Wednesday, January 10, 2024

AVCX 5:39 (Amy) 


LAT 5:22 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:25 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 7:27 (Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


The New Yorker 3:27 (Amy) 


Chloe Revery & Alissa Revness’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 1/10/24 – no. 0110

The theme revealer here is 60a. [Preschool teacher’s mantra … or a hint to the answers to the starred clues], SHARING IS CARING. The themers are familiar phrases in which the last word’s initial SH becomes a C, with the resulting goofy phrase clued accordingly:

  • 17a. [*Job for a coxswain with rowdy rowers?], TAMING OF THE CREW.
  • 23a. [*Review for a so-so bakery?], NO GREAT CAKES.
  • 38a. [*Person who assigns the order of opening presents?], GIFT COP.
  • 49a. [*Completes a superhero transformation?], GETS INTO CAPE.

I don’t quite get the revealer here. The -ARING part of those key words is dangling there, not playing a part in signaling “SH to C.”

Fave fill: “IN THAT CASE…”, ONE SCOOP of ice cream (it’s plenty!), and the great “STRIKE THAT” … though I don’t love the inclusion of THAT in both of the 10s. Unfave: “OH, SAY…”, NOT DO, ALAI, “I MAY,” GESTS, AROAR, and ECO and MILA getting retro Umberto Eco and Leon Uris’s Mila 18 clues.

Three stars from me. The revealer issues and some rough fill made this one less fun for me.

Morton J. Mendelson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Kindergarten Lessons”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that are things a kindergartner might do, but they’re clued as if they applied to particular adults.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Kindergarten Lessons” · Morton J. Mendelson · Wed., 1.10.24

  • 17a. [What the dog groomer learned to do in kindergarten?] CLEAN UP TOYS. Toy dogs, in this case. This one’s a little awkward and not as colloquial as the others, but I’m cool with it.
  • 31a. [What the slalom skier learned to do in kindergarten?] TAKE TURNS. Turns on a slalom course.
  • 47a. [What Hugh Laurie learned to do in kindergarten?] PLAY HOUSE. I do like this one, but Mr. Laurie is British, and so presumably went to a British school where 4-year-olds start in what’s called Reception before moving on to Year One.
  • 63a. [What the producers of a 10-season sitcom learned to do in kindergarten?] MAKE FRIENDS. Nice!

What a cute theme. I wonder if this was inspired by the Robert Fulghum book that was all the rage when it came out in the ’90s. I enjoyed both the wordplay and the playful aspect of the theme.

There’s nothing especially long and sparkly in the fill, but MALAISE is a fun word to have in the grid’s center. “HOGWASH!” and ROLL-OUT are couple of other goodies.

Clues of note:

  • 19a. [“___ been a slice!”]. IT’S. New to me. I thought this might be new slang, but apparently it goes back to at least the ’70s.
  • 70a. [Brushing problems]. SNARLS. I was wondering how you get SNARLS on your teeth, but then decided this referred to hair.
  • 58d. [Skate routine element]. LEAP. The clue led me to JUMP which was 50% correct and therefore messed me up quite a bit in that SE corner.
  • 59d. [“I’ll get this!”]. “ON ME.” I’m dubious as to how many people would say this as a synonym for the clue. Another reason I floundered in that corner.

Enjoyable theme and smooth fill. 3.75 stars.

Margi Stevenson’s Universal crossword, “You’re the Man!” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 1/10/24 • Wed • “You’re the Man!” • Stevenson • solution • 20240110

  • 38aR [Ideal guy, or a hint to the end of 17-, 24-, 48- or 61-Across] MR RIGHT. The ends being the right part of the phrases.
  • 17a. [“Watch tour mouth!”] KEEP IT CLEAN.
  • 24a. [Wins the lottery, say] HITS IT BIG.
  • 48a. [“You’re about as important as a white crayon” and others] SICK BURNS. Can’t say I’ve heard that particular insult.
  • 61a. [Human line?] I’M NOT A ROBOT.

Mr Clean, Mr Big, Mr Burns (of The Simpsons fame), Mr Robot (a television series).

  • 12d [Home of the Burj Khalifa] DUBAI. 37a [Abu Dhabi’s land, for short] UAE.
  • 18d [Like chilled coffee] ICED. 1d [One might say “Happy Birthday” in frosting] CAKE. Avoidance of duplication.
  • 38d [Initial advice for busybodies?] MYOBMind your own business.
  • 29a [Song of praise] HYMN. My final bit of fill.
  • 58a [Faux family name in punk rock] RAMONE. Per Wikipedia: “[Douglas] Colvin was the first to adopt the name ‘Ramone’, calling himself Dee Dee Ramone. He was inspired by Paul McCartney’s use of the pseudonym Paul Ramon during his Silver Beetles days. Dee Dee convinced the other members to take on the name and came up with the idea of calling the band the Ramones.”
  • 44a [(Hey! Over here!)] PSST.

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 1/10/24 – Berry

There’s generally not a whole lot to say about an easier themeless. The easier the puzzle, the more straightforward the clues are. So—


This crossword hits the target of easy but not the absolute easiest, where the Wednesday New Yorker puzzles are aimed.

Four stars from me.

Kieran Boyd & Brian Callahan’s AV Club Classic crossword, “Give It a Rest”–Amy’s recap

AV Club Classic crossword solution, 1/10/24 – “Give It a Rest”

This puzzle was billed as 2.5 out of 5 difficulty, but it felt more like a Thursday NYT level of rigor to me. Go figure.

The theme revealer is SLEEP ON IT, 59a. [Take time making a decision …or what one would do to the back end of each of this puzzle’s long answers]. OYSTER BED, LOAD OF BUNK, BANANA HAMMOCK, and CAT’S CRADLE all end with places to sleep. Solid theme.

Three things:

  • 36a. [Overflowing junk drawers?], BANANA HAMMOCK. Brilliant clue! Drawers as in underpants/briefs, and BANANA HAMMOCK as slang for a dude’s filled-out Speedo that scarcely camouflages his “junk.”
  • 9a. [“Shit,” in polite company], S-BOMB. Not really a term that sees much use, I don’t think, compared to the F-bomb. I was looking for this to be something like SHOOT.
  • 5d. [High-flying Flynn], ERROL. I don’t know why the actor was “high-flying.” Did he play Peter Pan? No? Is high-flying being used as a substitute for swashbuckling?

3.5 stars from me.

Rebecca Goldstein’s LA TImes crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

There are several aspects to today’s puzzle by Rebecca Goldstein that elevate it to cut above most recent LA Times puzzles. The first two pertain to the theme: the revealer is positioned centrally – THATSTHESPIRIT – it is lively, and hints at the theme, without giving everything away. The theme itself concerns phrases beginning with alcoholic spirits, basic enough right? But the entries are well chosen, interesting answers that are none of them connected to the alcohol in question, at least not directly:

  • [“New Miserable Experience” pop band], GINBLOSSOMS
  • [Pepper named for its resemblance to a tam-o’-shanter], SCOTCHBONNET
  • [Role for Jason Derulo in 2019’s “Cats”], RUMTUMTUGGER. I originally had TIGGER…
  • [British desserts similar to cannoli], BRANDYSNAPS. Canonically have no brandy in!

There are also six total long downs, many of which were interesting:

  • [Honey], SWEETHEART shared far too many letters with SWEETiEpie for me not to fall victim.
  • [Pitiable person], POORDEVIL. Funny how those two just go together.
  • [Good memory, metaphorically], STEELTRAP. Do we use steel trap for anything other than to describe minds?
  • [Nickname given to Nemo by the Tank Gang], SHARKTRAP. The clue sidesteps many of the gorier aspects of the answer, and many of us mentally added “oo aa aa” to the end of it.


Sally Hoelscher & Wendy L. Brandes’s USA Today Crossword, “The Rates are Rising Again!” — Emily’s write-up

Deja vu!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday January 10s, 2024

USA Today, January 10 2024, “The Rates are Rising Again!” by Sally Hoelscher & Wendy L. Brandes

Theme: each downs themer has —ETAR— (being vertical, the “rate” is going up)


  • 62d. [Small open pies filled with Honeycrisps, perhaps], APPLETARTS
  • 15d. [Caricaturists, muralists, etc.], STREETARTISTS
  • 10d. [Top all previous performances], SETARECORD

APPLETARTS was a sweet start to this themer set. STREETARTISTS also filled in fairly easily for me as well. Though SETARECORD took me a few crossings to get. In addition, the “rate” rising in the themers from the bottom left to the upper right in the set as well. Check out Sally’s write up for more about her and Wendy’s about their puzzle today—which is an encore for their collab yesterday! Amazing!

Favorite fill: CATSIT, MARTA, POP, and SVEN

Stumpers: ENABLE (needed crossings) and UGH (“ick” came to mind first)

Love the grid design and flow for this puzzle! What a fun collab with great cluing and yet again so many wonderful lengthy bonus fill. I also enjoyed that it was another take on their puzzle yesterday. Nicely done!

4.5 stars


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19 Responses to Wednesday, January 10, 2024

  1. Lois says:

    NYT: I didn’t think there was a problem that -ARING was not part of the reveal. SHARING IS CARING is just a key to all of them, indicating that “SH” equals “C” in each theme answer and will be converted in each case. I’m happy. However, I did find the puzzle tough, though I made it through. I never heard of a GIFT COP, but I guess I have to learn some things sometimes.

    • Eric H. says:

      As Amy’s review notes, GIFT COP is a theme answer.

      • Lois says:

        If I’m going to do a crossword at 3 a.m., I should at least not comment in public. Thanks, Eric H. Best wishes, Amy.

    • Sophomoric Old Guy says:

      Agree on the revealer. I thought it was pretty straightforward. SHARING (now) is CARING (future). SH- changes to C-.

      • JohnH says:

        Worked just fine for me, too.

        I should have remembered the Japanese from crosswords, but can’t say I know it otherwise. Don’t recognize (or at least remember) the Uris novel (although he himself is crosswordese) or the mountain range, but at least they kept me busy for a Wednesday.

    • Ethan says:

      Agree with your use of the word ‘key’ there. I think the clue for the revealer should have said ‘key’ rather than ‘hint’.

  2. Eric H. says:

    NYT: Toughest Wednesday NYT puzzle for me in a long time.

    At home (Austin), I typically solve the NYT puzzle before going to sleep between 10:30 and 11:00.

    We’re on a ski trip to Utah, so the puzzle is available at 8:00 instead of 9:00. That’s of little help when you’re so tired that staying awake much past dinner is a struggle.

    I started this after getting in bed and got a third of it done before getting too sleepy to finish, something that never happens at home. When I put down my iPad, I had done about a third of the puzzle and had no idea what the theme was.

    But I woke up after a few hours and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to finish the puzzle. It was still a challenge — my first attempt to fill in 17A was based on some half-thought-out pun on “oar” until the “SH is C” theme became apparent.

    I thought it was funny, though I often don’t care much for punny themes. Perhaps it’s a symptom of doing too many crossword puzzles, but the fill didn’t seem particularly rough to me.

    • Dallas says:

      Yeah, it ended up being a tiny bit slower than my average, but nothing noticeable. Some of the fill had me wondering if I messed up (GESTS, UPSA, MILA) but overall, I liked the revealer and the theme; it helped me get TAMING OF THE CREW. The NE corner was the last to go in for me. Reasonable Wednesday, I’d say.

  3. pannonica says:

    NYT: One of the strangest coincidences in recent memory. Last night I learned that 2024 will see the emergence of both the 17-year and 13-broods of cicadas (their cycles take the form of prime numbers, which may help to minimize predation populations). The last time such a confluence occurred was 221 years ago, so I did a little investigating to see what significant events took place in 1802, and one of the many I noted was that West Point was established and its initial graduating class consisted of only TWO individuals. This is the precise prompt in 29-down.

  4. David L says:

    UPSA-daisy?? My first choice is OOPSY, then UPSY. But UPSA?

    I liked the theme answers but agree with Amy that some of the fill was choppy. Especially ALAI.

  5. MoPete says:

    WSJ: 56-down took me a second, and I’m Indian. Actually probably because I’m Indian – one wouldn’t really eat naan in South Indian cuisine. At first I wondered if the answer was “dosa” and I had the rest of the puzzle wrong, but then dosa is not really bread, and none of the crosses matched and … yeah I was just overthinking it.

  6. david says:

    AVCX: AB FAB is not French & Saunders; it’s Lumley & Saunders. Otherwise, nice puzzle.

  7. BlueIris says:

    LAT: “[Nickname given to Nemo by the Tank Gang], SHARKTRAP.”

    No, it’s SHARKBAIT, as you show in your grid. I assume your eye went sideways into the STEELTRAP?

    By the way, I’ve been curious — this group here seems like a club, but I see nothing on how to indicate interest in the club or possibly join in?

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