The New York Times Crossword, Accordion to Weird Al

 In February of 2017, The New York Times celebrated a landmark in the history of puzzles: the 75th anniversary of the NYT crossword.

And ever since, to commemorate that puzzly milestone, top constructors and Times favorites have been pairing up with celebrity fans and puzzle enthusiasts to co-construct puzzles for the Times!

This year, you might’ve encountered some of these collaborations, like news pundit Rachel Maddow’s March 2nd puzzle with constructor Joe DiPietro, or “How I Met Your Mother” star Josh Radner’s meditation-themed puzzler from January 31st with constructor Jeff Chen.

Over the last year, names as diverse as John Lithgow, Elayne Boosler, Joy Behar, Mike Selinker, Lisa Loeb, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Clinton have contributed their puzzly efforts to this marvelous project.

And yesterday, another famous wordsmith and master of punnery made his New York Times debut.

[Image courtesy of Instagram.]

Yes, the immortal “Weird Al” Yankovic teamed up with Puzzle Your Kids mastermind and friend of the blog Eric Berlin for a cheese-themed Wednesday outing that delighted fans and solvers alike.

Al has certainly been keeping busy lately, launching his Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour — his words, not mine; I loved the show I attended! — and working with Lin-Manuel Miranda to create The Hamilton Polka, an ambitious and hilarious take on the wildly successful musical.

The puzzle was Eric’s 40th Times puzzle, and Al’s first. Not only did the puzzle feature those signature cinematic cheese puns — like A FEW GOUDA MEN and THE PELICAN BRIE — but there was plenty of nerd culture featured in the fill and cluing.

Tom Lehrer and John Cleese were both name-dropped, as well as Legolas, Wile E. Coyote, WALL-E, Mr. Clean, and Bones from the original Star Trek.

Eric offered some insight into the puzzle’s creation while discussing the puzzle with Wordplay’s Deb Amlen:

My very first attempt at the grid included one of my favorites from his list, QUESOBLANCA. I was under the misapprehension that queso is not just the Spanish word for cheese but also a specific kind of cheese. Whoops, not quite. (This was entirely on me, I should note — Al, not knowing during his brainstorming that the end result would be restricted to specific cheeses, had several cheese-adjacent puns in his list, including FONDUE THE RIGHT THING and CHEESY RIDER.)

And appropriately enough, Al had a bit of fun promoting the puzzle on his Instagram, claiming, “If you’re REALLY good, you don’t NEED the clues!”

For the record, I needed the clues.


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Movie Quote Puzzle edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’m posting the results of our #PennyDellMovieQuotes hashtag game!

You may be familiar with the board game Schmovie, hashtag games on Twitter, or @midnight’s Hashtag Wars segment on Comedy Central.

For the last few months, we’re been collaborating on puzzle-themed hashtag games with our pals at Penny/Dell Puzzles, and this month’s hook was Penny/Dell Movie Quotes, mashing up Penny/Dell puzzles and favorite quotes from the world of film!

Examples might be “Go ahead, make my Daisy,” or “You’re a wizard words, Harry!” or “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your Blips together and blow.”

So, without further ado, check out what the puzzlers at PuzzleNation and Penny/Dell Puzzles came up with!


“Su-percalifragilisticexpiali-doku!” — Mary Poppins

“Frankly my dear, I don’t give an Anagram.” / “Frameworks, my dear, I don’t give a Cryptogram!” / “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a diagramless.” / “Frankly, my dear, I don’t Give (and Take) a damn!” — Gone With the Wind

“May the Four Squares be with you.” / “May the Cryptograms be with you.” — Star Wars

“Luke, I am your Matchmaker.” — Star Wars

“I find your lack of Face to Face disturbing.” — Star Wars

“These are not the Drop-Outs you are looking for.” — Star Wars

“Are you a good Which Way Words or a bad Which Way Words?” — The Wizard of Oz

“I’ll get you my pretty. And your Little Puzzler, too!” — The Wizard of Oz

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Cancellations anymore.” — The Wizard of Oz

“Linkwords, and Tie-Ins, and Blips! Oh my!” — The Wizard of Oz

“There’s no Places, Please like home.” — The Wizard of Oz

“Soylent Green is Places, Please!” — Soylent Green

“Release the Kakuro.” — Pirates of the Caribbean 2

“What’s Left ain’t no country I ever heard of. They speak English in What’s Left?” — Pulp Fiction

“Word Play it, Sam.” — Casablanca

“We’ll always have Pair Off.” — Casablanca

“Take your Pair Off me, you damned dirty ape!” — Planet of the Apes

“They’re Here and There!” — Poltergeist

“Wilkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome! Come on In the Middle!” — Blazing Saddles

“Mongo only pawn in Dart Game of life.” — Blazing Saddles

“You’re gonna need a bigger Framequote.” — Jaws

“I’ll find him for Three from Nine. I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten.” — Jaws

“Bubbles! Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles. My bubbles.” — Finding Nemo

“InconceivaBubbles!” — The Princess Bride

“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to Dice Game.” — The Princess Bride

“Just when I thought I was Takeouts, they pull me back Fill-In!” — The Godfather, Part III

“My father made him an All Fours he couldn’t refuse.” — The Godfather

“I am big! It’s the Picture Pairs that got small!” — Sunset Blvd.

“There’s no crying in Quotefalls.” — A League of Their Own

“Love means never having to Say That Again.” — Love Story

“Every time a Diamond Rings an angel gets his wings.” — It’s a Wonderful Life

“Shall we play a Bowl Game?” — WarGames

“If you Build-A-Pyramid, he will come.” — Field of Dreams

“Hang onto your turban kid, we’re gonna make you a Stars and Arrows!” — Aladdin

“E.T. phone Home Runs.” — E.T.: The Extraterrestrial

“I’m the king of the Word Games!” — Titanic

“You can’t handle the Try-Angles!” — A Few Good Men

“What… is your By Any Other Name? What… is your Word Quest? What… is your favorite Color By Numbers?” — Monty Python and the Holy Grail

“I coulda had Crostics…. I coulda been a contender…. I coulda been somebody.” — On the Waterfront

“You’ve got to ask yourself one question…. Do you feel Logic Problem? Well do ya punk?” — Sudden Impact

“Houston, we have a Logic Problem!” — Apollo 13

“Win just One and Only for the Gipper!” — Knute Rockne, All American

“Who’s on First and Last?” — The Naughty Nineties

“Life was like a Windowbox of chocolates.” — Forrest Gump

“Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masterwords champion.” — Caddyshack


One of our fellow puzzlers even submitted an anecdote:

Little known fact…during the filming of the steamy car scene in Titanic, Leo DiCaprio snuck in a Penny Press puzzle magazine, and was heard passionately shouting to co-star Kate Winslet, “I’m the king of the Word Seek!,” which James Cameron subsequently misquoted for their famous romantic scene on the ship’s deck.

Have you come up with any Penny/Dell Movie Quotes of your own? Let us know! We’d love to see them!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!