Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to the questions about the blog that I am asked most frequently:

How do I get picture/avatar to appear beside my comments?

This blog is published using WordPress. The most common avatars used across the WordPress universe are called “gravatars” (Globally Recognized Avatars). You can sign up for your own gravatar at You’ll be asked create a free account with Gravatar, and then you can upload an image to associate with the email account that you provide. Once you’ve signed up, just use that email address when leaving a comment here at The email address won’t be published, but your Gravatar will appear beside all of your comments.

My newspaper doesn’t publish the crossword’s title or theme. Why not?

Only the Sunday puzzles are given a title. I add a title to the Monday-Saturday puzzles myself. I started this practice a few years ago, and then tried to stop the practice when I realized that it was causing some confusion. I started adding a title again at the request of several blog readers. They sometimes use the title as a hint, should they need one.

How do you solve the puzzle so quickly?

It is true that I sometimes solve the puzzle quite rapidly, relative to a few years ago before I started this blog. However, my times are extremely pedestrian compared to many expert solvers (who can solve Monday puzzles in 2-3 minutes!). Also, I am solving on a computer. I find that typing in answers is quicker than writing in pencil, and there’s often no need to check my work because I get a “Congratulations!” message if I’ve made no mistakes.

How are you so quick, publishing your solution before I even get my newspaper?!

I solve the LA Times crossword online. The crossword is published online a few hours before it appears in the print edition. I usually do the puzzle late in the evening, just before I head for bed.

How long does it take you write up each puzzle?

After I’ve finished the crossword (hopefully I’ve managed to finish!), I take about an hour to do lookups and write up things that I hope will be of interest. It takes about another fifteen minutes to format and publish everything. I take about twice that time for the large Sunday crossword. Although the Blog is all my own original work, I do copy and paste from previous posts where it makes sense. I mean, how much original material can one write about OREO cookies?!

If you get only one letter wrong, why do you say you have two errors?

I tend to be hard on myself, I admit. I have two clues to help me with every letter in the grid, one in the across-direction and one in the down-direction. If I get a letter wrong, I reckon that I’ve missed two opportunities to solve correctly, so that’s two errors in my eyes.

I sometimes have to resort to looking up something in order to finish the puzzle. Is this cheating?

I don’t think that there are any rules that define “cheating” when solving a crossword.
Because I share my own solving experience here on line, I have created some rules for myself, but they’re my rules. I work the puzzle for a maximum of one hour, during which time I use no external references. I record the solving time, or if necessary, I record a “did not finish” on the blog. After declaring a “did not finish”, I then use my laptop to to help me with one clue, hoping that will be enough to get me solving again. If I have to, I’ll use the laptop again, seeking help with a second clue.

Can you contact the crossword constructor or editor for me?

No, I really cannot. Although I’ve been contacted by a handful of constructors over the years, I really don’t know many people in the world of crossword publishing. This is a personal blog, and there is no affiliation with the Los Angeles Times. I’m just a regular solver who writes about the puzzle each day as a retirement hobby.

Isn’t the clue about the Academy Award wrong, giving the wrong year/the wrong winner?

Readers of this blog have a real talent for spotting errors in puzzles, and every so often catch something that has gotten past the constructor, test solvers, fact checkers and editors. However, the apparent error that is most often brought up in discussion after solving is “That’s the wrong Oscar winner for that year!” Almost always, the clue is correct. The problem is that the Academy Award given for a particular year’s film is presented at an awards ceremony in the following year. For example, Sidney Poitier won the 1963 Best Actor Oscar for his performance in the 1963 movie “Lilies of the Field”, in an awards ceremony held in 1964.

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20 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Questions”

  1. Can someone explain why the 1-9-17 LA Times crossword doesn’t make sense? The grid clue numbers don’t equate. HELP!

  2. What have you done with your format? Four squares per screen. Like GIANT. Is there anyway I can shrink it down to normal size?
    This hasn’t been the case with other puzzles. Penny Dell…
    What’s the deal? I love your daily puzzles and would love to continue doing them every day.


  3. In my local paper they have the L.A. TIMES crossword along with NEA crossword.. Anybody know what NEA stands for?

  4. LAX is indeed the abbreviation for the airport. the “X” was added to the Nat’l. Weather Service code for Los Angeles, “LA”, in the 1930s to make it easier for pilots to differentiate airport destinations. An “X” was added to LA, Portland (PDX), and Phoenix (PHX) airports. The “X” in is a great use of symbols to shorten URLs, “X” being the symbol for multiplication, as in “two times two equals four”. So, “laxcrossword” isn’t the official crossword of LA International, but is a great URL for “L A times”.

  5. Bill, I recently stopped getting our daily paper and find that I miss the LAX the most. Is there a blank LAX crossword on line that I can do?

    Is so, where can I find it?

    Thank you, Bob King

  6. why can I never get the puzzle? it always says advertisement in small letters to the right. I can get the answer page but never the puzzle. thanks

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