Tag Archives: NYT crossword puzzle

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.

Reel-Life Anniversary

New York Times crossword puzzle Feb. 23 / Constructed by a namesake of 119-Across

This puzzle intrigued me even before I read the first clue. What was up with this mysterious byline: “By a namesake of 119-Across”?

Making a beeline for that entry, I saw that solvers were in for a Sunday matinee – eight of them, actually. The theme is about the “Director of the eight starred films in this puzzle, who was born on 2/23/1889.”

I’m no film buff, but it was pretty easy to kick off the entries with GONE WITH THE WIND (“*1939 Vivien Leigh/Clark Gable film,” 68 Across) and THE WIZARD OF OZ (“*1939 Judy Garland film,” 24 Across). Yet even after putting those biggies in the grid, I was embarrassed to think I didn’t know who directed them. The name David O. Selznick bubbled to the surface of my brain at one point, and wouldn’t you know it fit at 119 Across! Luckily, I tried some crossing words first and realized that it was wrong – but not far off. Turns out Selznick produced “Gone With The Wind.”

I’m also embarrassed to say those are the only two movies in the puzzle that I’ve seen. Worse, I wasn’t even familiar with some of the rest, though I recognize their stars. LORD JIM (“*1925 Percy Marmont film,” 98 Down) and TORTILLA FLAT (“*1942 Spencer Tracy/Hedy Lamarr film,” 89 Across) are based on classic books, and I know the story of JOAN OF ARC (“*1948 Ingrid Bergman film,” 103 Across). But I’ve never heard of RED DUST (“*1932 Clark Gable/Jean Harlow film,” 5 Down), BOMBSHELL (“*1933 Jean Harlow film,” 37 Across) or A GUY NAMED JOE (“*1943 Spencer Tracy/Irene Dunne film,” 54 Across).

Anyway, the director of these films is VICTOR FLEMING (119 Across), who was born 125 years ago today. The creator of the crossword, also named Victor Fleming, is significantly younger and not related, from what I can tell. The latter notes that his namesake directed many more well known films that didn’t fit in the puzzle, including “Treasure Island” and “Captains Courageous.”

Best In Show Dept.: I had forgotten that the movie pig Babe wanted to be a SHEEPDOG (10 Down), an entry that made me smile. And SCOTTIES are “Wiry-coated terriers” (57 Down). Earlier this month, a wiry fox terrier won top honors at the Westminster Kennel Club’s competition.

Island Dreaming Dept.: I feel like someone is taunting us with warm-weather entries. Hawaiian crooner DON HO is the “Singer with the album ‘Live at the Polynesian Palace” (22 Across); he was born on OAHU (“Birthplace of 22-Across,” 33 Down). Also, a LEI is an “Award for Miss Hawaii, in addition to a tiara” (99 Across). And not far away is PAGO Pago (“When repeated, a Polynesian capital,” 94 Across).

Last Call Dept.: This grid has the makings of a local dive bar – ALES (“Tavern stock,” 117 Down), MUGS (“Pub containers,” 113 Across) and a JIGGER (“Pub measure,” 103 Down).

For Fun Dept.: Unusual entries included F-TROOP (“1960s western sitcom,” 104 Down), STUDENT ID (“Means of access to a cafeteria, maybe,” 83 Down), LOOSE ENDS (“Things that should be tied up by the curtain?” 16 Down), DEEP INTO (“Obsessed with,” 42 Down) and ALARMIST (“Overreacting sort,” 91 Down).

New To Me Dept.: Never heard of a PETREL (“Migratory seabird,” 8 Down) or ERTE (“One-named designer,” 27 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. And here’s a little more about me.

Passing Grades

New York Times crossword puzzle Feb. 16 / Constructed by Yaakov Bendavid

How ironic that I rushed through this morning’s puzzle to make sure I have enough time for grading. I’m co-teaching a college journalism class for the first time this semester, and the weekends are no longer my own. (At least until May.)

Today’s crossword – “Passing Grades” – is about squeaking by: The theme answers tweak common phrases by changing Fs to Ds. So “One who turned Cinderella’s pumpkin into pumpkin cheesecake?” is the DAIRY GODMOTHER (23 Across), and a “Snorkeling bargain?” is TWO DIVES FOR A TEN (49 Across).

Others: “Stephen Hawking’s computer-generated voice?” is SCIENCE DICTION (105 Across), while a “Transportation company that skimps on safety?” is a NO-DRILLS AIRLINE (77 Across). And “Two things seen beside James Bond at a casino?” are DISH AND CHIPS (15 Down), while “‘Oh yeah? Let’s see you hold your breath for two minutes!’ e.g.?” is a DARE INCREASE (58 Down).

Cute, but meh. It never got any better than DAIRY GODMOTHER, which was one of the first theme answers I solved. What did you think?

Be Mine Dept.: There was a pair of references to flowers and amour on this Valentine weekend: BED OF ROSES (“Comfortable state,” 7 Down) and LOVE NEST (“Tryst site,” 35 Down). As you may have heard, bad weather on the East Coast  foiled thousands of floral deliveries on Feb. 14. Hopefully, would-be recipients were compensated with sufficient chocolate and champagne, or at least a six-pack of BLONDE ALE (“Duvel pub offering,” 109 Across).

Wardrobe Malfunction Dept.: In light of the just-ended Fashion Week in New York, I have to single out this awesome Elton John-related clue. I never fully understood what style he was singing about in “Benny and the Jets” until I got 56 Across: MOHAIR. (“She’s got electric boots, a ___ suit …”)

For Fun Dept.: Some unusual entries in the grid included JOB SEARCH (“Use for a resume,” 52 Down), MAIL LIST (“Spammer enabler,” 56 Down), LOOSE TEA (“Infuser contents,” 79 Down), RED ARMY (“Force under Stalin,” 13 Down) and COMO ESTA (“It might be answered, ‘Muy bien, gracias’,” 101 Across).

New To Me Dept.: I learned through crossing words that a LATEEN is a “Triangular sail” (78 Down), and that a “Myocyte” is a MUSCLE CELL (68 Down).

Walk Of Fame Dept.: Lots of actors and actresses appear in this puzzle, such as CLORIS (“Oscar winner Leachman,” 64 Across), ILENE (“TV actress Graff,” 91 Down) and ELISHA (“Actress Cuthbert of ’24′,” 22 Across). And I didn’t realize that M*A*S*H star Alan Alda had relatives in the business, but apparently he does: “Acting family” is ALDAS (1 Down). There were also a couple of movie characters: CLEO (“Elizabeth Taylor role of ’63,” 73 Across) and RAIN MAN (“Dustin Hoffman title role,” 37 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. And here’s a little more about me.

It Was 50 Years Ago Today

New York Times crossword puzzle Feb. 9 / Constructed by Charles M. Deber


That’s the only way I know how to scream in text. And no other sound better represents BEATLEMANIA (“Craze caused by this puzzle’s subjects,” 3 Down) than a good ear-splitting shriek.

Yes, today’s fun and nostalgic crossword refers to THE FAB FOUR (“Nickname for this puzzle’s subjects,” 14 Down), who made their U.S. debut a half-century ago when they appeared on “The ED SULLIVAN Show” (“Host for this puzzle’s subjects on 2/9/64,” 6 Down).

The New York Times has succumbed to Beatlemania. (Click to enlarge.)

The New York Times has succumbed to Beatlemania. (Click to enlarge.)

The fill includes lots of Beatles references, from their hometown of LIVERPOOL (81 Down) to the songs they played on Sullivan’s show: SHE LOVES YOU (17 Down) and YESTERDAY (83 Down). There are also a few snippets of lyrics in there, like “When I WAS younger, so much younger …” (from “Help!”, 74 Across) and “Why AM I so shy when …” (from “It’s Only Love”, 86 Across) – not to mention “Let IT BE” (42 Across). The clues also note the band played at SHEA stadium (107 Down) in 1965 and 1966. And of course their biggest audience was TEENAGERS (70 Across).

The grid’s centerpiece is the snake of gray squares that depicts a GUITAR (102 Down). The Beatles’ names cleverly form the outline of this long and winding road: PAUL MCCARTNEY and JOHN LENNON appear at 9 Down and RINGO STARR and GEORGE HARRISON join them on the other side, beginning at 11 Down.

Pretty creative, I thought. What did you think?

Memory Lane Dept.: It’s pretty trippy to read these re-released stories about the Beatles from the Associated Press. Written during the group’s U.S. invasion, an introduction to the articles notes: “In covering the airport arrival, AP reporter Arthur Everett goes to great lengths to use contemporary slang like ‘way out’ and ‘fab.’”

Say What? Dept.: I’ve never heard anyone use the word LOLLOP (“Move in an ungainly way,” 32 Across). Also was not familiar with the town of TROYES (“City on the Seine upstream from Paris,” 127 Across).

Cheesy Dept.: “Houston sch.” is RICE U, short for Rice University, an entry that surely got the constructor out of a jam. And WYES (which I initially entered as WHYS) is one way to phonetically spell the plural of the penultimate letter of the alphabet (“Followers of exes,” 62 Across).

Doubled-Up Dept.: “Apes” are both OAFS (79 Down) and IMITATORS (80 Down). And a “Medical suffix” is both OMA (118 Down) and OSIS (115 Down).

UPDATE: Lonely Hearts Club Dept.: Many thanks to my husband – a major fan of the Beatles, if not crosswords – who pointed out the puzzle title’s reference to the lyrics of “Sgt. Pepper …” : “It was 20 years ago today …”

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.