Thursday, June 13, 2024 | (2024)

BEQtk (Darby)

LAT4:46 (Gareth)

NYT13:03 (ZDL)

Universaltk (Sophia)

USA Today14:11 (Emily)

WSJ6:05 (Jim)

Fireballuntimed (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.

  • 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.

Thursday, June 13, 2024 | (3)

  • 6a [Spread thickly] isSLATHER ON and 63a [Fictional house eponym Salazar] isSLYTHERIN. There it is.
  • 3d [Toy in the U.S. since the 1930s] isLHASA APSO. Recognized by the AKC in 1935.
  • 25a [2010 film with the tagline “There is no Plan B,” with “The”] isATEAM. I forget they made that into a movie.
  • 32a [Head across Lake Tanganyika from Tanzania] isTETE. 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 thePASO 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 inRIPLEY. Did not know thatSMARTY Jones won the Kentucky Derby in 2024. Never heard ofAYOEdebiri, who won an Emmy for “The Bear.” Also did not know that “Road & Track” is published byHEARST.

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

Difficulty: Hard (13m03s)

Thursday, June 13, 2024 | (4)

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?
  • C OF
  • 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

Slacking:YOKED, 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?

Sidetracking:GDAY MATE, that’s not a knife

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

An uplifting puzzle today!

Thursday, June 13, 2024 | (5)

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

Thursday, June 13, 2024 | (6)

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.


Thursday, June 13, 2024 | (2024)


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