05.24.07 -- Letter Box

Thursday, May 24, 2007

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Puzzle by Patrick Merrell, edited by Will Shortz
Stretching the fifteen squares across this crossword puzzle's grid are DDDMONSTERMOVIE (17A "Creature From the Black Lagoon," e.g.),
HHHHCLUBMEETING (41A Gathering of budding agriculturists),
and KKKKKKKKKKRACES (62A Some running competitions)
-- long-hand for 3D monster movie, 4H club meeting and 10K races.-- the three main entries in a crossword puzzle construction seemingly obsessed with duplication of letters for the sake of itself.
That's perfectly "oll korrect," uh, I mean, O.K., because this sort of letters-for-letters-sake indulgence is a harmless alphabetical amusement -- the etymological equivalent of archaeology (think hieroglyphics). Undoubtedly, some well-meaning soul will blandly brand it a "theme" -- yes, there are those quotation marks again!
Hanging up three balloons does not really constitute a "theme" (not again!); however, several other entries join in the attempt: III (34A Sundial hour), TEEM (45A Brim), SST (57A Old J.F.K. sight), SKEET (73A Target sport), POOHBAH (22D Bigwig), TUTEE (37D One in a class by himself), and the odd-looking KAA (63A "The Jungle Book" python).
The three fifteen-letter acrosses necessitate a lot of fill top and bottom of the puzzle: KID, END, BAD, IKE, APT, REV, LAI, EKE, KLM, KAA, KFC, KTS, CUE, ETE, SET which are joined elsewhere in the construction by TEK, OSE, ABE, ISE, CSI, CSA, RAT, UNI, SON and the aforementioned III. Hey, those are just the three-letter entries!
Oll korrect (e.g., O.K.), four-letter fill: AIMS, ESME, ETAT, EBBS, ANIL, SACK, SKYS, AHEM, POWS, ASHE -- not until we get to PIKESPEAK (15A Site of an annual auto hill climb) and LAFAYETTE (69A City of Indiana or Louisiana) can we look back at the runner-ups, those little-monster five and six letter words of head, heart, hands, and health (oops, that's the 4 H's), does this puzzle speak, and oddly it does so -- KEBAB (1A Food that's stuck on a plate) (Never experienced kebab sticking to a plate), BENICE (50A "Please refrain from personal attacks") (is that the only way to be nice?), MACYS (Big parade organizer) (now them's balloons!), all SORTS (60A Separates).
Middle right of the puzzle grouped running down are BIKINIS, BIONICS and SINGLET (that's an image!) -- boy, those five and six letter entries have character! BROKAW (5D "The Greatest Generation") is from my home state, OBIES (44A Cousins of Drama Desk Awards) -- one hangs on my wall; MOHAWK (30A Attention-getting haircut) -- something I don't have enough hair for (watch your dangling prepositions); AHEM (52A "Excuse me") NOTME (25D Cry of innocence); CSA (58A Gray side: Abbr.) and I mean ACUTE (70A Severe)!
With that, I'll 40A Call ITAN evening...
O.K., give it "****"!

For today's cartoon go to The Crossword Puzzle Illustrated.
The New York Times Crossword Puzzle solution above is by the author of this blog and does not guarantee accuracy. If you find errors or omissions, you are more than welcome to make note of same in the Comments section of this post -- any corrections found necessary will be executed promptly upon verification.
Puzzle available on the internet at
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games
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Linda G said...

A KEBAB (which I want to spell KABOB) is stuck; i.e., on a stick -- and it's on a plate. I think that's where they were going with that.

Nice write-up.

I have a work-related dinner tonight and may not even get to the puzzle, much less blog it. If it's okay with you, I'll just post a link to you.

Have a good one : )

DONALD said...

Ah! I see the light! Stuck "and" on a plate!

Hope your evening is pleasant, will not take the night off myself as I see I'm the designated blog driver!

See ya!

Linda G said...

Thanks, oh lionhearted one. I hope it's a good one to blog : )

Rock rabbit said...

Hi Donald, I always like your daily titles. Today's is evocative, vernacular. I think my grandmother, born in 1901 (one of The Greatest Generation) used the term "letterbox". Haven't heard it since. I wish I could ask her if Creature of the Black Lagoon ever made it to the theater in her tiny Ohio farm town. But I'll bet she went to a more than a few 4-H Club meetings in her day (she had 11 children)!
Enjoyed your write-up. Thanks, and good night.

Anonymous said...

Rex said: "Cloned letters - three theme answers all contain a number-letter component, which is rendered literally in the grid, as the given letter appears as many times as the number indicates."

Do you still maintain there is no "theme"?

DONALD said...

rock rabbit

Yup, mail box was a letter box -- reference here is to the grid being a box full of letters from the alphabet (all those repeats), a little too much junk mail! Our families were large back then also, but no one stayed down on the farm!

DONALD said...