Category Archives: Crosswords

WSJ Crossword Contest 4-9-21 Answer

I initially had some struggles with this one, but it all worked out in the end. And I got to do the same pen-on-paper thing I like doing. Only a couple overwrites this time, which is better than other times. But the main thing is getting the answer and the hope at that coffee mug. It’s something that eludes me, and I never have my hopes up anymore.

As is always the case, I had to make it legible and highlightable.

With the title THE PLAY’S THE THING and a clue of “word from Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy.

My knowledge of Shakespeare is complete. I am fully aware of Bill Shakespeare. Dude is so famous that he was among the first to get the covid vaccine in England.

But my knowledge in Shakespeare appears to be shakier.

That is so say there was no way to do this from my memory. Which meant: To the googles!

I found the soliloquy on Wikipedia, but there are many versions, so that was a dead end. I only learned it was doomed a little while into it, but I’ll save you that experience.

I shifted to the approach I use for the puzzles when I don’t know the subject matter. It’s definitely a good idea because, you know, I don’t know the subject matter.

I began with highlighting the answers to the clues that used quotation marks. It wasn’t working out.

I followed that up with the standard: going off the longest answers.

With those identified, I saw some characters I recognized from Bill’s plays. I fumbled around and found others.

But it’s not the characters–THE PLAY’S THE THING. So it’s about which play the characters are in.

DUNCAN: Macbeth
IAGO: Othello
ROMEO: Romeo and Juliet
VIOLA: Twelfth Night
PUCK: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
BEROWNE: Love’s Labour’s Lost

MORTAL is the answer. No way I get there just from the soliloquy.

WSJ Crossword Contest 3-12-21 Answer

Whoo! This was one that took many steps for me to get.

The title of the puzzle is Pre-Order Your Copy Now, and the clue is classic American company.

Really, always fun to make the crossouts in a crossword by pen.

Clearer is better for analysis.

I highlighted the long answers that I was sure would play into the contest.

Then I noticed that the letter H started the second words.

I started looking at the Pre-Order part of the clue and thought that it had something to do with E-O.

I realized it did not, but maybe it had something to do with a SHOE?

But then there was the U.

HOUSE! In random order!

WSJ Crossword Contest 3-5-21 Answer

This puzzle wasn’t too bad, and the theme was easy to follow.

When I started with the WSJ Crossword Contest, I thought the way to solve the puzzles was absurd. But I’ve learned that they follow a logic that repeats. I don’t think I’m robbing myself of a mug by pointing out that the answers generally have to do with the longest answers, themed answers, starred clues, or weird patterns.

I’m used to not winning contests anyway or having my name in print in association with puzzles from when I got snubbed by Will Shortz.

That’s not to say that that formula will give the answer always, and sometimes it’s just an early step in getting to the answer, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not as scary.

The title of this one is Overlaps, and the theme clues were repeats. They overlapped that way.

And the answer to this week’s contest crossword is an eight-letter word.

Easier to read now.

As usual I highlighted the answers I thought were applicable to the meta puzzle.

And very quickly I saw the shingles as the overlaps of the theme answers.

WSJ Contest Crossword 2-19-21 Answer

This is the fastest I’ve ever gotten the meta puzzle answer. Also likely the fastest I’ve ever gotten the Friday crossword completed. That is to say that I sent in the answer at 3:02pm on Thursday, and I didn’t even print out the puzzle as soon as it was released.

I’ve said this before, but there’s something that’s just fun about doing the crossword with pen and paper that isn’t there on the screen. I don’t know if it’s the risk of crossouts or the illegibility or sometimes misread of which clue goes with which box, but I’m going to keep on doing this for the WSJ crossword contest.

The title of this puzzle is IN CHARACTER.

The answer to this week’s contest crossword is a famous novel.

For my analysis, I still have to put it into a different format, so there’s no real time saving to do it all onscreen.

I’ve learned from the past that the starred clues are important for the meta puzzle answer.

17A *Lightly fruity wine: BEAUJOLAIS.
25A *Faultfinding situation: BLAMEGAME.
50A *Meditation-while-asleep practice: DREAMYOGA.
58A *1970 chart-topping hit for the Jackson 5: ILLBETHERE.

Then there was the hint clue:

36A George Eliot novel that’s not the contest answer, but provides a hint to it: MIDDLEMARCH.

BTW, What’s that comma doing in the clue?

Whatever this thing is must be in the middle of these long answers!

As to what links JO, MEG, AMY, and BETH, Calah immediately blurted, “Little Women!” And there you have it.

WSJ Crossword Contest 2-12-21 Answer

I definitely made tons of assumptions on this one but can’t imagine I’m wrong.

Always fun to do the printed crossword in pen!
It’s unlikely that the it’s actually the reason that that’s how you get FIRE, but I don’t know!

I took the long answers and reverse-engineered the 39A FIRE. I haven’t figured out how it’s supposed to work.

I thought there was a chance that there was a Double R concept somehow.

Then I reconsidered and saw that there was Harry Belafonte and Sally Struthers.

Additionally Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom.

I couldn’t find a second Sally.

I submitted When Harry Met Sally.

NYT Crossword 2-1-21 Complete

A NEW PERSONAL RECORD!!!! It’s not even a February Fools’ Day joke. Also happy 2121. Although the twos have abounded, we haven’t yet seen the full-on silver squeeze. Two because silver medal is second place. I want the silver squeeze to happen because if silver goes to $1000/ozt, this half dollar in my hand is worth more than $350. But just try to get that kind of cash for it, right? I know from my time in rare coins and collectibles that if you go to a place that sells precious metals, they’ll tell you that they can’t sell it to you at spot because they’re a business and have to make a profit on it. If you try to sell them precious metals, they’ll tell you that they can’t buy it for spot because they’re a business and have to make a profit on it. They make a profit on both ends of the transaction. Unless the price falls dramatically after they buy it and before they sell it.

I pulled out 14D Dull photo finish: MATTE because my name is Matt, and I’m allowed to be vain. Also months and months ago Calah and I bought our wedding bands with the expectation that we’d be long married by now. I made sure to get one with a matte finish. Why? Because my name is Matt, and I’m allowed to be vain.


This puzzle was the bees’ knees! And not just in the sense that I have a new Monday PR.

19A One on the front lines during a crisis: ESSENTIALWORKER.
35A Crown wearer at a fall football game: HOMECOMINGQUEEN.
52A Unmanned Dept. of Defense aircraft: USMILITARYDRONE.

So: BEE

19A WORKER BEE.
35A QUEEN BEE.
52A DRONE BEE.


Finished this one in 3:49, ABSOLUTELY OBLITERATING my old Monday PR of 4:21.

WSJ Contest Answer 1-29-21

Solving by pen is pretty fun. But it doesn’t really help with the crossword contest solving.

But I solve the crossword contest by entering the grid into a spreadsheet anyway, so I enjoy the one puzzle I do on paper.

The title is MAKE HIM FROM THEM, and the clue is ONE-NAMED SINGER.

The long answers include PRONOUN, which goes with MAKE HIM FROM THEM.

Also the singer must be a him, right?

USHER it is!

WSJ Contest 1-23-21

This puzzle was easy to get to but hard to solve.

With six word and a six-letter meta puzzle, I had to be on the right track.

That the puzzle is in the key of C gave me more confidence. And that it was a C meant it was probably a DO RE MI type of thing.

I looked for things at the end. HEEL probably went with SOL because heel and sole. That became obviously wrong the more I went along.

What if I tried to find notes everywhere? Would that help?

No.

Back to the original.

OK way more sense. The letters at the end of each long word.

RE MI SOL TI LA DO

CMaj scale:

DO – C
RE – D
MI – E
FA – F
SOL – G
LA – A
TI – B

So

D E G B A C

There you have it! DEGBAC

I submitted CHORDS, but I know that’s not right.

NYT Crossword 1-24-21 Complete

It’s so cold today in LA! It rained and hailed yesterday. It’s sunny out now, but it’s 54 degrees outside. Bananas. But the rain has made me realize I can make progress on the chairs with the chisel set that my college roommate Darren got me as a gift recently. But more on that in the woodworking chair project series. Woodworking series posts every Tuesday at 10am PT.

I pulled out 37A Singer Watson, a.k.a. Tones and I, with the 2019 hit “Dance Monkey”: TONI because I think the clue is bad. The song itself is catchy. As much as I don’t care for it, it’s not the worst every so often. But the clue has the answer in it. There are down clues to get you there if you don’t know that her name is TONI (which I didn’t), but you might as well have clues like Musician Adams, a.k.a. will.i.am, with the 2009 instant classic “I Gotta Feeling,” or State of origin of Tramar Dillard, a.k.a. Flo Rida, with the 2007 breakout single “Low.”


I remembered to look at the title of the puzzle this time, and that helped me solve a lot of it.

Sugar, Sugar is even more helpful now that I look at it again. I got that it is candy from the Sugar, but I now I realize that the two Sugars is indicative of that already.

22A Bookworms call dad?: NERDSRINGPOP. This was one of the last ones I got in the entire puzzle. Some friends of mine proposed to their now-wives with ring pops and then went ring shopping later. I proposed to Calah with a costume jewelry ring. I’m not talking a ring that looks nice but isn’t expensive. This ring probably came in a big pack that had a choking hazard warning on it. I had gotten it for free years earlier in a creative wedding invitation. Despite earlier statements she’d made that the type of ring didn’t matter, Calah looked at it and said no repeatedly and emphatically. So there we were at the park at night near a lamppost. I was on one knee on the damp ground with a ring out, and I got denied. But I’m good at quick thinking. In an attempt to make the situation less awkward, I pulled out from my pocket a ring box and revealed an honest engagement ring with a stone that caught what little light there was. My second attempt got a more favorable result. Of course she’d tell the story a little differently. But now I get to look forward to her reading this and expressing horror at me telling the world a story with too little context and arguably major, relevant omissions.
31A A young Justice Ginsburg chuckles?: BABYRUTHSNICKERS. Aw, I miss RBG. Especially now that ACB is sitting in her chair.
47A Do core exercises all day, every day?: CRUNCHNOWANDLATER. This could not be a more applicable clue and answer. Whenever I’ve had Now and Later, it’s been hard, and I eat a little bit of the wax paper wrapper that I cannot separate from the petrified candy. Even though CRUNCH in this context refers to the Nestle chocolate-and-rice bar, I’ve yet to find a Now and Later that’s not made a loud sound when I chew it.
67A Burger King bingefest?: WHOPPERSSPREE. OK I had never heard of Spree until this morning.

It’s this thing.

But I can talk about Whoppers for eternity. My favorite one in the box or carton–wait a second, does it come in a carton because it’s malted milk? Whoa!–is the one that’s a little soft and chewy. It’s a wonderful surprise whenever it happens. Also Whoppers are better than Maltesers. Maltesers is reportedly the choice of terrorists. Whoppers is the choice of me.
84A Supernova in our galaxy?: MILKYWAYSTARBURST. Pretty good.
103A When E.M.T.s bring home the bacon?: LIFESAVERSPAYDAY. Pineapple is the best lifesaver.

115A Some astronomy Ph.D.s?: MARSSMARTIES. Probably the weakest of all the theme ones.

Finished in 38:35. The blog post took me way longer to write.

WSJ Crossword 1-14-21 Complete

It’s Thursday and the first full day of the Biden presidency. A reminder that I’m writing this on Sunday, January 17. It’s the end of my first week of doing last week’s puzzles on Sunday and timing them to post throughout the week.

I pulled out 57A Is for two: ARE because I got a chuckle out of it. Is is for one. Are is for two. What a world!


The title of this puzzle is Victory Parade. Biden won, the inauguration was yesterday, and even Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal has long turned to dunking on Trump.

17A Like an active surfer?: INMANYWAVES.
24A Message left for each of Henry VIII’s spouses?: AWORDTOTHEWIVES.
36A Suffers from a fear of icicles? FEELSILLATEAVES.
49A Motivations for midnight snacking?: THELATESTCRAVES.
58A Cat’s nine-pat allotment?: PACKOFLIVES.

It was all gratuitous these:

Dean Windass.

17A INMANYWAVES – V = IN MANY WAYS.
24A AWORDTOTHEWIVES – V = A WORD TO THE WISE.
36A FEELSTILLATEAVES – V = FEEL STILL AT EASE.
49A THELATESTCRAVES – V = THE LATEST CRAZE.
58A PACKOFLIVES – V = PACK OF LIES.