Thursday, April 11, 2024

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 5:20 (Gareth) 


NYT 12:49 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker tk (Jenni) 


Universal tk (Sophia) 


USA Today 10:21 (Emily) 


WSJ 6:09 (Jim) 


Fireball tk (Jenni) 


Geoffrey Schorkopf & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pass the Dinner Rolls”—Jim’s review

Theme answers come in pairs of stacked entries. The top entry features a food item, and the lower entry (in circled letters) is a word that can go with the food item to identify a vehicle selling that food item. Got it? The revealer is MEALS ON WHEELS (55a, [Program for homebound seniors, found literally three times in this puzzle]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Pass the Dinner Rolls” · Geoffrey Schorkopf & Jeff Chen · Thu., 4.11.24

  • 20a [Conversation interrupter at Starbucks] + 22a [Schlep (around)]. COFFEE GRINDER + CART => COFFEE CART.
  • 34a [Mexican treat small enough to eat while walking] + 41a [Axle unit on a skateboard]. STREET TACO + TRUCK => TACO TRUCK.
  • 42a [Short-but-long canines, cutesily] + 46a [Home of the USS Alabama museum ship]. WIENER DOGS + MOBILE => the WIENERMOBILE.

I was skeptical of this puzzle at first mainly because of the clunky fill in the middle, but upon hitting the revealer, I was won over by the unique nature of the theme. No, coffee is not a “meal” but I think some leeway is allowed, and anyway, you can put it all together (coffee, a taco, and a hot dog) to have one complete (if terrible) meal.

I also like that the circles do double duty and represent actual wheels, even if that means our TACO TRUCK has five of them (maybe it’s got a spare tire hanging off the back).

Stacked entries can often lead to questionable fill as we see on the left side with HOWM and stuffy crosswordese OLIO and OLLAS. The right side isn’t as bad, but there is ECCE. On the other hand, it was neat to see CISHET [Like some LGBTQ allies] make its crossword debut (anywhere!), though I needed help with the crossings for the last few letters. Other goodies: OVEN MITT, CHEETOS, SELFLESS, ENGINE ROOM, and LOOFAH. I can only sigh at SIGHS AT.

Clues of note:

  • 4d. [Tropical fruit found in a shower]. LOOFAH. Whoa. News to me. I had no idea.
  • 5d. [Snack in 2023’s “Flamin’ Hot”]. CHEETOS. Wait. There was a movie about the creation of Flamin’ Hot CHEETOS? Yup, there was.
  • 10d. [2023 Google AI chatbot]. BARD. I never heard of this, either, but it’s already been renamed Gemini.

If you can get past the clunky fill, the theme is quite nice. 3.75 stars.

Dan Caprera’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Average (12m49s)

Dan Caprera’s New York Times crossword, 4/11/2024, 0411

Today’s theme: SECRET PASSAGES (With 46-Across, some areas in Clue … or a hint to the first, fourth, twelfth and fifteenth rows of this puzzle)

  • FOOD (p) REP (a) RATION
  • COURT (s) IDE (s) EATS
  • MANE (a) TIN (g) SHARK
  • PRIMER (e) ALE (s) TATE

I assumed we would be traversing black squares for one reason or another, based on the revealer, but was not expecting those black squares to contain letters as part of a line-spanning single 15x answer.  In all honesty, I was still fuzzy on the theme even after finishing the puzzle and inputting seemingly nonsensical answers at 1-, 20-, 57, and 70-across.  Speaking of which, 70-across?  The grid’s over the standard word limit (80), though technically if you treat the four theme lines as a single answer, the cross is in the ballpark.

Cracking: OLIVE TREESOlea europaea, a cornerstone of human civilization for one hundred millenia.  And — callback to last week! — garnish par excellence.

Slacking: ARGOT has appeared in the NYTXW 133 times; nevertheless, my incredulity persisted.


Rebecca Goldstein’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

The left-right symmetry, 9/10/10/11, and pluralization of the final answer, all point to Rebecca Goldstein’s theme having a rather finite number of theme options. Each of four entries describe a tranquil location: COMFORTZONE, HAPPYPLACE, ZENGARDEN, SAFESPACE(S). They all make for fun entries on their own two.

The grid design also features four equal-length entries running parallel to themers, an unusual and challenging choice from a technical aspect. A second knock-on effect of this is the grid is also very three-heavy (22). The two running parallel to ZENGARDEN are the IKEASTORE (not just an IKEA?) and the INDIGODYE (not just INDIGO?). CRAYOLABOX and ONEPERCENT parallel the other two and HOTMESSES and GLOOMYGUS are a further pair of long downs that are not thematic.


Catherine Cetta’s USA Today Crossword, “Coco” — Emily’s write-up

A fun one that took me a bit longer today—how did you all do?

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday April 11, 2024

USA Today, April 11, 2024, “Coco” by Catherine Cetta

Theme: each themer contains CO—CO—


  • 20a. [Money that may be worth more than it’s worth], COINCOLLECTION
  • 38a. [Using highlighters to organize study notes, for example], COLORCODING
  • 57a. [Basic politeness], COMMONCOURTESY

The set is a real mix of items today, with COINCOLLECTION, COLORCODING, and COMMONCOURTESY. None were too tricky though I did need more crossings with the second themer. The first and third filled more easily.

Favorite fill: SKOSH, SARI, ADE, and NOSH

Stumpers: SOSAD (“too bad” was my first thought), RENE (needed crossings), and HYPED (also needed crossings)

Overall it felt very smooth but the north, south, and southeast areas slowed me down the most and I found them a bit harder to break into that the rest of the puzzle so my time started adding up, little by little. Still a fun puzzle and when I finished the solve, I was actually surprised that it took me longer than usual.

4.0 stars


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23 Responses to Thursday, April 11, 2024

  1. David L says:

    NYT: It took me a while to suss out the trick, in part because FOODPREP is fine by itself, without ARATION on the end. Nicely done, in any case.

    What’s the problem with ARGOT? Not an everyday word, to be sure, but better than OLEO (which I am pretty sure I have never seen outside crosswords).

    • Gary R says:

      I used to hear OLEO all the time as a kid – it’s what my parents called margarine – not so much any more.

    • JohnH says:

      I don’t follow the objection to ARGOT either, although I’m certainly willing to listen. OLEO for margarine is still in all dictionaries. While it sounds dated to my ears, MW includes several recent examples of usage, although ironically one quote speaks of it as dated. Perhaps it’s still in common use in a particular place.

      I don’t pay attention to games and haven’t played Clue since childhood, but what a clever construction. Nice. I did have trouble with the crossing of old JLO and entirely new to me JESSE.

      • David L says:

        We were literalists in my family. Our word for margarine was ‘margarine.’ (This was in the UK and I don’t believe ‘oleo’ was ever used there, although I can’t be sure.)

  2. Mutman says:

    NYT: impressive to not only find the 4 themers spanning the grid, but to also spell PASSAGES! Well done!

    ARGOT not in my argot. I guess I had better add it, for crosswords at least.

  3. Gary R says:

    NYT: Difficulty level seemed about right for a Thursday.

    Somewhat ironically, I started with “prep” at 1-A. When crosses turned that into FOOD, I was thinking there was something tricky going on up there. There were some other initial guesses that had to be revised – “sunflowers” before OLIVE TREES, “floor” before COURT (I’ve heard friends refer to floor-level seats as just “floor”), “assets” before PRIMER.

    Seemed like an appropriate level of trickiness for a Thursday. I like the fact that the lead-in answers in the theme rows are actual words – I rarely like a puzzle where the theme creates entries that are just gobbledygook.

    I haven’t given it a great deal of thought, but off-the-top-of-my-head, it seems pretty impressive to come up with four 15-letter entries that parse into actual words with the P-A-S-S-A-G-E-S letters in the right spots.

  4. Squidley Juan says:

    Enough of this sexist dung already. I had a real struggle with the last one because it wouldn’t even form in my mind. I’ve read the book and seen the movie a dozen times. The very first victim confirms that the Jaws is not sex-discriminatory. It doesn’t smell the victims’ genitals before eating the hosts. Pure garbage.

  5. Dan says:

    LAT: I usually like LAT puzzles plenty.

    Not this one. It had two clue/answers combos that I found to be off: one somewhat and the other extremely.

    TALE clued as “Unbelievable story” is ridiculous. A tale is just a story.

    FAME clued as “Notoriety” is a major blunder. Notoriety means specifically being well known for negative reasons. Fame almost always means being well known for positive reasons.

    I am aware that both of these clue/answer combos can be “justified” by standard arguments about fringe (or erroneous) usages that may nevertheless be found in some dictionaries. That doesn’t affect my take on them.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I agree with you about the clue for TALE, but “notoriety” doesn’t necessarily have a negative connotation. Take a look at the synonyms at

    • Gary R says:

      Well, the first definition M-W (on-line) offers for TALE seems to support the usage in the puzzle.

      1 a: a usually imaginative narrative of an event : STORY
      b: an intentionally untrue report : FALSEHOOD

      Maybe you should contact the editors at M-W and point out the error of their ways. ;-)

      • Dan says:

        Merriam-Webster and all major dictionaries nowadays are descriptive, which means they report on language as they find it is used.

        It is considered rather uncool to impose any judgment on how the language is used.

        But for some people like me, some language is a lot worse than other language, particularly language that arose from error.

        To conflate notoriety with fame is a good example of a usage that arose from error. I don’t care for such usages.

        And to define “tale” as basically a lie is exactly like defining “story” as basically a lie (since the phrase “a likely story” is in the language). This makes no sense to me.

        Barbara Wallraff’s book “Your Own Words” has a distinctly mixed reaction to the accuracy of Merriam-Webster dictionaries.

        • JohnH says:

          It doesn’t at all mean that using tale to mean whopper makes any story a hoax. It just means that, as also with notoriety, a word in English can have more than one meaning or connotation, even opposite connotations, fascinated and perjorative.

          That’s not a sign that dictionaries have caved to people who ignore your distinction. It just means that I’m scratching my head at your distinction. If you want to make English into a logical structure go ahead, but you’ll have a long road ahead. And who is to say, if you did win on consistency, which sense of tale or notoriety would win out? I’m fine with objecting to losing a valuable distinction that older speakers remember fondly and well, but that’s different as well.

        • Martin says:

          “Notorious” is from the Latin, and means “well-known.” Its negative connotation came from a reference to “notorious sinner” in the 16th century, but its continued use as “well-known” is not an error. Someone can be notorious for always wearing sunglasses, and the notorious RBG was not infamous. (“Infamous,” btw, is always negative.)

          Of course you’re free to use the language any way that you like, but objecting to a crossword using other people’s voices is certainly uncool. “I’m right, the dictionary is wrong” is never a winning comment about a crossword.

          (It is fine to object to a word’s usage, even if it’s in the dictionary, btw. It’s just never the crossword editor’s fault. My son and his wife consider my reaction to “on accident” akin to shouting “get off my lawn.” I’m not happy the language took that particular turn, but I know when a ship has sailed.)

          • Dan says:

            I agree that crosswords should be no-fault.

            But if I detest a certain usage and it appears in a crossword puzzle, it didn’t get there by itself.

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni … Does EKE make any sense as an answer for the clue “Apt rhyme for “squeak””? I think of EKE (usually with “out”) as meaning getting through something with great effort. I suppose that “squeak by” and “eke out” mean about the same thing to me, but I only think of “squeak” as a shrill sound. I entered ‘Eek’ because it made a little more sense to me that way. Am I alone in being confused by that clue/answer combo?

  7. Jim says:

    NYT: DAP (41A) was a new one for me. And I’m not keen on the cross ENLISTED (6D) as being a “draft status”.

    • Eric H says:

      I knew DAP as a synonym for “fist bump.” But I looked it up anyway and learned that it also means the whole pattern of slaps, shakes and fist bumps that are part of greetings in some Black communities. I’m hopeless at anything like that.

  8. Gerald A. Connell says:

    BEQ It was a rebus cramming PAW into 4 squares. However, 61 across was
    PO[PAW]HEELIE. But the app would not accept it, and insisted on PA. Very discouraging
    The Reddogg.

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