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New recommended NYT Crossword puzzle & BEQ puzzles; update on Other Box; Exciting fall season coming to Hooker-Dunham

A while back I started going through the NYT crossword puzzle archive looking for particularly good ones. It’s taken a while to come across one that meets the criteria I set in the article, but working my way backwards from the earliest ones you can get from the archive, the one from Saturday, March 19, 1994 is a good one. I hadn’t looked who the author was until I was more than halfway done and beginning to think this was a really good one and, sure enough, it was written by Manny Nosowsky, my all time favorite constructor. Very little crossword-ese, few gimmes and many words that can be figured out once you get a couple letters, and some nice well known expressions that aren’t overly well-known to crossword solvers.  Several clues I really was curious to find out what the answer would turn out to be, like “Bryophytic” (My Mac doesn’t even think that’s a real word!). Anyway, if you’re looking for a challenging puzzle worth trying and have a NY Times puzzle subscription, I highly recommend it. (btw: Today’s (Saturday, Aug. 22) NYT Crossword puzzle Barry Silk’s puzzle is a good one with lots of interesting phrases. Silk is also one of the all time best puzzle creators.

UPDATE: I am also a huge fan of Brendan Emmet Quigley’s puzzle site: www.brendanemmettquigley.com.  His puzzle for Monday, Aug. 24 is a wonderful tribute to one of the greatest puzzle creators (no, not Nosowsky this time) and very aptly titled. There’s no cost or even log in required for the site, though donations are accepted.

 

Meanwhile: I’m almost done with The Other Box where that takes up where the short story left off. It’s turning into at least a novella and possibly a full-length book. I’m setting April 1, 2o16 as a deadline for myself for completing the book and publishing it here.

Tons of events happening at the Hooker-Dunham starting on Labor Day and continuing at least into November.  There are also two exciting theater projects in the works for this coming spring, so keep an eye on the site to see what’s happening at the theater.  Some really cool stuff, including a very exciting (and scary!) production of Dracula (last two weeks in October) that’s certain to be unique and entertaining! I’ve started writing ideas about what makes Dracula an enduring fascination and will be publishing blog entries on it in the next few days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For NYT crossword fanatics

Added a page of favorite puzzles from the NYT archives (Possible spoiler: You have to have a nyt online puzzle subscription).  And I certainly must mention Brendan Emmet Quigley’s site as an outstanding resource of excellent puzzles. Some clue/answer combos are slightly off-color if that matter to you. Monday’s are the hardest…and they always meet my criteria of being challenging and having some clue/answer combos you’re glad you found out by solving the puzzle and other clue/answer combos that are just very clever.  (http://www.brendanemmettquigley.com)

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints – Jan. 12, 2014 – It’s Only “A” Game

It seems like every Sunday these days we get a theme that’s very clever from the constructor’s point of view, but not very exciting from the solver’s perspective.   Oh, well.   As always, pay close attention to the title.   Solve one of the starred answers (by doing lots of the crossing clues if you need to). Once you’ve got one, look at the title again and see how it relates to the correct answer.   That should help solving the others.   There’s a little of what I’d call “misdirection” in the starred clues, making you wonder, for example, if they are all anagrams or something like that.   There is some word play within the clue/answer combos, but not a consistent specific pattern.   I suspect the author of the puzzle might have been starting out going for something in addition to his “A” game theme.

Some specific hints”

Down:

6.  Modernist Kafka:   the “modernist” label threw me off.   This guy was “modern” a long time ago.

7.  A bridge might have one:   Some bridges have lots of these.   The GWB famously had theirs reduced for revenge recently.

8.  Lord of the rings villain:  “Villain”?   Enemy, sure.  Ugly.  Yeh!

11.  Designer McCartney:  Or:  Stanley Kowalski’s wife

48.  Something woeful:  2 words

Across:

71. Chip on one’s shoulder, say:  the clue should probably have identified the answer as slang

80.  Stone figures?:   Think small, expensive “stones”

83.  Louis Armstrong, to friends:   I guess those who knew him well didn’t need to use the final MO, no mo’.

86.  Houston’s old ______ Field:  If you could bilk millions out of your customers, you’d get to name a field after your company too.

91.  Prefix with -hedron:  No, not TETRA, more obscure.   This kind of “hedron” has 20 faces, not that that helps much.

 

 

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints – Jan 5, 2014 – Clued In

Nothing very mysterious about the theme this week.  Only hint here is to note that the “solution,”  i.e. who committed the crime in what place by what means, is to be figured out in the lower right hand box.   Obviously, it’s a bit help if remember a little bit of the board game “Clue.”  Otherwise it’s just a matter of filling in enough of the crossing clues to figure it out.

Here are a few hints to specific clues:

Across clues:

21.  What you can bring up:  2 words; one of the two is an article.

27.  Part of Caesar’s boast:  And what did he see?

31. Textile tool:  well, you wouldn’t want your rug to be all bumpy, would you?

btw:  Once you get 42-across, if you didn’t know it before, make a note of it;  this is a very common xword clue

67.  Bloody Mary stirrer:  Picture a Bloody Mary:  What do you see that you could stir it with?  What a great drink:  all your vegetable needs and sobriety-relief in a convenient package.

94.  Opening for a dermatologist:  Not a prefix, as you might think;  think literally

Down:

80.  Cartoony clubs:  Well, old comic strips and early cartoons, mostly.  The club here is the kind of thing you could use as a 1-across, not an organization.

82.  “Uh, definitely.”  How many times do I have to say it?  Twice, apparently.

86.  E-commerce site:  Nope, not EBAY, but close

75.  Captain’s last order:  Do they really still go down with the boat?  I don’t think so.

76.  “Gay” city:  Yeh, sometimes this word doesn’t tell you about sexual orientation.

83.  “Brave New World” drug:  There’s a muscle relaxant that’s called this also.   Enough, time to let relax and let my pod take over…

 

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints – Dec. 29 – Take a break.

Theme hints:  Today’s puzzle’s theme works differently from most.   This time, the title’s meaning becomes obvious mostly after finding the “trick” that holds the puzzle together, so it isn’t a big help in discovering what’s happening.   The unusual shape of the puzzle is meaningful.  The circles in the squares are, like the title, a nice touch, but unlikely to “unlock” the theme for most solvers.  The other thing that’s unusual is that the long answers, like the title and the circles are more of an afterthought, a nice tie-in to the theme, but not crucial to solving the puzzle.  Without giving the answer away completely, my suggestion is to look carefully at 106-Down and 103-Across.  Once you figure out what’s going on there, the theme will reveal itself to you in a way that will be a big help in solving the rest of the puzzle.

A few specific non-theme hints:

6-Across Fixes keys:  “Fixes” is a little misleading.   Think piano.

18-Across Brother of Prometheus:  While poor Prometheus was chained to his rock, his brother was certainly holding up his share of the bargain!

45-Across Bee product:  Forget about insects or spelling contests, there’s another kind of bee bee-ing clued here.

109-Down Corner piece:  Think game, not furniture

65-Down Tries:  4 words

67-Down Pressing needs?:  Think gym, not laundry

69-Down Unlike eagles:  Think sports;  Is this the opposite of how you feel after you ate too much Xmas dinner?

73-Down Next-t0-last Beatles hit:  They followed their own instructions (the title of this song) shortly thereafter.

 

 

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints – Dec. 22 – Good One!

Theme:  Straight-forward, as long as you’re doing it on paper!   You just have to do what the “instruction” tells you.  It can be done without the drawing.  Once you get enough crossing answers, you’ll get one of the long downs.   Basically the drawing is something that’s pretty familiar this time of year.   But it’s a word that can be used in many different contexts, and each long down answer is that clue in another totally different context.  One more little hint:  You may begin to think that 14-down is an individual’s name.  It isn’t.

It’s late, my family’s here for Xmas, so I’m skipping the individual clues today.  Sorry.  Maybe I’ll catch up on them later in the week…

 

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints – Dec 15 – A cut above the rest

Another novel theme this week.   I must admit I nearly completed the whole grid before “getting” what was going on.   I found it worth the trouble.  So this, for most solvers, one of those puzzles where you’ll fill in most of the non-theme answers and even solve some of the long answers with [see above] in them without necessarily getting the theme itself.   Basic hint:   Keep re-reading the title and put it together with what’s in the brackets.   Second hint:  Something funny is going on with several short answers that are not exactly theme answers (they aren’t the long down clues that say [see above] and the funny thing that’s happening is not a rebus.

Specific non-theme hints:

61-Down Parting word:  Or: greeting word.

62-Down Taunting figure:  Especially if you’re huge and not known for your intelligence.

121-Across Scale unit:  Or:  _______ of protection

90-Down Per:  I wanted “A POP.”  Close…same idea

95-Down Her name is Norwegian for “beautiful woman who leads to victory.”:  Unfortunately, perhaps because she’s Norwegian, many complain that she doesn’t understand English very well!

67-Down NBA Hall-of-famer Thomas:  He’s also quite famous for how his name isn’t quite spelled like the biblical character.

87-Across Angelicas and others:  Well, HUSTONS doesn’t fit.   This angelica has cures ones ills in a different way.

 

 

 

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints – Dec. 8, 2013 Two Outs

Interesting theme this week.   Falls into the category that getting the idea of the theme early is a big help to solving the puzzle.   Obviously something is happening with the circles.   But it isn’t that you put the letters in the circle together in some way.  No quite the opposite.   The “Two” in two outs doesn’t just refer to the fact that there are two circles.   It’s also that there are really two answers in one!

Specifici clue hints:

2. Down – Relative of S.O.S.:  Thin kitchen, not the Titanic.

6. Down – Thick bunch?:  Duh, who dey talkin’ about?

52. Down – With a will:  Oh, I thought this meant being a male

74-Down – Elephant’s opposite, symbolically:  No, not a mouse.   Pay attention to that word “symbolically.”  Some would say both these animals are going nowhere.

76-Down – URL component.   No, not org or com or edu, but you’re literally very close to the answer

10-Across – Spring for a vacation:  Well, the clue’s a little misleading.  I guess this sort of place used to have actual springs (wet ones) but not so much nowadays.

72-Across – In a kooky manner:  Think Marx brothers

62-Across- Mix in a tank:  A noun, not a verb;  Think car, not aquarium

122-Across – “Don’t be a spoilsport”:  There’d be an apostrophe in the answer if you wrote it.

42- and 89- Across(es) Blue expanse(s) :  A very likely pairing of answers.  Think literally.

 

 

 

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints – Dec. 1 – Two Halves in One

Theme hint:  Usually the theme, once you get the hang of it, is a big help solving the puzzle.   This time I had to go a long way before the theme became clear.   The title, usually a big help to figure out the theme, didn’t help much.   The first thing to be aware of is that 27-Across and 95-Across are both “key” clues, meaning that they give a hint at what’s going on with the theme.  If you can get either of those by the down clue/answers that cross them, especially 95-Across, it can unlock the mystery of the theme.    The other thing to notice is all the clues that are just dashes.  Sometimes this just means “un-clued” (this was true a couple weeks ago) but that’s not really the case here.   Meanwhile, solve away at the non-theme answers.   Remember my hint that, if an answer doesn’t fit, it’s probably a rebus — well, forget that hint this time!  One more thing, the normal rule that a  long answer = theme answer also doesn’t hold true here.

Specific hints:

79-Across – Ocean menace:  Not an ORCA this time, though probably orcas and these guys get together at thanksgiving!   Just be sure that you’re not the main dish!

109-Across – Not a reduction, abbr.:  Think photograph

78-Across – Eponym of Warsaw’s airport:  Know your Poles?  Hum a few bars and the name of the person who gave his name to this airport might come to you.

65-Down –  Go pfft, with “out”:  Well, I wanted CRAP (out) but that didn’t work.  Think car engine.

61-Down – It’s caught by a stick on a field:  Well, not really the stick, but something that’s stuck to the stick

83-Down – Bishop’s place:  Think Holy See, not chessboard

67-Across – Met one’s potential:  Especially true if you happen to be a flower.

35-Down – Amphibious rodent:  I had no idea there were varieties of these varmints that were amphibious.    Ick, yuck, or, the answer to 19-Across (which could almost be a direction on a compass, btw)

 

 

 

 

 

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints – Nov. 23, 2013 – Hits and Ms.es

Theme hint:  Even without the title, the clues to the long answers tell us that we’re looking for some well known people’s names to show up in the puzzle.  But don’t ignore the “Hits” part of the title.   Once you get one, you’ll quickly see what holds the puzzle together.  Keep in mind that the clue is literally true, but the answer will be something that’ll probably be pretty familiar.  It helps to be a little older to do this puzzle, ’cause most of the theme references are from “back in the day.”

Specific clue hints:

53-Down.  Kind of cat:  There’s just no end to this one!

90-Across.  Classical “You too?”:  The guy saying this wasn’t just complaining about a minor problem.

71-Down.  Botanist’s microscopic study:  2 words; not fancy scientific words

9-Down.  Cuffed:  Not as in handcuffs; bible-language, not ordinary speech

68-Down Egg choice: Think big

83-Across Barbecue needs:  The clue should really have a “perhaps” at the end, ’cause a lot of folks bbq without these

54-Down Away for a while:  e.g. from the army or from a job

15.Down Bread flavorer:  Think of after the bread is cooked rather than before

39-Down Cause of yawning:  Or of existential angst

75-Down Cutthroat:  3 equal length words

 

 

 

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints – Nov. 17, 2013 – Vowel Play

Well, the theme isn’t particularly challenging this week and is helpful once you get it.  As usual, do a reasonable amount of filling in non-theme answers and the theme will begin to come into focus.   The title is quite literally what’s going on.  The order of the theme-based letters does vary from theme answer to theme answer, but otherwise it’s pretty straightforward.  Not particularly awesome, but, oh well.

38-Down, though long, is not connected to the theme (and, by the way, it really should have a question mark at the end to show it’s a bit of word play).

Specific hints:

25-Across – Spin, of a sort:  Think politics, not orbs

33-Across – Having failed to ante up, say:  3 words

34-Across – Italian tourist destination in the Mediterranean:  not so popular with a particular Frenchman

46-Across – Medium for body art:  One less letter than a TATTOO and a lot easier to remove!

63-Across – Post production locale?:  Note the question mark.   Remember that the first work of a clue could be a word that’s capitalized even when it isn’t the first word of a clue

58-Doan – Got back to, in a way:  There’d be an apostrophe in this if you could put one in a crossword

107-Across – American alternative:  Don’t think airline or country

94-Down – History or biography:  or film noir

8-Down – ” …___ quit” : Only 3 letters, but 2 words

76-Down – “Almighty” item, abbr.:  Well, it ain’t gonna be so almighty very long if our government keeps playing brinkmanship!

 

 

 

 

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints – Nov 10 2013 – Bye-Lines

Sometimes you don’t get the theme at all ’til after you’ve solved the whole puzzle…and sometimes you need to get the theme early to have much of chance with the puzzle.   This is one where the sooner you get the idea of the theme, the better off you are.  So, let’s look at the theme:  “Bye-Lines”  Keep that in mind and do as much of the crossing down answers (all the theme answers are across this time; not always the case) as you can.  Do you see any familiar words appearing that are, in some way related to the clue for the long answer?   They are all related in the same way and this is not a normal clue/answer relationship.   No question mark at the end, so not puns or fancy word play.  Something very specific is going on here.  The only one that’s “tricky” is 64-Across (Porky Pig), and it’s just like he says it.

 

Some specific hints:

1-Down Downhill run:  do think skiing, though not necessarily through those flags they set up to see if they can kill the skiers.

1-Across Former Belgian national airline:  The name sounds like a famous Audrey Hepburn role

38-Down Jesse and Leo of TV sitcoms:  Sam’s one of these, too.

43-Down Onward:  Or Sally ______.

76-Down Lace’s End:  A common crossword puzzle word that no one ever uses.   Could it be a very small Texan steer?

106-Down Preceder of “di” or “da” in a Beatles song:  You might think there should be one more “o” in this answer

32-Across Base, e.g. & 57-Down Base:  Usually matching clues like this involve completely different meanings of the same word, but not this time.

9-Down Nickname for Huntington Beach, Calif.   A likely name for a beach in California; 2 words.

 

Enjoy my hints?  Check out my blook (blog + book = blook).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints – Nov. 3, 2013 — Stolen Produce

As I’ve mentioned in this NYT Sunday crossword blog previously, Sunday puzzle themes are either kind of an afterthought, marginally relevant to solving the puzzle, or, alternatively, very helpful, once you get the idea of theme, to solving the grid.  This one falls mostly in the latter category:  Once you get the idea of the theme, it’s a big help to solving the puzzle.

The title is usually helpful.  “Stolen produce” suggests that something might be being deleted from an answer.   And several of the long clues refer to another clue as needed to understand them.   The “other clue”  (e.g. 29-across for 23-across and 66-across for 60-across) seems to have a connection to produce.  So my suggestion is to try to get one of the “other clues” and its related long clue once you’ve got a few letters filled in on the long clue.  This is a situation where you might think there’s a rebus (multiple letters in a single box) because correct answers don’t fit the space allowed, but there’s something a bit trickier going on here.

Some hints to specific clues:

20-Across: Actress Chaplin in “Game of Thrones”:  older solvers know this name as the first name of Charlie Chaplin’s wife

34-Across Eighty-sixes:  Think Latin for a farm animal

51-Across On the q.t.:  2 words.  Psst, don’t tell anybody!

1-Down Car with a lightening bolt in its logo:  Think of a small foreign car that isn’t a Yugo

2-Down The Tide:  No, not the soap, another nickname for a football team

6-Down Poe poem:  Think ode and the battle of Troy

30-Down They’re way out:  Think house hunting, but don’t go too far out

82-Down Enthusiastic reply:  3 words

90-Down “Holiday Inn” star:  No, not the motel.  Think dancing feet (and toes)

 

 

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints Oct. 27, 2013 Who’s Left?

Different approach to hint blog this week.  Writing as I solve.   Still just hints, not answers.   This week’s puzzle is by Emmett Quigley, one of my personal favorite puzzle creators.   So it’s likely to be inventive and interesting to solve.   Notice the grid itself.   Whenever you see circles in a grid consider whether they are in a pattern or form a shape.   So what we have here is horizontal (across) circles of varying length.

Initial questions to ask oneself:  What’s the title of the puzzle:  “Who’s Left?”   This raises several possibilities about how the circles come into to play.  We’ll keep keep coming back to this as we solve the non-theme clues to begin to fill in the grid.

Second immediate question:  Is there a specific clue that refers to the circles or some other aspect of the puzzle.  I didn’t see any in a quick scan of the clues, but I might have missed something.

Now onto solving as many of the clues as I can.   In across lite, the tab key it easy to move through all the acrosses and all the down, so that’s my usual approach.

I often skip the long answers entirely the first time through, but I don’t think that’s a good strategy here.   My first look is that it might be possible to get one of these without many of the letters.

Some of the long answers begin to come into focus.  Hmmm.   The role of the circles still isn’t clear to me.

Being a Quigley puzzle not many of the answers are obvious “gimmes” or crossword-ese (the words, places, animals, etc. that only seem to exist in crossword puzzle land.

I got quite a bit of this puzzle filled without being completely sure about anything.

But a couple specific hints as I go along

64-Across Vodka with a Chocolate Razberi flavor:  It’s really what this brand is nicknamed rather than the word on the label that very few Americans (including me) could spell correctly without looking at a bottle of it.

53-Down Cry from a balcony: No, not O,ROMEO.  2 words, though.

50-Across Icon on Amazon:   this clue should have an e.g. on the end.  Amazon is one of a zillion sites with this icon.

123-Across Dishwasher, at times:  Well, I certainly hope so!

108-Down Raspberry:  No, not the fruit kind of raspberry

71-Acrosss Great leveler:  This clue could have a question mark at the end, though it is literally accurate

39-Across Dotty? :  Keep the question mark in mind.   Don’t think “crazy,” though “drunk” could be the clue

By the way, 2-Down is nothing like CB RADIO.  It’s something I’d never heard, I’ll tell you that.

 

Meanwhile, the theme?   Well, it’s kind of a meta-puzzle:  Meaning you can solve the whole puzzle without ever figuring out what’s going on with the circles.  If that’s happening to you, take another look at the title at what it might refer to.

 

 

Sunday NYT Crossword Hints – Oct. 20 Country Road

Interesting theme this Sunday.   This is an unusual theme in that most people (including me) will need to solve most of the clues that cross the long answers before getting the long answers.   Note first that the long acrosses (plus the combo of 122-Across and 124-Across) are all connected to each other.   Pay particular attention to the question mark at the end of 148-Across.   That cues you into the fact that there’s some word play in the answer.   Connection and direction are the common elements.   The fact that all the long answers are across answers isn’t irrelevant.

10 Specific hints (all down since theme answers are all across)

1.  3-Down: Hedgehop, e.g.   Think crop duster.

2.  9-Down: Tulip festival city:  pssst:  Holland ain’t the only place that has tulips

3.  21-Down:  Intentionally disregarding:  Or just having turned one’s hearing aid off

4.  38-Down:  In stitches:  Think literally

5.  39-Down:  Caesar and others:  Neither the emperor nor the salad.  There’s another Caesar?  There was.

6.  67-Down:  “So-so”:  The quotes around the question tells you that the answer is likely a sound rather than a real word.

7.  74-Down:  1980’s – 90’s German leader Helmut:  Who later launched a chain of big box stores?

8.  90-Down:  Stun with a gun:  The answer is a noun, not a verb

9.  107-Down: London greeting:  Think My Fair Lady

10.  133-Down: Frosty’s eyes:  Was he on his way to Newcastle?

 

Enjoyed the hints?  Check out my Reflections.