Wednesday, January 24, 2024

AVCX 5:38 (Amy) 


LAT 4:09 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 3:42 (Amy) 


NYT 2:51 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 8:09 (Emily) 


WSJ 6-something (Jim) 


Public service announcement: The Boswords Winter Wondersolve virtual tournament takes place on Sunday, February 4, with three themed puzzles and one themeless. Visit the Boswords site for more info and to register.

Christopher N. Mills’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sports and Courts”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar terms from the legal profession that are applied to sporting activities.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Sports and Courts” · Christopher N. Mills · Wed., 1.24.24

  • 17a. [Result of catching an interception, or follow-up to contending innocence ] THE DEFENSE RESTS.
  • 27a. [Didn’t get to play, or presided over a courtroom] SAT ON THE BENCH.
  • 44a. [Succeeding in a pole vault, or showing competence in legal knowledge] PASSING THE BAR.
  • 58a. [Swings of a bat, or requests of removal from the record] MOTIONS TO STRIKE.

Enjoyable theme! We often see the third entry in puns, usually with respect to drinking establishments, but it works equally well in pole vaulting. I enjoyed the tightness of the theme where each phrase is applied to a different sport (well, the second one could apply to many sports). Kudos to our constructor on a nice debut!

The long fill is equally enjoyable with SIDEWAYS, A LA CARTE, and SIGHTSEE as highlights. I give a “meh” to APEMEN and AEC, but I like the word SUPINE.

Clues of note:

  • 49a. [Go with the flow]. ADAPT. The final T led me to DRIFT away for far too long.
  • 8d. [Symbol that shares a key with the comma]. LESS THAN. The clue makes me feel the phrase is missing the word “sign.”

Good puzzle. 3.75 stars.

John-Clark Lewis’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 1/24/24, no. 0124

Breezy puzzle with a doubled-letters theme. The revealer is 35a. [Winter underwear … or what appear four times in this puzzle], LONG JOHNS. Raise your hand if you’ve worn long johns already this winter! The themers are four surnames of famous Johns, rendered “long” by doubling each letter. Astronaut John GGLLEENNNN, [Selma march leader who served 17 terms in Congress], John LLEEWWIISS, President John AADDAAMMSS, and football’s John EELLWWAAYY. Looks funky in the grid.

Fave fill: HEATHEN across from “GLORY BE”, ANDROID, CHIP IN, LAOTIAN, AIRBALL, SAMOYED. Less keen on ALLIE, YAP AT, AYLA (even though I loved those books as a teen), and singular ANNAL (though I do appreciate its availability in Spelling Bee).

3.75 stars from me.

Garrett Chalfin & Andrew Kingsley’s AV Club Classic crossword, “AVCX Themeless #74”–Amy’s recap

AV Club Classic crossword solution, 1/24/24 – “AVCX Themeless #74”

As usual, I am out of sync with the AV Club’s stated difficulty level. This “5/5 difficulty” one fell a lot faster than the two previous weeks’ themed puzzles that were billed as much easier.

(Seeing Andrew’s name in the byline reminded me to plug the upcoming Boswords Winter Wondersolve tournament. Andrew’s one of the organizers.)

Lots of juicy fill and clues. Fave fill: MOHAWKS (cool clue, [Cuts that in fact look most like those worn historically by the Pawnee]), GENDER STUDIES, MADE IN AMERICA, OIL BOOM, EN FUEGO, GALAXIES, “HEY THERE DELILAH,” EXENE Cervenka, FAKE SMILE, INTIMATE APPAREL (though I didn’t know the literary clue, [2003 Lynn Nottage play inspired by her great-grandmother, a Barbadian seamstress]).

  • Two more clues:
  • 43d. [Fatberg, e.g.], SEWAGE. Eww!
  • 38d. [Domains of dwarfs and giants], GALAXIES. Not Middle-earth, as it turns out.

4 stars from me.

Will Nediger’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

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

Smooth and fun, much to like here.

Fave fill: TINY HOUSES, ALL-TIME LOW, BREAK-UP TEXTS, KATE MILLETT, HEART EMOJI (with a terrific clue, [Ticker symbol?]), CORMAC McCarthy, STARFLEET, “IF I MAY,” NORMIE.

Three clues:

  • 1a. [“Is butter a ___?” (“Mean Girls” line)], CARB. Ha!
  • 15a. [Pads that can’t hold much], TINY HOUSES. My first thought for “pads” was menstrual products. Not quite right!
  • 28d. [Economic protest movement partly inspired by the anti-apartheid fight in South Africa, for short], BDS. Boycott, divestment, sanctions. Not to be confused with 4d BDSM.

Four stars from me.

Prasanna Keshava’s Universal crossword, “Snap Judgments” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 1/24/24 • Wed • “Snap Judgments” • Keshava • solution • 20240124

As per usual in Universal crosswords—at least the .puz version—relevant squares are both circled in the grid and explicitly identified in the clues. Also as per usual, I won’t be reproducing the latter here.

  • 62aR [With 65-Across, some boxing results … and a theme hint] SPLIT | DECISIONS.
  • 17a, [McDonald’s window] DRIVE-THRU.
    19a. [Jargon] LINGO.
  • 28a. [Wished, as a farewell] BADE.
    31a. [Gave the willies] CREEPED OUT.
  • 46a. [Opera pioneer Claudio] MONTEVERDI. Not to be confused with Annunzio Mantovani.
    50a. [Corner key on a PC] CTRL.


  • 9d [Join, as film] SPLICE. In contrast to the theme.
  • 28d [What aptly bookends “blossom”] BLOOM. They seemingly share etymology:
    · Middle English blosme, from Old English blōstm; akin to Old English blōwan
    · Middle English blome, from Old Norse blōm; akin to Old English blōwan to blossom
  • 42d [“Wonder Woman” publisher] DC COMICS, which evinces RAS syndrome.
  • 40a [Drinks from a fountain?] SODAS. Elegant minor misdirection clue.
  • 72a [Short commercial] SPOT. 10d [Moneymaker for Google] PAID AD.

Michael Schlossberg’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Michael Schlossberg’s puzzle requires you to have a soupcon of superhero knowledge to fully appreciate. The revealer is FANTASTICFOUR, and each of four other answers is, with the adjective being associated with one of the four’s super power and the body part being tacitly ascribed to them. So:

  • [Economic metaphor coined by Adam Smith], INVISIBLEHAND. The Invisible Woman is invisible.
  • [Gawk], RUBBERNECK. Mr. Fantastic is stretchy.
  • [Hurry, with “it”], HOTFOOT. The Human Torch is aflame.
  • [Lowest of lows], ROCKBOTTOM. The Thing is made of mineral.

Best non-theme answers? HALFDAY at the ALPACAFARM!


Kelsey Dixson’s USA Today Crossword, “On and On and On” — Emily’s write-up

Keep going!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday January 24, 2024

USA Today, January 24 2024, “On and On and On” by Kelsey Dixson

Theme: each themer contains —ON—ON—ON


  • 20a. [Fictional hotel heiress from “The SuiteLife” series], LONDONTIPTON
  • 38a. [“You’re asking too much of me!”], IMONLYONEPERSON
  • 57a. [Annual period of heavy rainfall], MONSOONSEASON

This themer set is a mix today. I needed crossings for LONDONTIPTON since it was new to me. IMONLYONEPERSON filled quicker for me while MONSOONSEASON slowed right in. An impressive commonality in this puzzle!

Favorite fill: DRUID, ENERO, and YOYOS

Stumpers: FEST (only “gala” and “fuss” came to mind), ASTRAY (needed crossings today), and SEEK (also needed crossings)

There are some fun nearby entries with IPAS close to BOTTOMSUP while crossing with COSMO.

4.0 stars


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20 Responses to Wednesday, January 24, 2024

  1. Eric H. says:

    AVXC: The cover email described it as “5/5 difficulty.” I zipped through most of it, with no real problem spots.

  2. Mutman says:

    NYT: solid Wednesday. Had to go to urban dictionary to verify DAP.

    I disagree that AYLA is a ‘less keen’ entry. I read the series years ago and loved it. You don’t get more badass than AYLA 20,000 years ago. If I have to remember the Brontë sisters, people can remember Ayla.

    • JohnH says:

      I’m not going to remember it, if that means reading it first. I’ll vote for Bronte, any of them. (Quite generally, the due S and SE were harder for me in an otherwise Wednesday puzzle.)

      • DougC says:

        But I’d rather be asked to remember AYLA than ALLIE, or any other sit-com or soap opera character.

        • DougC says:

          PS: Overall, I thought this was a decent puzzle, with a mildy amusing theme, but woefully misplaced on a Wednesday. Not my fastest-ever – that was 11/30/2022 – but very close. Maybe the doubled-letter trick was deemed too tricky for a Monday or Tuesday?

          • Lois says:

            For me, the fill was the hard part, and I couldn’t complete it. It was mostly the sports that stopped me. The theme sports clue completed itself because of the doubling of the letters, but otherwise there were more sports answers in that corner, crossing each other across and down. I only knew the boxer. On top of that, without knowing those answers, I couldn’t fill in the answer to the asterisked clue. Still, I enjoyed the puzzle and thought it was funny.

  3. David L says:

    Given the number of submissions to the NYT, I really do wonder what leads the editorial team to accept a puzzle like today’s. I thought it was feeble, honestly.

  4. ME McNeill says:

    Wondering about the NYT clue “Talk to shrilly.” Typo? Makes more sense as “talk too shrilly.”

    • Martin says:

      Talking to in a shrill way is a description of yapping at.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      It seems to me that either ‘to’ or ‘too’ works, but if I had my way, I’d never see YAP AT in a puzzle again. I could be wrong, but I’d be a little surprised if I’ve ever seen or heard those two words juxtaposed anywhere other than in a crossword grid.

  5. Jack says:

    I’m curious what people call long rectangular donuts. Growing up they were “long johns” but outside of the Midwest I’ve only heard them referred to as “bars”. The NYT this morning got me craving one, though!

  6. pamela feiring says:

    What are the asterisks for in the Times puzzle? (Feeling dumb)

    • Martin says:

      Which asterisks? The ones in M*A*S*H reflect the way the title was spelled. The ones in *How rude!* are possibly pseudo-quote marks since SLAP is not an utterance. If so, it might belong in the “no good deed goes unpunished” file since it is a bit confounding. But “How rude!” could have signaled that the entry was verbal so some might have felt that clue would have been misleading to the point of being wrong. Anyway, just my guess.

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