to see what I’d missed. I guess nothing.

  8. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Definitely “beginner friendly.” Kudos for the clue for ANGELS (“Mythological creatures with halos and wings”)!

    • JohnH says:

      As usual, it just annoyed me no end, especially for a beginner’s puzzle. Sure, there were way too many gimmes, for pretty much all the common nouns. And then there were no ends of other entries for beginners to crosswords, but not to the audience that, no doubt, they had in mind. To me, it was a boring, hard one. You either belong to their hoped for audience or you don’t.

  9. Alex says:

    Solved NYT, but I don’t for the life of me get the theme. Can somebody explain it?

    • Eric H says:

      The theme is “Part of the clue is in the answer.”

      Take 17A, for example: “Beg your pardo_”: NONAPOLOGY.

      Parse the answer as “NO ‘N’ APOLOGY.” There’s no ‘N” in the clue. Taking the ‘N’ gives you “Beg your pardon” as a clue for “APOLOGY.”

  10. Mhoonchild says:

    NYT I didn’t get the theme until I came here, but the puzzle was “stupid easy” (for a Thursday) even without getting the theme.

    OMG, ZDL, Reyn Spooners are $120 a pop! That seems pretty steep for basic Hawaiian shirts, but I’ve been wearing Tommy Bahamas for a long time, and they probably cost more than that now. My first Hawaiian shirt was purchased at Disneyland sometime in the last century, and I’m still wearing it in the summer here in Seattle.

  11. Alison L. says:

    Can someone explain the answer ton in measurement that can be short or long?

    • Eric H says:

      A short ton is 2,000 pounds, a long ton is 2,240 pounds.

      I have a friend who teaches physics at the University of Texas. He taught me about a useful and flexible scientific unit, the metric fuck-ton.

  12. Mark Vinci says:

    Hello Crosswords fans. I’m new here. I was stumped to understand the mirror theme until I held the puzzle up to a mirror and viola, the long down answers remained unchanged but all the other words were unreadable.
    Leonardo Da Vinci is smiling!!

Comments are closed.