Capital L’s

New York Times crossword puzzle Aug. 25 / Constructed by Victor Barocas

Greetings from the Left Coast, otherwise known as L.A. That sentence used two capital L’s, in keeping with the title of today’s clever puzzle.

Capitals, and capital Ls, are hidden throughout the puzzle.
Capitals, and capital Ls, are hidden throughout the puzzle.

This crossword tests both your geometry and your geography skills, as eight state capitals are created in the grid through the juxtaposition of L-shaped answers – meaning they’re entered at right angles, similar to the “Bonus Features” theme a few weeks ago.

I first realized something tricky was afoot when I ended up with HE__NA for the “Hint-giving columnist” at 106 Across. Hmmm. Did Heloise die? And does she have a daughter, possibly named Helena, who took over the column? Through crossing words, I soon figured out that HELOISE turned the corner at 108 Down (clued by the enigmatic single dash “–”), forming an upside-down capital L shape.

Still, HELENA certainly fit at 106 Across – and that couldn’t be an accident. So what was up with that?

I moved on to tap memories of a TV show from my childhood days. I knew the “White-suited ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ villain” was BOSS HOGG (71 Across), which also had to be entered as an upside-down L in order to fit. After filling out a few crossing words, I figured that the “Connecticut city” at 46 Down had to be SHELTON, turning the corner and forming a normal capital L shape. The abutment of those “capital L’s” yielded BOSTON at 71 Across.

From there, it was easy. I went back to HELENA and solved 77 Down (“1990s craze”) to form the second capital L: MACARENA.

Other capitals: JUNEAU, formed by JUNIPER (“Berry used to make gin,” 37 Across) and THOREAU (“He wrote ‘It is life near the bone where it is sweetest’,” 20 Down); TOPEKA, formed by TOP DOGS (“Big kahunas,” 27 Across) and EUREKA (“Cry of epiphany,” 9 Down); DENVER, formed by DENOUNCE (“Censure,” 35 Across) and CLEAVER (“Butcher’s tool,” 16 Down); AUSTIN, formed by AUSTERE (“Spartan,” 73 Across) and TINACTIN (“Athlete’s foot treatment,” 43 Down); ALBANY, formed by ALBERTS (“Einstein and Camus,” 104 Across) and TIFFANY (“Renowned jeweler,” 81 Down); and PIERRE, formed by PIETAS (“Religious art figures,” 116 Across) and LE CARRE (“Best-selling author who once worked for Britain’s MI6,” 94 Down).

Closer To The Heart Dept.: “Rush job?” is a ROCK CONCERT, referring to a band that I didn’t even realize was still around. Apparently, the performers of the long-ago hit “Tom Sawyer” just finished their “Clockwork Angels” tour. They are also REISSUING (“Putting out on an anniversary, maybe,” 47 Across) some old tunes.

Doubled-Up Dept.: “Rosemary piece” is a SPRIG (68 Down), while the neighboring “Rosemary feature” is AROMA (69 Down).

For Fun Dept.: Unusual entries in this puzzle include THIS IS A TEST (“Emergency Broadcast System opening,” 123 Across); A BUG’S LIFE (“Pixar movie between ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Toy Story 2’,” 130 Across); SPIN CITY (“TV show on which Charlie Sheen replaced Michael J. Fox,” 92 Down); RISK-FREE (“Guaranteed,” 95 Across); and GALAPAGOS (“Darwin stopping point, with ‘the’,” 97 Across).

Need some solving tips and tricks? I’ve posted some here. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. You can also visit my Facebook page, or tweet me @crosswordkathy.


New York Times crossword puzzle Aug. 18 / Constructed by Elizabeth C. Gorski

You don’t want to think outside the box with this puzzle. But you might want to read between the lines – otherwise, this crossword might put you on edge.

Oh, the puns are just endless.

By pure coincidence, I began working this creative puzzle from the outside in – exactly as it was designed by Elizabeth C. Gorski. The first clue to the theme came after I used crossing words to solve 50 Down, “Quarterback protectors”: OFFENSIVE. It was clear the word “line” was missing from that phrase, and it was equally clear that the omission was on purpose, according to the clue for 69 Across: “Gray areas, maybe … or a hint to 12 incomplete answers in this puzzle.”

This puzzle might put some solvers on edge.
This puzzle might put some solvers on edge.

Armed with that information, it was pretty easy to mentally add the word “line” to any answer that didn’t fit in the grid, like EXPRESS (“Supermarket time-save,” 123 Across) and PIPE (“Locale for finished works that haven’t yet appeared,” 107 Down).

Theme answers are usually the longest entries in the crossword. But not so here – and it soon became evident that they were all AROUND THE PERIMETER (“With 56-Down, where to find this puzzle’s 12 theme answers,” 38 Down).

The other nine “lines,” starting clockwise from the top left corner, are TELEPHONE (“It may come down in a storm,” 1 Across), BAR (“Divider in a musical score,” 10 Across), CLOTHES (“Hang-out locale?” 13 Across), SIDE (“Hobby activity,” 19 Down), FREE THROW (“Court stripe,” 42 Down), DOTTED (“Bottom of a contract,” 100 Down), DEDICATED (“Means of one-to-one communication,” 125 Across), RED (“Draw a mark through for cancellation,” 124 Across) and TICKET (“Movie theater sight,” 1 Down).

Their positioning, of course, literally makes them BORDER LINES – the central answer to the aforementioned “Gray areas” clue. Nicely done, Ms. Gorski. (And am I the only one relieved to find no reference to BLURRED LINES, the controversial Robin Thicke hit song?)

Cheap Shots Dept.: “Cheap” might be too strong a word, but there were a few entries that pushed the envelope of normal vocabulary – namely RESEE (“Visit again,” 30 Across), ENHALO (“Represent as a saint, say,” 2 Down) and IFFIER (“Less certain,” 39 Across). And the biblical-ese “sayest” or “sayeth” would be bad enough, but SAYST (“‘What ___ thou?’,” 73 Across) without an “E” is just terrible.

For Fun Dept.: The quibbles above were offset by some pretty good entries, including AUTO-PILOT (“Just going through the motions, after ‘on’,” 11 Down), SADDLE SORE (“Real pain in the butt?” 73 Down), TERI GARR (“‘Tootsie’ Oscar nominee,” 48 Across), FOUR-COLOR (“Like some printing,” 51 Down), CARRIES ON (“Rants and raves,” 40 Down) and FINAL EDIT (“Last chance to strike out?” 117 Across).

People Of Faith Dept.: “Pope Francis’ birthplace” is ARGENTINA (41 Down). “Amish relative” is a MENNONITE (52 Down). “Part of a nativity scene” is a MANGER (71 Down). And a “Feature of St. Basil’s Cathedral” is an ONION DOME (79 Down).

Tread Lightly Dept.: “Kind of lab” is METH (71 Down). Can’t wait to watch the next episode of “Breaking Bad” tonight!

Need some solving tips and tricks? I’ve posted some here. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. You can also visit my Facebook page, or tweet me @crosswordkathy.

Added Satisfaction

New York Times crossword puzzle Aug. 11 / Constructed by Dan Schoenholz

Ah, the satisfaction of solving a New York Times crossword puzzle! It’s a sentiment you should take literally today. Constructor Dan Schoenholz has tweaked common phrases by adding the syllable most commonly associated with satisfaction: AH!

The title “Added Satisfaction” gave a strong hint to the theme, and my hunch was quickly confirmed with the solving of LEFT BAHRAIN (“Departed from Manama, maybe?” 86 Across) and AUNTIE AHEM (“Niece’s polite interruption?” 102 Across), a reference to Auntie Em from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Others: JUST SAY NOAH (“Webster’s directive to the overly formal?” 42 Down); HEAD TO TAHOE (“What many Bay Area skiers do on winter weekends?” 52 Down);  AFTER ALLAH (“Where most things rank in importance to a Muslim?” 26 Across); ; HOOKAH, LINE AND SINKER (“Equipment list for a hashish-smoking fisherman?” 62 Across); and SAHARA SMILE (“Welcome look from a Bedouin?” 25 Down).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: I have to admit that the aforementioned SAHARA SMILE rang a bell, but I couldn’t quite place its origin (“Sara Smile”). Turns out it’s a Hall & Oates song. The duo met while they were students at Temple University in Philly.

Doubled-Up Dept.: The twice-used clue “Commotions” yields both STIRS (114 Across) and ADOS (16 Down). “Raises” is REARS (45 Across), while its neighbor “___ raise” is PAY (46 Across). “Speck” is a MOTE (4 Down), while the neighboring “Space specks” are STARDUST (5 Down). Some answers were doubled, too: UH-UH (“‘No way!’,” 103 Down) and NY, NY (“’30 Rock’ setting, briefly,” 104 Down).

For Fun Dept.: Several unusual long entries in the grid weren’t part of the theme, such as THE BEAST (“Beauty’s counterpart,” 83 Down), UPHOLSTER (“Cover, in a way,” 92 Across), JOE CAMEL (“Old ad figure with a big nose,” 11 Down), LARKSPURS (“Often-blue garden blooms,” 50 Down) and STUD POKER (“Game for those who don’t like to draw,” 35 Down). Others: ON THE EDGE (“Close to losing it,” 106 Across), HOT DATES (“Exciting matches?” 52 Across), FIRE SALES (“‘Everything must go’ events,” 91 Across) and FEAST UPON (“Eat heartily,” 24 Across).

Mea Culpa Dept.: I was stymied a bit after entering QUATRO for “Numero of countries bordering Guatemala” at 98 Across. I finally realized my mistake – it should be CUATRO – after futilely struggling to come up with a four-letter word for “Intimidates” (98 Down) that began with Q. The C made it easy to figure out it was COWS.

Say What? Dept.: This puzzle had a few obscure entries, including POESY (“Burns books?” 57 Across), POLITY (“Organized society,” 19 Down), UTHER (“King Arthur’s father,” 92 Down), ATRI (“Italian bell town,” 100 Down) and BAWD (“Madam,” 51 Across). Funny, I’ve never heard the word “bawd,” though its derivative “bawdy” is pretty familiar.

Flying High Dept.: I first learned about the ENOLA GAY (“Historic exhibit at Washington Dulles airport,” 81 Down) while researching a junior high school report on the bombing of Hiroshima. I was surprised to learn from this puzzle that it’s at Dulles – could waiting passengers just walk over and see it? Not exactly, according to the Smithsonian’s website. The plane is at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., just south of Dulles.

Need some solving tips and tricks? I’ve posted some here. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. You can also visit my Facebook page, or tweet me @crosswordkathy.

Should I Call The Repairman?

New York Times crossword puzzle Aug. 4 / Constructed by Steven Ginzburg

Today’s rather mundane crossword poses an equally mundane question: Should you call the repairman? If you own as many broken appliances as this puzzle features, I suppose the answer is yes. Although let’s be honest: Most people would either junk this stuff or sell it as-is on Craigslist.

The first device goes on the fritz at 27 Across: “The jigsaw …” KEEPS CUTTING OUT. Then we see that “The elevator …” JUST WENT DOWN (40 Across). And more: “The mosquito zapper …” HAS STILL GOT BUGS (53 Across); “The quiz-grading machine …” FAILED SOME TESTS (77 Across); “The crosswalk signal …” IS ON THE BLINK (89 Across); and “The film-processing machine at the movie studio …” DEVELOPED A SHORT (104 Across). Unforutnately for the lonely Maytag repairman, it looks like the washing machine and dryer still work.

Fun Phrases Dept.: There were quite a few long entries that had nothing to do with the theme. They include KING-SIZE BED (“Part of a honeymoon suite, perhaps,” 14 Down), RHUBARB PIE (“Tart dessert,” 74 Down), STREET-WISE (“Savvy, in a way,” 6 Down), AT A DISCOUNT (“On sale,” 66 Down), WALLPAPERED (“Hung some strips,” 62 Down) and CORNER STONE (“Place to find a date,” 3 Down). Also in this category are AGA KHAN (“High Muslim honorific,” 6 Down), FAR EAST (“China setting,” 7 Down) and ARBORISTS (“Tree experts,” 23 Across).

Broadcast News Dept.: “Onetime NBC news anchor” was Chet HUNTLEY (91 Down). Another longtime NBC news reporter died yesterday: John Palmer was 77.

Check The Record Dept.: The “Pride of St. Louis” is not Charles Lindbergh nor his plane, but THE RAMS (90 Down)? You mean the football team that went 7-8-1 last year? And 2-14 the year before that? I guess the clue implies that rams travel in prides the same way that lions do. But I’ve never heard of a pride of rams.

Typo Alert Dept.: Thanks to Rob Jones (@meansman01) for pointing out that 3 Down is CORNER STONE, not CORNER STORE as I wrote earlier.

Need some solving tips and tricks? I’ve posted some here. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. You can also visit my Facebook page, or tweet me @crosswordkathy.