Thursday, November 23, 2023

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 3:30 (Gareth) 


NYT 9:21 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker 3:08 (Kyle) 


Universal 4:54 (Sophia) 


USA Today 12:04 (Emily) 


Note: No WSJ or Fireball puzzle due to the holiday. Please celebrate responsibly.

Vasu Seralathan’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Easy (9m21s)

Vasu Seralathan’s New York Times crossword, 11/23/23, 1123

Today’s theme: body rebuses


Non-crossword rebus puzzles always make me think of high school — the sort of handouts you might receive on, say, the day before Thanksgiving, when the teacher’s checked out and no one is ready to start a new lesson plan yet.. I’m not being derisive; part of me always secretly enjoyed those assignments.  Kudos for keeping them all in the same idiomatic anatomic vein here, although the cluing requirement makes it hard to keep the theme under wraps for too long.

Cracking: TWOFER, which makes me think less “Double deal” and more 30 Rock

SlackingMANDM, because it never actually is M -AND- M, and before you interject that the NYT doesn’t ampersand its puzzles, au contraire mon frere, more often than you’d think — here, here, here, etc.  But interestingly, never in the Shortz era, despite all the other crossword taboos and invisible barriers he’s broken down.  Not a fan of the ampersand, apparently, which gives us.. M IN ADDITION TO A SECOND M.

Edit: Jim Horne informs me I’m very wrong, but he takes responsibility for my mistake, so as not to make me look like a ninnyhammer.  See comments below.

SidetrackingASPENS are the sort-of exceptions to the longevity supremacy of the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine, but the former are clonal and the latter are not.  You get no points for regeneration.  Try persisting off a single strip of living bark for five thousand years.  On the other hand, the individual trunks of ancient ASPENS may only be a few hundred years old, tho the root system of a colony like Pando existed while neanderthals still walked the Earth (!!!!!!!!!).

Caitlin Reid’s New Yorker crossword – Kyle’s write-up

In addition to thanking Caitlin for today’s puzzle, it’s fitting today to thank all the New Yorker crossword team for their work throughout the year to provide fun and stimulating puzzles.

Quick thoughts on this puzzle:

The New Yorker solution grid – Thursday 11/23/2023 – Caitlin Reid

  • I was briefly stumped on 36D [Common side dish at a barbecue]. Having CO___ I tried entering CORNBREAD, and when that didn’t fit I left CORN___in place hoping for crosses. The answer is COLE SLAW.
  • Fun clues: [Green mold?] for LIME JELLO, [Pop-ular packing material?] for BUBBLE WRAP.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Taylor Johnson’s Universal crossword, “All Tangled Up” — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: THREE WAY TIE – Phrases with scrambled “shoestrings” of the letters in LACES

  • 17a [Excalibur or Bellagio] – HOTEL CASINO

    Universal Crossword, 11 23 2023, “All Tangled Up”

  • 27a [It was developed during the Eastern Zhou dynasty’s Spring and Autumn period] – CHINESE CALENDAR
  • 44a [Potluck dish often prepared with chicken or tuna] – NOODLE CASSEROLE
  • 57a [Rare “Jeopardy!” outcome, and a hint to scrambled shoestrings within 17-, 27- and 44-Across] – THREE WAY TIE

Quick one today since I’m surrounded by family for the holiday! Nice theme, with two great grid-spanning answers. I don’t know much about the CHINESE CALENDAR, although it was easy enough to puzzle out from the clue. I do, however, know a lot about NOODLE CASSEROLE from my time in the Midwest – this plus “Raspberry BERET” felt like shout-outs from fellow Minnesotan Taylor.


Clue highlights: [“Guess ___?” (classic kid’s game)]  for WHO, [Place to bake chicken nuggets] for OVEN.

New to me: [Annual video game competition, for short] for EVO

Amanda Rafkin’s USA Today Crossword, “Dig In!” — Emily’s write-up

Happy Thanksgiving! Who’s hungry?

Completed USA Today crossword for November 23, 2023

USA Today, November 23 2023, “Dig In!” by Amanda Rafkin

Theme: each themer contains –DIG–


  • 20a. [Question from a person looking for travel tips], WHERESHOULDIGO
  • 39a. [New Orleans event with floats], MARDIGRASPARADE
  • 55a. [Say “I swear I was totally clueless”], PLEADIGNORANCE

A fun themer set, starting out with WHERESHOULDIGO, continuing on to the MARDIGRASPARADE, and of course having to PLEADIGNORANCE after a night of likely too much of a good time. At least, that’s my additional connection for today’s set! I must be in a silly mood given the prep for the fun and feasting later today here.

Favorite fill: GREENCURRY, PIE, RYE, and ALE

Stumpers: ERAS (newer to me), UMPS (“refs” came to mind first), and THATSONYOU (needed crossings so actually it is on me)

Though we are celebrating one holiday, right behind it comes a whole season with music filled with EARWORMS. For today, this puzzle will keep you well-fed and happy with delightful food and games. Enjoy!

4.25 stars


Rene Cohen’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Rena Cohen’s puzzle theme today is fairly by-the-numbers. If you like the revealing answer, STIRUPDRAMA, that’s probably the main draw of the puzzle. It is interpreted to be DRAMA scrambled between the parts of four answers, in a way we’ve seen many times before:

  • [*Naval rank of computer scientist Grace Hopper], RE[ARADM]IRAL
  • [*British tennis player who won the 2021 US Open], EM[MARAD]UCANU. Here’s hoping for a comeback in 2024…
  • [*Medium that’s mostly talk], [AMRAD]IO
  • [*Drill command], FORW[ARDMA]RCH


  • [Alprazolam brand], XANAX. Good option in dogs with noise phobia, IMO…
  • [Canal buildup], EARWAX. Ear canal…
  • [Like groceries, often], NONTAXABLE. Most have VAT here? Other than what are determined to be “essentials”.
  • [Walk the dog, rock the baby, etc.], YOYOTRICK. Well that’s one way to accommodate a Y in square one.


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14 Responses to Thursday, November 23, 2023

  1. Jim Horne says:

    @Zachary David Levy — I’m afraid XWord Info has let you down. I’ve already received several emails about this. Mr. Shortz & Co. have used the ampersand several times, like here, here, and here. The reason they didn’t show up in your search is, uh, well, I have no idea. Oh, I do have an idea! I have a bug. Sorry about that.

  2. Jim Horne says:

    Apparently, I can only include one hyperlink. The other examples I tried to include are and

    • Jim Horne says:

      It turns out it wasn’t quite a bug, just really bad User Interface. My current fix is to click the “show bogus answers” checkbox for you if you try to include a non-alphabetic non-wildcard character. The & answers in Shortz Era puzzles are all scored bogus by default, so they only show up when you request that. I’ll create a blog post with details.

  3. Dallas says:

    Zippy Thursday puzzle… close to record time. I was hoping for a bit of a Thanksgiving theme, but I suppose we already had that with Sunday. Fun theme; ARM TWISTING from “MAR” was the only one I didn’t understand right away; anagrams are definitely a puzzle weakness for me.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We’ve got our local Turkey Trot in a little bit, I’ll make sure to listen to Alice’s Restaurant as I do every year, and cook all the food in the world… hope everyone has a fantastic day!

    • Me says:

      NYT: The puzzle was fun, although I don’t think of Valentine as being synonymous with Heart. I think of Valentine as being a card (“I sent you a valentine”) or a sweetheart (“won’t you be my valentine?”) I think something like CENT– would have been better for me. But that’s a nitpick in a breezy puzzle that’s just right for the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  4. John says:

    NYT: More of a Wednesday in difficulty, but easy to forgive for a great theme and no real eye-rollers in the fill

  5. Mutman says:

    My thanks to Amy for running a fun, educational (at times) and professional site!! I love coming here every day to see other’s comments and, occasionally, what I missed!

  6. Shanda says:

    Someone stole my taco.

  7. JohnH says:

    The NYT was harder for me than for others, but I loved it. Maybe it appeals to the cryptic fan in me. I had EYE-OPENers at first, which obviously slowed me considerably, and was way too slow to catch the sense of double deal, which was great.

  8. huda says:

    NYT: Today, I am thankful for many things, including Team Fiend and this community of puzzlers. Coming here brings me joy.

  9. Don Fishel says:

    UNIVERSAL: Easy but fun puzzle. I have one correction though. “Aware of” is HEP TO, not HIP TO. Unless you youngsters are changing the language again.

Comments are closed.