Thursday, June 13, 2024

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 4:46 (Gareth) 


NYT 13:03 (ZDL) 


Universal tk (Sophia) 


USA Today 14:11 (Emily) 


WSJ 6:05 (Jim) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


John Andrew Agpalo’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Firecrackers”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are the celestial stars in the circled squares that are split between pairs of Across answers. The revealer is FAULT IN OUR STARS (38a, [2012 John Green novel with “The,” and a hint to the circled letters]). I take it we’re meant to imagine a geological fault line causing the seismic rift in the star names.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Firecrackers” · John Andrew Agpalo · Thu., 6.13.24

  • SIRIUS hidden in SIRREE and MOBIUS.
  • CASTOR hidden in CASITA and EDITOR.
  • VEGA hidden in ALVEOLAR and FAIR GAME.

Nice. I like the imaginative re-interpreation of the book title to depict stars as having fault lines in them. Does it make sense that stars would actually have fault lines? No, but I think it works fine for puzzle purposes.

My only nit is with the clue for POLEAXES [Completely shocks]. Being the first theme answer we come across, I wish this was clued more straightforwardly, perhaps [Certain medieval weapons]. I’m not familiar with the usage as clued, so I was left wondering if I should ignore the circled letters to satisfy the clue or perform some other trickery. Maybe it’s just a me problem, but this felt needlessly confusing.

The difficult thing with this construction is finding stackable entries that get the job done but still allow for reasonable crossing fill. For the most part (OEUF notwithstanding), the fill surrounding the stacks is impressively smooth.


I’ve never heard the term TRIO SONATA, so that was a challenge to parse out, but BLUES MUSIC, TARO ROOT, SLEEPERS, ONLOOKER, and OMELETTE are all assets to the grid. Also good: BOFFO and MR. OWL.

Clues of note:

  • 63a. [Like the consonants n and t]. ALVEOLAR. Per the Cambridge online dictionary: “Made by putting your tongue against the hard place behind your top front teeth”.
  • 23d. [Electronica DJ Steve]. AOKI. Phew. Needed every crossing for this. I guess we should be thankful for a current alternative to [Golfer Isao]. The dude is Grammy-nominated and has collaborated with many big-name artists, so he’s certainly crossword-worthy. Fun fact: his dad founded the Benihana restaurant chain.

The puzzle technically has four stars, but they’re faulty, so…3.75 stars (yuk yuk).

Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 168” – Jenni’s write-up

Peter’s themeless grids often have a connection between 1a and the answer at the bottom of the SE corner (in this case 64a). Not this time, and I was disappointed until I looked at 6a and 63a.

  • 6a [Spread thickly] is SLATHER ON and 63a [Fictional house eponym Salazar] is SLYTHERIN. There it is.
  • 3d [Toy in the U.S. since the 1930s] is LHASA APSO. Recognized by the AKC in 1935.
  • 25a [2010 film with the tagline “There is no Plan B,” with “The”] is ATEAM. I forget they made that into a movie.
  • 32a [Head across Lake Tanganyika from Tanzania] is TETE. Lake Tanganyika sits on the border between Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the official language is French.
  • 33d [Fast-paced ballroom dance] is the PASO DOBLE. I know this because I used to watch “So You Think You Can Dance” with my kid.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: so many things! Still not sure which Weaver has a part in RIPLEY. Did not know that SMARTY Jones won the Kentucky Derby in 2024. Never heard of AYO Edebiri, who won an Emmy for “The Bear.” Also did not know that “Road & Track” is published by HEARST.

Kevin Curry’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Hard (13m03s)

Kevin Curry’s New York Times crossword, 7/13/24, 0713

Today’s theme: letter openers 

  • B IN TOUCH .. gra(b)?
  • Y IN GODS NAME .. (Y)ahweh?
  • PS IN A POD ..cra(p)(p)y storage unit?

And this week’s secret meta answer is BYICPPS (bye-ick-pips), the ancient Mesopotamian diety of pseudocryptography.  Y IN GODS NAME has no one heard of him but me?

Cracking: ALTER EGO

SlackingYOKED, what?  “Strong as an ox, in slang”?  Because.. if you’re yoked.. you must be an ox.. is this 4-H slang?  Am I on candid camera?

SidetrackingGDAY MATE, that’s not a knife

Joe Rodini’s USA Today Crossword, “Coming Up for Air” — Emily’s write-up

An uplifting puzzle today!

ALTCompleted USA Today crossword for Thursday June 13, 2024 width=

USA Today, June 13, 2024, “Coming Up for Air” by Joe Rodini

Theme: each down themer contains —RIA— (which is “air” going up from the bottom)


  • 3d. [Monument where the “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered], LINCOLNMEMORIAL
  • 7d. [Plant-based breakfast option], VEGETARIANBACON
  • 11d. [It gives you temporary access to a product], TRIALMEMBERSHIP

This fun theme connects the themer set of: LINCOLNMEMORIAL, VEGETARIANBACON, and TRIALMEMBERSHIP. The added delight to this theme is that the “air” also rises with each themer from left to right, starting towards the bottom in the first and ending near to top of the third.

Favorite fill: STARTREK, LITE, and MARIO

Stumpers: SIGMA (needed crossings), AVERT (“avoid” came to mind first), and STRAND (could only think of “ribosome” and “chromosome”)

A great puzzle with a nice grid though it took my longer than usual to solve. The cluing was a bit tricker for me so I needed to piece most entires together, which took a while working through. Overall, nothing is hard but I was a bit stumped throughout which had me trying to build footholds to break into it. Eventually I got there though. How’d you all do today?

3.25 stars


Katie Hale & Sam Acker’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Katie Hale & Sam Acker give us a synonym theme with one rather glaring error. Each of four answers end in a synonym for a venue where sports occurs; they are reimagined to be venue names for a sport. Then we have ELEVATORPITCH, but a pitch is a small area on a cricket ground, not the whole ground, so sticks out like a sore thumb:

  • [Racing venue with a generic speaker sponsorship?], SOUNDTRACK
  • [Basketball arena with a generic pollster sponsorship?], DATACENTER
  • [Baseball stadium with a generic zoo sponsorship?], SAFARIPARK
  • [Soccer venue with a generic military sponsorship?], FORCEFIELD

The rest of the puzzle was quite muted. We did have [Gravy, on menus], JUS as a subtly clever clue, although the comma means it doesn’t land perfectly. It’s worth noting that the [“Star Wars” spin-off] is ANDOR and not ENDOR, which is also part of the Star Wars Proper Noun vocab. I’m struggling to ascertain a) what [Rest of the road?], CARNAP means in this clue, and b) if it’s really in use. Google mostly suggests it’s a philosopher. [Bug, maybe], MIC was another nice misdirection.


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17 Responses to Thursday, June 13, 2024

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: A bit on the difficult side for me. I have not been sleeping well lately, and I drove about 900 miles over the last two days, so I’m not functioning at my best. It took me until P’S IN A POD to make sense of the theme.

    Then, I got mired with C OF HUMANITY. “Sea of humanity” is not as familiar to me as “eye of the hurricane” or “[two] peas in a pod.”

    For whatever reason, I had PACKed at 31D and wasn’t fully sure about ISLA Nublar. It’s been a long time since I have seen “Jurassic Park,” and while the Spanish made the most sense, it could have been ISLe.

    I also forgot about mouse PUPs and got snookered by the clever “Frontier figure” clue. (“Who in the American west had a vaLeT?”) (I was primed to miss the veiled capital by my earlier attempt to watch “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” which we put on hold when we both began nodding off.)

    But at least I had a few answers in that area that I was certain of, like ACURA, HOODS and Mel TORMÉ, so I eventually figured it out.

    • JohnH says:

      I did take a while to get the theme because of difficulty getting much of a foothold, but then I’d never have finished without it. In other words, hard all the way, the hardest I remember for a Thursday. Some interesting fill, though. Now I have a word for that thing for taking stuff in and out of a pizza oven.

      • Eric H says:

        PEEL was a gimme for me. You can only do one thing with it*, but man, it’s essential for that.

        *OK, if you’re into BDSM, you could find another use for a pizza PEEL.

      • marciem says:

        I did not know mouse babies were pups. I always thought that that pizza thing was called a paddle or maybe spatula. I tried “ride it out” for the stormy weather (don’t know why? visions of oz?) . Caught me on the Frontier too, I had no idea. I was expecting Boone or Bowie or … something westerny.

        All in all a very enjoyable Thursday puzzle, loved the twist and the difficulty level and new things to me.

  2. Martin says:

    Re: WSJ.

    My favorite trio sonata is for two instruments, flute and harpsichord. Bach being Bach, he had the harpsichord do double duty with a melodic line as well as the bass support role of continuo. Take that, Corelli!

  3. Mutman says:

    NYT: fun puzzle. SE slowed me down. Had WAITEDOUT before cracking that corner.

  4. RCook says:

    NYT: YOKED was originally bodybuilding slang. It’s a reference to being strong as an ox.

    • Jack says:

      +1 to YOKED as a legit piece of slang. It might skew more on the GenZ side of things but it did bring a smile to my face filling it in! Felt like some good fresh fill.

  5. Mr. [just a little bit] Grumpy says:

    WSJ: I cannot grasp the relevance of of the “Firecrackers” title.

    • JohnH says:

      I’m wondering, too. As a matter of fact, it also took a moment to connect the revealer to the themers, since we’ve had so many odd-shaped circled regions as well as reasons to drop down part of an answer. But fine. I don’t know the novel but remember the line well enough from Julius Caesar that it adapts.

      The clue for POLEAXES did seem a bit odd to me, and POPO was new to me, so that area was my last to fall. But, yes, where are the firecrackers?

    • Martin says:

      All I can think of is that a star is a “ball of fire.”

  6. Alan D. says:

    Spoiler alert re: BEQ

    Seems weird to have only three rebuses with one missing from the NE, no?

  7. Gary R says:

    NYT: Liked the theme – though less tricky than many Thursdays. Picked up on it with Y IN GOD’S NAME, and figuring that out definitely helped with the rest of the solve.

    NE corner was tough for me. Did not know ACTIN, WHEEL or LOUIE – so that was the last area to fill.

    Still don’t understand 38-D: “What’s up?” –> YES.

    • Dan says:

      My take on 38D was this:

      Someone knocks on your closed office door and you say “Come in.”

      They open the door and you say (either) “What’s up?” or “Yes?”

      • Gary R says:

        That seems a little convoluted – but it makes more sense than anything I’ve come up with. ;-)

  8. DukeDanbury says:

    Curious why the BEQ’s are still listed on this site. No one’s reviewed them for at least a year. And don’t ask me, I would be terrible at it, haha.

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