Tag Archives: crossword puzzle

NYT Crossword 12-1-20 Complete

I went straight to the Congratulations! screen with this Tuesday puzzle. I took it slow and steady, since I did it right while I was waking up. It’s fun to complete something so early in the morning.

I highlighted 32A Sweet’s counterpart: SOUR because it raises a question that I’ve discussed every so often. If you have an opinion on the topic or a reaction, please comment on this post.

What is the opposite of sweet? Is it sour? Is it salty? Is it savory? Is it foul? Is it bitter?

I don’t think the opposite of sweet is sour. While they are nice to contrast in areas like sweet and sour meatballs, sweet and sour chicken, and Mega Warheads candy, my feeling is that they are individually fun tastes. I set the child standard here. If I liked this as a child, they’re not opposites.

So, too, with salty. I like salty potato chips. I like mixed nuts. And as for things that are sweet and salty? Salted caramel. Kettle corn. Not opposites.

I disagree that it’s savory because the definition is that it is more than one kind of taste. It does not qualify on that count. Also from lexico, the definition is” “(of food) belonging to the category that is salty or spicy rather than sweet.” Sweet is omitted and used as a contrast. Also salty is part of savory, and I’ve established that salty isn’t the opposite, so savory fails there.

As for foul, my feeling is that it’s the opposite of flavorful. Foul is bad overall. My point is opposite of sweet specifically.

That leaves us with bitter. You know, because the list I put together is all encompassing.

I posit that bitter is the opposite of sweet. As a child, I did not like bitter flavors. In the Passover seder, bitter herbs are incorporated because they’re unpleasant. But Passover aside, how many people like IPAs? I do, but I didn’t like IPAs as a child. And I probably would not have liked them if I had had access to them as a child.

A huffpo thing I found interesting to read is Hate IPAs? It’s Because Your Genetics Programmed You To Dislike Bitter Beers. Hipster Courtney Iseman writes that while the human brain has a long history of using the bitter flavor to indicate that a thing should not be eaten (and cites another huffpo piece), we can train ourselves to like bitter stuff.

I can’t vouch for the research up until the training yourself to like bitter things part. I now enjoy IPAs.

I didn’t have to train myself to like the other types of flavor.

In an unusual move for this puzzle’s, I got the answer to the theme clue and used that to help me get theme answers.

17A *Many a Silicon Valley business: SOFTWARECOMPANY
Note: I have started picking up on learning Python again, and I may start a weekly progress blog about Python. I’m thinking Thursdays for that, but we’ll see.
39A *Devastating event in a real estate bust: HOMEFORECLOSURE
61A *Question suggesting “That just about sums things up”: WHATMORECANISAY
7D *Highly stressful situations, metaphorically: PRESSURECOOKER
10A *Like a guesstimate, by nature: IMPRECISE

33D Community sports facility … or a hint to the answers to the five starred clues: RECCENTER.

You know, because REC is in the center for the answers.

Finished this one in 7:40. Very flawed NYT Crossword statistics page has my average Tuesday at 13:56. My Tuesday record is from August of this year at 5:52.

NYT Crossword 11-30-20 Complete

This was yet another Monday puzzle I got through quickly but got something wrong. I spent more than equal time finding that one square as completing the rest of the grid. And when I found it, I was not only annoyed but educated.

The clue I decided to pull out today is 14A Suffix with switch: EROO.

This is the one that turned out to have given me so much trouble. I went through the entire puzzle over and over to try to find anything wrong at all. I started to feel like the puzzle was broken and just didn’t recognize my accurate completion. There couldn’t be an issue with AROO.

But there was. 1D ___ and haw: HEM makes way more sense than does HAM. So that’s that.

I figured out the theme on the second related clue.

I skipped 8A Capital of 71-Across because I hadn’t gotten to 71A.

18A *Restaurant chain known for its coffee and doughnuts had the right number of spaces for TIMHORTONS, so I quickly jumped back to 8A.

8A Capital of 71-Across: OTTAWA–whose hockey team is appropriately named the Senators.
18A *Restaurant chain known for its coffee and doughnuts: TIMHORTONS
62A *Pancake topping: MAPLESYRUP
4D *Leafs-watching time, maybe: HOCKEYNIGHT, though I had thought and then rejected HOCKEYFIGHT for the Toronto Maple Leafs clue.
27D *Important step after erring: SAYINGSORRY, even though I would have expected it to be SAYINGSOREY.

71A Place associated with the answers to the starred clues: CANADA, of course!

Completion time was an appalling 12:41, but at least now I know it’s SWITCHEROO and not SWITCHAROO. And knowing is half the battle.

NYT Crossword Puzzle 11-29-20 Complete

Well this puzzle was crazy for me. Slow and tough.

For a lot of it, I didn’t even think I’d finish. But there was one clue that I couldn’t figure out, but when Calah looked at it, she got it immediately.

1A Its logo has a blue, red, orange, yellow and green “M”: GMAIL.

I had thought that it was a logo that had many M’s. When Calah right away figured out what it is, I looked at the favicon of another tab in Chrome and saw the multicolored M they were talking about. If not for Calah, no chance I finish this puzzle.

The title of the puzzle is Six-Pack, and I still am not certain why that title is applicable to this one.

I figured out the formula of the theme about halfway through the grid’s completion. Not halfway through the time because I was stuck awhile.

23A Very short-lived gemstones: EPHEMERALDS.
EPHEMERAL: Short-lived
EMERALDS: Gemstones
34A TV quiz program about an epic poem: GILGAMESHOW
GILGAMESH: Epic poem
GAME SHOW: TV quiz program
93A Magnificent plan of action: FIRSTRATEGY
FIRST RATE: Magnificent
STRATEGY: Plan of action
107A Dance celebrating 2010 legislation: OBAMACARENA
OBAMACARE: 2010 legislation
MACARENA: Dance at many celebrations I’ve been to
3D Emergency situation caused by a terrier: AIREDALERT


RED ALERT: Emergency situation
11D Salon job named after a comic book hero: SUPERMANENT
SUPERMAN: Comic book hero
PERMANENT: Curly hair!
63D Pounding on a pie topping: HAMMERINGUE
HAMMER: Pounding!
MERINGUE: Pie topping and a dessert unto itself!
74D Entertainment host Ryan, that smart aleck!: WISEACREST
WISEACRE: Smart aleck

This one took me an absurd amount of time and brought my average up big. But I finished. Works for me!

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.


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


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 11-20-20 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 11-18-20 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 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 10-26-20 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.