Thursday, May 16, 2024

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 6:06 (Gareth) 


NYT 11:20 (ZDL) 


Universal tk (Sophia) 


USA Today 12:35 (Emily) 


WSJ 8:18 (Jim) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


Jackson Matz’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tight Set”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases featuring the letters SESH which are rebussed into single squares.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Tight Set” · Jackson Matz · Thu., 5.16.24

  • 19a. [Sinusoidal offset] PHA(SE SH)IFT crossing 4d. [Picnic game] HOR(SESH)OES.
  • 21a. [Complains vociferously] RAI(SES H)ELL crossing 15d. [Despairs] LO(SES H)OPE.
  • 55a. [Carnival ride] CRUI(SE SH)IP crossing the revealer 43d. [Spontaneous band get-together, informally, and a hint to solving some of this puzzle’s answers] JAM (SESH).
  • 57a. [Narrow escape from danger] CLO(SE SH)AVE crossing 46d. [Reef predator with two dorsal fins] NUR(SE SH)ARK.

Rebus puzzles run so rarely in the WSJ that it’s always a surprise to come across one. This one works quite well with all the theme answers well in the language…except, maybe the revealer itself. I for one have never heard “jam session” abbreviated into “jam sesh,” but it turns out, that’s just because I’m old. It gets plenty of Google hits.

Lovely long fill today with GO TO JAIL, HAD A BLAST, STAR SIGNS, and TEASER AD. However, I paused at CLIFT [Montgomery of “From Here to Eternity”]. I thought this was going for a first name, so I wanted CLIFF or (thinking rebus-ly) CLIFTON.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [He put two and two together]. NOAH. I liked this clue at first, then I thought about it. Really, he’s known for putting one and one together, not for making groups of four.
  • 58d. [The rain in Spain, e.g.]. AGUA. I do like this clue, though.
  • 63d. [Noted fruit sampler]. EVE. And this one. Ha!

Good puzzle all around. Four stars.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 167” – Jenni’s write-up

I started this puzzle this afternoon, got most of the way through it, and then got stuck in the NW. Well and truly stuck. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to struggle with it because I had to go perform stand-up comedy (true story) and now I’m sitting here with a glass of bourbon and a piece of apple pie and everything makes so much more sense.

Fireball, May 15, 2024, Peter Gordon, “Themeless 167,” solution grid

  • It was 1a that had me mired in confusion. The clue is [Open court situation] and I’d put in NET POINT because if both players are at the net, the rest of the court is open. Turns out it’s SET POINT which I don’t understand. Please do explain it to me.
  • If I’d remembered Peter’s penchant for connecting the first and last answers in a themeless, that would have helped. 63a [“Go faster!”] is STEP ON IT, an anagram of SET POINT.
  • What did finally give it to me was 1d [Barber works]. I was pretty sure we were looking for the composer Samuel Barber, and the answer is SONATAS. I don’t know why I couldn’t see that earlier. Maybe I needed the bourbon.
  • I loved 32a [Afternoon, on the Île de la Grande Jatte]. The answer is APRES MIDI and it’s reference to Seurat’s famous painting (and inspiration for Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park With George”).
  • The Peter Gordon Trademark Very Long Clue Award goes to 51a [“He spoke in a clutched-throat, high-pitched Brooklyn twang with a stately staccato that tended to put equal stress on each syllable of every word, infusing even the most mundane event with high drama,” according to his New York Times obituary]. The answer is COSELL. As is Howard. Kids, ask your parents.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: as always with Peter’s puzzles, I have a plethora of possibilities. I didn’t know that William McKinley was born in NILESOHIO (knew the state, not the town). I didn’t know that Abe Vigoda played TESSIO in “The Godfather” and it would have made things easier if I had. Never heard of AYO Edebiri and no, I haven’t watched “The Bear.”



Sara Muchnick’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Average (11m20s)

Sara Muchnick’s New York Times crossword, 5/16/24, 0516

Today’s theme: ALL FOR ONE (and one for all) (When read forward and then backward, motto that suggests how to interpret this puzzle’s starred clues)

  • SOME NERVE (Gall)
  • TOILET BRUSH (Stall tool)
  • ICE CREAM (Scoop received in a cone)
  • SPARKLED (Shone)
  • ROTARY JOINT (It gets the bone rolling)

Between The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask, we were awash with swashbuckling in the ’90s.  It was a simpler time.  It was ALL FOR ONE, and all for love, and we lived our lives at Bryan Adams’ behest.  But that was a long time ago — when landlines abounded, some of which were even those ROTARY JOINTs (and not the ironic kind they sell at Urban Outfitters.)

Cracking: LUMP OF COAL, NYTXW debut, and actually a pretty good gift on the 4th of July (provided it’s a big enough lump)

SlackingCRASHER, the inept tenth reindeer, forever lost to history after a tragic run-in with an electric fence

Sidetracking: LIEV Schreiber as Boris Spassky —

Alan Levin’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

Alan Levin’s puzzle today appears to be “make a new gameshow by changing a consonant in an old-timey US one, and broadly it’s kind of a cooking show now”? I think that’s what’s happening…

  • [Contestants must perfect a ras el hanout today on …], THESPICEISRIGHT. Price. Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that doesn’t have a specific definition.
  • [Contestants flatten a confit de canard today on …], PRESSYOURDUCK. I will assume there is a gameshow called Press Your Luck out there. Confit de canard is a French duck dish, with canard meaning duck.
  • [Contestants work in teams to create a Michelin star-worthy dinner today on …], LETSMAKEAMEAL. Deal.
  • [Contestants race to prepare baby’s first bottle on …], THENEWLYFEDGAME. Wed. I’m not sure why “first”? This is definitely the biggest stretch.

Favourite answer:

  • [Locals at the 2016 Summer Olympics], CARIOCAS. Most famously Disney’s José?


Will Nediger’s USA Today Crossword, “Secret Agents” — Emily’s write-up

Watch your back today!

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday May 16, 2024

USA Today, May 16, 2024, “Secret Agents” by Will Nediger

Theme: each themer has –AGENT– hidden inside


  • 20a. [“How chivalrous of you!”], SUCHAGENTLEMAN
  • 37a. [“Ginny & Georgia” co-star], ANTONIAGENTRY
  • 57a. [Angentine-born activist who worked to decriminalize sex], CECILIAGENTILI

A mixed set of themers today, starting with SUCHAGENTLEMAN. Both ANTONIAGENTRY and CECILIAGENTILI are new to me, so I needed crossings to get them but everything was fairly crossed.


Stumpers: ELIDE (new to me), IFSO (needed a couple of crossings), and BGAME (new phrase to me; only heard of “A Game)

Solid puzzle with lots of great fill. Enjoyed the theme and themer set! Took me a bit longer since I found the cluing tricker than usual but, as mentioned, everything was fairly crossed so I get there in the end.

4.0 stars


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18 Responses to Thursday, May 16, 2024

  1. ranman says:

    NYT I haven’t even given it a re-look to figure out the theme but it was too easy (8:47 and I was distracted the whole time / am not a fast solver) for a Thu. Could complete with crosses alone.

  2. Ethan says:

    NYT: fun but too easy

  3. Fireball: I’m guessing the “Open” of the 1A clue refers to a tournament like the U.S. Open or the French Open. I couldn’t see it during the solve, either.

  4. David L says:

    I finished the NYT without understanding the trickery, but the revealer explained all.

    I googled ROTARYJOINT and got many many hits for hardware and engineering items. You have to dig deep to find an anatomical reference. I guess the knee would be a rotary joint. Not an expression I’ve come across before.

    • Martin says:

      I don’t think the knee qualifies. A rotary joint is for pivoting, like the turning of your head. One of the three joints that connect the atlas and axis is a rotary joint. There are also rotary (or pivot) joints in both your wrist and elbow that allow you to unscrew a peanut butter lid without breaking your radius and ulna. Fifty years ago I knew the names of all those joints, but I knew a lot things then.

  5. Tony says:

    If I got a lump of coal, I’d try to take it somewhere wbere it could be pressurized into a diamond.

  6. huda says:

    NYT: I enjoyed the puzzle. I actually did use the theme to help me finish, and it was still on the easier side for Thursday. But easy can be good.

    “CRASHER, the inept tenth reindeer, forever lost to history after a tragic run-in with an electric fence”.

  7. MattF says:

    As noted above, a relatively easy NYT. The main trick, once the revealer was revealed, was that the switch applied to the clues, not the entries.

  8. Me says:

    NYT: The clue that Michael Jackson’s 1st tour after the Jackson 5 was BAD is not really right. Prior to that, he had several tours with the Jacksons (there were 6 brothers in the group by that point, and they were no longer the Jackson 5). For better or worse, none of those Jacksons tours were three letters. They were all named after the associated Jacksons album: Goin’ Places, Destiny, Triumph, Victory. I did not know all of them, but I knew the Victory tour, and I spent way too much time trying to figure out the Thursday gimmick here that made that into three letters.

    From Wikipedia, the 1984 Victory tour caused outrage because the tickets were $30, which is equivalent to $88 today. This was considered to be price gouging at the time. Boy, things have changed…

  9. Eric H says:

    BEQ: “Camptown Races” and SHO’NUFF in one grid? That was an unpleasant surprise.

    • PJ says:

      Just worked it and came here for the review. I’d love to hear his explanation

      • Seattle DB says:

        And maybe BEQ can explain why he thinks a DEKE is a feint on the gridiron, instead of only in hockey?

        • Eric H says:

          I wondered about that. I don’t follow sports much, and know DEKE as an ice hockey feint only from crosswords. I was willing to accept that the word might’ve spread to other sports, but my 30 seconds of internet research seems to indicate it’s still only used in hockey.

  10. Torridd says:

    I still don’t understand the theme even after getting all the answers.

    • Dallas says:

      If you’re referring to the NYT; then… it’s ALL FOR ONE and ONE FOR ALL, so in the starred clues, you replace ONE with ALL _or_ replace ALL with ONE, depending on which appears.

  11. Seattle DB says:

    LAT: the editor(s) need to get their “cluing act” together because they are ruining what used to be a well-regarded puzzle under Rich Norris.

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