Tag Archives: New York Times crossword puzzle

Made-For-TV Movies

New York Times crossword May 26 / Constructed by Joon Pahk and Jeremy Horwitz

Today’s funny puzzle wasn’t hard to figure out, but the constructors get big points for cleverness. The title is a literal reference to the theme, which combines film titles with the names of television shows to create witty “Made-For-TV Movies.” So a “TV movie about … where I can easily get a cab?” is TAXI STAND BY ME (23 Across). And a movie about “… where to go in Togo?” is the very amusing OUTHOUSE OF AFRICA (30 Across), combining the Hugh Laurie show with the Meryl Streep film.

Others: A TV movie about “… a Hispanic ‘hip hip hooray’?” is THREE CHEERS AMIGOS (47 Across); “… trying to get a friar to violate his vow of silence?” is SAY ANYTHING, MONK! (62 Across); “… a singing group that meets for bacon and eggs?” is BREAKFAST GLEE CLUB (83 Across); “… Skywalker’s trendy hygiene products?” is COOL HANDSOAP LUKE (97 Across); and “… giving a pipsqueak the brush-off?” is GET LOST, SHORTY! (111 Across).

Checkered Flag Dept.: As I write this, the ladies and gentlemen are about start their engines for the Indy 500. So 99 Down was an especially appropriate clue today: “Surname appearing nine times in a list of Indy 500 winners” – UNSER.

Tell Me More Dept.: “Hellhound of Norse mythology” is GARM (52 Down), which I figured out from crossing clues. I’d never heard of it, so I looked it up – and it sounds like a pretty fearsome beast, with “four eyes and a chest drenched with blood.”

Parlez-Vous Francais? Dept.: There were quite a few French words in this grid – MERCI (“Comment that might get the response ‘de rien’,” 77 Down); ROIS (“Old French line,” 76 Across); ENTRE (“___ nous,” 102 Down); and ETE (“French word with two accents,” 29 Across), which should have marks over both E’s. The words mean “thank you,” “kings,” “between” and “summer,” respectively. Also in this category is GAVOTTE (“Baroque French dance,” 13 Across), which I was not familiar with.

Say Who? Say What? Dept.: I would have clued RHEE (43 Down) using a reference to Michelle Rhee, an education activist who’s the former chancellor of public schools in Washington, D.C. This puzzle clued it as “Syngman of South Korea,” which I solved and later looked up: Syngman Rhee was the first president of that country. Also new to me was the term CAIRENE (“Yasir Arafat, by birth,” 115 Across), which I got from crossing entries. It means a native of Cairo.

Haha Dept.: “Parliament constituent?” is NICOTINE (105 Across). “Concave object of reflection?” is an INNIE (91 Across), as in belly-button. Get it? Navel-gazing? “Ones going to Washington?” are TAX RETURNS (3 Down). And “Has an adult conversation?” is TALKS DIRTY (73 Down).

Other Fun Entries Dept.: ELM TREE (“State symbol of Massachusetts,” 116 Across), BEEHIVES (“Retro dos,” 83 Down), HOT BATH (“Relaxing soak,” 21 Across) and OLE MISS (“Alma mater of Eli Manning,” 22 Across).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: “Specter of the Senate, once” is ARLEN (61 Across). The longtime Pennsylvania senator, who died last year, lived here for decades.

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 May 19 / Constructed by Jean O’Conor

One of the first tweets I saw when I woke up this morning was from @That_Smoke: “The NYT crossword puzzle was easy enough to do in ink. #sadtrombone.”

So it was with a heavy heart that I went to my corner market to buy the paper, wondering what disappointment awaited. (For those of you who have not discovered the genius of Sad Trombone, click here.) Turns out that “Befitting” was among the easiest puzzles of the year so far, though I will say I enjoyed its theme answers much more than the nonsense in last week’s “Simply Put.”

“Befitting” is an aural clue alluding to the fact that each theme answer tweaks a common phrase by using a “B” sound: “Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic?” are TENNIS SERBS (23 Across), while “Let Justin take care of everything?” is LEAVE IT TO BIEBER (65 Across).

Others: “Tour guide’s comment at the primate house?” is THAT’S A GIBBON (28 Across). “Sign for tourists visiting the Bolshoi?” is BALLET PARKING (33 Across). “Tropical paradise for Barbie and Ken?” is BALI OF THE DOLLS (51 Across). “Passed security at the troubadours’ convention?” is SHOWED BALLAD ID (84 Across). “Prepare to go canoeing?” is GET OUT THE BOAT (97 Across). “Stadium binge?” is a HOTDOG BENDER (107 Across). And “Fortunetellers’ protest demand?” is SIBYL RIGHTS (116 Across).

All in all, not a bad debut for constructor Jean O’Conor, a retired speech-language pathologist and grandmother from small-town Vermont. You can read more about her in the NYT’s Wordplay blog.

Unusual Entries Dept.: “Hyperbolically large” is GINORMOUS (25 Across). “No longer fizzy” is GONE FLAT (4 Down). “Like Nasser’s vision” is PAN-ARAB (74 Across). “Salad ingredient” is TUNA FISH (13 Down). “Google hit units” are WEB PAGES (90 Down). “Like steppes” are TREELESS (27 Across). And “Jordanian port” is AQABA (34 Down).

Doubled-Up Dept.: “Ran” was the clue for both FLED (45 Down) and its neighbor BLED (46 Down). Figuring those out helped me get FBI (“Cry before ‘Open up!’,” 45 Across), which I don’t think I ever would solved otherwise. That, in turn, led me to I SPY (“Children’s game with letters,” 47 Down), which had also stumped me because I never played it as a kid. The answer is usually clued in reference to the TV show starring Bill Cosby and Robert Culp.

First-Name Basis Dept.: “Drudge of the Drudge Report” is MATT (1 Down). “Ghostbuster Spengler” is EGON, a bizarre entry that I knew from countless basic cable reruns of the classic movie from 1984. “Soap actress Sofer” is RENA (50 Across). “One of the Dionne quints” is EMILIE (5 Down). And the cheesy clue “’60s White House name” (55 Down) – which I complained about a few months ago – yields ABE, for 1860s president Abraham Lincoln. #sadtrombone.

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.

Simply Put

New York Times crossword May 12 / Constructed by David J. Kahn

Not much to write about today’s crossword. Simply put: There’s no payoff.

The puzzle’s theme is “A piece of long-winded advice,” which is spread among 29-, 44-, 63-, 77- and 93 Across: POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES / OF A PLAN OR DECISION ONE / CANNOT REVERSE SHOULD BE / HEEDED PRIOR TO THE TIME / AN ACTION IS EFFECTUATED.

The “kicker,” if you could call it that, comes at 24 Down: “This puzzle’s long-winded advice, simply put”: LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP.

Ugh. Thanks for that insight.

Long Answers Dept.: Unusual non-theme entries include CLUB SODAS (“Some mixers,” 22 across); LITTLE TRAMP (“Charlie Chaplin persona, with ‘the’,” 103 Across); LETTER GRADE (“One way to measure a student’s progress,” 24 Across); and TABLE-HOPS (“Works the room, maybe,” 4 Down).

Haha Dept.: “‘A horse designed by a committee'” is a CAMEL (99 Down).

Happy Mother’s Day Dept.: I am both grateful and horrified to have inherited the grammar gene from my mom, the (now retired) high school English teacher. Now I spend my time wondering when “iced tea” became ICE TEA (“Cooler in hot weather,” 89 Down).

If Only Dept.: “Pitching muscle, for short” is a DELT (116 Across). Here’s hoping the Phillies get some to replace Roy Halladay.

Philly Shout-Out/Dragon Tattoo Dept.: “Former Swedish P.M. Palme” is OLOF (30 Down), which I know from my current reading of “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.” By coincidence, the king and queen of Sweden were in Philly over the past couple of days. As we were waiting for them to arrive at City Hall, a fellow journalist asked me if I was gathering string for a future crossword post – yes! And thanks for reading.

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.

Crunch Time

New York Times crossword May 5 / Constructed by Alan Arbesfeld

If you’ve ever felt “crunched” for time, today’s puzzle is for you: Constructor Alan Arbesfeld requires solvers to squeeze abbreviations for the days of the week into single squares. “Early entrepreneurial efforts” are LE(MON)ADE STANDS (23 Across), with MON crunched into one square; it then crosses with AL(MON)DINE (“How trout may be prepared: Var.”, 3 Down).

Other days of the week:

_ STA(TUE) OF DAVID (“Florentine attraction,” 28 Across), which crosses with VIR(TUE)S (“Good qualities,” 12 Down).

_ STE(WED) PRUNES, which was clued by a surprising attempt at bathroom humor (“Food to go?”, 43 Across) and crosses with BO(WED) OUT (“Withdrew,” 31 Down).

_ BUDAPES(T HU)NGARY (“Birthplace of Harry Houdini,” 69 Across), which crosses with GREEN (THU)MB (“Nursery gift,” 39 Down).

_ BETTY (FRI)EDAN (“Big name in feminism,” 93 Across), which crosses with A(FRI)CA (“Isak Dinesen novel setting,” 88 Down).

_ CATCHE(S A T)RAIN (“Just makes the 7:47, perhaps,” 110 Across), which crosses with U(S AT)LAS (“50-page book, maybe?” 106 Down).

_ And GOE(S UN)DER COVER (“Does spy work,” 118 Across), which crosses with ETAT(S UN)IS (“___ d’Amerique,” 94 Down).

'Crunch Time' does not refer to the Nestle's candy bar.
‘Crunch Time’ does not refer to the Nestle’s candy bar.

I figured there’d be some squeezing involved after seeing the word “crunch” in the title, a hunch that was confirmed when I ended up with CATCHE_R_ _ _ for 110 Across. Something would have to give in order to get the word TRAIN in there. Then I realized that 106 Down wasn’t just ATLAS but US ATLAS after guessing RUDI at 105 Across (“Designer Gernreich”). So I squeezed in SAT, but I was still puzzled. Was today the weekend everyone takes the SAT? If so, who cares? Why would that be the basis for a puzzle? Then I figured out the theme answer involving TUE, and it became clear.

Cinco de Mayo Dept.: I’ll take this opportunity to highlight some Spanish words in honor of today’s date marking an obscure military victory that’s often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day (which is actually Sept. 16). The doubled clue “Spanish precious metal” yields PLATA (“silver,” 63 Across) and ORO (“gold,” 121 Down). “Durango dinero” is a PESO (115 Down). And “That, in Tijuana” is ESA (126 Down).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: I thought today’s Philly shout-out was going to be a breeze when I saw “Eagles’ org.” at 93 Down. I quickly wrote in NFL … and then saw that the “L” had to be an “A” in order for 108 Across to be PAAR (“Carson’s predecessor”). Eventually, I figured out that it was BSA, for Boy Scouts of America – but it so happens that Philly has a connection there, too. On Friday, the city resolved a long-running dispute with the group stemming from its ban on gay Scouts. I’ll also throw 52 Down into this category as well: “Certain tournaments” are OPENS, and the U.S. Open is coming to the Merion Golf Club just outside Philly next month.

Haha Dept.: “George W. Bush acquisition of 2008” is a SON-IN-LAW. Jenna Bush and Henry Hager recently had a child.

Where In The World? Dept.: “Alberta’s third-largest city, named after an animal” is RED DEER (18 Down). “Amerique du ___” is SUD (22 Down). “World’s leading exporter of bananas” is ECUADOR (90 Down). And a “Neighbor of a Belarussian” is a LATVIAN (16 Down), although I distinctly remember a clue that stumped me a few months ago in which a resident of Riga (the capital of Latvia) was called a LETT.

Rhyme Time Dept.: “Priest, in an Ogden Nash poem,” is a ONE-L LAMA (59 Across), which requires some explaining if you aren’t familiar with his quirky genius:

The one-l lama,
He’s a priest.
The two-l llama,
He’s a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn’t any
Three-l lllama.

And then Nash added a classic footnote as a kicker: “The author’s attention has been called to a type of conflagration known as a three-alarmer. Pooh.”

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.

Front Flips

New York Times crossword April 21 / Constructed by Jonah Kagan

I just flew in from San Francisco yesterday morning, and boy are my arms tired. (Rim shot.) Actually, my brain is tired because I took the red-eye and am still a little behind on my sleep. Good thing today’s puzzle required only basic mental gymnastics – or “front flips,” as the title calls them.

The theme requires solvers to reverse (“flip”) the first (“front”) word of several common phrases in order to create amusing new ones. Thus “Keep under wraps” becomes PEEK UNDER WRAPS, the answer to “Try to see what you’re getting for Christmas?” (34 Across).

Others: EVIL FROM NEW YORK (“Tammany Hall corruption, e.g.?” 24 Across); PERP SCHOOL (“Academy for criminals?” 45 Across); RAT’S TREK (“Journey from the nest to the kitchen, say?” 51 Across); POT SECRET (“Hidden drug habit, maybe?” 64 Across); GULP IT IN (“Drink greedily?” 76 Across); DOOM SWINGS (“Playground apparatus of the Apocalypse?” 81 Across); DIAL DOWN THE LAW (“Be a lenient judge?” 91 Across); and REVILED THE GOODS (“Maligned merchandise?” 105 Across).

Names You Don’t Hear Every Day Dept.: There were quite a few unusual first names in this grid, such as GUINEVERE (“Lover of Lancelot,” 110 Across), EMILE (“Actor Hirsch of ‘Speed Racer’,” 111 Across), JUDE (“Title fellow in a Beatles song,” 83 Down), the Jetsons’ ELROY (“Cartoon boy with an antenna on his cap,” 109 Across), OLIVIA (“Lover of Cesario in ‘Twelfth Night’,” 90 Down), DELIA (“One of the Ephrons,” 115 Across), IRMA (“‘Harry Potter’ librarian Pince,” 54 Across) and – my favorite reference of the day – TOBIAS (“‘Arrested Development’ character Funke,” 53 Across). Rumor has it they might make an “Arrested Development” movie. Also in this department is GERTIE (“‘___ the Dinosaur’ [pioneering cartoon short],” 17 Down), which I probably would have clued using a reference to Drew Barrymore’s character in “E.T.” In case you’re wondering about Gertie the Dinosaur (I was!), here’s a clip:

Love Is In The Air Dept.: A couple of long answers that did not fit the “flip” theme created a mini-theme of their own – FIRST KISS (“Memorable romantic moment,” 4 Down) and PROMISE RING (“Commitment signifier,” 63 Down). I’ll also put SAY ANYTHING (“1989 John Cusack romantic comedy,” 15 Down) in this category, since the film is perhaps most famous for its declaration-of-love scene featuring a boombox that blares Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”

In Memoriam Dept.: “Margaret Thatcher, e.g.” was a LADY (50 Down). The former British prime minister was laid to rest last week. And film critic Roger EBERT wrote “Awake in the Dark” (46 Down). His funeral was held earlier this month in Chicago.

Doubled-Up Dept.: “Land on the Arctic Cir.” is NORW, for Norway (80 Down), while “Arctic Circle sights” are BERGS (96 Down).

Sick As A Dog Dept.: The doubled clue “Possible flu symptom” yields both AGUE (93 Down) and NAUSEA (94 Down).

Words I’ve Never Heard Dept.: ESKER (“Gravelly ridge,” 18 Down) and ATRIP (“Up, as an anchor,” 39 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.

(This post was updated to include the Roger Ebert reference.)

‘My Treat’

New York Times crossword April 14 / Constructed by Elizabeth C. Gorski

Elizabeth C. Gorski is one of my favorite constructors – she always has something clever up her sleeve. (Here’s a recent interview with her.) But I think I have found her weakness: Chocolate. Today’s puzzle titled “My Treat” is all about the sweet stuff, as we know from the answer to 59 Down: CHOCOLATE DROP (“Kiss alternative … or a hint to the starts of 3-, 5-, 10-, 14-, 26-, 64- and 68-Down). The “kiss” in this case, of course, refers to the teardrop-shaped treats made not-too-far from Philly in Hershey, Pa.

Each theme answer starts with a word that describes a type of chocolate: HOT FOR TEACHER (“1984 ‘educational’ Van Halen song,” 3 Down); BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY (“1998 Grammy-nominated song by the Verve,” 5 Down); BELGIAN CONGO (“Setting of Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘The Poisonwood Bible’,” 10 Down); SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON (“Classic novel subtitled ‘Adventures in a Desert Island,’ with ‘The’,” 26 Down); WHITE SANGRIA (“Light, fruity alcoholic drink,” 64 Down); MILK THISTLE (“Flowering plant used to treat liver ailments,” 68 Down); and DARK SHADOWS (“2012 film starring Johnny Depp as a bloodsucker,” 14 Down). Funny, Depp also starred in a movie called “Chocolat.”

It was a fairly easy crossword, although I had the hardest time with the upper-left corner – mostly because I couldn’t for the life of me remember that “Lady Bird Johnson’s real first name” was CLAUDIA (2 Down). I finally figured it out from crossing letters, but it made me want to look up the origin of the nickname. Apparently, it came from a nursemaid who once called her “purty as a lady bird.”

Dialogue Dept.: “‘With any luck!'” is I HOPE SO (92 Down). “Response to ‘I promise I will'” is YOU BETTER (100 Across). “‘How sad'” is TRAGIC (30 Down). And “‘I know the answer!'” is OH! OH! OH! (98 Across).

Who Knew? Dept.: Soccer legend “Pele’s given name” is EDSON (13 Across).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: “‘The Black Cat’ writer” is Edgar Allan POE (42 Down), whose home here is a National Historic Site. (Yeah, Poe is buried in Baltimore but he lived and wrote in Philly!) I’m also going to say hi to blog commenter Michael T. Bates, who asked for a shout-out for suburban Media, Pa. I’ve actually been to a couple of restaurants and the courthouse there (to cover a story – honest!). Thanks for reading.

Half Dome Dept: Counting down to the start of my vacation! We’re headed to Yosemite National Park in California, a place I haven’t visited since I was about 12. We plan to see some waterfalls and hike a bit, hopefully avoiding any LOOSE ROCK (“Mountain-climbing hazard,” 25 Across). Friends are wishing us a BON voyage (“Kind of voyage?” 91 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.