Category Archives: Completed

NYT Crossword 11-25-20 Complete

A moment ago I was excited to have done a Thursday puzzle so quickly. Then I realized that today is only Wednesday. And I can be fine at Wednesdays, so it turns out that this was no real surprise.

I pulled out 32D Signed, sealed or delivered: PASTTENSE because of how sad the song would have been. I mean could you imagine?

There I was / Signed, sealed, delivered / I was yours back then.

Depressing!

I don’t know how I feel about today’s theme other than that it exists.

16A Prince, e.g.: MALEHEIR
25A Stamp on an envelope [and 16-Across flipped]: AIRMAIL
31A It takes a glider up to launch altitude: TOWPLANE
44A It takes a glider up to launch altitude: PLAINTOE
50A Golf reservation: TEETIME
63A Herbal drink full of antioxidants [and 50-Across flipped]: THYMETEA

Thyme tea? This is the first I’ve ever heard of thyme tea. So I looked it up and came across these questions:

That second one really got my mind going. What does happen to your body when you drink thyme tea?

A little more searching got me to the unassailable medical publication Stylecraze’s 3 Side Effects That Tell You Why Thyme May Not Always Be Good. Those side effects are headaches, asthma, and skin allergies.

It even offered that it could lead to “hypotension: Allergic response to thyme may cause hypotension, as observed in a 45-year old man. Some sources even hint cardiac arrest upon the intake of thyme oil.”

When you talk about a single uncited case and then offer the vague “some sources,” it’s just gotta be true.

I finished this one in 12:19. We’ll see tomorrow what a real Thursday puzzle will do to me.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

NYT Crossword 11-24-20 Complete

Kind of a slow Tuesday for me. Certainly it’s harder to do the puzzle on my phone, so it was a good call to my computer partway through.

I pulled the clue 41A Resentful and hostile manner, informally: TUDE mainly because what year is this? Does anyone shorten attitude to tude anymore? I realize that this a a real question. I haven’t been out in the world since early this year. Will there be all kinds of divergent slang due to lack of exposure to one another?

I figured out the theme with the middle clue, and it was right up my alley. So good job, Caitlin Reid. And thanks for not totally ruining it, Will Shortz.

19A “An orca is actually a dolphin?!”: WHALEILLBEDARNED (well I’ll be darned)
37A “Wow, that’s a giant sea cow!”: OHTHEHUGEMANATEE

https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/oh-the-huge-manatee

The meme couldn’t have been the first time someone said this.

55A “This is the best fish I’ve ever had!”: GREATCODALMIGHTY

Good puns. I like it.

Final time for this slow Tuesday 16:40.

NYT Crossword 11-23-20 Complete

I filled out the grid in 4:29! But I didn’t do it correctly. It’s a common theme for me when I race through it.

Like the Moody Blues say: “Run like a fire / Don’t you run in / In the lanes / RUN FOR TIME.”

It took almost as long to find my errors as it did to do the puzzle!

I pulled out 47D Unleavened bread for Passover: MATZOH as today’s clue I have something to say about. Transliterated words are the really the worst. I have seen MATZAH and MATZO in the wild and in use, but MATZOH? I don’t think so. It’s like when the Spelling Bee had MAZAL and MAZEL as words that existed in the grid but not in the word list. But they’re fine with MOOLA AND MOOLAH. These inconsistencies are quite a headache.

And as for the theme: 62D Two forms of them are found in 18-, 38- and 60-Across: IDS.
18A Australian wind instrument: D(ID)GER(ID)OO
38A System of underwater mountains: M(ID)OCEANR(ID)GE
60A Wedding attendant: BR(ID)ESMA(ID)

Though I prefer my own theme and the one I started with: RIDE MY SEE-SAW!

18A Australian wind instrument: DIDGERIDOO
38A System of underwater mountains: MIDOCEANRIDGE
60A Wedding attendant: BRIDESMAID

NYT Crossword 11-22-20 Complete

I had early success with today’s puzzle, but that slowed down considerably as I struggled with the theme. After some thought, I figured the theme out, and the rest of the puzzle got a lot easier.

The clue I decided to pull out was 100A Emotive brass sound: WAHWAH. It’s sad trombone.

I’ve used this before, and it seems to come in handy a lot these days. I look forward to that changing.

It All Adds Up is the theme because the way to solve it is through addition. It probably would have helped to read the title of the puzzle earlier than as I was scanning this completed post for any glaring errors before clicking the publish button.

The circled clues add up to make useful and appropriate words.

23A Bygone office group: S(ONE)OPOOL
3D Made the rounds?: (NINE)DEDBAR
NINE+ONE=TEN
so
23A Bygone office group: STENO POOL
3D Made the rounds?: TENDED BAR

25A Final remark in an argument: THELAS(ONE)RD
15D Doctor’s reassurance before a shot: I(ONE)NTHURT
ONE+ONE=TWO
so
25A Final remark in an argument: THE LAST WORD
15D Doctor’s reassurance before a shot: IT WON’T HURT

66A Long-running show whose iconic hourglass is in the Smithsonian collection: DAYSO(TWO)LIVES
35D 1943 Pulitzer-winning Thornton Wilder play, with “The”: SKINO(TWO)TEETH
TWO+TWO=FOUR

TWO PLUS TWO IS FOUR. MINUS ONE, THAT’S THREE. QUICK MATHS.

so
66A Long-running show whose iconic hourglass is in the Smithsonian collection: DAYS OF OUR LIVES
35D 1943 Pulitzer-winning Thornton Wilder play, with “The”: SKIN OF OUR TEETH

113A Union Pacific vehicle: FR(FOUR)TRAIN
72D Qualifies to fight in a certain class: MAKESW(FOUR)
FOUR+FOUR=EIGHT
so
113A Union Pacific vehicle: FREIGHT TRAIN
72D Qualifies to fight in a certain class: MAKES WEIGHT

116A Neither gains nor loses: BREAK(ZERO)
77D Journalists might be invited to it: PRES(SEVENT)
SEVEN+ZERO=SEVEN
so
116A Neither gains nor loses: BREAKS EVEN
77D Journalists might be invited to it: PRESS EVENT

Definitely a lot to get through today. It’s my first completed Sunday in a long while. It took me less than an hour, which I think isn’t so bad.

NYT Crossword 11-20-20 Complete

First Friday I’ve finished in a long time. That brings the streak to five days in a row. It’s almost too bad that I solve the Saturday crossword with friends on Tuesday nights so the streak ends tomorrow. But I don’t really mind. It’s fun to solve it with them. And often well under 10 minutes.

I’ve stated in the past that I cut it off at half an hour. Clearly this took more than half an hour. I had the grid filled out completed in the 29th minute. Of course it has to be filled out and be completely right. That meant going through the entire puzzle clue by clue, changing AYCARAMBA to AYCARUMBA followed by NETTLES to NESTLES and finally AYCARUMBA back to AYCARAMBA.

I opted for 19A Place name in Manhattan: ASTOR to be my highlighted clue of the day because it reminds me of the first time I went to New York City. It was pre-9/11. I was 12 years old. Somehow we got upgraded to business class for the flight there. It’s still the only time I’ve flown business class.

My dad came across times for Blue Man Group. I recognized them from the Pentium III commercials.

My dad waited for I don’t know how many hours to buy house seats as the show had long been sold out.

The show then was at the Astor Place Theatre. And now the Astor Place Theatre is owned by Blue Man Group.

I think I know this puzzle’s theme: HARD.

The NYT Crossword stats section is kinda screwy. The only puzzles tracked are those that were completed. So today’s completion time of 37:50 is well above my average Friday solve time of 31:03. My PR is 16:59 back in October of 2018. What was going on then? I have so many personal records attributable to October 2018.

NYT Crossword 11-19-20 Complete

An easy Thursday? Could it be? This just shows the unpredictability of Tuesdays and Thursdays. And credit to Geoffrey Bishop for giving me confidence to approach this one with optimism rather than with regular Thursday dread.

I chose 45D as the highlighted clue/answer today because I don’t like it.
45D Little waves, in Spain: TILDES.

Tildes aren’t water waves and aren’t hand waves. That’s not the Spanish word for wave. Rather, the answer is the little wavy line above n in ñ. Dumb.

It was clear to me from very, very early on that this puzzle’s theme answers contained no vowels and was for a specific gameshow.

18A *Creator of 55-Across: MRVGRFFN->MERV GRIFFIN, creator of all kind of gameshows who lent his name to a street in Beverly Hills that goes into the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
20A *Co-host of 55-Across: VNNWHT->VANNA WHITE who never seems to age.
30A *Group of six given for free on 55-Across: RSTLN->RSTLNE, but there are no vowels, so no E.
41A *Co-host of 55-Across: PTSJK->PAT SAJAK who seems to age slowly.
52A *Bad place to land on 55-Across: BNKRPT->BANKRUPT. Always painful to see someone who has the trip and the $5000 and other prizes and who has just one consonant missing decide to spin instead of solve the puzzle, land on bankrupt, and the contestant who has $300 solves the puzzle for the win.
55A *It debuted on 1/6/1975: WHLFFRTN: WHEEL! OF! FORTUNE!
13D What you might cry when trying to answer the six starred clues? CANIBUYAVOWEL.

I’m disappointed that there was no clue Encouraging words repeated by contestants: BGMNY.

Time: 17:47. Not close to my Thursday PR of 13:09 back in October of 2018 but better than my Thursday average of 29:55.


NYT Crossword 11-18-20 Complete

A surprisingly easy Wednesday puzzle! Way easier than yesterday’s.

I selected 4A ____ Coeur, Mo.: CREVE (pronounced KREEV core) as the highlighted one because I had not heard of this city until this puzzle. And I started learning about it. You know, by watching YouTube videos. It started with trying to figure out how to pronounce the city’s name and turned into finding out flattering and unflattering things about it.

And then I found this charming bit of news coverage!

Once again I didn’t fully appreciate the theme of this puzzle until writing the blog post. Writing these has given me reason to review what I’ve done rather than moving on once I’ve gotten everything right.

As I was going through the puzzle, I realized very quickly that the circles would be filled with a letter that would be counted twice.

17A Betting game in which you could lose your shirt: STRI(P)OKER->STRIP POKER
24A Film cast and crew celebration: WRA(P)ARTY->WRAP PARTY
49A Tickets for shorter lines, good seats, backstage access, etc.: VI(P)ASSES->VIP PASSES
57A Some old mobile devices: FLI(P)HONES->FLIP PHONES
4D Signature feature of a Duracell battery: CO(P)ERTOP->COPPER TOP
9D “OK by me”: IMHA(P)Y->I’M HAPPY
35D Burger King offering: WHO(P)ERJR->WHOPPER JR.
This was a surprisingly difficult answer for me to get. Had to solve like the entire lower left corner to get it.
54D First company to be valued at $1 trillion: A(P)LE->APPLE

34A Almost twins … as suggested by this puzzle’s circled squares?: TWOPEASINAPOD.

I got the answer for 34A well before solving most of the puzzle. At that point I just figured it was a doubled letter in the circle. It hadn’t dawned on me that it was the letter P twice. So two P’s in a pod.

When I completed the puzzle, the crossword filled in the second P. I was not so insightful to actually put that in on my own.

Completing this puzzle in 9:59 isn’t my 7:55 Wednesday PR, but it’s well below my 17:54 Wednesday average.

NYT Crossword 11-17-20 Complete

Kind of a slow puzzle today. I don’t know if I was distracted or tired or if it just was a weird Tuesday, but answers weren’t coming to me as quickly as I had expected them to.

Why would I be tired today more than usual? I thought you’d never ask!

Over the last few days, six of the eight planets were visible with the naked eye. After sunset, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were visible. But at about 5:15am, Mars and Venus were visible. For those keeping score at home, that only makes five. I just had to look past my shoes to see the sixth.

I chose the highlighted clue 26A “Man, just my luck!”: OHGREAT as appropriate clue and answer for all of 2020.

I didn’t understand the theme until writing this blog post.

16A Cousin of Simon Says: MOTHERMAYI
Which brings up that Mike Pence calls his wife Mother. It doesn’t matter what the National Review says. Calling her Mother is weird.
24A 2012 Ang Lee film set largely at sea: LIFEOFPI
38A Support for an updo: HAIRPIN
49A What a chop shot imparts: BACKSPIN
61A “Show some courage!” … as this puzzle’s theme can do?: GROWASPINE

Because each answer has one more letter of the word spine. I think that it’s kind of lame that you have both BACK and SPINE-E in the same answer and then spine. I don’t know that it’s bad, but I just don’t like it.

Finished this Tuesday in 17:07.

NYT Crossword 11-16-20 Complete–and tidepools story

No personal record today in terms of time, but my Monday streak is very much alive. I mean 31 Mondays in a row is a lot of Mondays.

The concept of Spring Tide is new to me.

As we all know, tides are extremely important to our lives. That’s mainly because without tides, we couldn’t have tidepools. And tidepools are fun! I know that some people don’t like sea creatures. Those people are so entitled because this is America.

In college, my roommate Darren asked me if I wanted to join him and two of his classmates to the tidepools a very short bike ride from our apartment at UCSB. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity, and off we went.

Here’s Darren in a decade-old picture from that visit. I had forgotten how extensive the tidepools are!

I got to see things I probably wouldn’t have seen in the wild. Like an octopus. And then another octopus. And a third octopus that inked. But the octopi were very hard for me to see because they blend in so well.

There’s an octopus somewhere in this photo.

“Oh, look! Another octopus!”
“Where?”
“You’re looking at it!”

See it now? Once you do, you can’t un-see it.

Routinely, I’d be completely lost. I just saw rocks and various sea life. No octopi.

Here’s your last chance to look over the above photos again before you can never again completely miss this octopus.

See it now?
There it is!
See its eyes?
It’s becoming more aware of the situation.
Here it comes!
And now it doesn’t look like rocks.
Google photos turned some of the photos in a gif. NOW try to miss the octopus in the early photos.

And to think this story all came out of 29D Shore phenomenon around the time of the new and full moons: SPRINGTIDE. And I believe that’s about when we went to the tidepools.

As for the rest of the puzzle, there was a pretty moving theme.

17A Sweet item at a bakery: JELLY(ROLL)
Which brings about the joke of why did the jellyroll? Because it saw the apple turnover!
23A Keep watch while a homeowner’s away: HOUSE(SIT)
33A Bar-to-bar activity: PUB(CRAWL)
41A What a speaker or musician may adjust before starting: MIC(STAND)
48A Easy win: CAKE(WALK)
all for the theme
59A Small advances … or the progression suggested by the ends of 17-, 23-, 33-, 41- and 48-Across: BABY(STEPS)! Roll, sit, crawl, stand, walk.

I liked the tidepools part of this blog post better.

Completed in 7:04.

NYT Crossword Puzzle 10-29-20 Complete

I know what you’re thinking: Matt! Yesterday you were congratulated for a one-day streak that actually was a three-day streak. How did you get congratulated again for a one-day streak when now it’s most certainly a four-day streak?

The answer is easy: I am so capable.

As if you needed proof!

But as someone who likes to understand things, I feel like I should be embarrassed that I don’t get this puzzle. I finished, sure, but I don’t get it.

I hope this makes sense in retrospect. I mean much later retrospect.

71A “I’m busy!” … or, if read in four pieces, an aid in solving several clues here: NOTNOW.

Really, no idea. I know the answer’s correct because I’m on a one-day streak, but I do not understand where this comes into play.

Most of the answers don’t even seem to match up with the clues. Enough did for me to make words out of the remaining ones, but

oh noes.

I just got it.

The clues are too long.

NOTNOW isn’t not now, it’s No T, No W. Wow! I mean o!

1A Twice over – TW = ice over: FREEZE
17A Tallowy – TW = alloy: AMALGAMATE
62A Twin bed, perhaps – TW = in bed, perhaps: FASTASLEEP

OK that wasn’t SO bad. I wish I’d gotten it earlier, but at least I got there on my own.

My favorite clue for the entire puzzle isn’t what you’re expecting. It’s not 15A Biblical companion of Moses: HUR, a certainly important character in my sister‘s bat mitzvah production entitled “Sinai: The Movie.”

That absolutely pulled ahead early, but it was bested by another one.

36A Like all prime numbers besides one: ODD.

This clue is fun for me because all prime number are odd except for one, and that’s two. Because all prime numbers are odd except for one, and one isn’t prime. But two is prime, and two is even. So there you go.