Thursday, December 7, 2023

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 5:08 (Gareth) 


NYT 8:44 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker 3:35 (Kyle) 


Universal 4:42 (Sophia) 


USA Today 10:24 (Emily) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


WSJ 11:33 (Jim) 


Mary Lou Guizzo & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Emission Control”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar words and phrases that all feature the letters COO, however they’re clued as if they didn’t contain those letters. The revealer is CARBON OFFSETS (36a, [They fund projects that remove a gas from the atmosphere, which is a hint to what’s happening in four Across answers]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Emission Control” · Mary Lou Guizzo & Jeff Chen · Thu., 12.7.23

  • 18a. “This is a stickup!” speaker] BANDICOOT. Bandit.
  • 23a. [Musician Billy] JOE COOL. Joel.
  • 52a. [Early education, for short] PRE-COOK. Pre-K.
  • 58a. [Russell ___ (big brand in chocolates)] SCOOT OVER. Stover.

I will admit I couldn’t figure out the COO angle at first. Was I wrong in believing the chemical symbol for Carbon was just C? (I wasn’t.) Was it somehow an abbreviation for CARBON OFFSETS? (It’s not.)

Finally, I settled on it being a representation of carbon dioxide, which is usually written CO2. Okay, that makes sense. But it was very distracting not figuring that out during the solve.

Now that I know that, I’m really liking the theme answers. It was tough going at first since I didn’t know that there were extra letters in the answers, but once the aha moment happens, things progressed faster. I will say I wouldn’t have minded if the puzzle marked the theme entries with an asterisk since two of them are only seven letters long which is the same length as some of the fill entries.

Fill highlights include DRIFTWOOD, ENCHANTED, FUN PARKS (though I’m not exactly sure what those are), and PIZZERIA (once I figured out it was not PIZZARIA). That BOFF/BUNCHE crossing got me though. I’ve heard of “boffo”, but never BOFF.

Clues of note:

  • 18a. [“This is a stickup!” speaker]. BANDICOOT. I’ve never played a Crash BANDICOOT game, but I know the name, so I was confused into thinking that this was something the character is known for saying.
  • 8d. [“My pleasure”]. DE NADA. I don’t think this is quite common enough to go without a hint that the answer is in Spanish.

Good Thursday challenge, though it took some figuring out. 3.75 stars.

Rebecca Goldsteins New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Easy (8m44s)

Rebecca Goldstein’s New York Times crossword, 12/7/23, 1207

Today’s theme: ALCHEMY (Pseudoscientific process hinted at by four squares in this puzzle)

  • TE(A U)RN and PO(P B)OTTLE

Either I’m getting better at this (unlikely), or the last few weeks have been really accessible.  Immediately plunked down the CAFE (AU) LAIT RA(P B)ATTLE cross and said to myself: okay, self!, lead to gold, ALCHEMY, let’s dig up the rest of them.  It’s not so much lead turning into gold, but rather, both elements occupying the same container, but “chemistry set” or “periodic table” aren’t very pithy revealers.

Cracking: ELOTE street corn flavored almonds, the most ultra-processed form of what should otherwise be a “whole” food, but damn you Blue Diamond — when you play God, you do it right.

SlackingDEFIB, we do not call it that.  In the field, it’s an AED, so this bugs me, QED.

SidetrackingPHX Sky Harbor also had a nice ring to it, along with ABQ Sunport, ROS Spaceport, and PWM Jetport.  Why thusly yclept?  Because you’re saluting the sun, in the space race, lee-ving on a jet plane..



Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 162” – Jenni’s write-up

It’s a Fireball Themeless with Peter’s trademark: connecting the first and last answers in some way. Also a fun 15-letter entry in the middle and some goodies sprinkled around the grid. And a few clunkers because nothing’s perfect.

Fireball, December 6, 2023, Peter Gordon, “Themeless 162,” solution grid

  • 1a is MUCH ADO and 69a is MACHADO. From Shakespeare to baseball in one easy step.
  • Do people actually use ETAILER in real life? Is it hyphenated? A Google search shows me a bunch of online dictionary definitions (without a hyphnen) and some companies using the term in their names. I am growing to seriously dislike this entry.
  • More “sports will make you smarter” moments: Peyton Manning’s brother ELI and father ARCHIE both make appearances.
  • The aforementioned grid-spanner is CALIFORNIA ROLLS. I wish they all could be California rolls….
  • SNO CONE does not taste like real shaved ice. There is no comparison. Well, they both have ice and syrup, but that’s about it.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the fifth installment in the SPY KIDS franchise is “Armageddon” (sounds like it might be the last). I also had never heard the word “bokeh”, which Wikipedia defines as “the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image, caused by circles of confusion.” Then I had to look up “circles of confusion” and found they are optical spots “caused by a cone of light rays from a lens not coming to a perfect focus when imaging a point source. It is also known as disk of confusion, circle of indistinctness, blur circle, or blur spot.” It turns out the circle of confusion is used to determine the depth of field which is in turn controlled by FSTOP which brings us back to the puzzle after my own personal circle of confusion.

Will Nediger’s New Yorker crossword – Kyle’s write-up

Thanks Will N. for today’s New Yorker. An interesting solve with highlights and head-scratchers alike:

The New Yorker solution grid – Thursday 12/07/2023 – Will Nediger

  • The juxtaposition of PASTURE-RAISED and PASTEURIZED in the middle of the grid made me smile, and it’s possible this might have been a seed pair for the grid. Less effective, to me, was the attempt at echoing the clues: PASTEURIZED is definitely a [Milk-carton word], but is PASTURE-RAISED an [Egg-carton word]? Isn’t this label generally used more for meat products, where the animal is…grazing in a pasture? Eggs are usually free range or cage-free, no?
  • 4D [Cutesy emoticon representing a face with open eyes] OWO. Or more properly, OwO. Writing an emoticon in a Down entry just looks bizarre, and the solving interface defaulting to all caps doesn’t help.
  • 8A [“She doesn’t know what she’s missing”] “HER LOSS”. A conversational green paint entry.
  • 7A [“…assuming the idea sounds appealing”] “IF YOU’RE INTO THAT”. Now that’s more like it! This was the high point of my solve, because it made me think of Flight of the Conchords:

Norman M. Aaronson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

Norman M. Aaronson’s puzzle theme is difficult to define: four phrases are tied through their clues to reasons not to visit famous locations. The whole vibe is very… dad jokey. So:

  • [Some travelers won’t tour the Corn Palace for fear that …], THEWALLSHAVEEARS
  • [Some travelers won’t go to the top of the Eiffel Tower because they never …], COMETOTHEPOINT
  • [Some travelers won’t visit the La Brea Tar Pits for fear of being …], STUCKINTHEPAST
  • [Some travelers won’t get on the London Eye because they would just …], GOROUNDINCIRCLES

There are quite a few “old school” crossword answers today you may not see that often any more:

  • [First Burmese prime minister], UNU
  • [K thru 12], ELHI
  • [Lyric poet], ODIST
  • [Brewery ovens], OAST


Daniel Hrynick’s Universal crossword, “Change Positions” — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer contains the string PIN, with either HEADS or TAILS before or after it – all four possible combinations are in the puzzle.

Universal Crossword, 12 07 2023, “Change Positions”

  • 17a [*Upside-down break dancing move] – HEAD SPIN
  • 21a [*Downward spiral] – TAILSPIN
  • 52a [*Ducks named for their rear feathers] – PINTAILS
  • 57a [*Sewing tips?] – PINHEADS
  • 35a [Opposites … and a hint to the starred clues’ answers] – FLIP SIDES

This is very clever – I did not realize this many heads/tails words could be made with PIN. The revealer also pulls double duty, as the heads/tails are literal flips of the coin, but also flip sides of the word pin. (Side note, I feel like COIN should have been clued as part of the theme!). HEAD SPIN and TAILSPIN are my favorites – I didn’t know PINTAILS but the clue made it easy enough to figure out. PINHEADS is… not usually used in the sewing context, in my experience. But I still liked it here.


Fave clue: [Person paying thousands for quarters, say?] – RENTER (too real)

New to me: [What an “apple” is to a hockey goal] for ASSIST

Rebecca Goldstein’s USA Today Crossword, “Watch the Candles Burn” — Emily’s write-up

Light it up!

Completed USA Today crossword for December 07, 2023

USA Today, December 07 2023, “Watch the Candles Burn” by Rebecca Goldstein

Theme: each succeeding themer contains less of the word “WAX—” from the beginning, like a candle burning away


  • 11a. [Think fondly of the “before times”], WAXNOSTALGIC
  • 34a. [Selfish hidden agenda], AXTOGRIND
  • 59a. [Some genetic determinants of sex], XCHROMOSOMES

Today’s theme is truly transformative. The set starts with WAXNOSTALGIC, though I usually hear “wax poetic” more frequently so this didn’t fill as quickly for me. Next up is AXTOGRIND and ending with XCHROMOSOMES. The theme is so creative, with the “W” falling off the first themer then the “A” from the second to leave the third themer to begin with “X—”. It’s so fun, though if I have one tiny criticism it would be that I’d loved to have seen it in the downs so that it was a vertical theme (though maybe it was tried and didn’t work well).

Favorite fill: RINGPOP, ISAAC, and ANDCUT

Stumpers: UNIQUE (needed crossings, tricky cluing for me), QUOTES (also needed some crossings), and CREDO (“tenet” came to mind first)

Awesome grid—such a beauty! Really fun solve, even though for me this was a harder puzzle than usual (given the constructor that’s no surprise to me). Great bonus fill and loved all the cluing, though again it was tougher for me. How’d you all do?

4.0 stars


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

24 Responses to Thursday, December 7, 2023

  1. PJ says:

    NYT – Excellent puzzle! I really enjoyed solving it. With four pair of theme answers plus the central entry a lot of pressure could get put on the fill. We do have old friends like OSLO, ELLE, ALOE, ISH, and AHI. Plus SUI and LUX may be known to many, but not me (crossings were very fair). But that doesn’t seem like a steep price to pay for a theme that slaps.

    • JohnH says:

      Then too, the clue for ELLE is not the usual magazine. Actually, with things like that, ELOTE, SUI, and LUX rather than lumen, I found this a harder than usual Thursday. But clever it is.

    • Eric H says:

      It was a lot of fun to solve. I enjoy a rebus that has a good reason for being a rebus, and this one met that criteria.

    • Dallas says:

      Great Thursday! Pretty fast, as after figuring out the revealer / rebus (with ROOFTOP BAR crossing USA USA) it really opened up quickly. It was also nice where I had guesses I wasn’t sure about at first (OSCAR, e.g., and I knew CAFE AU LAIT wouldn’t fit at first) that revealed themselves quickly. And I even liked seeing LUX too. Good stuff!

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Yes! Enjoyable sciency theme- Always a plus.
    Neat little twist… I only put AU in the rebus boxes and when I was done, Across Lite converted them to PB/AU… How cool is that!
    The theme entries are evocative– A lovely young woman in a push up bra is hanging out on a rooftop bar, sipping her cafe au lait. The guys at the nearby table just drove by, made a u-turn, plunked themselves at the nearby table, ordered some pop bottles, started a rap battle and ended up chanting USA/USA…

  3. Ned says:

    Nice puzzle but poor implementation on NYT site (at least with my browser). It wouldn’t accept PBAU in the rebus squares and after many minutes of looking for a typo somewhere, I changed them to BP/AU and ding ding ding. Unusual, since usually the site is pretty forgiving with rebus entries.

    • Eric H says:

      I think two-directional rebuses have always required a slash.

      Just entering the first letter of the rebus usually works, too.

    • I tried that with no luck and also just the first letter. No matter what I try it’s not accepting my grid. Any suggestions?

    • MattF says:

      Tried PBAU, to no avail. Then tried just PB, hoping that perhaps an animation at at the end would ‘transform’ lead onto gold… But a nice puzzle, anyhow.

      • Katie says:

        +1 – Ooo! Neat idea, Matt!
        for instance, just the word lead, animated to transform, via the d staying put, with the l slowly “smooshing over” like a vertical wall, to reveal the g and o (going from lead gray to gold in color):

        Still – cool puzzle. :-)

  4. JohnH says:

    Jim, when we worry about carbon emissions, we mean greenhouse gases, of which by far the most prominent is CO2. Indeed, you can do a search for “when we say there is too much carbon emissions we mean” or some such. So no, C is not synonymous with CO2, but carbon offsites and the like have entered the public discourse as shorthands for it. As they say, it’s not rocket science and indeed not even chemistry, just life.

  5. T Campbell says:

    I say “De nada” often enough that it’s probably my sitcom catchphrase, so I think this one’s an ear-of-the-beholder thing.

  6. pannonica says:

    WSJ: I wonder if the revealer was intended to be CARBON CAPTURE but proved unworkable. Or perhaps it was an editorial decision, as the technology and its supposed benefits are dubious.

    edit: That would be a 14-letter entry, so perhaps not.

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    USAT … 56 blocks in a 15x puzzle? It almost seemed like there were more blocks than puzzle. Oof.

  8. sanfranman59 says:

    TNY: It seems to me that the concept of YIELD has changed over the years. In the real world, it now seems to mean “Don’t worry if you’re going at the speed of the oncoming traffic or not … just cut off any driver who’s coming up on your left and get to the far left lane as quickly as possible”

    • Eric H says:

      I don’t know what they teach in driver’s ed these days, but it doesn’t seem to include the operation of a turn signal lever.

  9. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: I don’t know why it amuses me to see PASTURE-RAISED on top of PASTEURIZED.

    I’m not sure if I have heard HALLMARK HOLIDAY before, but I like it.

Comments are closed.