Whoa, Nellie

Crossword remembers intrepid writer; we remember Gunder Hägg

Published May 12, 2024

Hey there! Whether you got to see the Northern Lights this weekend, or it was just a kitchen fire, I hope you’ve enjoyed solving some great recent puzzles (and that you put the fire out quickly). Let’s get cracking!

Clues you can use

Thursday, May 9 (Slate, constructed by Quiara Vasquez)

“Narcos” actor who stars (alongside Nick Offerman) in a buzzy post-apocalyptic drama  = PEDRO PASCAL / WAGNER MOURA

An excellent find for this crossword! Pedro Pascal starred as DEA agent Javier Peña in Narcos, and as Joel Miller in the HBO series The Last of Us–whose third episode, “Long, Long Time,” featured Nick Offerman in an emotional guest role. Wagner Moura starred as kingpin Pablo Escobar in Narcos, and as Reuters journalist Joel (another Joel!) in the 2024 film Civil War, which also featured Nick Offerman as the President of the United States. As much as this pair of clues salutes actors in the Golden Age of TV, just want to quickly shout-out Nick Offerman, who is officially no longer just Mr. All The Bacon and Eggs You Have.

Thursday, May 9 (New York Times, constructed by Joe DiPietro)

“American Idol” judge alongside Luke and Lionel  = KATY

Maybe you don’t realize that the American Idol revival has been airing on ABC for six years now, with Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie in the judges’ seats. Sure, Idol isn’t getting all those 30 million viewers from the glory days, but 6 million is still pretty good! Perry announced that this upcoming season will probably be her last, so the future of the show might be in danger–but hey, The Voice is still around after 24 seasons and countless changes, so who knows?

Tuesday, May 7 (The New Yorker, constructed by Paolo Pasco)

Journalist Nellie who wrote the book “Around the World in Seventy-two Days”  = BLY


A pioneer of investigative journalism, Pennsylvania native Nellie Bly is known for two particular projects: the on-site investigation of psychiatric hospitals she compiled for her 1887 book Ten Days in a Mad-House, and her whirlwind 1890 circumnavigation of the globe that beat Jules Verne’s novel by eight days. The Heinz History Center has an excellent website that breaks down Bly’s travels around the world, so you can follow along. One thing I learned recently is that Bly actually met Verne on that trip, and did an interview with him! That feels like if Roger Bannister had high-fived Gunder “4:01” Hägg as he beat the four-minute mile.

Wednesday, May 8 (Los Angeles Times, constructed by Rebecca Goldstein and Rachel Fabi)

Structures that provide shade  = GAZEBOS

This fine Sunday, I thought you all could use some fun facts about gazebos:

  • Like so many other things, gazebos come from China. Arising in the first millennium BCE, the Chinese call their pavilions ting, or “kiosk.”
  • If “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” is the most famous gazebo-related piece of music, #2 might be the Gazebo Dances, a 1972 work by future Oscar-winner John Corigliano.
  • The gazebo seen in the dance at the end of Twilight was filmed a few hundred miles south of Forks, at the View Point Inn in Corbett, Oregon.

Around the crossworld in 84 words

As we continue to celebrate the crossword’s 100th birthday, the Yale Alumni Magazine posted about a crossword tournament held in New Haven in 1925! That’s very early, and makes me wonder why more universities aren’t hosting them even now.

If you need to dip in the Wordle archive, the New York Times is now giving you a time machine.

Not quite a word puzzle, but definitely a math puzzle: CBS reports about a couple of teens who figured out a very old Pythagorean riddle.

… and that’s it for this week! Thanks for coming along, and I’ll see you next time.


Chris King is a longtime crossword commentator, and the author of five published puzzle books. His column appears on Questionist every Sunday. 



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