Category Archives: Crosswords

NYT Crossword 1-20-21 Complete

What an inauguration this morning. I’m feeling hopeful. I expect good things from this administration. Things are looking less divisive.

I pulled out 65A Isle of ___ : SKYE because it reminds me of when I went to Islay. I enjoyed going to the Laphroiag distillery back in 2019. They were really nice there, and I am looking forward to going back. When I was sitting at the bar at the distillery, some dude said that he was going to other places in Scotland, including the Isle of Skye. I said, “Oh! Are you going to go to Talisker?” When he asked me if he should, I recommended he talk to the people who work at Laphroaig. So the guy told a bartender that he was going to Skye. The reply: “Oh! Are you going to Talisker?”


The theme of this puzzle was our country being together.

15A Sharing thoughts like a Vulcan [Detroit, Fargo]: MINDMELDING. There’s been too much of that. Let’s get back to honest debate.
22A Classic of daytime TV first aired in 1962 [Atlanta, Bangor]: MATCHGAME. Betty White was on Match Game for years. She’s now in her 100th year. How cool is that?
45A Arthritis symptom [Altoona, South Bend]: JOINTPAIN.
57A Sommelier’s suggestion [Oshkosh, Omaha]: WINEPAIRING. How else would we know not to have white wine with steak?

36A Red, white and blue land … or what 15-, 22-, 45- and 57-Across feature?: THEUNITEDSTATES. United.

15A Detroit, MI; Fargo, ND. MIND.
22A Atlanta, GA; Bangor, ME. GAME.
45A Altoona, PA; South Bend, IN. PAIN.
57A Oshkosh, WI; Omaha, NE. WINE.

And in what was a clear shoutout to Bernie Sanders…

62A Kind of milk: ONEPERCENT.

Finished this one in 25:44.

WSJ Crossword 1-13-21 Complete

Happy Inauguration Day! Hooray for Biden.

This is the ides of January puzzle. Too many people don’t know that the ides of a month is more infrequently than not on the 15th. It’s on the 13th day of every month that isn’t one of March, May, July, and October. Also I’m writing this on Sunday, January 17, and the deeper into the week I get, the more I don’t know what has happened. If the tone of this blog post is incongruous with how the world looks, my bad. But hi from the past!

I pulled out 23A Plymouth Reliant, e.g.: KCAR because I had only heard of the K-Car in the Barenaked Ladies song If I Had $1,000,000:

If I had $1,000,000 I would buy you a K-Car (a nice reliant automobile).

It makes more sense now that I know that a Reliant is a K-Car, so it’s a good play on words as both a reliant automobile and a Reliant automobile. Nice job, BNL. Also in the news is that Chrysler has merged with PSA, the company that made Peugeot and Citröen. The joint company is called Stellantis. Is it a dumb name? Yes. But is it a good name? No.


The title of this puzzle is You’re All Wet.

17A Unofficial means of communication: BACKCHANNEL. We no longer have to worry about the current president advising that a foreign government “talk to Rudy.” Hooray!
25A Floor routine component: HANDSPRING. This is an interesting clue to me because 10D Bestselling PDAs: PALMPILOTS while Handspring did not and does not get that title.

It WAS palm-powered, but it was no Pilot.
This newer palm model is so much sleeker than the older Handspring above.

36A Penny Lane Locale: LIVERPOOL. Also in my ears and in my eyes.
50A Seneca, e.g.: FINGERLAKE. I hadn’t heard of the Finger Lakes until recently when one of the late-night hosts mentioned them, I think. I don’t remember which one it was, and it’s all a blur.

58A Geographic feature, and a hint to four answers in this puzzle: BODYOFWATER.

CHANNEL, SPRING, POOL, LAKE.

Finished this one in 13:50. Not bad for a Wednesday.

WSJ Crossword 1-12-21 Complete and a story about baseball!

This blog post ended up mostly being about the clue and answer I pulled out, so it may be more entertaining to read than most of the WSJXW blog posts are. I did struggle with this one a little, but I made my way through. This doing-them-all-on-Sunday thing is fine so far. We’ll see how it continues.

I pulled out 8A Ballpark official: SCORER because it reminds me of when I was a baseball broadcaster in college. I read the entire NCAA rulebook for baseball and always brought the book with me to games because I had no one around me to let me know what had just happened when there was a crazy event in the game. There was one game I called with my often-broadcast partner Mitchell Clements where this rulebook came in handy. A guy got to first base, and the next batter was power hitter. I saw that the third baseman was playing almost on the outfield grass, and although this batter had the speed to turn a close triple into a long single, he decided to drop down a bunt down the third baseline. To the casual baseball fan, it seems like a standard sacrifice bunt play: He was thrown out easily, and the runner moved over from first to second. However, it didn’t look to me like that’s what he had wanted to do. I saw that the third baseman was playing deep. I figured he saw the same thing. Rather than give himself up, it sure seemed like he had gone rogue and decided to drop down a bunt into no-man’s land in an attempt to make it to first safely.

Per the rules:

Sacrifice
SECTION 8. A sacrifice bunt is credited to the batter when, with fewer than
two outs, his bunt enables a runner to advance, provided no other runner is put
out attempting to advance. A sacrifice fly is credited when, with fewer than two
outs, his fly, fair or foul, enables a runner to score. In either case, the sacrifice
ruling applies when the batter is put out before he reaches first base or would
have been put out if the ball had been fielded without error.
This is is what everyone knows.

HOWEVER, then there’s this:

Exception—If, in the judgment of the official scorer, the batter is bunting primarily for a base hit, do not score a sacrifice. Instead, charge the batter with a time at bat.
http://www.ncaapublications.com/productdownloads/BA12.pdf

I knew it had to be the latter. I knew there was no chance he had been instructed to play smallball in that situation.

Announcement from the official scorer: “Sacrifice.”

After that game, the head coach was unfazed by my question about that play. He shrugged it off and said that sometimes they ask this batter to drop down a bunt to move a guy over and that the plan had worked. I was unconvinced and asked the guy later what had really happened. He seemed kind of excited to tell me that my analysis in real time had been entirely correct.

Since I wasn’t the official scorer, it went down as a sacrifice. But I knew the rule.

That was true a decade ago, and it remains in the most recently published rulebook.

Major League Baseball unsurprisingly has a similar rule:

http://www.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2007/10_the_official_scorer.pdf

But there’s an interpretation that the NCAA rulebook does not have:

http://www.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2007/10_the_official_scorer.pdf

So there you go.


The title of this puzzle is A Few Brief Words.

20A Secret compartments in some desks: HIDDENDRAWERS. Also what is often found under a pair of pants on the bedroom only after the rest of the laundry is done.
33A Some Pixar works: ANIMATEDSHORTS.
40A Long proboscises: ELEPHANTTRUNKS.
57A Golden Gloves competitors: AMATEURBOXERS.

All underpants: DRAWERS, SHORTS, TRUNKS, BOXERS.

Finished this one in 18:15.

NYT Crossword 1-19-21 Complete

The wind is supposed to pick up in the next couple hours. It’s going to be crazy, and I’ll have the police radio on in the background. I think it will be downed trees today. I hope there won’t be fires.

I pulled out 67A Actor Mickey of “The Wrestler”: ROURKE because for too much of the puzzle, I had ROONEY in there. It’s understandable, right?

Mickey Rooney in Killer McCoy (1947).
Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler (2008).

I figured out the theme about 1/3 of the way through this puzzle.

18A *Bygone Crayola color: LEMONYELLOW. It took me a while to realize that this wasn’t LEMONY ELBOW–the thing that happens when you’re not careful around these:

Reminds me of going to the ballpark.

41A *Sweet, healthful treat: FRUITCUP. Will Shortz is in Del Monte’s pocket.
62A *World’s largest terrestrial arthropod: COCONUTCRAB.

Giant crab or tiny human?

12D *Sign in a deli window, perhaps: HOTCOFFEE. Because HOTPASTRAMI was too long.
35D *Staple of Japanese cuisine: WHITERICE. Hard to argue when it’s the majority of the country’s flag.

60D Word that can follow either half of the answers to the starred clues: CAKE.

LEMON CAKE/YELLOW CAKE, FRUITCAKE/CUPCAKE, COCONUTCAKE/CRABCAKE, HOTCAKE/COFFEECAKE, WHITECAKE/RICECAKE.

Finished this one in 17:10 because IGUANODON is spelled two O’s and one A.

NYT Crossword 1-18-21 Complete

Today there was kind of muted craziness. The Trump administration said the travel ban from Europe is ending or something. That’s silly because COVID obvz. Then Biden was like, “Hang on, buddy!” Also Kayleigh McEnany reportedly has moved back home to Florida already. Does she not know that that’s where the Trumps are moving, too??????

I pulled out 3D “Here comes Poindexter!”: NERDALERT because of what this is. Might as well have been “Look! Someone doing the crossword!”


Today’s theme was something like why travel the world when you can travel the whole world in this country?

17A City where you won’t find the Eiffel Tower: PARISTEXAS.
24A City where you won’t find the Parthenon: ATHENSGEORGIA. Republic of Georgia should look into naming one of their towns after the city in Greece, too.
46A City where you won’t find Virgil’s Tomb: NAPLESFLORIDA.
56A City where you won’t find the El Greco Museum: TOLEDOOHIO.

Finished this one in 7:48.

WSJ Crossword 1-11-21 Complete

I’m trying something new here, and I’m hoping you’ll bear with me. Since the WSJ crossword takes up time during the week, I figured I’d try to do all of them each Sunday and time their posting to go out each day but a week late. EXCEPT for the Friday puzzle. That one will be posted on time on Sundays.

I pulled out 66A Lease signer: TENANT because I’ve been watching Because This is my First life, and it’s pretty good! It’s the fourth K-Drama I’ve started and the third I think I’ll make it through. Start-Up and Crash Landing on You were easy to watch. Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol wasn’t for me. Because This is My Frist Life has a lot of promise.


The title of this puzzle is Going to Pot.

17A Something with negligible value: HILLOFBEANS.
25A Scouting activity, quaintly: WEENIEROAST. Does KROQ still have the Weenie Roast concert?
39A Is motivated by self-interest: HASANAXETOGRIND. When did ax become axe? I remember ax growing up, but now it’s axe? It’s like how Australia is a continent but now Oceania is a continent?
48A “Double, double toil and trouble” concoction: WITCHESBREW.

61A Unremarkable sort, or what you’re left with after 17-, 25-, 39- and 48-Across: ORDINARYJOE.

Of course a Monday puzzle is the one about coffee. Though I guess that could also be a Friday puzzle. Or a Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday.

COFFEE BEANS, ROAST COFFEE, GRIND COFFEE, BREW COFFEE.

Finished this one in 8:44.

WSJ Crossword Contest 1-17-21 Answer

This puzzle started off with a busted WSJ puzzles site. I couldn’t do the crossword puzzle on my screen no matter which computer or browser I used. So I printed it out. I did the puzzle in pen, and that got Calah to call me a lunatic or something to that effect.

As I went through, I did have some errors, so I had to overwrite some of my answers. It’s not the prettiest of grids, but it’s honest.

It was a lot of fun, but I knew I couldn’t get the meta puzzle answer from this nonsense.

So it was off to Excel!

Way easier to read and to highlight!

The clues fell into place, as did the highlighting.

And, of course, the missing word of the movie titles.

AMERICA
BLACK
ULTIMATUM
GAME
SUNDAY

A BUG’S with the missing LIFE because I WON’T SPOIL THE ENDING.

So the answer: A Bug’s Life.

NYT Crossword 1-17-21 Complete

On this day in 1994, LA woke up to a magnitude 6.7 earthquake. With an epicenter near Northridge, it’s one of the worst things to come out of the Valley, and that’s saying something. (I know I’m going to be paying for that statement later, but it’s totally worth it.) I don’t remember the shaking itself, but I remember my dad driving us around to look at the rubble. It was pretty bad. Freeway overpasses had collapsed. Lots of stuff was broken. Generally bad times.

I pulled out 14D Fading process for jeans: ACIDWASH because I joked(?) a couple months ago that anyone in LA who wanted acid wash jeans should leave them outside because it was going to rain that night/day. The next day was beautiful because all the smog was gone.


The title of this puzzle is Double-Crossed, and the grid looks slightly different in the print edition.

23A Way into a garage, typically: OVERHEA(DD/OO)R. That’s true about half the time for me. If I go in through the overhead door, I go out through the pedestrian door. If I go in through the pedestrian door, I go out through the overhead door.
7D Subject of a Sleeves Up campaign: BL(OO/DD)RIVE. There are lots of reports of blood shortages in more places than just Transylvania. COVID has made it almost impossible to get people to donate blood. There’s less coverage of how the chocolate chip cookie industry is affected. Maybe Nutter Butter can shed some light on this type of blow.
34A Nickelodeon competitor: CART(OO/NN)ETWORK.
13D Classic dorm room meal: RAME(NN/OO)DLES. I still have not yet had ramen. And I see a lot of it in the K-Dramas.
61A Prominent women’s rights lawyer: GLORI(AA/LL)RED. And she’s not letting Harvey Weinstein get away with it.
45D Beer in a green bottle: STE(LL/AA)RTOIS. Green bottle made me think Heineken then Beck’s. I think of Stella Artois as being in a brown bottle. It’s not.

Just try to get one of these in America.

76A Visual phenomenon created by short flashes of light: STROB(EE/FF)ECT. Long exposure with a strobe makes for amazing photos.
66D Nestlé creamer: CO(FF/EE)MATE. The perfect amount of coffeemate is just get better coffee and use milk and sugar.
104A Some entertainers at children’s birthday parties: BA(LL/OO)NARTISTS.

Dennis Forel is not just an amazing balloon sculptor but a really nice guy!

85D Sallie Mae products: SCH(OO/LL)OANS. What will happen when there’s free college for everyone?
119A Awards show that airs at night, ironically: DAYTIM(EE/MM)YS. It seems like everyone in the industry has at least one Emmy. I don’t, but I’m also not in the industry.
101D Pool competitions: SWI(MM/EE)TS. Can anyone forget Ryan Lochte’s American Flag grill? Does anybody even want to?

It’s perfect.

I thought this puzzle was pretty good.

Finished in 1:11:55.

NYT Crossword 1-15-21 Complete

None too bad for a Friday puzzle. The timer went on kinda long because I got up from the computer partway through and didn’t realize the timer was still going. Not that it matters, of course. I mean the WSJ Friday puzzle didn’t work on the website at all, so I had to print that one out to do it. You’ll see that post on Sunday because I also figured out the meta puzzle answer super fast.

I pulled out 41A Game that can be played on bicycles or elephants: POLO because it’s crazy to think about all the different types of unusual polo. Harvey Mudd notoriously has a unicycle hockey, which is kinda like polo.


The theme of this puzzle seems to be GET TRUMP OUTTA THERE.

29A Eclipsed everyone else: STOLETHESHOW. Trump has talked about having a rally at the same time as Biden’s inauguration. What a crazy guy.
32A One getting fired up for competition?: STARTERPISTOL. This one is kind of on the nose.
48A Complete loss of self-identity: EGODEATH. Reports are that Trump is all mopey after the second impeachment. I would be, too, but also I wouldn’t have done all those harrible harrible things like you wouldn’t believe.
51A Where one might hear a call for action: MOVIESET. If only Trump had stuck to that instead of using his office as bully pulpit to bring the worst out of people.
52A Metaphorical incentive: CARROT. Completely ineffective against Trump.
12D Honcho: LEADER + 33D Captured, in a way: ONCAMERA. Trump is a leader on camera, but he’s garbage in reality.
36D: Employs as a backup plan, with “to”: RESORTS. Reports are that Jared and Ivanka aren’t allowed to join the country club near their new $30M Indian Creek Island home. Whoops!
37D Blanked on: FORGOT. Person, man, woman, camera, TV.

and finally

7D Topic in property law, colloquially: SQUATTERSRIGHTS. That’s what these past few months have been about. Now scram!

Have a great, safe weekend, everyone!

NYT Crossword 1-14-21 Complete

What a day today may be! People are calling for Liz Cheney’s head, and that’s a real shame. We need unity now, and the way to do it is to excise the things that continue to tear us apart. My take is that if Trump has won reelection and done this, they wouldn’t have minded getting him out right now, installing Pence, and then have an easy Pence inauguration on January 20. But that’s not the world right now.

I pulled out 53A “90 Day Fiancé” network: TLC because Calah and I binge watched that show together around the time we got engaged. There are so many things wrong with that show, and that’s, of course, why we had to watch all of it. Then we watched the spinoff, The Family Chantel. More trainwreck. So good.


I didn’t realize what the circles were until the end. It had seemed like they were all T’s, but that turned out to be incorrect. In this case, it was good that NYT automatically filled in the circles with the letter choices.

18A Relative of a croc: GA(T/B)OR. I took the clue to mean crocodile, so it was GATOR for alligator. But it can be taken like the shoe. Now I know that GABOR is a shoe brand.
7D Garage jobs: LU(T/B)ES. I took the clue to refer to cars, so it was LUBES. As for LUTES, I have zero idea how this applies.
24A Desires: WAN(T/E)S. I figured it was WANTS. That makes sense. I guess desires can wane. Like the desire to understand this puzzle because now I’m feeling that there’s a chance that the first letter is for the across and the second letter is for the down, and each word exists with the other letter.
4D What a letter needs: LEAS(T/E). I just don’t get this one. Oh, wait, letter like tenant. Contract to live or work somewhere. Now I understand.
27A Awesome time: B(L/O)AST. Having a blast is a good thing. You can later boast about it.
10D Brief appearance: CAME(L/O). A brief appearance is a cameo. As the Australians know, camels tend to stick around.
51A Have a Pavlovian response: DRO(O/L). Ring the bell = getting fed. Can’t wait. Droll means “Curious or unusual in a way that provokes dry amusement.” Could work! Feeling like it’s more and more likely that it’s just across/down.
55A Moves like molasses: S(E/T)EPS. Molasses seeps. Oozes might be better. I don’t think of molasses as stepping.
56D Spud: (E/T)ATER. This can only be the TATER for potato.
62A Ancient unit of length: CU(B/T)IT. Cubit is a thing. I don’t think that there was any CUTIT measurement.
54D Petrol unit: LI(B/T)RE. Only can be LITRE.

38A Classic party game … or a hint to solving the answers that intersect circles: SPINTHEBOTTLE. Oh, now I get it! Clockwise, it’s
T/B
L/O
E/T
B/T
O/L
T/E

Good times.

Finished this one in 28:21.