Monday, January 9, 2023

BEQ 8:10(Matthew) 


LAT 2:18 (Stella) 


NYT 3:41 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 6:37 (Amy) 


Universal tk (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (malaika) 


WSJ 5:49 (Jim P) 


Andrea Carla Michaels and Kevin Christian’s New York Times puzzle – Sophia’s write-up

Theme: ACDC – Each theme answer contains the strings “AC’ and “DC” in that order.

New York Times, 01 09 2023, By Andrea Carla Michaels and Kevin Christian

  • 16a [Concept that can’t be criticized or questioned, metaphorically] – SACRED COW
  • 23a [Seafood often served with picks] – CRACKED CRAB
  • 36a [Pre-employment investigation] – BACKGROUND CHECK
  • 44a [Cocktail named for two iconic beverage brands] – JACK AND COKE
  • 57a [Behaved in a laid-back way] – ACTED COOL
  • 55d [“Highway to Hell” rock group … or a hint to electrical switches found in 16-, 23-, 36-, 44- and 57-Across] – ACDC

Whenever I solve a puzzle by Andrea and Kevin I know that I’m going to be in for a solid theme and clean gridwork, and today was no exception. The ACDC theme is elevated by how the AC appears before the DC in every answer – it’s also interesting that the DC bridges the two words in each theme entry; I wonder how much of that was by choice versus necessity?

I hadn’t heard of this use of SACRED COW, and I hadn’t heard of CRACKED CRAB in any context, so the first two answers were tricky for me. Luckily, things sped along with the last three answers and the revealer. BACKGROUND CHECK is a fun grid spanning answer.

KICKS BACK and its multitude of K’s was fun to uncover early in the puzzle. LEMON SODA, on the other side, was also nice, but the clue of [San Pellegrino offering] made me think it was going to be the branded drink “Limonata”, which did not fit. But other than the KESEY/CTRL-V area, the grid is very Monday-friendly given the amount of theme material.

Other notes:

  • Things that made the puzzle harder for me, personally: Not remembering how to spell SACHA Baron Cohen’s name, the word GELID, whatever shoofly PIE is??
  • 4d [Commits a fumble] as the clue for ERRS ties in nicely to this being the final week of the NFL’s regular season.
  • I disagree with the clue on 9a [How revenge (or pizza for breakfast) is best served] for COLD. Warm pizza forever! That’s what the microwave is for!!

Dave Taber & Laura Moll’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “She’s Got It”—Jim P’s review

Theme: BY GEORGE (59a, [Words from Professor Higgins, and where you’ll find the starts of 17-, 26-, 35- and 48-Across]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “She’s Got It” · Dave Taber & Laura Moll · Mon., 1.9.23

  • 17a. [Metaphysics topic] FREE WILL.
  • 26a. [Fragrant shrub] ROSE BUSH.
  • 35a. [Head of a group of peers] JURY FOREMAN.
  • 48a. [They may be caused by friction at home] RUG BURNS.

I’m pretty sure the revealer clue means the ends and not the starts of the other theme answers. Because then we get George Will, George Bush, George Foreman, and George Burns (as opposed to George Free, George Rose, George Jury, and George Rug). I’m not sure how a puzzle gets all the way through the publication process with such a glaring error in the theme of all places, but here we are.

This is a pretty unusual construction with mostly 8-letter theme answers (including the revealer) and a central 11-letter entry. I wasn’t sure where to find the theme at first and wondered if it might be in the Down entries. So I was thankful for the revealer to sort things out for me (despite the mistake therein).

By the way, the puzzle title is the end of the quote from My Fair Lady where Higgins exclaims, “By George, she’s got it!” I found it interesting that in the film at least, he doesn’t actually say, “By George, I think she’s got it!”

I’m impressed with those NE/SW large corners, especially the SW with JUGGLERS, HOUDINI, and BISON crossing FIESTA and DISNEY. Elsewhere I enjoyed seeing Miss MARPLE, a WIENER (at a campfire!), KAPUT, ENIGMA, SUBTLE, and NUANCE.

Clues of note:

  • 25d. [On the fritz]. KAPUT. These aren’t the same to me. KAPUT means it’s dead while “on the fritz” means it still works, but not entirely normally, and it’s on its way to being dead.
  • 27d. [Like the “e” in “mime”]. SILENT. Apt clue.

Interesting puzzle with an unusual construction, nice fill, and more challenging cluing than the usual Monday. The theme works just fine, once you suss out the error. 3.75 stars.

Edited to add: In the comments below, Martin provided an alternative (and the correct) interpretation of the revealer.  The first words in each theme answer are indeed BY GEORGE where Will, Bush, etc. are the Georges in question. While I get it now, I don’t like it, since the revealer normally targets the keywords in question. Further, those second words in each phrase are regular English-language words (i.e. not names) until they are placed “by George,” thereby becoming proper names.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword—Matthew’s review

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 1/9/2023

One of the tougher BEQs in some time for me today – a joy to puzzle through. I loved the stacks in the NW and SE – ARIEL DURANT, BESAME MUCHO, ARGLE BARGLE, STYLESHEETS, and while the SE corner was easier than the upper-left, I really had to work outward from FRIENDSGIVING [Late November pot luck dinner, say].

I’m not sure I’ve landed on the right way to articulate this, but Brendan’s themelesses sometimes have “I guess that’s a word” words — this one is pretty clean by comparison, and that it was nice and tough all the same is a plus for me. I suppose NA BEER [1d Drink for those abstaining] is on the edge — it certainly doesn’t look nice in a grid — but it’s a thing (the NA is Non-Alcoholic, btw).

Quick notes:

  • 15a [Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and co-author of “The Story of Civilization”] ARIEL DURANT. Perhaps this puzzle would have been easier had I recognized this name. To my shame, I did not, and kept trying to fit a plausible “Jared Diamond” guess in.\
  • 11d [Small-runway craft, for short] STOL. I’ve never ever seen this before, but it’s an abbreviation for Short TakeOff and Landing. Cool thing to learn!
  • 32a [“Birds ____ real”] AREN’T. I’m glad I *had* heard of this before starting the puzzle. I don’t know how to best explain it – it’s a … meme? “conspiracy theory” that what we think are birds are actually tools of … government surveillance? From my limited exposure to it, it’s hard to tell where the line between sincerity and sly winking is, but I think it’s all just silliness.

Lynn K. Watson and Will Nediger’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 1/9/23 by Lynn K. Watson and Will Nediger

Los Angeles Times 1/9/23 by Lynn K. Watson and Will Nediger

Little time to write this one up, so I’ll make a general comment that it was slightly stickier than the average Monday (on Monday, a ten-or-so-second difference is significant!). The theme is pretty straightforward, though. The revealer at 60A [Rock and Roll Hall of Fame trio, and an apt name for a trio of answers in this puzzle] is THE BEE GEES, and in fact the three theme entries are two-word phrases with the initials BG.

  • 16A [Open-air alehouse] is a BEER GARDEN.
  • 26A [Kathleen Turner comedy featuring super intelligent infants] is BABY GENIUSES.
  • 46A [Eggplant appetizer] is the very tasty BABA GHANOUSH. There are many different anglicized spellings of the stuff, so I can see how this might be tougher for folks who are using the theme to solve.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up

The New Yorker crossword solution, 1/9/23 – Natan Last

Lots of nice stuff here in a puzzle that struck me as easier than most Monday TNYs (right in the Sat NYT vein).

Fave fill: EVEN TENOR, SONG OF SOLOMON, ANNE FRANK (interesting trivia clue: [Writer whose account was first published as “Het Achterhuis” (“The Secret Annex”)]), SOFT TACO, TALKING HEADS (another interesting tidbit of trivia: [Band whose name was taken from a term in TV Guide]), NUT ALLERGIES, LOSE YOURSELF, CAMEROON, and Slaughterhouse-Five‘s DRESDEN.

Three things:

  • 18a. [Eats a bissel], NOSHES. Guessing this is a Yiddish cognate of German ein bißchen/bisschen, meaning “a little bit.”
  • 39a. [Workplaces for C.R.N.A.s], ORS. Certified registered nurse anesthetists, operating rooms.
  • 46a. [Goes to bat (for), regardless of merit], CAPES. A modern verbified usage meaning to don your superhero cape to defend someone (even when they don’t deserve that support). Merriam-Webster wrote about it a few years back.

Have any of you ever used the word TOPE outside of crosswords or ironic discourse among crossworders? I learned the word from crosswords decades ago and that’s still the only place I encounter it.

Four stars from me.


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31 Responses to Monday, January 9, 2023

  1. huda says:

    NYT: An excellent Monday!

    • Gary R says:

      I agree – fun solve! The theme was nice, and well-executed – another take on the theme of the recent “to be you” puzzle, I guess. Acme’s stuff is always well-crafted.

  2. Seattle Derek says:

    I’m a retiree who still runs XP on my PC that uses old browsers, and I’d like to greatly thank Martin for providing links to puzzles that I can’t access otherwise.

    It’s a big ask, but maybe he expand his “herbach” website so that I can download and print inaccessible puzzles such as USAT, TNYer, and the WSJ?

    • Martin says:

      I don’t post puzzles without permission, so the USAT and New Yorker puzzles are off-limits. But I do post the WSJ. They are available through the Today’s Puzzles page (link at the top of this page). Do you have a problem with them?

    • Mr. [Not At All] Grumpy says:

      Have you downloaded the Crossword Scraper? You can get the WSJ puzzle for free at the paper’s website and then convert it to Across Lite [or other formats] yourself. It takes, like, two seconds. TNY is a pay to play puzzle, I think, so that one is out of bounds.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I grab the TNY puzzles every day using Crossword Scraper. Go to their main puzzle page, click the link for the puzzle and click the Crossword Scraper down arrow. Et voilà.

        • Seattle Derek says:

          Many thx to Martin, Grumpy, and SanFranMan for their replies. (For SanFranMan: I just tried to locate the Crossword Scraper site but couldn’t find a a link that had access to the TNYer. But thx again to everyone for your help!)

  3. Martin says:


    I think the reveal is correct. The “other” word is “by” the George. WILL is the George and FREE is by him.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      Okay. I got you. I was searching for an alternative interpretation but it never came to me. I’ll add an edit to my post above.

  4. PJ says:

    TNY – I completed it very quickly (for me) and didn’t have to change a letter. I expect others will have a similar experience. Things I didn’t know were gettable after a few crossings. I had one bit of hesitation on something I know – the quotation marks around Masago caused me to doubt myself.

    • Gary R says:

      Easier than a typical Monday TNY for me – particularly for a Natan Last puzzle. Seemed to me that it emphasized wordplay vs. cultural references a bit more than usual (or maybe the cultural references just happened to be in my wheelhouse).

      Last part to fill was the SW. I know Doja Cat, but not the song. I’m not familiar with the usage at 46-A – checked a couple of dictionaries and couldn’t find it. Is this slang? Those two, plus difficulty parsing 31-D slowed me down at the end.

    • pannonica says:

      On the web interface, that clue was italicized.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      It seems that I’m an outlier around these parts again with respect to an early-week TNY puzzle. I think I just live in a completely different universe than Natan. In my post-solve notes, I listed 26(!) clue/answer combinations out of 66 that either made little to no sense to me or where I just wasn’t on the clue’s wavelength. I’m still kind of in a state of shock that I completed this grid without an error and only Google-verified a single answer before I submitted my solution. Thanks to Amy for explaining the clue for NOSHES. I only know Bissel as a vacuum brand name. I made a very lucky stab in the dark at that answer off of just the N (I did that a lot during this solve).

    • Mr. [Not At All] Grumpy says:

      A surprisingly easy puzzle from Natan. Some stuff I did not know [or, at least, did not recognize from the clues], but the crosses were fair, and I enjoyed it a lot … which is not always the case with me & his puzzles. ;)

    • JohnH says:

      It was quite hard enough for Monday for me, although overall way, way fairer than is usual with Natan Last. Still, there were sections I just weren’t going to finish. Just above center, I didn’t know Pachinko’s author, the beach town, or the song. (Would it be LOVE YOURSELF?) MISSTATE could easily have been another word, leaving me plenty of leeway to flounder here. And is CUSTARD really like fudge. One is surely milky and light, the other dense and chocolaty.

      And then I didn’t have a chance at all in the SW with MR ISCAN, CAPES, and Doja Cat. You better be not simply not too old, but really trendy (or at least part of the right crowd). Often I at least finish his puzzles, heavy with junk as they are, but this time I didn’t.

      • JohnH says:

        I meant to add that, to make that dire corner still less solvable, ACED could just as well have been “iced.” Anyhow, my thanks to pannonica for explaning CAPED, and I’ll just have right now to surf for Mr. Body Picture. (I should have included a sarcasm icon; yes, I know its MRI SCAN.)

      • PJ says:

        “You better be not simply not too old, but really trendy (or at least part of the right crowd)”

        That doesn’t seem fair. I’m a 65 year old white guy living in Alabama. My music tastes lean towards blues, old time R&B, blues influenced rock and bebop. And New Orleans piano. I read non-fiction, mostly biographies of dead white men. I’m still on Facebook, not Tik-Tok. Yet I manage to finish Natan’s and Erik’s puzzles.

        I think it has more to do with curiosity than anything else.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I also found the clue for CUSTARD difficult since I didn’t know that trifles involve it, but I’m not sure where you’re getting the “fudge” part of your comment. Are you thinking truffle (though I only associate that with chocolate, not fudge)? Or were you confusing the clue for that answer with the one for MISSTATE (“Fudge, say”)?

  5. Greg says:

    I found the New Yorker very challenging (an hour), but ultimately doable. Great construction, with lots of interaction between the various puzzle sectors, which helped a lot on the more difficult entries.

  6. Dallas says:

    Shoo-fly pie is a Southern sweet pie made from molasses… it attracts flies because of all the sugar, so you have to say “Shoo fly!” when you’re eating it…

    • Jenni says:

      Not just Southern. I live near PA Dutch country and it’s also a thing here.

      • PJ says:

        I’m a southerner who frequents restaurants ranging from real soul food hole in the wall meat and threes to James Beard award winners. I don’t recall encountering it.

      • JohnH says:

        Several sites attribute it to PA Dutch and don’t add a southern distribution. Curiously, I had myself associated it with southern. I wonder if I was thinking of the offensive minstrel show lyrics in Jimmy Crack Corn (blue-tail fly), which was prevalent (and less offensive, I suppose) when I was a kid.

        These sites also give a different etymology, from a brand of molasses supposedly influenced by something else entirely. Who knows.

        • PJ says:

          Just because I haven’t run across it doesn’t mean it isn’t a southern thing. The south is a pretty big place.

  7. gyrovague says:

    TNY: Regarding TOPE, I can’t say I’ve seen it anywhere but in crosswords. Why go with such a stale entry when other options abound? In this case, TIPI or TOME would have done the job.

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

    I did not like the BACK in KICKS BACK crossing the BACK in BACKGROUND CHECK — not to mention the third “back” in the clue for 57A OR the repeated use of “way” in the clues at 57A and 61A. That looked very sloppy.

    BUT … I DID like the fact that the NYT had five themers [AC/DC was a five-person band, right? I never knowingly listened to them] and the LAT had three themers, since THE BEE GEES were a trio. That HAD to be intentional, no?

  9. Seattle Derek says:

    BEQ: I gave up doing the puzzle after 15 minutes and only logging five entries. Upon seeing the solution here, I think BEQ took too many liberties, ala Stan Newman’s Stumper. Oh well…

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