Category Archives: Crosswords

NYT Crossword Puzzle 7-20-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

I decided to add a four-week average to the table at the bottom to see how my daily time compares not only to my overall as logged by the NYTXW site but also how I’ve been doing recently. Have I been doing better? Have I been doing worse? Am I right on? Since it’s not too difficult for me to track, I figure I might as well.

I pulled out 29A Almost unfathomably large number: GOOGOL because that’s a word whose spelling I know only from the NYT Spelling Bee.

Theme time! Wait, no theme? Just long answers?

19A Kind of headlight on older cars: SEALEDBEAM.
26A Observation deck feature not for the squeamish: GLASSFLOOR.
44A Stored deeply and securely: INTHEVAULT.
52A Chocolaty treats that you might “break me off a piece of”: KITKATBARS.

Finished this one in 9:54.

DayThis WkBestAverage4-Wk Avg

NYT Crossword Puzzle 7-19-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

The Monday streak is in full effect. It’s stretched to 66 weeks. As a comparison, Calah and I have been going out for 106 weeks, so that’s more than 62% of our relationship.

I pulled out 23A Decorates with bathroom tissue, as in a Halloween prank: TPS to point out how crazy this activity seemed just 12 months ago. Just wasting toilet paper by throwing it over a house? A tree? Even Halloween mummy costumes. And now we all have too much toilet paper. Or do we? The Delta variant is causing LA to reinstate the mask mandate. Is a run on toilet paper next?

Well, unlikely.

The theme of this puzzle was fun. I enjoyed this theme a lot.

17A Summery quip, part 1: TAKINGADOG.
35A Quip, part 2: NAMEDSHARK.
40A Quip, part 3: TOTHEBEACH.
57A End of the quip: ISABADIDEA.

It’s true! Taking a dog named Shark to the beach is a bad idea. It’ll probably get sand in your car.

But then again, the humor of calling for Shark and then telling people, “It’s OK. He doesn’t bite,” would really be fun.

Finished this one in 6:10.

DayThis WkBestAverage

NYT Crossword Puzzle 7-18-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

Finished this one in 38:37, which is a good 20 seconds under yesterday’s Saturday. But my Sunday average is almost an hour.

I pulled out 6A Viva _ (aloud): VOCE because the first time I’d heard anything like this was in the book about The Room and inspiration for the feature film of the same name, The Disaster Artist, written by Greg Sestero. But the audiobook read by the author really is the way to take in the story. In it, he uses the term sottovoce, literally under or low voice, which we call a whisper. So that helped me get the answer to this clue.

The title of this puzzle is Dig In.

31A “With enough butter, “With enough butter, _“: ANYTHINGISGOOD.
38A “A party without cake is _“: REALLYJUSTAMEETING.
65A “If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. _?”: WHOSGOINGTOKNOW.
92A “I enjoy cooking with wine. Sometimes I _“: EVENPUTITINTHEFOOD.
101A “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for _“: THESTEAKTOCOOK.

119A Chef quoted in this puzzle’s italicized clues: JULIACHILD.

From the Julia Child Foundation

This is tough to watch because today is Tisha B’Av, which is a fast day. So I’m hungry. A little less than seven and a half hours to go.

Finished this one in 38:37.

DayThis WkBestAverage

NYT Crossword Puzzle 7-17-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

This one was tough. It took me a bit to get going. I took stabs, and finally stuff started to fall into place.

I pulled out 21A Bagel variety: PLAIN because I disagree. I don’t consider plain to be a variety. I consider plain to be the opposite. Sure, could one say that bringing both sesame and plain is a variety of bagels? Yeah. But is the plain bagel what causes it to be a variety or the sesame seed bagel that causes it to be a variety?


I guess I would prefer assortment to variety if we’re talking about bringing more than one type, but I still believe that the original (i.e., plain) is not a variety but remixes (e.g., sesame seed) are.

And a quick check of Oxford says: “A thing which differs in some way from others of the same general class or sort; a type.”

So there you have it.

There was no theme for today’s puzzle, but here’s one more thing I found interesting.

15A First name in flight: AMELIA. Now, I had put in WILBUR. As in Wilbur Wright. Wright was wrong.

Wilbur is running alongside the flying Orville. From the Air & Space Magazine

I hadn’t really studied this picture that is so famous and awesome, North Carolina put it on its statehood quarter two decades ago:

They thought we wouldn’t notice that they moved stuff around!

The story by Tom Crouch that goes along with the marked-up photo is amazing. Also Wilbur was 36 and Orville was 32 when this happened.

It is one of the most famous photographs ever taken. The time was 10:35 on the morning of December 17, 1903. The place: The sand dunes four miles south of the little fishing village of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Earlier that morning, Orville Wright had set up the camera on a tripod pointed at the spot where he thought the airplane might be in the air. When three members of the U.S. Lifesaving Service Station at Kill Devil Hills walked up from the beach to help out, Wilbur handed John T. Daniels the bulb that would activate the shutter and told him to squeeze it if anything interesting happened.

I have often thought that being in the darkroom as the image emerged on the fragile glass plate would have been almost as exciting as witnessing the flight. “In the photographic darkroom at home,” Wilbur Wright once explained, “we pass moments of as thrilling interest as any in the field, when the image begins to appear on the plate and it is yet an open question whether we have a picture of a flying machine, or merely a patch of open sky.” With this image, they must have been thrilled indeed.

Experienced amateur photographers, the brothers honed their camera skills as they documented their flight research. By 1902, they were using the camera that would take the famous picture, a Korona-V, made by the Gundlach Optical Company. One of the best cameras on the market, it captured every detail of the flight of the world’s first airplane.

The craft rode down the 60-foot monorail track (A) on one bicycle wheel hub mounted under the forward elevator support and another on a cradle that was left behind when the airplane took off (B). The footprints in the sand (C) outline the spot where the small bench (D) served as a rest for the right wing before the flight. The shovel (E) was used in positioning the rail and burying an anchor that would hold the airplane in place on the rail before takeoff. The coil box (F) in front of the shovel provided the spark to start the engine. The small can (G) contained a hammer and nails for minor repairs.

But does the photo document a genuine flight? Orville Wright was flying into the teeth of a 24- to 27-mph headwind, moving forward so slowly that Wilbur had no trouble keeping up with him. While his distance over the ground was only 120 feet, the true distance flown through the air, because of the headwind, was calculated at 540 feet, well beyond the 300 feet the brothers decided would constitute a sustained flight.

The photo captured a moment when the elevator was at the extreme point. Evidence that Orville was able to recover and continue flying is found in the fact that when the photo was snapped, the airplane had travelled only 20 feet over the ground and had been in the air no more than two or three seconds. Far from being stalled, it is still flying and has to travel another 100 feet over the ground in the next nine or ten seconds. Orville was clearly exercising a measure of control over the craft. Each of the three flights that followed that morning was longer than the one before, culminating in Wilbur’s final flight, which covered 852 feet over the ground in 59 seconds. So the famous photo is just what it seems to be, an astounding image of the world’s first airplane at the outset of its first flight.

The Wright Brothers’ First Flight Photo, Annotated
A careful study of the shot taken in December 1903 at Kitty Hawk shows the moment of aviation’s birth.

Finished this one in 38:57.

DayThis WkBestAverage

NYT Crossword Puzzle 7-16-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

Whew Friday.

I pulled out 56A Whiz: MAVEN because maven comes from the Hebrew word מבין (meh-VEEN) which means understand. So a maven is someone who understands.

The theme of this puzzle is Friday, I guess.

There’s nothing specifically long, so here’s some other stuff that stood out:

14A Band featured in Disney World’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster: AEROSMITH.

17A Last of the Ptolemys: CLEOPATRA. I didn’t realize that she was part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt. Good for her!

54A She’s the responsible one in the group, colloquially: MOMFRIEND. I hadn’t heard of this title before. It makes sense, I guess. But also sounds kinda rude?

33D Make an unwanted appearance in a video call: ZOOMBOMB. I pieced this one together because it couldn’t be photobomb. I don’t want to do zoom anymore ever. Please mask up and get vaccinated and then continue to mask up.

23D Holiday hearth feature: YULELOG. Probably my favorite show on December 24. The 2020 Yule Log was way higher def than I remember it being in years past.

Finished this one in 29:01.

DayThis WkBestAverage

NYT Crossword Puzzle 7-15-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

I was pretty certain I got the theme very quickly. It even helped me solve the puzzle. But I was not entirely correct!

I pulled out 27A Sport with Native American origins: LACROSSE because that’s news to me.

As can best be determined, the distribution of lacrosse shows it to have been played throughout the eastern half of North America, mostly by tribes in the southeast, around the western Great Lakes, and in the St. Lawrence Valley area. Its presence today in Oklahoma and other states west of the Mississippi reflects tribal removals to those areas in the nineteenth century. Although isolated reports exist of some form of lacrosse among northern California and British Columbia tribes, their late date brings into question any widespread diffusion of the sport on the west coast.

The History of Lacrosse by the late Thomas Vennum Jr. (from

Is that why lacrosse is still such an east coast thing? I mean, UCSB does have intercollegiate lacrosse with a dedicated field for intercollegiate lacrosse and did when I graduated in 2011, which is more than I can say for the men’s volleyball team that got rained out at Rob Gym and had to use a court at Rec Cen because it was easier to do that than to clear out the Thunderdome during intramural basketball or something. BTW that was the men’s volleyball team that (inexplicably) lost to Ohio State in the NCAA championship game that season. Amazing that the arguably best men’s volleyball team in college sports that year was willing to put up with a dusty room with a leaky roof and not demand that the school move intramural hoops out of the arena where both basketball teams played and where women’s volleyball played. I don’t understand it.

But lacrosse–a club sport at UCSB–had a dedicated field with a permanent scoreboard.

Theme time!

I just thought there were no U’s in the answers. It’s not wrong, but it’s also entirely wrong because there were U’s where they were needed. The puzzle filled them in for me when I’d finished.

1A “Delish!”: yuMyyM. I’d put YMYM.
1D Southwest desert plant: yuCCA. YCCA.
21A Southern newspaper that William Faulkner once contributed to, with “The”: TIMESPICAyuNE. TIMESPICAYNE.
10D Neaten: TIDyuP. TIDYP.
39A Cultivars known for their yellow flesh: yuKONGOLDPOTATOES. YKNGOLDPOTATOES.
27D Easy two-pointer: LAyuP. LAYP.
48A Quantity that’s tied to one’s carbon footprint: ENERGyuSE. ENERGYSE.
36D Popular hot-and-sour Thai dish: TOMyuMSOUP. TOMYMSOUP. Strange because there’s a U there? I’d fix it later.

57A What a solver might growl after catching on to this puzzle’s theme?: WHYYOULITTLE. That made no sense to me because there were no U’s before. And then 68A “_ is easily deceived, because it is quick to hope”: Aristotle: YOUTH has a U, too, that it has in common with SOUP. It’s when Y and U are next to each other that they share a room.

I give the theme a C-.

Finished this one in 21:09.

DayThis WkBestAverage

NYT Crossword Puzzle 7-14-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

The streak is well alive!

I pulled out 13A Menu at un café: CARTE because I only now realize that it’s carte like card. I always think about the dessert cart in restaurants back in the day.

Today’s theme was pretty EEEEEEEEEEEasy.

17A Clamoring for “The Bonfire of the Vanities“?: CRYINGWOLFE. It’s a novel by Tom Wolfe.
24A Selling someone on “The Importance of Being Earnest”?: WILDEPITCH.

It’s Nicolas Cage!

50A Spot to store “A Confederacy of Dunces“?: TOOLECHEST. By John Kennedy Toole.
62A Positive review of a Nancy Drew mystery?: PEACHYKEENE. Check out fellow WP writer, Peachy Keen!

Finished this one in 16:03.

DayThis WkBestAverage

NYT Crossword Puzzle 7-13-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

Clearly the MLB All Star Game is on everyone’s mind.

I pulled out 33A Proficient: ADROIT because it is another example of how we love right-handedness and hate lefties. Lefties are sinister.

sinister (adj.)

early 15c., “prompted by malice or ill-will, intending to mislead,” from Old French senestresinistre “contrary, false; unfavorable; to the left” (14c.), from Latin sinister “left, on the left side” (opposite of dexter), of uncertain origin. Perhaps meaning properly “the slower or weaker hand” [Tucker], but Klein and Buck suggest it’s a euphemism (see left (adj.)) connected with the root of Sanskrit saniyan “more useful, more advantageous.” With contrastive or comparative suffix -ter, as in dexter (see dexterity).

The Latin word was used in augury in the sense of “unlucky, unfavorable” (omens, especially bird flights, seen on the left hand were regarded as portending misfortune), and thus sinister acquired a sense of “harmful, unfavorable, adverse.” This was from Greek influence, reflecting the early Greek practice of facing north when observing omens. In genuine Roman auspices, the augurs faced south and left was favorable. Thus sinister also retained a secondary sense in Latin of “favorable, auspicious, fortunate, lucky.”

Meaning “evil” is from late 15c. Used in heraldry from 1560s to indicate “left, to the left.” Bend (not “bar”sinister in heraldry indicates illegitimacy and preserves the literal sense of “on or from the left side” (though in heraldry this is from the view of the bearer of the shield, not the observer of it; see bend (n.2)).

Things you shouldn’t do are gauche.

gauche (adj.)

“awkward, tactless,” 1751 (Chesterfield), from French gauche “left” (15c., replacing senestre in that sense), originally “awkward, awry,” from gauchir “turn aside, swerve,” from Proto-Germanic *wankjan (source also of Old High German wankon, Old Norse vakka “to stagger, totter”), from PIE *weng- “to bend, curve” (see wink (v.)).

But proficient?

adroit (adj.)

1650s, “dexterous,” originally “rightly,” from French adroit, which by Old French had senses “upright (physically and morally); able, clever, skillful; well-formed, handsome; on the right-hand side; veritable,” from adverbial phrase à droit “according to right.”

This is from Old French à “to” (see ad-) + droitdreit “right,” from Medieval Latin directum (contracted drictum) “right, justice, law,” neuter or accusative of Latin directus “straight,” past participle of dirigere “set straight,” from dis- “apart” (see dis-) + regere “to direct, to guide, keep straight” (from PIE root *reg- “move in a straight line,” with derivatives meaning “to direct in a straight line,” thus “to lead, rule”). It expresses prominently the idea of a trained hand. Related: Adroitlyadroitness.

Now that we’ve gotten rid of the southpaws, here’s today’s theme.

18A Address every aspect of something: COVERALLTHEBASES.
28A Immediately: RIGHTOFFTHEBAT.
44A Oddly and unexpectedly: OUTOFLEFTFIELD.
57A Situation that starts things completely over: WHOLENEWBALLGAME.
6D Kind of pitcher: RELIEF.
39D An umpire’s outstretched arms signifies this: SAFE.
48D Certain worker in a stadium: USHER.

Finished this one in 10:23.

DayThis WkBestAverage

NYT Crossword Puzzle 7-12-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

What started 64 Mondays ago continues today. Make that 65 Mondays in a row!

I pulled out 65A ___ network: NEURAL because I’m a big fan of Janelle Shane‘s AI Weirdness blog. The bizarre things her neural network comes up with has put me in tears on numerous occasions.

Also Tesla is ready for fully self-driving with good decisions. Except that it isn’t fully self-driving.

And as far as good decisions go?

I’m happy that there was a good theme on a Monday.

17A Song lyric before “short and stout”: I(MALI)TTLETEAPOT.
26A Attorney general under George W. Bush: ALBER(TOGO)NZALES. There’s a reason it was so easy for me to come up with Alberto Gonzales, and that reason is Harry Shearer.

I used to listen to Le Show on the regular, and it’s weird for me to realize right this moment that I haven’t heard an episode in almost a decade. Yikes.
43A Appeasing, idiomatically: THROWIN(GABON)ETO. Also a lyric from the above song.
56A Grilled Japanese dish on skewers: CHICKENYAKITORI.

62A Where this puzzle’s circled letters can be found: AFRICA.

Finished this one in 6:21.

DayThis WkBestAverage

NYT Crossword Puzzle 7-11-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

It’s July 11. Usually that means 7-Eleven has free slurpees from 11am to 7pm. It didn’t happen last year, and this year you have to do stuff through the app? I heard the free slurpee offer can be redeemed at any point this month, but they’re making me get an app? Forget that! Too much work for a free slurpee.

I pulled out 35D She might take care of a kid on a sick day: DRMOM and 1D What the doctor ordered: DRUG because it’s super sloppy to have the answer to one clue in the question of another. Is it time for Will Shortz to hit the showers?

The tile of this puzzle is No Ruse. But really it’s No R Use. Check it:

24A Onus for a magician’s disappearing act?: BURDENOFPOOF. Because burden of proof.
26A Study of how gels gel?: GOOPDYNAMICS. Because group dynamics.
56A Angry Wisconsin sports fans?: MILWAUKEEBOOERS. Because current first place in the NL Central aby four games Milwaukee Brewers. 14 games over .500 is good, sure, but the Dodgers are 20 games over .500 and are still two games back of the Giants. And I have my own feelings about those three games dropped to the Marlins.
80A Getting “Amscray!” under control?: TAMINGOFTHESHOO. Because The Taming of the Shrew. Though I’d expected it to have to do with Pig Latin. Disappointed that it didn’t.
110A Power of a cowboy’s shoe? BOOTSTRENGTH. Because brute strength.
116A Odysseus’ wife whispers sweet nothings? PENELOPECOOS. Because Penelope Cruz.

Finished this one in 51:20.

DayThis WkBestAverage