Thursday, June 27, 2024

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 10:16 (Gareth, 1 ERROR) 


NYT 12:18 (ZDL) 


Universal tk (Sophia) 


USA Today 9:19 (Emily) 


WSJ 8:38 (Jim) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Meaty and Juicy” – Jenni’s write-up

I was pretty clear that there were missing letters somewhere. Rebus? Nope. Something different. We have to look under the theme answers to see what’s going on. I’ve included Peter’s grid because it’s easier to see what’s going on.

Fireball, June 26, 2024, Peter Gordon, “Meaty and Juicy,” solution grid

  • 16a [Alternatives to Toyota Corolla [without] ] is NISSENTRAS. That’s clearly supposed to be NISSAN SENTRAS. So where are the missing letters? We have ANS  hanging down from the second S.
  • 24a [1980s ABC star [she] ] is EMMANUEWIS with LLE dropped below the second E.
  • 47a [Eloquent [green] ] is SILVONGUED and ERT is dangling from the V.

The revealer is 56a [Roast beef sandwiches served au jus….or a hint to this puzzle’s theme]: FRENCH DIP. SANS is “without” in French. ELLE is “she” and VERT is “green.” Nice!

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that ROAR was a #1 hit between “Blurred Lines” and “Wrecking Ball.”

Kathy Bloomer & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Cheers!”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are wine varietals broken into two Down entries (for ultimate sneakiness). The top parts of each entry are clued as normal crossword words thereby disguising the full name of the wine. The black squares in the middle simulate a half bottle of wine, AKA a SPLIT (64a, [Small wine bottle, and a hint to solving the starred clues]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Cheers!” · Kathy Bloomer & Jeff Chen · Thu., 6.27.24

  • BURGUNDY is made with 2d BURG and 26d UNDY [*French floral wine with hints of crisp minerality].
  • PROSECCO is made with 11d PROS and 29d ECCO [*Italian sparkling wine with fruity notes].
  • GRENACHE is made with 31d GRE and 40d NACHE [*Spicy, berry-flavored dessert wine].
  • CABERNET is made with 33d CAB and 46d ERNET [*Full-bodied, woodsy red wine].
  • CHAMPAGNE is made with 27d CHAMP [Solver who has correctly identified five bottles of wine today, e.g.] and 50d AGNE [*Celebratory sparkling wine often opened by 27-Downs].

Very cool! I went from being flummoxed for most of the solve (“Whoever heard of ERNET or NACHE wines?”) to having a big aha moment toward the end. Finally piecing together the bottle of CHAMPAGNE was the perfect ending to a fun solve. Santé!

My only problem was that I never heard of a half-bottle being called a SPLIT. I’ve only ever heard it called a “demi”, but I guess that’s my own problem. It makes for a good basis for the theme, and the SPLIT wines were so stealthily sneaky, it made the ultimate resolution that much more fun. Great work, Kathy and Jeff!

Strong fill, too. OBLAST and OBISPO make for a startling first row. At 4d, I saw Google in the clue and went with STREET VIEWS which stymied me for a while until I figured out it was AERIAL VIEWS. I liked seeing NERD RAP, IPECAC, MATCHA, REDDIT, and ELYSEE. I wasn’t so keen on OFER [Batter’s hitless game, in baseball slang], but it’s outweighed by the puzzles goodies.

Clues of note:

  • 24d. [Ranch dressing component?]. STETSON. Lovely clue.
  • 58d. [Savor, as fine wine]. SIP. A fitting last entry for the puzzle. Now I’m thirsty.

An appropriately tricky Thursday puzzle. 4.5 stars from me.

Paolo Pasco and Sarah Sinclair’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Extra cheesy (12m18s, but mostly because filling in forty [!] rebus squares in the app is time consuming)

Paolo Pasco and Sarah Sinclair’s New York Times crossword, 6/27/24, 0627

Today’s theme: mangia!!!

  • PIZZA TOPPING (Pepperoni, mushroom or green pepper … or what each cluster of black squares represents in this puzzle)
  • STUFFED CRUST (Feature of a deluxe pie … and of this puzzle?)

Audacious — the grid art, the rebus border, and the digital bowtie peppers/square-eronis/mushroom chapeaus.  Pie in the sky, a little bit saucy, and delivered right to your door.  Also basil.

Cracking: I GOT DIBS, last slice is always mine, you shall not pass

Slacking: Sea-TAC, home of the world’s worst pizza, Pallino, just past Checkpoint 3 in the Central Terminal.  Why even bother using the word “pizza” west of the Mississippi river?  Why even bother having an online opinion about food unless it’s needlessly divisive?

SidetrackingPREP‘s vs Manco & Manco, the “First and Last Name in Pizza” (for the record, we’re an M&M family)

Lynn K. Watson’s USA Today Crossword, “Spare Change” — Emily’s write-up

Penny for your thoughts!

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday June 27, 2024

USA Today, June 27, 2024, “Spare Change” by Lynn K. Watson

Theme: the letters in the word “spare” is rearranged in each themer


  • 20a. [Celebration you can’t throw for yourself], SURPRISEPARTY
  • 38a. [“I enjoyed that a fair amount”], ITWASPRETTYGOOD
  • 51a. [Disney’s Lady, for one], COCKERSPANIEL

This themer set took me a few crossings for each: SURPRISEPARTY, ITWASPRETTYGOOD, and COCKERSPANIEL. Cluing was solid but didn’t ring any immediate bells, and in the case of Lady, “Springer spaniel” first came to mind. Nice theme that was a bit trickier to see but not too tough. Loved the misdirection in the title, evoking money especially coins.

Favorite fill: OBOIST, TROPE, PINOT, and MISO

Stumpers: TYPECASTS (need crossings), RUE (only thought of “woe”), and ACMES (this one always feels new to me when it comes up)

A fun puzzle with bonus fill that I’ve not seen before, though maybe some of your have, including TYPECASTS, THERAPISTS, and OBOIST. The grid made it feel a bit disjointed of a solve for me but the overall flow was still fairly smooth. Some cluing was trickier for me as well which is what added to my time.

4.0 stars


John Michael Currie’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

In this puzzle by John Michael Currie, BEADYEYES sounds like BDI’s, and four other entries have BDI in them. The clue associates BEADINESS with rodents, but I’ve never known about such a linkage:

  • [Sea creature who lived across the Strait of Messina from Scylla], CHARYBDIS
    [Objects for separating subjects], TABDIVIDERS. I wanted lAB
  • [Seafood appetizer often seasoned with Old Bay], CRABDIP. I wanted tIP. It seems weird to have dip as an entire appetizer??
  • [Land of giants in “Gulliver’s Travels”], BROBDINGNAG


  • [Onset of], STARTTO. This just sounds awkwa.
  • [Isolated group of employees], SILO. Is that what that means…
  • [Home of Lucas Oil Stadium, familiarly], INDY. Crossing with OBVI is my error. Had OBVS. Never encountered that abbreviation, nor do I know where Lucas Oil Stadium is. SNDY sounds like San Diego? Considered SNNY and SUNY as well…
  • [SoCal school], SDSU. A real SSTS type answer that.
  • [Comedian Lydic], DESI. As previous, tESI didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility.


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28 Responses to Thursday, June 27, 2024

  1. Philippe says:

    Is it just me or on today’s WSJ web version, all bottom clues are misnumbered?

    • DCBilly says:

      Not just you – I had the same issue Thursday afternoon. Until I resorted to print, I was wondering if the misnumbering was part of the Thursday trickery.

      • Frogger says:

        The WSJ web version was unworkable. Some squares wouldn’t even allow an entry. Puzzle would have been much more enjoyable if the grid worked.

    • Greg Hirsch says:

      No, same for me. The technical ineptitude of the WSJ crossword tech team continues to amaze. They consistently find fresh, innovative ways to screw up the web version.

    • Eric H. says:

      I find the WSJ web version maddening under the best of circumstances. I almost always solve that one in AcrossLite.

      Like Jim, it took me a bit to get the trick. I finally noticed what was going on with GRE NACHE.

      And I was happy to have beaten a Fiend reviewer by a whopping one second.

      • Martin says:

        The weird thing is that the AcrossLite version is created by a script that uses the internal file that drives their app. Usually, if that file is messed up the .puz file is no good. I sometimes have to manually create a .puz file due to a bad internal file.

        But today, the file is fine. Clues, grid, entries — everything was normal. It was the app itself that choked. That’s why they couldn’t quickly correct the internal file and fix the issue. The app is maintained in England.

      • Jim Peredo says:

        Sorry, Eric. Beating my time isn’t saying much.

  2. Ethan says:

    The Times put out a best pizza places in the US article this week as well as a piece on the growth of pizza making (as a craft, not Domino’s or ehatever) over the last two decades.

    coincidence? or is someone in Games tracking what large feature stories are being worked i wonder.

    anyway what a fun puzzle even though the rebus button got tiresome on an iPhone. mangia!

    • David L says:

      One of the pizza places mentioned in that article is in Gloucester, MA. My friend who lives there says it isn’t even the best pizza place in Gloucester — but it was founded by a niece or nephew of Alice Walker, which is presumably why the NYT knows about it.

      For the record, the best pizza place is the one right around the corner from where I live (I’m not saying) for the simple reason that it’s right around the corner from where I live.

      Oh, and nice puzzle. That bottom right section with FOAMCORE (huh?), SORKIN and READE was the toughest for me, but not too much of a challenge.

      • Eric H. says:

        FOAMCORE has been in my vocabulary for 40 years. It’s about a quarter inch thick, two sheets of poster board sandwiching some styrofoam. It’s more rigid than a single sheet of poster board, but lightweight enough that you can put it on cheap easel.

        That whole section was gimmes for me and helped me understand how the rebuses worked.

        • David L says:

          I know exactly what you mean, but apparently had never learned what it’s called. And had managed to live my life without that knowledge…

          • Eric H. says:

            In my brief time as an architecture major, FOAMCORE was relevant to me. Not so much anymore.

      • PJ says:

        NYT did the same with the pizza in Birmingham. The original location is gone and the chef who opened it no longer lives in the area

      • David L says:

        I meant Alice Waters, not Alice Walker!

  3. huda says:

    NYT: Nifty!
    Last night, I wandered towards the revealer, read “Feature of a deluxe pie … and of this puzzle?”, thought of an apple pie a la mode, and plunked DOUBLE SCOOPS instead of STUFFED CRUST. I had URDU down off of the 3rd letter for confirmation! And completed the whole SW corner without too much trouble. But then hit a wall and went to sleep. Had to rethink the kind of pie this morning.
    Very well done, including the scrabbly corner, and fun visual at the end!

    • rob says:

      NYT: Agreed! Another fantastic Thursday puzzle! I knew something was up when “Carell” and “Illini” did not fit. Well done, Sarah and Paolo 😎!

    • Dallas says:

      Very fun puzzle; on my ipad the enter key gets you into rebus, so the fill was all pretty quick once I figured out that there were all rebuses… ILLINI was a gimme for me, but with only 5 letters I wondered if there was another I was missing… then CARELL… and neither SORORITY or FRATERNITY would fit (both off by one). All in all, a fun puzzle. Only thing that stopped me was tracking down my mistake with LEAKY / STINKY, which I originally had as LEAKS / STINKS instead. Great grid art, very clever.

  4. Howard B says:

    This was just a fun experience, even entering the rebus squares.
    Needlessly divisive hot take for ZDL: M&Ms is overrated in comparison to other places in OC, and to the length of the wait during the summer. :)

    • ZDL says:

      It’s not my favorite pie in the world, but better than Prep’s, and goes great with Chickie’s and Pete’s crabfries!

  5. Gary R says:

    NYT: Stopped after filling the NE quadrant and, after reading the writeup here, I’m glad I did. Too much work for too little payoff, IMHO. Clearly, others enjoyed it – just not my cup of tea. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • Papa John says:

      +1 This is the first puzzle that I quit mid-solve. You said it, Gary — “Too much work for too little payoff”.

  6. Martin says:


    A split is a half a demi. It’s basically a glass (a quarter of a bottle) and is most often champagne.

  7. JohnH says:

    I found the NYT fill rather hard, especially in the NW where I’d mistakenly tried ROARS for fan noises, BASTES instead of CARVES, and earlier before I got the theme CASA for chateau in Spanish and didn’t know CARELL, Sister Act, or SUAREZ. Struggled a lot for what might have been just a fun theme. (I found yesterday quite hard for a Wednesday as well.)

    Still, I like odd diagrams, so a day with this and the WSJ is hard not to love. Now if only the first didn’t favor stuffed pizza, which I hope never to see here. I swear that the puzzle bends over backward to avoid seeming NY-based and often favors Chicago.

  8. Me says:

    NYT: I thought the puzzle was a lot of fun! And and impressive construction feat! The time was way, way past my average, though, partially because it took me a while to catch on to the theme, but mostly because it was a chore putting in all those rebuses. (Not the constructors’ fault). This was my slowest time for a Thursday in probably more than a year or two.

  9. Mutman says:

    NYT: loved this puzzle! Very clever, great construct.

    Saw it in app, thought it wise to print out. Glad I did! Filling in that many rebuses had to be tedious.

  10. Eric H. says:

    BEQ: Bonus points for working SYLPH into the grid. More bonus points for nothing that made me think, “Yeah, technically, that is a word, but . . . .”

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