Monday, January 1, 2024

BEQ untimed (Matthew) 


LAT 1:54 (Stella) 


NYT 2:33 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 8:32 (Amy) 


Universal tk (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday. Happy New Year!

Harry Zheng’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Phrases in the form [THING] [THING] [OTHER THING]

New York Times, 01 01 2024, By Harry Zheng

  • 20a [Kids’ chasing game with head taps] – DUCK DUCK GOOSE
  • 27a [Off Broadway musical made into a 2021 film directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda] – TICK TICK BOOM
  • 43a [Reply to “Three cheers!”] – HIP HIP HOORAY
  • 51a [Soothing words] – THERE THERE NOW

Pretty standard Monday “same structured phrases” theme. I feel like I did another write up for a Monday with a similar pattern to X X Y, but I can’t remember right now… Anyways, the first two theme answers were my favorite – apologies to the Minnesotans out there for DUCK DUCK GOOSE; I know you want that answer to be “grey duck”. I *love* TICK TICK BOOM so I was hyped to see that show up.

After the first two answers I thought that the theme was going to be [word that ends in CK] [word that ends in CK][other word], but the last two theme answers don’t fit that – let me know if there’s some other connecting thread I’m missing! HIP HIP HOORAY is appropriately New Year’s celebratory, but I didn’t love THERE THERE NOW, mostly because I usually hear that phrase without the “now”.


Potentially tricky for Monday: STROP, OLGA Tokarczuk – but these are both crossed very fairly and are far from each other.

Congrats to Harry on a great debut! Happy New Year all!

Jeff Stillman’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 1/1/24 by Jeff Stillman

Los Angeles Times 1/1/24 by Jeff Stillman

If this theme feels familiar, it’s because BEQ did a variation on this theme on December 28 (apologies, I cannot seem to link directly to the post instead of just his blog). I’m certain there was no plagiarism involved, just two constructors independently arriving at the same seasonally appropriate theme. In this case, there’s a revealer at 51A [Celebratory shout heard before “Auld Lang Syne” is played, and an apt title for this puzzle?], which is HAPPY NEW YEAR. That is, in each theme answer, the circled letters are the letters in YEAR, made NEW by rearranging them:

  • 20A [Make a polite visit] is PAY RESPECT TO, with YEAR rearranged as AYRE.
  • 27A [False start punishment, in football] is FIVE-YARD PENALTY, with YEAR rearranged as EYAR.
  • 46A [Incredibly hard to hold] is SLIPPERY AS AN EEL, with YEAR rearrnaged as ERYA.

It’s hard to avoid comparisons here — I think Brendan did it better, getting in more theme material by using shorter theme entries. I also didn’t love PAY RESPECT TO as a theme entry — it felt a little contrived. On the positive side, I liked SIDE-EYE, SAPPHIRE, and EARWORM in the fill.

Brooke Husic’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 1/1/24 – Husic

Tough one today, I thought.

New to me: 13a. [Period trackers, smart breast pumps, etc., collectively], FEMTECH. Gettable, but not a term I’d seen before. Also unfamiliar to me: 53a. [Style for a player on a team who’s not a team player], HERO BALL. Also also, 3d. [Abrupt transitions], SMASH CUTS. A cinema term? Also also also: 23a. [Makeup artist Sir ___], JOHN. Apparently he’s best known for working with Beyoncé. Plus there’s 39a. [“Finding ʻOhana” director Jude], WENG. She’s primarily a TV director, which makes her name less familiar to most folks.

Fave fill: “YOU GET THE IDEA,” STREET ARTISTS (love encountering murals in surprising spots, like an alley), SOME OTHER TIME, “HONEST TO GOD,” POWERWHOUSES, AT IT AGAIN.

Four stars from me.

Brendan Emmett Quigleys’s Themeless Monday crossword — solution grid

Brendan Emmett Quigleys’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 1/1/2024

I found the top half much quicker than the bottom — I SHIT YOU NOT, ESPORTS, and APRIL SHOWER were highlights — but not sure whether the bottom is harder or I just missed a few gimmes. I like OMIGOSH and JERRY GARCIA, less so SATINY and SARDIS, the latter of which is one of those New York-centric crossword relics that I wish had gone by the wayside long ago.

Anyway, Happy New Year! ACPT registration opened today – would love to see you there!

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18 Responses to Monday, January 1, 2024

  1. Philip says:

    My new year’s wish is that the NYT editorial team stop clueing igloos as though they were made of ice, when they are in fact made of snow. An otherwise enjoyable Monday puzzle for me. Congrats on the debut. Happy new year to all.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I enjoyed it– Monday smooth and peppy. I like THERE THERE NOW. The “now” makes it sound fussier, which is the idea when you’re saying it– to fuss over someone!
    Happy 2024. May it bring joy to you and to those you love, and some wisdom to the world.

  3. Dallas says:

    So it turns out that IN THE HEIGHTS has the same number of letters as TICK TICK BOOM and came out in 2021… ask me how I know :-) So for a brief few seconds, I thought maybe the theme wasn’t X X Y… Anyway, after cleaning that up I worked quickly through it, but put in PLOT instead of PLOY and had to run through all the across and downs to finally find my mistake. Anyway, a fun Monday and a good start to another year of crosswords.

    • A says:

      I know that was rhetorical so ignore my silly questions but do you know because you’re a big fan of both or you can just count letters in words very fast?

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I’m guessing he knows because he filled in IN THE HEIGHTS and then couldn’t get crossings to work out.

        • Me says:

          I also put IN THE HEIGHTS originally. Should have read the clue more carefully.

          I like the placement of STRIP and STROP one on top of the other, and the HULA/HULU cross.

          Sophia’s comment about THERE THERE NOW made me do a Google Ngram on it, because it didn’t seem that obscure to me. But it looks like it was very common until around 1950 then dropped off dramatically. It went to about a third of the 1947 usage by 1951 and never recovered. I wasn’t around during that time period, but I wonder if there was some reason for the dramatic change.

          • Dallas says:

            Yeah, I saw “Lin Manuel Miranda” and “2021” and thought “I think that’s when In The Heights” came out since I remembered watching it at home during COVID”… but yeah, didn’t read the full clue carefully enough :-)

  4. Dan says:

    LAT: I could’ve sworn that it was overwhelmingly George, not Elaine, who tended to say YADA YADA YADA.

  5. Mike H says:

    TNY – 30D
    Why does the clue say “Cubic decimetREs” but the answer is “litERs”? Seems like the ER/RE formations should agree, no?

    • Gary R says:

      I thought so, too. Slowed things down for a bit while I struggled to figure out the crosses there.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I’ll guess it’s because the clues have to follow New Yorker style, which ridiculously clings to certain British spellings for no apparent reason but “well, we did it that way a century ago so we can hardly change it now.” The crossword editors should push back against house style in cases like this, where it misleads solvers.

      • JohnH says:

        But then the fill should have used British spelling, too. It seemed just wrong.

        I’ve had no end of trouble with this puzzle. I didn’t know UFC or URSULA crossing — and, for further crossings there, guessed HER TECH and CRASH CUTS (an actual film term). I don’t think of TA’s as recent A students and didn’t know Jude or Yahya in there. And that’s on top of the whole SW pretty much a blank for me. So yet another TNY that’s no more than a trivia quiz. At least some contemporary usage, like HERO BALL, was deducible for a change.

  6. Ed says:

    Too much modern pop culture for me, very tough going.

  7. Greg says:

    The New Yorker: as tough a Monday as there’s been in a while.

  8. Brenda Rose says:

    The NYorker: Brooke nails it again. Ursula/Divine was divoon. People who wish to get into Husic’s mind set can try her puzzles on her Laydee site. She dropped one today. Makes me laugh when some say there is too much pop trivia. My hope is that crosswords ease up using 3 letter abbr. for game argot, rappers that are no longer relevant & text slang that came in/went out.

  9. Eric H. says:

    New Yorker: The east side was fine, despite the unknown to me HERO BALL.

    But that west side was just brutal. For a long while, the only answers I had were STRAP, REO, OROS and RANGER — not much to work on. I needed confirmatory lookups for FEM TECH and SMASH CUTS (so much for that Radio-TV-Film degree).

    Sir JOHN? We’re supposed to know makeup artists now?

    Crossing WENG and MATEEN is not nice. If you don’t know either name, that makes the whole area difficult. (“Finding ‘Ohana” sounds like the kind of movie I would usually go see, if I still went to movies more than once or twice a year.)

    There were some great clues. The ones for COAUTHOR and U-TURN were my favorites. But overall, it felt like a Stumper, which is not something to aspire to.

    I enjoy Brooke Husic’s NYT puzzles. This is the second or third one of hers for the New Yorker that I haven’t liked much. I have solved some of her puzzles on her website, but those make her New Yorker puzzles look easy.

  10. Martin says:

    Just got word my internet is down. I’m in Seattle (where I usually am when the gremlins attack). So until we figure out what’s up, there won’t be access to WSJ, WaPo, Universal or Jonesin puzzles. Sorry.

    • Papa John says:

      Happy New Year!

      Not a auspicious way to start the new year but it follows a pattern. A tech repairman just left after getting me re-connected to the Internet. It was down for 8 days.

      What part of Seattle are you in? Where you here for the holidays?

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