NYT Crossword Clues: “99 Luftballons”, 1984

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19D. “Website where you go to see the stars?” Is such a fabulous clue for YELP. At first I thought it might be IMDB, a website where you go to see movie stars. Instead, you would go to YELP to see the star ratings of various companies. So smart!

It must be jukebox season here at the New York Times Crossword. Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN / HIGHWAY TO HELL theme, a JENNY / 867-5309 theme, and now an ABBA theme!

Ms. Hale made the brilliant observation that three ABBA songs with repeated words in their titles are exactly 15 letters long, which just happens to be the width of a standard crossword puzzle. While the editors toned down on his original clues (see his rating), his intelligent observation of the songs around him, and even smarter construction, make this puzzle a real bonus.

This puzzle has three entries of 15 letters on a grid. For any puzzle, that would be a truly impressive feat, but for one theme puzzle? Superb! This grid is incredibly clean, which means the padding is almost entirely made up of commonly used words and phrases. There are a couple of entries that might not succeed in a puzzle with less constraints, but frankly, this is a wonderful first grid. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Hale comes up with next!

I’m really happy to make my solo debut in The New York Times today! It was one of the first puzzles I created after meeting Christina Iverson, my mentor. She helped me redo the grid to get a nice long fill. I couldn’t have done anything without her and I am very grateful to her for that. I love 11D which I didn’t know until I moved to England. These are the most wonderful mixes of Christmas shows / fairytale / drag show / slapstick comedy.

This puzzle came to me when my daughters were obsessed with ABBA. They listened to it all the time, over and over. It always makes me smile to think of the 3 year old trying to figure out how to speak clearly enough for Alexa to play “Money, Money, Money”. It occurred to me that a lot of ABBA titles are repeated words, so I wrote down all the ones that fit the pattern and voila, there were three of them with 15 letters each.

Originally I had slightly different clues for the themes, which were changed by the editors as mine was deemed a bit too obscure for a Tuesday. Here are my originals:

SILVER SILVER SILVER: Triple crown?

GIMME GIMME GIMME: Excess demand?

I DO I DO I DO I DO: Renewal of vows?

The editors also requested a cut on the SDSU / ESPNU crossover, but in the end they preferred the original version you see here.

I’m glad my life of a few weeks with these earworms paid off in the end with this puzzle. And I hope you like it! Sorry if those get stuck in your head repeating too!

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