Follow us on Instagram
Try our daily mini crossword
Play our latest news quiz
Download our new app on iOS!

Crossword commentary: ‘A Bad Online School Day’

Read below for help on tricky clues, the puzzle’s theme, and comments from the constructor

A bad online school day
Ashley Chung / The Daily Princetonian

The first puzzle in the new ‘Prince’ Puzzles section is a brisk and fun solve from Owen Travis. There are long stacks in all four corners and a smooth center. And the theme is more relevant every day. See below for help on some of the more difficult clues, more on the theme of the puzzle, and a link to the answer key.

Tricky Clues 


19A: “Shocks, in a way” doesn’t refer to a surprising statement, but a literal shock — TASES is the answer here.

23A: I sure wouldn’t mind if I opened one of my pre-packaged meals and found a MANGO in there instead of another apple or orange with which to pack my microfridge.

54A: While it is not especially thrilling, C-SPAN’s essential service — especially in light of recent events — is journalism. A hearty thank you from the ‘Prince’ crossword team.

71A: Seeing this answer, I thought immediately of Clue: I ACCUSE Mr. Green in the conservatory with the pipe. If I’m playing, that answer would probably be incorrect. I’m better with crosswords than with Clue, as it happens.

3D: A place where you might get into hot water is a SPA. This answer is much less stressful than it looks.

11D: I completed this puzzle twice in editing, and both times I tried to enter the one-letter-too-long LIGHTENING UP instead of the correct LOOSENING UP. In any case, a nice clue and long answer from Travis.


25D: An excellent clue here: things that can break are NEWS STORIES.

26D: There are a lot of surprising sounds throughout this puzzle: OPE, AHA, and GASP, in this case.

30D: For the non-hikers in the audience — and the Venn diagram of crossword-solvers and outdoorsmen does not have much overlap — these mounds are called CAIRNS.

42D: The admirable career of Sandra Day O’CONNOR brings to mind the fact that Princeton has produced 40 percent of the female Supreme Court justices in American history: Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’76 and Justice Elena Kagan ’81 both concentrated in history, and the latter was the editorial chair of this newspaper.

Get the best of ‘the Prince’ delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe now »

62D: “The Crown” has been my quarantine viewing of choice recently, so this answer — the BBC — came to me immediately.

Today’s Theme

Do you ever have a day where everything seems to go wrong — like the universe is conspiring against you? If so, you’re right on your way to solving this puzzle.

Travis’s theme takes common phrases and folds them into a story of a really bad day of virtual classes. For example, at 38A, “Then, the computer slipped off the desk and got a …” ends up with SPLIT SCREEN, which can be a helpful feature to take notes during a Zoom call or cause for a frantic trip to the Apple Store. 

The first theme entry — my favorite — is either a serious website failure or a sign to start painting: “Things got off to a bad start when the student opened Chrome and saw a…” BLANK CANVAS.

The other three continue the story and the puns — if you’re stuck, think of video calls and bad wifi.

Constructor Notes

I’m so excited to be kicking off what will hopefully become a long history of ‘Prince’ crossword puzzles! Huge thanks to Gabe Robare and all of the other wonderful ‘Prince’ staff members across multiple sections who helped to get this section off the ground. If you enjoyed solving this puzzle and want to try your hand at making one, please consider joining our team. No experience necessary. Email us at

The theme is my favorite part of this puzzle. I started off with BLANK CANVAS and the other answers came rather smoothly — I guess bad online school days are a bit too fresh in my mind. I also wanted to have the students take their FIRST-CLASS SEATS, but it didn’t quite work with crossword symmetry.

Need more help? See below for the answer key.

A Bad Online School Day (1)-solution.png

Solution image for “A Bad Online School Day”