Monday, December 25, 2023

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 2:02 (Stella) 


NYT 3:10 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 6:06 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate.

Amie Walker’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: THAT’S MY JAM – Songs where the first word is a fruit often made into jam

New York Times, 12 25 2023, By Amie Walker

  • 17a [1976 song by the Runaways with the lyric “Hello world, I’m your wild girl”] – CHERRY BOMB
  • 28a [1996 Deana Carter hit with the lyric “My first taste of love, oh, bittersweet”] – STRAWBERRY WINE
  • 46a [1985 Prince hit with the lyric “And if it was warm she wouldn’t wear much more”] – RASPBERRY BERET
  • 59a [“I love this song!” … or a doubly apt description of 17-, 28- and 46-Across] – THAT’S MY JAM

Merry Christmas to all celebrating today! I’m with family, so today’s write up is going to be quick. Luckily I have a lovely puzzle to write about! I’ve solved a lot of Amie’s puzzles before, so I was surprised and happy to see that this was her NYT debut. These songs are all certainly jams, with RASPBERRY BERET being my favorite (honestly, I learned CHERRY BOMB from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” soundtrack).

It might have been nice to have a song from the last 25 years, but these ones are all still pretty well known and recognized today. It’s always a difficult balance to strike when making a puzzle for new solvers that involves so many proper nouns, but the thematic element tying them all together will make it easier for folks that don’t know the songs. The fill is very clean overall, too: I could see the APRS/BIOTIN area being a little tough, but that’s it.

Other notes:

  • GOOD ANSWER is a great answer! It makes me think about Family Feud, where players always say that regardless of the quality of the answer their family member just provided…
  • I like RISK AVERSE a lot, but i’m not sure why the clue needed to have the investment angle ([Reluctant, as an investor]). It made me think the answer would be something more esoteric than it was.
  • I liked the modern cluing angle on [Ones involved in a 2023 Hollywood strike] for WRITERS.

Happy holidays!

Barbara Lin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 12/25/23 by Barbara Lin

Los Angeles Times 12/25/23 by Barbara Lin

Today’s seasonally appropriate theme doesn’t need much explanation: The answers are all in-the-language phrases whose meaning is changed as they’re used almost Mad Lib-fashion to tell a story about Santa Claus.

  • 17A [Santa and his reindeer landed __] ON THE HOUSE.
  • 27A [Before heading down the chimney, Santa __] GOT THE SACK.
  • 33A [Stepping out of the fireplace, Santa left a __] CARBON FOOTPRINT.
  • 42A [After filling the last one, Santa hung the __] STOCKING UP.
  • 58A [All in all, Santa had a very busy __!] PRESENT DAY.

33A is the most successful of these puns IMO, since the evocative visual is both in the clue and the answer, whereas with the others I think the clue does more of the work than the answer.

Nice fill, including MONA LISA, Lupita NYONG’OI LOVED IT, and PANERA.

Mike Torch’s Universal crossword, “Chop Shop” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 12/25/23 • Mon • “Chop Shop” • Torch • solution • 20231225

For the theme entries, the first word is repeated but divided, forming two other words.

  • 18a. [Do penance early in the afternoon?] ATONE AT ONE.
  • 26a. [Questioning royalty?] ASKING, AS KING.
  • 44a. [Vegetables atop Saturn cars?] ONIONS ON IONS.
  • 57a. [Carried in the direction of Coach Lasso?] TOTED TO TED.

I now discern that the two ‘new’ words all  happen to be prepositional phrases. Oh wait, no. “As king” is not. Anyway, this is a nice little theme.

It isn’t a Christmas theme, but there are a bunch of clues that acknowledge the holiday:

  • 1a [Reaction to receiving that special gift] GASP.
  • 23a [Decorate, as a Christmas tree] TRIM.
  • 38a [Winter blanket?] SNOW.
  • 64a [Like a room filled with wrapping paper] MESSY.
  • 8d [Christmas cookie containers] TINS.
  • 54d [What connects Christmas lights] WIRE.
  • arguably: 28d [Make a muffler, maybe] KNIT.

Let’s see, anything else notable?

  • 2d [Operatic showpiece] ARIA. 11d [Solo] ALONE.
  • 27d [Peeved] SORE. 40a [Feeling after leg day] ACHE.
  • 29d [Radiance] SHEEN. 25a [Covering placed over a tooth] VENEER.
  • 46d [Played a part] ACTED. 49a [Play thing?] PROP.

Paolo Pasco’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 12/25/23 – Pasco

Fun puzzle, good fill, and that’s all I’ve got time for since holiday company is here. Four stars from me.

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9 Responses to Monday, December 25, 2023

  1. Eric H. says:

    New Yorker: Challenging but not Stumper-level hard. One of these days I will remember how to spell STREGA NONA. I was in high school when it was published and only know of it from crosswords. At least I more or less knew the answer when I needed it today.

    • Gary R says:

      Last letter in for me was the crossing of STREGA NONA and SIRRAH. I was out of high school by the time the book was published, and don’t recall running across it in puzzles. Haven’t read any Shakespeare in years, and I had forgotten SIRRAH (if I ever knew it). At least I guessed right!

      TSURIS was also new to me. Got it from the crosses, which were fair (but it looked so odd, I spent a lot of time trying to look for alternatives in some of the crosses).

      In the end, I thought it was about right for a TNY Monday.

    • JohnH says:

      What can I say? I found it somewhere between really, really, really hard and downright impossible. Doesn’t help that I had not heard of STREGA NONA and it didn’t look much like a word or name, with or without a space. Nor, while we’re in that corner, did I have a clue what CODA stands for or MAC is, and I’d forgotten the name PENA, I’m afraid.

      I got away with a whole lot of wild guesses. I also hadn’t heard of POBODY’S NERFECT, and I ended with a mistake, having settled on keeping “perfect” intact, reasoning that it was just a mild improvement on the more familiar expression but with a nod to PO(or) BOY or some such. True, MENSAP made no sense, but then I’ve never heard of MENSA members as MENSANS either. Sad to think the privileges of membership, whatever they are, include slogging through so many applications. Anyway, no fun for me at all.

    • johnjerseycoast says:

      Well this one stumped me. No clue on POBODYSNERFECT but I now see it has been around for quite a while. Guess I should read more Mad Magazine and less New Yorker! :)

      Otherwise a good challenge. Well done SIRRAH!!

  2. Nick says:

    First attempt at a New Yorker puzzle.
    Recording/further comment:

  3. Katie+M. says:

    I kind of liked the New Yorker, since I was actually able to finish it! I love the Strega Nona books by Tomie dePaola, so I got that one.
    Why is SNL a dream gig for a UCB alum? I don’t get that one.
    Learned a new word TSURIS.

  4. Teddy says:

    Yeah, hard. Finished with errors. I confess I’m never too happy to see a Pasco puzzle. They’re always tough, but more in a niche or hipper-than-thou way rather than for great or fun wordplay. Not much fun.

Comments are closed.