Tag Archives: Crossword Kathy

On Wheels

New York Times crossword puzzle April 20 / Constructed by Elizabeth C. Gorski

Be careful making your way through today’s clever puzzle: It’s filled with cars, and there’s no crosswalk in sight.

Constructor Elizabeth C. Gorski is known for great visual tricks, so I immediately focused on the answers containing circled letters. The first one I solved yielded an O in each circle: TO YOU (“Toast words after ‘Here’s’,” 26 Across). Hmmm. Kinda seems like she’s trying to symbolize the “wheels” in the title, no? But I was stuck, partly because I mistakenly wrote ALFY for “Woody’s ‘Annie Hall’ role” at 3 Down. (I later realized it’s ALVY.)

Today's puzzle is a veritable parking lot. (Click to enlarge.)

Today’s puzzle is a veritable parking lot. (Click to enlarge.)

So I moved on and quickly found two more O’s in the circles of BOLEROS (“Short open jackets,” 41 Across). The answer directly above that came easily: MUSTANG SALLY (“1966 Wilson Pickett R&B hit,” 34 Across). Well, whaddya know? The MUSTANG is perfectly balanced over the “wheels” in BOLEROS. Pretty neat.

Other vehicles: The Hyundai SONATA, in HORA SONATA (“Recital piece for a wind player,” 25 Across); the Cadillac SEVILLE, in BARBER OF SEVILLE (“Opera based on a play by Pierre Beaumarchais, with ‘The’,” 54 Across); the Dodge CHARGER, in SAN DIEGO CHARGER (“Qualcomm Stadium athlete,” 76 Across); the Volkswagen BEETLE, in BEETLE BAILEY (“Walker’s strip,” 93 Across); the Kia OPTIMA, in OPTIMA CARD (“Visa alternative,” 110 Across); the Subaru FORESTER, in C.S. FORESTER (“‘The African Queen’ novelist,” 112 Across); and the Honda CIVIC, from CIVIC PRIDE (“Attribute of Elks or Lions Club members,” 23 Across).

Mag Wheels / Wheels Mag Dept.: A place to read more about these cars is MOTOR Trend magazine (16 Down).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: A “Mobile home seeker?” is CALDER, as in artist Alexander Calder. His mobile “Ghost” can be found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and his father’s Swann Memorial Fountain is one of my favorite spots in the city. His grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder, created the massive sculpture of William Penn that’s perched atop City Hall. (No, it’s not Benjamin Franklin!)

Plumbing Dept.: It’s not worth explaining how I screwed up my initial entry for “Pipe valves” at 43 Across. Suffice to say that when I finally figured out what it was supposed to be, it was a term I had never heard: STOPCOCKS. I also wrongly entered DEACON at 93 Down (“English church official”) and had change it to the more esoteric BEADLE after filling in some surrounding answers.

Um, Who? Dept.: Crossing words gave me RANDI as the “‘Amazing’ debunker” at 75 Down, but I had to look it up to understand the answer. Apparently former magician James Randi and his foundation work to expose “supernatural” phenomena and the like.

Short Circuit Dept.: EES (“Some M.I.T. grads: Abbr.” 88 Down) are EES, which would really be written “EEs,” which is short for electrical engineers. Cheap.

Hoppy Holidays Dept.: Today is Easter, so I’ll point out the “Query from Judas” at 97 Down: IS IT I?

For Fun Dept.: Some fun words in the fill, including COLD CEREAL (“Quaker production,” 46 Down), SNOWY EGRET (“Bird whose feathers were once prized by milliners,” 43 Down), ANDRONICUS (“Shakespeare’s ‘Titus ___’,” 38 Down), SCOTT TUROW (“Best-selling novelist whom Time called ‘Bard of the Litigious Age’,” 21 Across) and COTTON BALL “Makeup removal item,” 114 Across).

Haha Dept.: “City that sounds like a humdinger?” is BUTTE (96 DOWN). Get it? It’s pronounced BYOOT, as in “beaut”? Me neither.

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. And here’s a little more about me.

It’s Taxing

New York Times crossword puzzle April 13 / Constructed by Dan Schoenholz

I tweeted this earlier today, but it’s so momentous that it bears repeating: For the first time in six months, it was meteorologically possible to solve the Sunday puzzle while sitting on my stoop. Woohoo!

Finally back to solving on the stoop!

Finally back to solving on the stoop!

Yes, it is finally spring. That means the 15th of APRIL (“Deadline time appropriate to this puzzle,” 100 Across) is just around the corner, as the grid’s title so kindly reminds us . So the theme takes common phrases and puts them in a 1040 frame of mind – and, luckily, the result is not too taxing, as reader @Sairey_Gamp cleverly puts it.

A “Chart used to calculate a married couple’s taxes?” is a TABLE FOR TWO (67 Across), while an “I.R.S. update?” is a SCHEDULE CHANGE (81 Across). A “Last-minute way to reduce tax for a desperate filer?” is an EMERGENCY SHELTER (93 Across). And a “C.P.A.’s masterstroke?” is a BRILLIANT DEDUCTION (104 Across).

Others: “C.P.A.’s advice for lowering future-year liabilities?” is ROLL THE CREDITS (49 Across). An “Agreement for an amount to be taken from one’s salary?” is WITHHOLDING CONSENT (25 Across). And “What C.P.A.’s wish for their clients?” is MANY HAPPY RETURNS (33 Across).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: What on earth is ILLY (“In a bad way,” 110 Down)? It’s not a nickname for the City of Brotherly Love – though we do sometimes go by Illadelphia – and it’s certainly not a word I’ve ever used or heard. Am I alone here?

Head Scratchers Dept.: ILLY wasn’t the only entry that furrowed my brow. Let’s begin with LENITY (“Laxness,” 99 Down), an unusual term related to “leniency.” Originally I ended up with the non-existent word LENITH because I mistakenly wrote HOWL as the answer for “Wail” at 124 Across. (It’s YOWL.) Then there was ANNEAL (“Strengthen,” 119 Across), which sounds like it might be more common in labs, or ceramic- or glassblowing studios. Another one: ECOTONE, a term for the “Transition area from deciduous to evergreen, e.g.” (52 Down). ART GLASS (“Fragile decoration,” 22 Across) seemed a bit cheesy. Also, I wasn’t familiar with PILE as a synonym for “Reactor” (39 Across), though it looks like that’s pretty common.

For Fun Dept.: There was some good fill in this crossword, including HELLIONS (“Troublemakers,” 114 Across), LATRINE (“Division head?” 41 Down), SAFE AREA (“Neutral zone, say,” 18 Across), EAT ALONE (“What to ‘never’ do, according to the title of a 2005 best seller,” 82 Down) and REDBONE (“Breed of hunting dog,” 49 Down).

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. And here’s a little more about me.

At Times

New York Times crossword puzzle April 6 / Constructed by Patrick Berry

Today’s punny puzzle is all about seeing people in a different light. The theme turns common objects into behavioral descriptions: A “Clumsy pharmacist, at times?” is a MEDICINE DROPPER (23 Across), while a “Dressage rider, at times?” is a COLT REVOLVER (28 Across).

Others: An “Old-fashioned barber, at times?” is a FOAM RUBBER (47 Across). An “Inexperienced shucker, at times?” is an OYSTER CRACKER (54 Across). A “No-limit Texas hold ‘em player, at times?” is ALL BETTER (65 Across). A “Farmer, at times?” is a CHICKEN TENDER (74 Across). A “Sleeping sunbather, at times?” is a BACK BURNER (84 Across). A “Dieter, at times?” is a SNACK COUNTER (103 Across). And a “Person getting out of a tub, at times?” is a BATHROOM SLIPPER (110 Across).

Kinda cute. Not hard. What did you think?

Conscious Uncoupling Dept.: A “Viscous substance” is GOOP (96 Down). Goop, of course, is also the lifestyle website run by actress Gwyneth Paltrow. It features recipes, fashion and the much-discussed recent announcement that she and husband Chris Martin (the lead singer of Coldplay) have broken up.

Mayday Dept.: The wordless clue featuring perhaps unfamiliar dots and dashes (which I’m unable to reproduce here) spells out the last name of its inventor: MORSE (44 Down). In a somewhat related entry, a more familiar Morse reference – SOS – is the “Signal that replaced ‘CQD’” (113 Down). Apparently, CQD stands for “Seeking you! Distress!” or “All stations! Distress!”

For Fun Dept.: Some interesting fill in this grid, including MONO-SKI (“Snowboard relative,” 14 Down),  SNEAK UP ON (“Take by surprise,” 79 Down), MIDSTREAM (“Current location?” 3 Down) and ABSOLUT (“Spirits in Scandinavia,” 90 Across).

All Things Considered Dept.: Both ARI (“NPR journalist Shapiro,” 19 Acros) and COKIE (“News analyst Roberts,” 45 Down) can be heard on National Public Radio. So can NYT puzzle editor Will Shortz, who appears every Sunday morning.

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. And here’s a little more about me.

Musical Interpretation

New York Times crossword puzzle March 30 / Constructed by Peter A. Collins

You don’t need to know much about music to interpret today’s puzzle. But it does help to be familiar with classic rock and have a creative sense of wordplay: The theme answers consist of literally rendered song titles.

The trickery became clear early on after crossing words left me with  _MOK_  at 37 Across. I knew from the clue (“With 43-Across, 1973 Deep Purple hit?”) that the song was “Smoke on the Water,” but there weren’t enough spaces. That meant the “on” had to be implied: SMOKE literally sits “on” THE WATER, which is entered directly below at 43 Across.

Song titles get literal interpretations in this grid. (Click to enlarge.)

Song titles get literal interpretations in this grid. (Click to enlarge.)

Others: STAND / YOUR MAN, for “Stand by Your Man” (With 89-Down, 1968 Tammy Wynette hit?”, 95 Down); TIME TIME, for “Time After Time” (“1984 Cyndi Lauper hit?” 78 Across); and R-O-C-K / THE CLOCK, for “Rock Around the Clock,” where ROCK are the circled letters surrounding THE CLOCK (“With the circled letters, 1955 Bill Haley and His Comets hit?” 28 Across). Speaking of which, the label for that song was DECCA (22 Down).

The trickiest ones: NOOMDAB at 90 Down, for “Bad Moon Rising” (“1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival hit?”) – the BAD MOON “rises” from bottom to top; and LOATEENAGERVE at 66 Across, for “A Teenager in Love” (“1959 Dion and the Belmonts hit?”). The words A TEENAGER are literally placed “in” the word LOVE.

So, what did you think? Not bad. But here’s the place where I reiterate my longstanding complaint about music references being too old – nearly 60 years for “Rock Around the Clock”! – and I repeat my (so far empty) vow to create a similar puzzle with modern tunes. Although perhaps a Miley Cyrus reference was implied by the presence of TWERK at 7 Down (“Back it up, in a way”)? Yikes!

For Fun Dept.: There was lots of good fill in this grid, including TOO CAREFUL (“What fastidious people can’t be,” 16 Down), IN BAD SHAPE (“Suffering,” 3 Down), DICK AND JANE (“Primer pair,” 116 Across), SUBSISTENCE (“Kind of farming,” 23 Across), SGT. BILKO (“NCO of 1950s TV,” 65 Down) and – holy cow! – EMPIRICIST (“John Locke, philosophically,” 70 Down).

Haha Dept.: There were some really punny jokes, too. “Where to find screwdrivers and rusty nails” are BARROOMS (109 Across); “Rubber from Arabia?” is ALADDIN (93 Down); “Slanted writing” are EDITORIALS (75 Down); and “Runners in the cold?” are NOSES (125 Across).

Ouch! Dept.: “Memorable series in ‘Psycho’” are STABS (79 Across).

Learn Something New Every Day Dept.: From crossing words, I figured out that “The ‘T’ of Mr. T” stands for TERO (43 Down). Various biographies indicate he was born Lawrence Tureaud, which I’m guessing is a hard-to-pronounce French surname that some family members (including him) changed to its phonetic pronunciation, TERO. I also didn’t know that TARS is another word for “deck hands” (“Hands on deck,” 61 Down).

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. And here’s a little more about me.

Bright Ideas

New York Times crossword puzzle March 23 / Constructed by Ian Livengood

Love getting that “Aha!” moment when solving crosswords? You’ll get at least two of them today while working on this self-referential puzzle about THOMAS EDISON (86 Across).

You have to deduce the subject from crossing letters, or from the three-part witticism entered at 23-, 29- and 43 Across: I HAVE NOT FAILED, I’VE JUST FOUND TEN THOUSAND WAYS THAT WON’T WORK (” … motivational comment attributed to 86-Across”).

Circled letters in the grid symbolize an inventor's bright idea. (Click to enlarge.)

Circled letters in the grid symbolize an inventor’s bright idea. (Click to enlarge.)

Known as THE WIZARD OF MENLO PARK (96 Across) – the New Jersey town where he had a laboratory – Edison is known for inventing the INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULB (106 Across). Constructor Ian Livengood has cleverly hidden one in the grid, which you get by connecting the circled letters. An editor’s note indicates the letters, when read counterclockwise from the top, spell out “a phrase relating to the puzzle’s theme”: AHA MOMENT.

It’s a well done puzzle, although I’m wondering what the peg is … an anniversary of some type? Perhaps it’s a eulogy, considering that Edison’s signature achievement is being phased out of production in the U.S. – the bulbs no longer meet federal energy-efficiency standards.

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: “Dolph of ‘Rocky IV’” is LUNDGREN (116 Across). Our city’s favorite fictional son just debuted on Broadway last week. Philly tourism officials hope the musical “Rocky” will convince theater-goers to travel down I-95 (or hop Amtrak) to see the sights that inspired the story.

Sports Section Dept. “United Center team” are the CHICAGO BULLS (12 Down), while “Five-time Super Bowl champions, informally” are THE NINERS (47 Down). The 49ers don’t play in the NFC SOUTH, but New Orleans does (“Saint’s home, for short,” 19 Across).

For Fun Dept.: Unusual entries in the puzzle include DNA MOLECULE (“Bit of a code,” 3 Down), SESAME BAGELS (“Deli stock with seeds,” 60 Down) and OPEN CIRCUIT (“What an electric current does not flow through,” 67 Down).

Cruel Joke Dept.: As this unending winter continues into spring – with more snow possible on Tuesday – there is not a TAN LINE to be found around here (“Sunbathing evidence,” 90 Down).

Doubled-Up Dept.: “D.C. mover” at 101 Down is the METRO, while the “D.C. mover and shaker: Abbr.” at 119 Across is a SEN(ator).

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. And here’s a little more about me.

It’s Better This Way

New York Times crossword puzzle March 16 / Constructed by Jeremy Newton

How do you get from SICK to WELL? By going to the doctor. Or by taking the sage advice of today’s puzzle: FOLLOWING THE PRESCRIPTION (“With 58-Down, a patient process? … or a hint to two consecutive letters in the answer to each of the seven starred clues,” 16 Down).

This clever crossword takes you through the healing process, starting with getting SICK in the upper left corner and then moving diagonally through a medicinal path to WELL in the lower right. SICK comes from the circled letters in SICK OF (“So over,” 1 Across), while WELL is from DO WELL (“Thrive, 119 Across).

This puzzle shows the path to wellness.

This puzzle shows the path to wellness. (Click to enlarge.)

The medicine, of course, is symbolized by the RX in each of the theme answers – RX being the abbreviation for “prescription.” The first is found in XERXES I OF PERSIA (“*He bested Leonidas at Thermopylae,” 23 Across), followed by FOUR-X-FOUR (“*Off-roader, often,” 31 Across).

Continuing to follow the prescription, you’ll find THE WINTER X GAMES (“*Annual draw for snocross fans,” 49 Across), GROUCHO MARX MUSTACHE (“*Iconic feature of comedy,” 65 Across), PROFESSOR XAVIER (“*Founder of Marvel’s School for Gifted Youngsters,” 79 Across), SOLVE FOR X (“*Frequent problem faced by algebra students,” 97 Across) and RETURN OF DOCTOR X (“*Horror flick starring Humphrey Bogart as a mad scientist, with ‘The’,” 108 Across). What a bizarre role for Bogey!

Silver Screen Dept.: Speaking of movies, “Clueless” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary” are ROM-COMS (40 Down). “Loud beast heard in theaters” is the MGM LION (57 Down), which nearly stumped me and was one of the last answers I filled in. And Xerxes is back in theaters now with “300: Rise of an Empire.” It’s the sequel to the stylized 2006 film “300,” which tells the story of Leonidas’ Spartans and their battle against the Persian king who considered himself a god.

Corner Drugstore Dept.: By the way, my first instinct when I get sick is to buy something OTC (“Like Advil or Aleve: Abbr.” 54 Across).

For Fun Dept.: Unusual entries in the grid include EAST-WEST (“How lines of latitude run,” 21 Down),  ADAM’S ALE (“Water, wryly,” 115 Across), RESCUE ME (“1965 R&B #1 song with the repeated lyric “Can’t you see that I’m lonely?’” 20 Across), THING IS (“‘That may be true, but …’” 55 Across) and HOT WAX (“Hair-razing stuff?” 56 Down)

New To Me Dept.: Apparently an L-BAR is a “Bent beam” (76 Across), which I got from crossing words. It’s also known as an angle iron.

Ugh Dept.: The other entry that took me forever to get was RSTU (“They’re 18 to 21,” 73 Down). The numbers refer to the letters’ places in the alphabet.

Shameless Promotion Dept.: Some of you may know that I am an aspiring constructor … and I’m thrilled to report my first puzzle was published this week in Games magazine! Still aiming to impress Will and get a grid printed in the NYT, of course, but one step at a time. Thanks to everyone for the supportive comments and “likes” on my Facebook page!

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: Today’s shout-out goes to my fellow Philadelphians as we brace for yet another snowfall tonight. Amid this never-ending winter, here’s a badly needed laugh featuring Groucho Marx and his mustache in “Duck Soup.”

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. And here’s a little more about me.

Nosy Nonsense

New York Times crossword puzzle March 9 / Constructed by Brendan Emmett Quigley

Between my jet lag coming back to Philly and the jump ahead to Daylight Saving Time, I’m operating four hours behind schedule and my brain is somewhat addled. Luckily, today’s puzzle was easy-peasy.

The theme answers add a “zee” sound to common phrases, as evidenced in the title: “Nosy Nonsense.” So a “Marvel from Idaho’s largest city?” is a BOISE WONDER (103 Across), while a “Picky little dog?” is a CHOOSY TOY (28 Across), from chew toy.

Others: “Business transactions free from government regulation?” are EASY COMMERCE (52 Across), for e-commerce. A “Barely remembered seaman?” is a HAZY SAILOR (36 Down). The “Sports score most likely to be on the highlight reel?” is a DOOZY POINT (44 Down). A “Carefree dairy product?” is BREEZY CHEESE (73 Across). “Optimistic theater audience?” is a ROSY HOUSE (101 Across). And “One unsatisfied with a ‘She loves me, she loves me not’ result?” is a DAISY TRADER (26 Across).

City of Brotherly Love Dept.: I’ll give a Philly shout-out to the aforementioned ROSY HOUSE, which comes from “row house,” which is what our fair city is filled with. Also will note the upcoming start of March Madness, otherwise known as the annual office bracket-guessing contest sponsored by NCAA (“Certain tourney overseer,” 105 Down). The Philly-area Villanova Wildcats may be one of the higher seeds this year.

City of Angels Dept.: Having just returned from a weeklong visit to my other hometown (Los Angeles), I’ll point out that a “College up the coast from L.A.” is UCSB (102 Down), for the University of California at Santa Barbara. And a “CBS series that, oddly, was filmed in L.A.” was CSI: NY (53 Down).

New To Me Dept.:  Was not familiar with STEPTOE (“Isolated hill surrounded by lava,” 8 Across) or EUROMART (“Continental free trade group,” 86 Across), both of which I got from crossing words.

Product Placement Dept.: You’ll find both ISOTONER (“Brand of gloves and slippers,” 84 Down) and DENTYNE (“Orbit rival,” 67 Across) in the grid.

You’ve Got To Be Kidding Dept.: MAZY is a word? As in maze-like? Seriously? Apparently it’s a synonym for “Labyrinthine” (66 Down).

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. And here’s a little more about me.