Category Archives: Completed

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.

NYT Crossword 10-28-20 Complete

OK. What. In. The. World! I know I’m a little out of practice, but when did Wednesday get to be so difficult? I’m used to taking a beating on Thursdays, not Wednesdays. And I completed this partially by brute force until the it finally told me that I had finished and am on a one-day streak despite clearly being on a three-day streak. Way to cut it unnecessarily Shortz, NYTXW.

That’s clearly three days.

This puzzle was absurd, but before the madness, there’s some fun.

68A U.S. Navy builder: SEABEE
This reminds me of riding bikes on at the beach with my family. I think that was the first time I had heard of the Seabees. My dad told me about how they build stuff like bees do and on the sea because the US Navy. But also that it was CB for Construction Brigade. It was among the easy clues for me to get in this puzzle.

But this puzzle was ?????????????

1A With 21-, 30-, 49-, 61- and 74-Across, end of a Carrie Bradshaw quote that starts “Men in their 40s are like the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle …”: TRICKY. From the word go. Holy smokes!
21A Part 2 of the quote: COMPLICATED AND
30A Part 3: YOU’RE NEVER
49A Part 4: REALLY SURE
61A Part 5: YOU GOT THE RIGHT
66A Casual ristorante: TRATTORIA. You know, just to see if you’re paying attention.
74A End of the quote: ANSWER

So Men in their 40s are like the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle Tricky, shamelessly self-promoting, complicated, and you’re never really sure you got the right answer.

I had been able to work a bunch of these parts from letters that were in there and the reference to the Sunday puzzle, and you’ll notice above that I did not complete Sunday’s.

Now, this puzzle took me just under half an hour to complete. In contrast, my best Wednesday was 7:55 on August 5, and my average is 18:01. So for this to be what it is and for me to have struggled with it like I had is head-shaking times.


NYT Crossword 10-27-20 Complete

To start off, Dodgers won! Woohoo! Second time in my life but first time I can remember it. Now, I wish I could have celebrated with friends or at a bar, but no hugging happened after the final out was recorded.

Oh! I get it now!

So 14A was a weird answer based on the clue. Hip to, as the latest news: UPON. No, not upon but up on. It’s a weird way of putting it up, but oh well.

This puzzle had a Spelling Bee theme, and nobody likes a crossover more than I do.

15A Apt phrase that uses just the letters of U.S. CAPITOL: POLITICSASUSUAL
25A Apt phrase that uses just the letters of UNEARTHS: TREASUREHUNTER
42A Apt phrase that uses just the letters of GRAND TIME: GETTINGMARRIED
56A Apt phrase that uses just the letters of MASTERING: TRAININGSEMINAR

Again, Dodgers win! Hooray!

NYT Crossword 10-26-20 Complete

Not a PR but not so bad, either. Finished in 5:06. But well below my 9:41 Monday average, which includes the ones on my phone. I don’t even remember when I did a 4:21. But my Monday streak is more than half a year long, so it’s the small wins.

67A Home made of hides: TEPEE. This is the spelling I missed in the Spelling Bee the other day, and it still smarts.

And on the topic of give me a break…

18A One reading secret messages: CODEBREAKER
28A Professional joke teller: STANDUPCOMIC
47A Health professional who has your back?: CHIROPRACTOR
62A Apt command to an 18-, 28- or 47-Across: GETCRACKING

WSJ Crossword 10-22-20 Complete

I haven’t yet finished the NYT puzzle today, so I’ll post that later. Likely, that puzzle will be incomplete. But this one is finished, so hooray for that.

I don’t know what it is about the Wall Street Journal puzzle that perpetually disappoints me. When I complete it, it’s like I’m relieved that it’s over. I know nobody is forcing me to do it, and maybe I just haven’t found the fun in it yet.

Today’s puzzle title is Letter Carriers. This played out as the answers to the long clues were like the BEFORE AND AFTER category on Jeopardy.

16A Crew given to cursing?: FBOMBSQUAD. Look at the Wall Street Journal being all risqué using F-BOMB in the answer to a clue.
22A Musical rock?: EFLATEARTH. Clever again! The flat earther contingent doing the WSJ puzzle must be bigger than I imagine.
36A Arizona cowboy?: DBACKONTHEHORSE. Talk about shoehorning one in! I don’t really think “back on the horse” when I hear cowboy. Maybe a better clue is recovering cowboy. Regular cowboy is just on the horse.
47A Hog market?: EBAYOFPIGS. Nothing’s more fun than conjuring the Cold War and the Russians messing with us, right?
58A Gaming workplace?: XBOXOFFICE. Because we all work in box offices? Another clue that is written poorly.

And here’s the best-worst part of the whole puzzle and by that I mean the part of the puzzle that is just wrong.

66A Letter carrier that literally distributed letters to 16-, 22-, 36, 47- and 58-Across: FEDEX

FEDEX! Right, when I send a letter, I choose FedEx. Because the thing I want to do most when I send correspondence is to go to Kinko’s and deal with something so bad there’s a game about it instead of putting a stamp on an envelope and dropping it in a blue collection box.

Now, I don’t like Will Shortz less than anyone else, but I doubt even he’d let this by. Outrageous.