Saturday, January 6, 2024

Saturday, January 6, 2024, Ben Tolkin and Julian Xiao

I think that perhaps our crossword editing teams mixed up their Friday and Saturday puzzles this week! Yesterday I was 3 times as long as my typical time, today I was under my average by a full minute. It's a delightful and smooth themeless, and very enjoyable.

I broke in with ANNA, replaced the initial "Adept" guess with AGILE (call-back to yesterday!) when I put in Citizen KANE. See, that's a clue that is way too easy for a Saturday. I second-guessed myself into thinking for a hot second that it would be the later movie Citizen Ruth with Laura Dern.

I've never heard of BOKEH (example below), but all of the crosses were straightforward. At this point I had NATIONANTHEM (I was thinking of "openiNganthem," but it was one letter short), and HUMANPYRAMID. Great clue there! I guess the next number up would be 15, but that's getting a bit crazy with the numbers of humans involved.

The central crossing long answers, PAGINGDRFREUD and THATDOGDONTHUNT are so wonderful and evocative. And look at the excellent NW corner with HAZYIPA, NORUSH, WRYEST, and OWLET

The lower half zipped by. DAYSOFOURLIVES went in off the first two letters and the clue. YEARENDBONUS followed quickly after. Once you have a long answer in place, it's much more straightforward to grasp the short answers.

17A: It's a big deal (ACE) is just slightly off as a clue. To get an ace in a deal can be really important, of course, but it is not itself a deal, IMO. Likewise 25A: Long division? (AISLE) is a bit odd.

OTOH, I love the clue at 44A for WAR. What a great description by Steinbeck. And 38D: Twist of a screwdriver? (RIND) is an excellent example of a QMC. 

Well, that's one week of 2024 done. Tomorrow, Horace will take over once more. Enjoy!

- Colum


  1. 100% agree with the "swapped babies" theory, Colum! I didn't mind AISLE, as it put it in mind of a typical church and its rectangular seating area, split the the long way by one or more aisles. BOKEH for me was a write-in, thanks to my photographer son. I came in at 5:43, flirting with my best time ever for a Saturday.

  2. Put me in the "looks like somebody got their days mixed up" camp. A fun romp, though...can't imagine myself ever complaining that a puzzle was "too easy." Thanks for the week, Colum!

  3. BOKEH was also a write-in for this photographer, but I had "ragE" in for a "Possible side effect of using steroids" for too long. Hah! Still, this took less than half the time that yesterday's did.