Tag Archives: WSJ Crossword

WSJ Crossword 1-5-21 Complete

Is this the fastest Tuesday ever for me for a Wall Street Journal crossword puzzle? I don’t know because there are no stats, and I haven’t kept track because they’re pretty much meaningless, but this was a quick one for me.

I pulled out 31D Chain with a Funny Face combo for kids: IHOP because it reminds me of when I proposed to Calah on March 16 of last year, which was the day before the first California COVID shutdown. The ring I got had to be sized because that’s how that works, and the place where we got the ring sized is near an IHOP. We dropped off the ring on March 17, we went for a short walk before picking it up like half an hour later. IHOP advertises that it is open 24 hours a day, but we knew it would be closed. I had never seen a closed IHOP. Did they even have a Sorry! We’re closed! sign? Unlikely, right?

The sign on the locked door read:




The title of this puzzle is All The Right Angles.

18A Site whose mission is “to help bring creative projects to life”: KICKSTARTER. Not a bad mission.
24A Place to buy staples that isn’t Staples: OFFICEMAX. I think this is a dumb clue. Staples are important parts of things, right? Like how pizza was a staple of my diet before COVID. (My wallet and figure are thankful that I’m cooking food at home instead of getting takeout, but my mouth is sad whenever I see people eating pizza on TV, which is always.) For them to call out Staples specifically is a little on the nose when it comes to the OFFICEMAX answer. Side note: There’s an Office Depot not far away from me that from time to time has no ICE illuminated. So the sign reads “Off De pot,” which can be welcome words in a 1br/1ba.
39A Stereotypically nerdy accessory: POCKETPROTECTOR. Nobody needs one of these in the COVID era. Pens in easy reach wherever you want them to be. T-shirts in the summer. Hoodies in the winter.
51A Utterly: STONECOLD. Could this have been a Steve Austin clue instead? Yes. Was it? Only the biggest missed opportunity.

62A Landmark in the Southwest, and collective description of the beginnings of 18-, 24-, 39- and 51-Across: FOURCORNERS.

Completed in possibly my personal best for a WSJ Tuesday of 7:08.

WSJ Crossword 1-4-21 Complete

What a Monday so far! The press conferences in Georgia before tomorrow’s runoffs, people lining up for tonight’s Trump rally tonight for I don’t know what, and the deployment of the National Guard to Washington, DC, in preparation for the certification of the Electoral College vote that’s a couple days away. What’s not to love about 2021!

I pulled out 44A Rolling golf stroke: PUTT because I had initially written BUMP, and that only turned out to be 25% correct. Although I haven’t played golf in like a year, I remember some strategy. There are two main types of golf course types. The first type is what we normally think of golf. It’s called parkland. Trees line the fairways, and the grass is planted on dirt that can get muddy quickly in wet conditions. The other type is links. It’s like playing on an open field with grass planted on sand that helps the playing surface dry even after heavy downpours. This is the kind of surface in St Andrews, Scotland, where it rains all the time. Check out those threatening clouds on the Jubilee Course.

I had so much more hair back in 2014. Also those shoes were later stolen from my car, and they don’t make them anymore!

Since the grass is planted on sand, the ground is a lot harder. The grass also is cut shorter. While on a parkland course, the approach I usually take from 90 yards out is with a wedge and a lot of backspin for the ball to land on the green and not roll very far, as demonstrated in picture below from a time at Penmar in Los Angeles.

Big bite taken out of the green, which I repaired before sinking the birdie putt.

While this approach allows for clearing things like bunkers, patches of grass, and ground under repair, this is not the way to go about things in links golf. The shorter grass and harder surface not only make it more difficult to get a clean shot with a high loft iron, they make it easy to get the ball to go hundreds of feet with a lower loft club and chip that lets the ball just rollllll along with little encumbrance. In parkland golf, this usually is reserved for bumping the ball that’s just off the green onto the green, and since greens can be very, very big, you can use the swing you’d use with a putter and use the weight of a long iron to get the ball close to the cup.


The title of this puzzle is The Jocular Vein.

17A *Craft by which quotations are put on pillows: NEEDLEPOINT. Home sweet home.
26A *Nick Jonas, to Joe Jonas: KIDBROTHER.
39A *Weather a period of chaos: RIDEOUTTHESTORM. Feels like what we’re doing right now. Can’t the storm just end, please?
50A *He plays Thanos in “Avengers: Endgame”: JOSHBROLIN. I don’t feel so good.
62A *Marbled cut of beef: RIBEYESTEAK. I have some steaks in the freezer. I really should make them. At 60 degrees right now, it’s just too cold to start up the charcoals.

55D Verb for which synonyms can be found at the beginnings of the starred answers: TEASE. Playful NEEDLING, KIDDING, RIDING, JOSHING, RIBBING.

Finished this one in 9:20.

WSJ Crossword 12-31-20 Complete

An hour ago I published my answer to the Crossword Contest. This is the blog about the puzzle.

I pulled out 40D Prime minister before Rabin: MEIR because the other night when I was playing board games with friends, and some dude with that as a username slid into our game as a spectator and started chatting with us. I don’t know if we’ll ever see him or hear from him again, but now we know he exists.

The title of this puzzle is The Party Starts at 10.

3D Google co-founder: SERGEYBRIN.
18D A candidate might win by it: WIDEMARGIN. You know, as long as people abide by that result.
22D Machinist’s tool: METALLATHE. Based on the cost of turned legs, I looked to see how much a wood lathe costs. It’s too much and takes too much space. Something I’ll look at for the future, though.
30D Governor of Maryland in 1968: SPIROAGNEW. Dude didn’t last even a full term as VP. And he’d have been president when Nixon resigned if he hadn’t been silly and done all that corruption nonsense. But I guess we wouldn’t want to have one of those in the Oval office.

The really fast completion time is because WSJ cleared out my grid for an unknown reason. Luckily I had my grid where I was trying to figure out the crossword contest answer.

WSJ Crossword 12-31-20 Contest Answer

I tried and lost with this one. The title of the puzzle is The Party Starts at 10. That was supposed to help me, I thought. It hasn’t as of writing this, but that could change partway through. Who knows!

My first instinct was that the answers would start with IO. Because IO looks like 10.

That didn’t go very far because it was immediately and very obviously wrong.

Then I started looking a a phrase that started with the answer to 10D. Nope.

Then I started noticing a trend. TEN was written out in the grid!

There’s no way that’s a coincidence.

I looked for COUNTDOWN because DOWN was under the TEN in the SE corner. No dice. I stared at this for way too long. I also thought of RING IN THE NEW YEAR, but that’s five words, so nope!

Got up. Did other stuff. Came back. Nothing.

Then I realized it’s AT 10.

This, too, provided no help.

I went back into the archives of the puzzle to see if there was a trend I was missing.

Shifting these repeating words to reveal new words did nil.

I remembered that the longest clues were each 10 letters long, so I highlighted those and overlaid the TENs I’d found.


So it was back to AT 10!

Maybe the words were missing a T? Or were in some pattern?

Frustrated, I then went back to the long answers, and after much staring and looking for things, I came up with something stupid.


But where’s the year?

Submitted it because why not.

WSJ Crossword 12-30-20 Complete

It the last Wednesday of the year, and the sky sure looks to be threatening rain. Not exactly what I’d hoped for to close out 2020, but it’s not like I’m going anywhere.

I pulled out 8D BLT alternatives: PBJS because I don’t think I agree that they are on equal footing. Now, I don’t eat bacon, but I don’t remember any kids at school getting BLTs packed in their lunchboxes. I don’t know of any hiker who routinely takes along BLTs to eat along the way. I don’ t know of sports teams requesting BLTs for energy before the game. I realize my argument is that the PB&J is for the less adventurous (i.e. children) and for the incredibly sophisticated (i.e. NBA teams):

“No matter how you slice it, it’s hard to swallow: The NBA is covered in experts, obsessed with peak performance — and still this pillar of grade-school cafeteria lunches is the staple snack of the league. An exorbitantly wealthy microclique, backed by an army of personal chefs, swears by a sandwich whose standard ingredients boast a street value of roughly 69 cents.”

So where does the BLT fit in? I’m no expert, but maybe corporate training lunches?

Feel free to set me straight on this.

The title of this puzzle is In at the Finish. I figured it out partway through, and the puzzle fell into place.

18A Appreciative observation at the Renaissance Faire?: WHATAJERKIN. So it’s what a jerk! and a jerkin.

This is a jerkin. https://www.pendragoncostumes.com/doublets/jerkin

23A Breakfast treat with an auriform shape?: EARMUFFIN. So it’s earmuff and muffin. Initially I had put OATMUFFIN, but who wears oats to keep them warm?
38A Prestidigitator’s publication?: MAGICBULLETIN. So it’s magic bullet and bulletin. If you are unfamiliar with prestidigitation, it’s the same as legerdemain. The Magic Bulletin is just OK. It’s not Genii or Linking Ring.
51A Expensive material for a crib blanket?: BABYSATIN. So it’s babysat and satin. Baby satin isn’t nearly as good as the #raabidfun onesies, but what are you going to do.
58A Coach’s intellectual equipment?: SPORTSBRAIN. So it’s sports bra and brain.

You have to have a real brain for sports to kick a World Cup-winning penalty kick. You can’t not get emotional at this video.

Finished this one in 27:38.

WSJ Crossword 12-29-20 Complete

Pretty fast for me for a Tuesday WSJ puzzle. In other news, while it’s not pouring in LA today and the temperature has cranked up to 59, we’ve got sustained 14MPH winds and 20+MPH gusts. I don’t care much for this, but I do look forward to going for a walk later to see the city clear of smog thanks to yesterday’s rain and with wind-swept skies.

I pulled out 16A Diet that goes against the grain?: PALEO because that word just means old, from the Greek palaios, which means ancient. Now that I think about it, it’s cool to think of the ancient Greeks thinking about what was ancient to them. It’s like how an elderly person will call a 50-year-old a kid. But since paleo just means old, do you have any chunky milk in your fridge right now? Any open bottles of wine that have turned to vinegar? Any blue cheese that wasn’t intended to be that color? Shouldn’t those count as part of the paleo diet?

This puzzle’s title is Idle Hands, and the clue are about a thing I have on the wall that I finally bought after much delay because I finally found the time to do so.

18A Karate chop target, sometimes: CINDERBLOCK. Though breaking them this way isn’t always as hard as it seems.

28A Radio format for Fleetwood Mac and Heart: CLASSICROCK.
51A Where Oxford types might hang out?: CLOTHESRACK. Oxford style billowy shirts.

62A It’s right twice a day, and it can be found at 12-, 28-, and 51-Across: BROKENCLOCK.

But the problem is that the saying is inaccurate. It’s not just that a broken digital clock shows nothing at all and therefore neither shows the wrong time nor the right time. It’s not always right with analog clocks. The pendulum of a grandfather clock may swing fast or slow compared to accurate and be in need of repair. Depending on the speed, it may be off by an additional second each day and therefore be right once every approximately 118 years, as it would have to make up 12 hours of drift at the rate of 1 second a day. There are 43,200 seconds in 12 hours, 43,200 days is a little more than 118 years. If it’s running too fast, it may be right more than twice a day, but that would make at least twice a day and therefore would qualify.

Finished this one in 8:00.

WSJ Crossword 12-28-20 Complete

It is coming down in LA. Wow! I haven’t seen rain like this since last year, I think. And it’s almost next year already.

I pulled out 32A How a baseball game starts: TIED because it reminds me of a story from when I was a sportscaster in college. UCSB women’s basketball was playing a game against I think Cal State Monterey Bay, but I’m not entirely certain right now if that was the opponent this story relates to. The game was to be played at the Events Center or ECen, but what we all knew as the Thunderdome. I’ll have to fact check this part, too, but I believe that Mitchell Clements was my broadcast partner for that game, and he and I did our pregame show leading up to tipoff. But there was a problem: The scoreboard was not functioning. They tried to fix it before the game was set to start, but that didn’t happen. So the refs assessed a technical foul to the team, and Cal State Monterey Bay(?) was allowed two free throws. They made one of the the two. The game started with UCSB down 1-0. I hadn’t seen that before or since. But not all game start tied.

The title of this puzzle is Are Too! Unfortunately, there is nothing Star Wars about this one.

Sorry, fella. Jeremy R. Capp says there’s no place for you here. https://www.digitalspy.com/movies/a32343238/star-wars-r2-d2-name-george-lucas-thx-1138/

16A Luxury SUV from England: RANGEROVER. I’ve been in some. They are luxurious.
28A “The Princess Bride” director: ROBREINER. That was a good movie. “The Jerk” was directed by his father, Carl Reiner, who passed away in June of this year.
44A Wear out: RUNRAGGED.
27D Pan’s opposite: RAVEREVIEW. Speaking of panning compared to raving, I’m halfway through the final season of Breaking Bad, and it’s been tough for me to want to watch it. No average episode rating on IMDb dips below 8.9/10, but I find it to be almost unwatchable. To me, the characters have lost all relatability. I’m not rooting for anything other than for the end of the series. But it’s a long goodbye.
10D Tournament style: ROUNDROBIN. Yum!

58A Quaint vacay, and a hint to five long answers in this puzzle: ALITTLERNR.

Yeah, not you, either. https://www.twinpeaksblog.com/2020/06/27/twin-peaks-x-society6-double-r/

Finished this one in 19:39.

WSJ Crossword 12-24-20 Complete

About an hour ago I posted the WSJ Crossword Contest blog post. This is the one for the crossword itself.

I pulled out 40D Drunkenly debauched: BACCHIC because this is a new thing to me. Turns out that Bacchus is the Roman name for the Greek Dionysus. Dionysus/Bacchus is the god of of the vine, grape-harvest, wine-making, wine, fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, theatre.

Title of the puzzle is Past and Present, and of course this had a Christmas theme.

1A Present: GIFT. This is a little on the nose for the puzzle title.
10A Sax great Stan: GETZ. Like everyone getz a present.
25A With 45-Across, where you might find a present: BENEATH/THETREE.
35A Altar exchange: IDOS. You present rings under the chuppah.
36A Many a Christmas present: TOY.
41A Lift, so to speak: THIEVE. It’s a present to yourself. Or like Secret Santa because the store/Santa doesn’t know that you got the present until they take inventory.
61A Player’s payment: ANTE. Past and present, but this is before.

In an update from the earlier post, I totally got the crossword contest right. Hooray!

WSJ Crossword 12-24-20 Contest Answer

Longtime listeners of NPR’s Car Talk remember a puzzler and subsequent references to Ray saying something to the effect of, “I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that there’s only one answer.” That there wasn’t only one answer was a source of taunting and replays of that statement in other episodes.

But that’s what I’m going to do here.

I am so confident that my answer to the Crossword Contest is right that I’m starting out with it and dedicating this entire post to it. The post about the puzzle will drop in about an hour.


The path to getting there was absolutely crazy.

Since last week was the first time I had ever tried the Crossword Contest, I thought the solution may follow the same approach of a shifted template. So I tried to find links there.

The first attempt started with noticing a lot of doubled letters.

There weren’t nearly enough or in any shape to give me a clue, but maybe there was more I could do with doubled letters.

That led to trying to find if all the doubled letters made a shape.

It did not.

However, I found that there were 12 letters in the puzzle that were doubled: A, C, E, F, H, I, L, N, O, R, S, T. The clue said a 12-letter word. Maybe it’s a word that uses only those 12 letters?

I rejected that pretty quickly because that’s too much.

I decided to black out the doubled letters to see if that revealed a word.

The revealed word was obvious: NO.

Back to the drawing board.

I looked at old puzzle answers. They had to do with the main clue or linked clues or gaps or really anything. But I looked hard at the only linked clue: 25A With 45-Across, where you might find a present: BENEATH / THETREE.

OK! So I see the word TREE all around. I also see the word THE in many places. That’s gotta be it.

Here’s where Ron Howard says: “But, it wasn’t.”

It was back to looking inside my brain. The word is just so long, and it can’t possibly be all in a row. But there’s something to do with trees and under them. So I started looking for trees.

And I found FIR. Fir is used as a Christmas tree, so that sounds good. What about pine? No dice. But FIR was a good start. And it had to be under, so if this is the way, the letters have to be across.

Then I found ELM. Elm gave me NSE. I typed FRANKENSENSE into S7 in Excel, and =len(S7) gave me 12. OK! It’s gotta be that word? Maybe? Sounds like it’s an on-theme answer.

I looked for the middle parts of that word and realized my spelling was off when I found ASH and OAK.

That it could be anything but FRANKINSCENSE, to me, is an impossibility.

WSJ Crossword 12-23-20 Complete

This was a shockingly tough puzzle for a Wednesday, but maybe I’m just a little off my game today? I did find yet another WSJ/NYT duplicate, and there has to be collusion in some way. How can it be so frequent that the same day has some shared answers?

That’s what 19A Goes ballistic: RANTS is. And it’s an apt answer for what I’m writing right now. I don’t know that I particularly care for the clue, but we’re set on the rant part. In the today’s NYTXW, there was 70A Speeches that go off the rails: RANTS. Now, the WSJXW comes out at 1pm, and the NYTXW comes out at 7pm. From personal experience, I do not think it’s beneath Will Shortz to throw in others’ work uncredited. Doesn’t make me very happy to come to that conclusion, but what am I supposed to do?

The title of today’s puzzle is Flow Profile. It wasn’t exactly what I’d expected it to be, but I caught on partway through: just get rid of the F’s.

20A The chicken dance as a touchdown celebration?: VICTORYFLAPS – F = VICTORYLAPS. I had interpreted the Flow part of the puzzle title as the puzzle having to do with flows. I filled out VECTORY because vector flow pun. But no.
34A Pairs-driving practice?: FLIPSYNCING – F = LYPSINCING.
41A Plane trip whose carbon emissions are offset?: GREENFLIGHT – F = GREENLIGHT.
51A Evolution gone wrong?: FLAWOFNATURE – F = LAWOFNATURE.

I wish it had been a real flow thing rather than the removal of an F.

I finished this long Wednesday in 58:52.