Monday, January 16, 2023

BEQ 3:47 (Matthew) 


LAT tk (Stella) 


NYT 4ish (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:19 (Amy) 


Universal tk (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (malaika) 


Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday.

Michael Paleo’s New York Times puzzle – Sophia’s write-up

Theme: MAIL IT IN – the last word of each theme answer is part of a letter.

New York Times, 01 16 2023, By Michael Paleos

  • 16a [The “e”, but not the “B”, of eBay] – LOWERCASE LETTER
  • 25a [Traveler’s proof of entry] – PASSPORT STAMP
  • 41a [“Madam President” or “Your Honor”] – TERM OF ADDRESS
  • 55a [Test boundaries] – PUSH THE ENVELOPE
  • 35a/37a [With 37-Across, perform perfunctorily… or a hint to the ends of 16-, 25-, 41-, 55-Across] – MAIL/ITIN

I wasn’t sure of the theme as I solved this puzzle, and looking back I think that’s because I’m not familiar with the revealer itself. I have heard the phrase “phone it in” much more than MAIL IT IN – I figure they can be used interchangeably? Anyways, the theme is nice if not particularly groundbreaking. The 15/13/13/15 plus revealer pattern is tough to do cleanly, but it works well here. PASSPORT STAMP stands out a little since it doesn’t disguise the letter word as well as the other answers, but it’s not a major sticking point.

Other notes on the puzzle:

  • For the amount of theme material in the puzzle, the fill is very clean. Standout entries for me were RED HOT, TIKTOK, and TOP OFF.
  • I solved this puzzle with my DnD loving friends, who when I gave them the clue of [Self-description for a D&D enthusiast], immediately correctly answered “NERD“. They were also very helpful with MOTHRA, which I did not know.
  • The part I got most stuck on in the puzzle was the top left corner, where I didn’t know AMOI and had “gape” instead of GAWK.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday puzzle — Matthew’s write-up

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 1/16/23

Grid for now, review later. Willie STARGELL [11d – Pirate Willie] was a Pittsburgh Pirate, baseball player, not a sailor (though maybe he spent time on boats.

Drew Schmenner’s Universal crossword, “That Hurts!” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 1/15/23 • Mon • “That Hurts!” • Schmenner • solution • 20220115

  • 19a. [Loner’s trio?] ME, MYSELF AND I.
  • 24a. [“Let me explain this …”] THE THING IS.
  • 36a. [Sure winners] SHOO-INS.
  • 45a. [Diaper fasteners, once] SAFETY PINS.
  • 51aR [Expanding company’s struggles, or the progression formed by the ends of 19-, 24-, 36-, 45- and 51-Across?] GROWING PAINS.

While solving, I was struggling to see any connection among the supposed theme entries, which was not helped by assuming 16a [Beer dispenser at a bar] KEGERATOR and 58a [Prepared to snare prey] LAID A TRAP were among them.

So, to recap: it’s


Solid enough, entertaining enough.

  • The longest downs—also longer than several theme entries—are 10d [Tiny toy on a track] LIONEL TRAIN and 22d [Reminders to yourself] MENTAL NOTES.
  • 37d [Island: Fr.] ÎLE. Cognates.
  • 15a [Workers who want to go unnoticed?] SPIES. Nice little clue.

Really not too much that’s exciting among the ballast fill. It gets the job done adequately.

Liz Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 1/16/23 – Gorski

Easier than I thought it would be. And you?

Fave clue: 48a. [Harley-Davidson’s HOG and Olympic Steel’s ZEUS, e.g.], TICKER SYMBOLS. Not that I’ve ever heard of Olympic Steel, mind you. Might’ve been cute to use Caterpillar’s CAT alongside the HOG, though it’s less inventive than the ZEUS and HOG symbols that aren’t just shortenings of the company name.

Fave fill: THE WHITE TIGER, “HERE GOES NOTHING,” Zoe SALDANA, CARDI B, IN TURMOIL. THIMBLES is also not commonly seen in crosswords; liked the clue, [Protections for sewers], which might evoke manhole covers.

[Ragdoll’s call], MEW—there’s a cat variety called the ragdoll. Outside of crossword grids and Pokémon, I reckon the word MEW is really rather uncommon.

Crosswordese alert: [Constellation called the Altar], ARA. Much less familiar than the zodiac constellations, the Dippers, Cassiopeia, and Orion, but it’s got handy letters for a crossword. Meh.

3.33 stars from me.

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19 Responses to Monday, January 16, 2023

  1. huda says:

    NYT: It felt like a classic Monday in terms of theme, and it’s executed very well. I liked that each of the key words (Letter, Stamp, Address, Envelope) is used with a slightly different meaning than the one involved in mailing a letter– I thought of a passport stamp as the more ink version of stamping the date, so not identical to a mailing stamp.
    I didn’t know MOTHRA either. Is it on the tougher side for a Monday?
    We have Mail it in and Phone it in… Will Zoom it in be next?

  2. Dave S says:

    Today’s USA Today puzzle seemed incredibly difficult, particularly for a Monday. I don’t recall ever seeing so many clues that left me completely stumped and answers crossing answers that I simply didn’t know. Just me, or did others also experience anything like this? JoeDePre??

    • Jack Azout says:

      Dave S., I totally agree! I think Agard had quite a challenge with the clues, given the constraint of the theme (the first letters of each clue spelling out the MLK speech quote), resulting in much more difficult cluing than in the typical USA today crossword. Interestingly, I had no problem with the NW half of the puzzle, but all kinds of problems with the SE. It seemed like two completely different levels of difficulty in the same crossword, both in the cluing and in the answers themselves.

    • rtaus says:

      Dave–Same here. I found the SE much harder than the NW.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I didn’t look through the comments before posting mine (see below), but I had a nearly identical reaction and solving experience. Something tells me that EA intentionally made the part of the grid that’s NW of the central diagonal of relatively normal solving difficulty (for an EA USAT puzzle anyway) and the part SE of the diagonal much more difficult (or, in my case, impossible). Maybe it’s supposed to be ALL OVER THE MAP?

    • LaurieAnnaT says:

      Interesting split between the Northwest and the Southeast. It brings to mind the literacy tests used by states to disenfranchise their Black residents from voting. Apt for this holiday.

  3. Sally says:

    Re: the USA Today solving experience: I believe the difference in difficulty in the two halves is the point. I wrote more about this:

    • Jack Azout says:

      I will echo Dave S. here and thank you, Sally. I suspected that there was something more to this puzzle that I was not getting, but I lacked the imagination to figure it out. What a brilliant piece of symbolism by the great Erik Agard. Fruitlessly attempting to solve the SE half of this puzzle brought home Dr. King’s message regarding the cruelty of (paraphrasing MLK) saying to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps. “The Other America” indeed. Bravo, Mr. Agard.

  4. Dave S says:

    Thank you, Sally. I appreciate your explanation and the context you provided.

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    USAT: What in the world? I made it through the half of the grid to the NW of the center diagonal in pretty normal USAT fashion. On the other hand, the SE was almost completely und0able. Was that EA’s intent? If so, why?

    I’ve followed basketball closely for most of my 63 years, but don’t recall ever hearing of JOE DEPRE. A bench player who only played for two seasons in the ABA 50+ years ago is noteworthy enough to include in a crossword puzzle? Really? This thing was ALL OVER THE MAP for me. Was that the idea? Let’s publish half a crossword that almost no one can solve without cheating? If so, mission accomplished with me. My third ever DNF on a USAT puzzle.

  6. Me says:

    NYT: On PHONEITIN vs MAILITIN, I did a Google Ngram on both. Interestingly, MAIL IT IN was much more common until very recently. It was 10 times more common in the mid-1980s. Then around 2000, it dropped dramatically and PHONE IT IN went up about the same amount. Now they are basically neck-and-neck.

  7. JohnH says:

    I actually expected a TNY easy for a Monday given the setter, so I’m surprised Amy was surprised. Still, I had trouble breaking out of the larger NE and, especially, completing the NW. Say, I couldn’t have known that a World Series victor 12 years ago was ATL and not STL, where I didn’t know ZOE crossing there. In the NW, I didn’t know Laura Bush’s name, that a ragdoll is a cat, Chloe Kim, the Adiga novel, or what bowstrings are apart from, well, string. (Guess Gorski has learned to accommodate the magazine’s demand for factoids.) You don’t often hear HERE GOES NOTHING or hear of stock symbols as TICKER SYMBOLS, so indeed all three long entries were tough for me.

    Question: is any pdf NOT printable? Come to think of it, is anything on a laptop not printable, whether you like the results of not? Most anything will open in a browser (pdf included), which has its print function, for one option. Also, what do you think of “celeb,” admittedly a short or informal title, as a cue for an abbreviation? For that matter, I’d love to see Leon Uris retired from puzzles. That’s awfully long-ago middlebrow to have become recurring crosswordese.

    • Mr. [Not At All] Grumpy says:

      I’ve received pdf files of documents [building permits and the like] that could not be printed even by trying to take a screen shot.

      • JohnH says:

        Ah, thanks. On further reading, looks like there’s a way to password protect a pdf so that it cannot be printed. It may be possible to turn to a proprietary program that accepts uploads and circumvents the password.

        There is also a limit in the evil MS Edge on whether an independent program such as Acrobat can open a pdf and on printing after opening in Edge itself. Just another reason not to use Edge.

  8. Seattle Derek says:

    Frank Longo’s “Premier” puzzle from Sunday isn’t available to me. The link I’m using is and it comes back with “Error 404 Not Found”. Any ideas, anyone?

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