Monday, January 29, 2024

BEQ tk (Erin) 


LAT 1:55 (Stella) 


NYT 3:19 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:12 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Garrett Chalfin and Andrew Kingsley’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

New York Times, 01 29 2024, By Garrett Chalfin and Andrew Kingsley

Theme: Almost PALINDROMES – phrases that are palindromes if you remove the first and last letters.

  • 16a [*Amorous cartoon skunk] – PEPE LE PEW
  • 29a [*Impartial court proceeding guaranteed by the Constitution] – FAIR TRIAL
  • 43a [*”Just a sec!”] – ONE MOMENT
  • 60a [*Short-lived store event] – FLASH SALE
  • 11d [*Platter used to carry glassware] – BAR TRAY
  • 40d [*Repository of genetic material] – DNA BANK
  • 36a [What the answers to the starred clues all are when their first and last letters are removed] – PALINDROMES

This is not a category of words I’ve ever thought about before! There are some great finds here – I like how Garrett and Andrew stuck to phrases, and I especially like the phrases where the different words sound nothing alike, like FAIR TRIAL and FLASH SALE. The latter was my favorite entry; I get so much email spam from companies about one-day sales they’re having, so it was instantly gettable for me! BAR TRAY and DNA BANK were nice but not as standout as the longer answers, but having seven (!!!) theme answers in a Monday puzzle is very impressive.

Lots of other fun fill here: PEEKABOO, PAPAYA, MATZOH, MORDOR. I think the KENO/KLEE crossing might be a little tricky, and my personal last square in the puzzle was the cross of BASAL/DNA BANK. BASAL just looks like “basalt” with the T cut off to me, and the palindrome theme didn’t even help me because it was the middle letter! Oh well. But overall, a fun Monday.

Favorite clues: [“A ___ ought to have a good memory”: Quintilian] for LIAR, [___ Patch Kids (gummy candy)] for SOUR

New to me: That FDR was the first president to appear on television.

Alan DerKazarian’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Calculators”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose second words can also mean “someone who calculates.”

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Caclulators” · Alan DerKazarian · Mon., 1.29.24

  • 17a. [Bookkeeper checking that profits will surpass losses?] BLACK ADDER.
  • 30a. [Cook checking that there’s enough naan for dinner service?] INDIAN SUMMER.
  • 47a. [Teacher checking that all the students are in the cafeteria?] LUNCH COUNTER.
  • 64a. [Caddie checking that there are enough pegs for the round?] TEETOTALER.

The first two feel like a bit of a stretch as clued, but the second pair are solid. Overall, the wordplay works and fits well on a Monday.

ZEPPO MARX looks great in the grid, starting with a Z and ending with an X, but I’m giving RESEE the hard side-eye.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [Red Sox great Yastrzemski]. CARL. This is how you start a Monday grid? I needed three of the four crossers.
  • 45a. [Dusk, to Donne]. EEN. Lovely clue, even though the name is pronounced more like “dun.”

3.25 stars.

Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 1/29/2024 by Doug Peterson

Los Angeles Times 1/29/2024 by Doug Peterson

Hmm, something’s fishy about this puzzle. The revealer at 63A [Swerve back and forth, as a car’s rear end, or a feature of the answer to each starred clue] is FISHTAIL, indicating that the “tail,” or last word (second half of a compound word, in one case) of each theme answer is a type of fish:

  • 16A [*Glide around a rink] is ICE SKATE. Skate is really tasty with brown butter, and I wish I were better at cooking it without turning it into a piece of rubber.
  • 24A [*Angel who’s a three-time AL MVP] is MIKE TROUT.
  • 30A [*Toll road] is a TURNPIKE. The US Fish and Wildlife Service tells me pike is an excellent food fish. I have yet to see it on a menu, but if I do, I’ll test that theory out.
  • 44A [*Radioactive decay emission] is a GAMMA RAY. TIL that rays belong to a taxonomic group called batoids, which is a fun word to say.
  • 50A [*Ace at a poker table] is CARD SHARK. Don’t laugh at me for thinking sharks were distinct from fish until I looked it up.

Lots of theme material and a grid that’s smooth sailing. What more can you ask for on Monday?

Alan Levin’s Universal crossword, “Three-Way Switch” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 1/29/24 • Mon • Levin • “Three-Way Switch” • solution • 20240129

The three long across entries have identical clues, specifically: [Joint operations]


Three very different interpretations.

  • 15d [Like the Pacific Northwest, for much of the year] RAINY. Historically, much of the region comprises temperate rain forests.
  • 30d [“A Man Called __” (2022 film)] OTTO. It’s a remake of a 2015 Swedish film called A Man Called Ove, itself an adaptation of 2012 novel.
  • 39d [Strike a chord] RESONATE. Works metaphorically more than literally. 23a [Adjust the pitch of] TUNE.
  • 49d [Imaginary line at about 23.5 degrees latitude] TROPIC. 22a [Imaginary line that Earth spins around] AXIS.
  • 51d [First president born after 1946] OBAMA. 28a [Richard’s predecessor in the White House] LYNDON. 54d [Former White House press secretary Jen] PSAKI.
  • {nothing too exciting among the other across entries}

Liz Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 1/29/24 – Gorski

This one seemed quite a bit easier than I was expecting. Not much in the way of unfamiliar names or hard clues.

Fave fill: BACARDI, HORSESHOE MAGNET, PRAIRIE DOG, LEAVES TOWN, the Joyce story “THE DEAD,” ROSEBUD, a glacial MORAINE. Less keen on the dryness of ETONIAN EPEES ATONERS ONEPAIR UNLATCH UNNOTED, and Scooby-Doo’s “ruh-ROH” isn’t great fill.

Never heard of: [Professional who might have novel ideas for healing?], BIBLIOTHERAPIST. This is a thing?? Also didn’t know/recall the Honululu suburb EWA Beach, population 16,415. No reason a non-local would know it. Director ELIO Petri received some acclaim in the early 1970s.

Three stars from me.

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18 Responses to Monday, January 29, 2024

  1. Sheila says:

    I’ve heard of matzah bread and matzo ball soup. Was anyone else confused by the actual answer being matzoh?

    • Lois says:

      Merriam-Webster has matzoh as a variant of matzo, and doesn’t list matzah, but all these spellings look OK to me. Having several (I think) correct alternatives is a bit tough for a Monday. One has to rely on the crosses, which in this case are pretty easy. For this word, one might be concerned with the correct spelling in English, and I guess one should care about correct English for English-language crosswords. However, for me, these transliterations of the Hebrew all work.

  2. PJ says:

    NYT 46A – Is using their when there is correct really a typo?

    • Sheila says:

      Exactly! It’s an ERROR, or an issue with auto correct, LOL, not a TYPO.

    • JohnH says:

      TYPOS work for me. They may be mental slips, but I think we judge things a little differently in an age of hasty online posts that we hardly prepare the way we might once have prepared an office memo or term paper, knowing we would be judged. I think of the proliferation of meaningless misspellings or “it’s” instead of “its” the way I might think of slips of the pen, with all but a mind of their own, although I cannot excuse them any more than typos. Unlike slips of the pen, too, they’re typed. How often do you yourself reread before posting?

    • Martin says:

      It depends on whether the author knows it’s the wrong word or not. if not, it’s an error. If yes, and it was just a brain fart, it’s a typo. Typos are not limited to random misspellings. So it’s a philosophical discussion.

      • JohnH says:

        Thanks. That’s what I was trying to say but failed. (Sorry to all.) A mental lapse entails thinking that X is Y, while a typo doesn’t.

    • Gary R says:

      I sorta see the point here, but of course, AFAIK, “typo” is short for typographical ERROR, so …

  3. cyberdiva says:

    @Sheila – I’ve seen matzoh, matzah, and matzo, so no, I wasn’t confused. The only one of those spellings that corresponds to how I’ve always heard and said the word is matzah, but, oddly enough, I tend to use the other two spellings when I’m writing the word.

    @PJ – I too wondered a bit about calling spelling errors typos. I guess if I were trying to be diplomatic when calling attention to a misspelling, I might refer to it as a typo, but to me a typo is accidental, whereas writing “their” when “there” is correct (or “too” where one should write “to”) is the result of a mental error, not a typing accident.

  4. pannonica says:

    TNY: 29a [“Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion” director Petri]

    In addition to being a biting satire, the film possesses one of my favorite Ennio Morricone themes, which I’m compelled to share here.

  5. Gary R says:

    TNY: Seemed a little easy for a Monday. It certainly helped that a half-dozen or so acrosses in the top half of the puzzle went in with no crosses, including HORSESHOE MAGNET.

    Finished with an error though – mis-spelled SWANSEA as SWANSEe. Not knowing the Joyce work, THE DEeD seemed plausible.

  6. David Roll says:

    WSJ–“Carl” was a gimmy for me but I agree that “resee” was a stretch.

    • Bill in SoCal says:

      Carl Yastremski retired 40 years ago. Very famous back then. This shows that these puzzles are still written for old geezers that remember EDSEL the car and ASTA the dog. Actually, I only know ASTA from crosswords.

  7. Eric H. says:

    New Yorker: I had to read “Candide” in my senior English class in high school. I didn’t much enjoy it, but being able to instantly come up with a plausible (and ultimately correct) answer for 1D “Panglossian advice” makes it worthwhile.

    The whole puzzle made me feel educated and cultured: DRED, STIEG, ABRAM, CORNEA, ANSARI, SARAH, SWANSEA and GAITS were all gimmes. And isn’t making the solver feel educated and cultured what the New Yorker crossword is all about?

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