Monday, January 15, 2024

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 2:04 (Stella) 


NYT 4:12 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 8:14 (Amy) 


Universal tk (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday.

Peter A. Collins’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

New York Times, 01 15 2024, By Peter A. Collins

Happy Monday everyone! Today’s theme is three phrases that all have the same structure:

  • 19a [Start a subway ride] – HOP ON THE TRAIN
  • 27a [Wash oneself quickly] – JUMP IN THE SHOWER
  • 48a [Seize an opportunity] – LEAP AT THE CHANCE

All of them start with a word that can mean “bound”, which is how we arrive at the revealer: BOUND TO HAPPEN. I guess the “happen” part is that an action takes place after the bound word? But I’m not exactly sure if I’m missing another part of the theme, let me know if so. JUMP IN THE SHOWER was my favorite answer, although after putting it in I still wanted “jump at the chance” over LEAP AT THE CHANCE.

I really liked some of the fill today, like STUNTWOMAN, PIKACHU and TAQUITO. On the other hand, there were more difficult answers than the usual Monday. KNUTE and F TROOP were both total mysteries t0 me – after getting the first two letters I thought the answers was the name of a fort, like Ft. Knox (although I know that doesn’t really make sense with the clue).

There were also more “crosswordese” answers than normal, like EDO AIG SIL. Taken together, it gave the puzzle a little more of a retro fill (ironically, I had that as an answer instead of the correct PASSE). This puzzle is a pangram though – every letter in the alphabet appears. Not sure if that ties into my comments about the fill or not, but worth pointing out as a potential tradeoff.


Zachary Schiff’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

I know from experience that it’s really freakin’ hard as a crossword editor to run a theme that’s timed to the release of a movie or TV show: Editorial calendars are set months in advance, but release dates can change if there are production issues. Add the 2023 industry strikes, and you’ve got a recipe for a big pain in the butt. So I’m guessing the constructor and editor were hoping very much that the film that’s the theme of this puzzle would still be in theaters at the time the puzzle came out — and it is! I guess if there had been an announcement of a delayed release, the clue for the revealer could always have been changed to be about the book, not the movie.

Los Angeles Times 1/15/2024 by Zachary Schiff

Los Angeles Times 1/15/2024 by Zachary Schiff

Anyway! I’ve gotten ahead of myself; the movie in question, which is clued at 49A as [2023 musical film produced by Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg, and an apt title for this puzzle] is THE COLOR PURPLE, because each of the other three theme answers begins with a shade of purple:

  • 20A [Thoroughfare in New York City’s Little Italy] is MULBERRY STREET. You say Little Italy, I say Chinatown, we’re both right.
  • 25A [Hit song from Taylor Swift’s “Midnights”] is LAVENDER HAZE. T-Swift is emphatically not an area of expertise for me, so it’s good that I was mostly solving with the Down clues.
  • 43A [Meatless cheesy entree, familiarly] is EGGPLANT PARM. Between this and the clue for 20A, is there a secret Italian-American mini-theme here?

Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 1/15/24 – Liu

Big thanks to Kyle for covering for me on the Friday and Saturday NYT themelesses! I don’t think I’m back up to speed just yet, as a Wyna New Yorker puzzle really shouldn’t take me as long as this one did.

Fave fill: “I CAN RELATE,” STREET FOOD (though my only tlayudas exposure comes through a terrific local Oaxacan restaurant), “IT’S THE ALGORITHM,” GRIND IT OUT, AS SEEN ON TV, PRESTO CHANGO, ATOMIC AGE (man, I thought Oppenheimer  was coming to streaming with no extra charge, but apparently it’s 2/16 instead and it costs $5.99 now).

Did not know: 44a. [Folkloric goblins], BOGLES. Scottish/Northumbrian folklore, apparently.

Fave clue: 30a. [Make an impression?], MIMIC.

3.75 stars from me.

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15 Responses to Monday, January 15, 2024

  1. JohnH says:

    The NYT will no doubt fuel the usual discussion of dupes, but it ups the ante. From “evenly divisible” to EVEN as fill, we’re talking a dupe within the clue. I can’t help thinking, though, that it’s not an editorial decision this time, but a mistake. After all, the clue would be just fine without “evenly.” Accidents happen.

    • Gary R says:

      You’re probably right about the mistake. The version I downloaded using Crossword Scraper had “Divisible by two” as the clue.

      • Dan says:

        Same here: Divisible by two.

      • JohnH says:

        Thanks to you both. Just to be clear, while I was assuming that you’d be seeing what I was seeing, my pdf read “Evenly divisible by two,” not just “evenly divisible.”

        • JohnH says:

          And, now that I’ve looked again, it’s only the “newspaper version,” which often is closer to the puzzler’s intention (judging by complaints here about other formats), not the other pdf (puzzle / standard layout) nor the online solve. It’s the last of the three, of course, that goes into Crossword Scraper.

  2. Dan says:

    NYT: But where is Fort Roop? (:-)>

  3. Dallas says:

    A pretty good Monday! I had a few times where I put in answers that I had to remove after, which doesn’t happen so often on Mondays. I assume Peter Collins has done many NYT crosswords; I know his name from the NPR Sunday puzzle where Will Shortz seems to use a Peter Collins puzzle once a month.

  4. Katie says:

    NYT: As Peter Collins (constructor) mentions in Word Play, just b/c solving a Monday is supposed to be (relatively, for NYT) easy/easier doesn’t mean building one is. The theme was solid and fun/joyful! Good work, overall!

    That said, here are a few minor comments (just in being curious how others felt here).

    I agree that “jump at the chance” (vs “leap”) is the more typical saying. 19 3-letter words meant I was perhaps more sensitive about fill. Some fill left me meh/”unawed”, e.g., edo, sil, nuit, ona, agi; (and, maybe) anni, hoc, aero, asami. But – I don’t personally see better alternatives, for the grid, as laid out.

    Fred Piscop’s first NYT (Monday, 11/22/93) apparently used a similar theme:

    I only noticed that in brainstorming other possible theme entries, b/c playing a little with the grid now, I see a few choke points, making things a challenge. e.g., “JUMPSTARTING” as a reveal would have been similar, then perhaps with “HOPONAPLANE”, “LEAPOFFAITH”, “BOUNCEACHECK”, as one example — also avoiding the “ONTHE”/”INTHE”/”ATTHE” middles, which felt oddly over-repetitive (to me).

  5. DougC says:

    NYT: Enjoyed the theme. Clever!

    Sadly, did not enjoy much else, especially the dubious INTERmural. While technically a word, it is not a word I have ever heard used IRL. That answer got a lot of side-eye from me.

    • Gary R says:

      Agree on INTERmural. I’m sure it’s legit, but I’ve never encountered it IRL, either. “Intramural,” yes (usually in the context of sports – to distinguish it from the “assumed” intermural variety).

  6. JT says:

    NYT – I was just talking with my girlfriend about how weird it is that we in Gen X and Y are the last groups to really have past pop culture intermingled with our own due to reruns and weekend afternoon movies, before the infinite expanse of programming grew beyond broadcast and basic cable. I got F TROOP and KNUTE Rockne (All American) right away because they were stuff we had on TV, even if they weren’t what we wanted to watch, we were aware and had few choices otherwise.

  7. Josh says:

    BEQ: what is a SNAPBEAN? I eat snap peas and string beans, but I’ve never heard of a snap bean.

    • Martin says:

      Snap bean is another term for green bean or string bean. Green beans snap when you bend them when they’re immature pods. A limp pod signals that the real beans (seeds) are beginning to grow, and the snap bean has become a shell bean.

      • Josh says:

        Agree with everything you said, except for the first sentence. ;) (And I’m an avid grower and consumer of said beans.)

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