Thursday, July 11, 2024

BEQ tk (Darby) 


Fireball tk (Jenni) 


LAT 3:52 (Gareth) 


NYT 7:55 (ZDL) 


Universal tk (Sophia) 


USA Today 23:13 (Emily) 


WSJ 6:51 (Jim) 


Mat Shelden’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Easy (7m55s)

Mat Shelden’s New York Times crossword, 7/11/24, 0711

Today’s theme: when you come to a BUMP IN THE ROAD, take it (Minor setback … or a hint to entering 16-, 24-, 44- and 52-Across)


Always tricky centering a 13x as your revealer, which necessitates using those Tetris-Ls to frame the middle. Apropos of the greatest-selling video game of all time, we also get SLAVS and PETROGRAD (currently known as St. PEETAsburg) and making a right ON RED.  ([Yakov Smirnoff voice] In Soviet Russia, everything you do is ON RED [/Yakov Smirnoff voice]).  

Cracking: (Q: “Why don’t scientists trust ATOMS?” A: “Because they make up everything!”)

SlackingRISHI Sunak, way to make people miss Liz Truss, get Starmered

Sidetracking: Okay, I hear you, more Yakov Smirnoff, you got it!

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Course Prep”—Jim’s review

The Ts in the Across entries that have Ts actually belong to the entry one row below. Both the T-added and the T-less entries are still valid but unclued crossword entries. The revealer is TEE UP (49d, [Prepare to drive, and a hint to making sense of six pairs of Across answers]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Course Prep” · Mike Shenk · Thu., 7.11.24

  • 17a. [Making music] COMPOSTING (composing) / 21a. [Roots for the chef] BEES (beets)
  • 24a. [Back row of a choir, perhaps] BASSETS (basses) / 27a. [Mgr.’s underling] ASS (asst.)
  • 28a. [Diamond trio] BASEMENT (basemen) / 35a. [“I Got You Babe,” for example] DUE (duet)
  • 42a. [Wicked] IMMORTAL (immoral) / 45a. [Kilt features] PLEAS (pleats)
  • 46a. [Magistrate of ancient Rome] CONSULT (consul) / 53a. [Browning, Byron or Blake] POE (poet)
  • 55a. [Parent on a field trip, say] CHAPTER ONE (chaperone) / 59a. [“You really mean it?”] HONES (“honest?”)

Nifty theme. I didn’t realize there was so much theme material during the solve, but now that I see it all together, it’s a pretty impressive theme set, especially given that each pair has to be stacked. Sure, some of the entries are only three-letters long, but there are still a lot of constraints here. And that CHAPTER ONE / chaperone find is worth the price of admission.

I enjoyed the modern PROMPOSAL in the fill. Also good: CLEARED UP, EGG CASES, and OLD AGE. I did struggle with those proper names at the bottom of the grid: BOOTSY Collins, NATASCHA McElhone, and Fritz LANG, but it was all gettable in the end.

Clue of note: 1a. [Knee-length swim trunks]. JAMS. New cluing angle to me, but the crossings are fair.

3.75 stars.

Jared Kappel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Jared Cappel’s puzzle theme today is similar to many we see: SOUNDMIXING is the final answer, and implies that SOUND is scrambled and spread across the middles of four long across answers:

  • [*Totally falls apart], COMESUNDONE
  • [*Floating lunar particles], MOONDUST
  • [*Gravity powered nourishment], INTRAVENOUSDRIP
  • [*Tips to the next dollar, say], ROUNDSUP

A few speculative answers today:

  • [Comforting text during a bad storm, say], IMSAFE felt a tad contrived.
  • [Econ. figure used to highlight income inequality], CEOPAY is a tricky to parse entry.
  • [Words on some missing posters], LOSTCAT. So many people never retrieve their posters if they find their pet…
  • [Fried Japanese cutlet], KATSU. I’m guessing it’s derived from “cutlet”?

Also: [Terrarium pet], TURTLE. Why are you keeping a marine reptile in a land environment??


Jake Halperin’s USA Today Crossword, “Front and Center” — Emily’s write-up

Step right up!

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday July 11, 2024

USA Today, July 1, 2024, “Front and Center” by Jake Halperin

Theme: the first (or “front) word of each themer is a synonym for “core”


  • 17a. [Unforgettable event that shares who you are], COREMEMORY
  • 35a. [“The Lord of the Rings” setting], MIDDLEEARTH
  • 56a. [Symbol in a romantic text], HEARTEMOJI

Today’s themer set included COREMEMORY, MIDDLEEARTH, and HEARTEMOJI. They aren’t too difficult but they took me a while to get.


Stumpers: RAPSHEET (needed crossings), STOOGE (also needed crossings), and PARTB (kept thinking about numbers)

So much lengthy bonus fill! The gird allowed for lots of delightful overall fill. I can’t tell if I was off today which made it more difficult of a solve for me or it truly was much more challenging than usual. How did you all do?

4.0 stars


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23 Responses to Thursday, July 11, 2024

  1. VB says:

    I liked today’s NYT quite a bit. It was a relatively uncommon if not truly novel theme type, it had excellent theme entries, and while the fill had some down moments (hello, ODIUMS), it struck me as very solid on the whole.

    Good health to all.

  2. rob says:

    NYT: Another wonderful Thursday puzzle. I got the revealer early on, and then coasted the rest of the way. Thanks Matt for putting a smile on my face 😎

  3. JohnH says:

    I wish the added T in PLEA(T)S in the WSJ came at the end of the word for consistency. Otherwise, pretty ok.

    Given the theme of added letters, I stared a long time at the P in the middle of PROMPOSAL, which I hadn’t heard of, wondering if it, too, were a themer. But so it goes.

  4. Eric H. says:

    NYT: I made sense of the BUMP part of the theme answers pretty quickly (with THE IRO(NL)ADY), but I was so sleepy when I solved last night that I missed the ROADs. I was also too sleepy to be annoyed by the gobbledegook answers like 16A, but since the shading makes it clear how we’re supposed to read them, it doesn’t bother me too much.

    It’s a clever theme with solid theme answers. I might have zoomed through it too if I had been more awake.

    • David L says:

      I didn’t notice all the ROADs either, which held me back in the SW because I had LENINGRAD instead of PETROGRAD and couldn’t figure out why that corner wasn’t working.

      The clue for ABS makes no sense to me. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen you will get a soft, round tummy, I would think, not ABS.

      • Eric H. says:

        I understand the clue as meaning that you need to watch your diet to have well-defined ABS. It doesn’t mean that you should spend a lot of time in the kitchen, though you might, since eating well is harder than eating high-calorie junk food.

    • DougC says:

      I liked this puzzle a lot better when I realized that the “bumps” were all above ROADs. That was a nice touch.

      But the shaded letters made the trick rather obvious, I thought, and a high price was paid for it with fill like ODIUMS, ALOP, IN OIL, ON RED, ITS IN and the just-plain-ugly STENOG (I know this considered a legit variant, but “steno” rolls off the tongue so much more easily, and it’s the only form I’ve ever heard used IRL).

      I liked BAD IDEA and OUT TO SEA with their cute clues.

      SAYS AH! sounds to my ear like someone who’s mildly surprised.

      • Eric H. says:

        The shaded letters do make the trick obvious, but without the shading, it would have been nearly impossible to see what was going on.

        • DougC says:

          But that level of deviousness is exactly what I love about NYTXW Thursdays. Or used to, when it seemed like there was more of it.

          • Eric H. says:

            Some people believe that the NYT puzzles have gotten easier over the last few years because they’re trying to attract a broader audience.

      • JohnH says:

        The shaded letters didn’t bother me because, as so often, I didn’t see them. They’re generally too pale to show well in my print from pdf. That made the themers a fun challenge to make sense of.

        And then, like some others, I missed for some time that the bumps came above road, making the idiom of the revealer all the harder to come up with. That and some hard fill for me, like PITT, had me going, so a harder Thursday than usual. Nicely done, though.

  5. Jim G says:

    I wasn’t quite as fond of the NYT puzzle as others. The theme was fine, but the highlighted “bumps” made it a bit too easy to place ROAD in all the theme answers. And maybe I’m just spoiled by Evan’s WaPo puzzles, but I find myself a little disappointed now when modifications to entries don’t result in valid words or phrases.

    • Eric H. says:

      I generally detest answers that are gobbledygook like THEIROADY. But I don’t mind when, as here, it’s easy to see the trick and read the answer correctly.

  6. dh says:

    I thought the NYT was WSJ2.o, or vice versa

  7. Ch says:

    Had a DNF because of ALOP (and STENOG). Never heard of ALOP. Don’t believe this is a generally recognized word, don’t see it in any major dictionary.

    • Martin says:

      Alop is in the OED, which is a major dictionary. It’s been in 33 Shortz grids and 207 NYT puzzles from earlier editors.

      • Martin says:

        Wiktionary has a fairly recent citation for “alop.”

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Be that as it may, ALOP is terrible fill and it doesn’t enhance a crossword in the slightest.

          • Dallas says:

            Came here in part to figure out what ALOP meant… I use Webster’s Unabridged from 1913 on my phone (I find it to be a pretty nice dictionary, despite the age) but then I come across ALOP and ODIUMS in a puzzle and am a bit baffled.

            That said, I enjoyed the theme and the trick.

          • Katie says:

            I agree with Amy. (btw, it had been 2272 days since the last time ALOP appeared in NYT, back in 2018, compared with 52 times OPAL [same letters] has appeared in that same time span… just unfortunate/bad fill.)

            I’d guess it’s just a tough theme (and grid) to pull off.

            Also, new constructor, right? Congrats, as such! I thought the theme was solid.

          • Martin says:

            I’d wager that all editors would agree with Amy’s sentiment. The question isn’t whether ALOP is good; it’s whether it’s bad enough to reject a puzzle for. I don’t see any way to eliminate it here. Will (and Joel) have used it 33 times. Maleska used it 81 times.

            • Katie says:

              Martin – I agree with YOU, too! All good points. If it’s an “if need be” situation, then ALOP does have that track record, which helps. NW is tough to fill. (The whole grid seems challenging, really. Thus some iffy fill, throughout.)

              Part of my comment was just that the nyt trend is toward more “new slang” as fill, with fewer “non-Scrabble-allowed words”, in recent years. (I think it’s not legal for Scrabble?)

  8. Seattle DB says:

    BEQ: This puzzle got off to a good start with 1A: “Prick at the hospital”. (The answer was “jab”, not “intern”.)

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