“Mind your P’s and Q’s” is a puzzling and quirky idiom; references give various origins:
* Advice to a child learning its letters to be careful not to mix up the handwritten lower-case letters p and q. * Similar advice to a printer’s apprentice, for whom the backward-facing metal type letters would be especially confusing. * Jocular, or perhaps deadly serious, advice to a barman not to confuse the letters p and q on the tally slate, on which the letters stood for the pints and quarts consumed “on tick” by the patrons. * An abbreviation of mind your please’s and thank-you’s. * Instructions from a French dancing master to be sure to perform the dance figures pieds and queues accurately. * An admonishment to seamen not to soil their navy pea-jackets with their tarred queues, that is, their pigtails. In fact, there are many more -- see HERE, HERE, and HERE! As puzzles and quizzes go, this crossword is a friendly one, albeit with a forbidding DARKAGE (37A Period of human benightedness) intersected by TOKYO (29D Site of the first Asian Olympics) resulting in a bold “K” in the center of the grid, think Samauri. Non-pair parings: SAMIAM (1A “Do you like green eggs and ham?” speaker) and WENTSOLO (14A Broke from the band, maybe); SQUEAL (16D Sound at a greased pig contest) and OOZY (12D Like mud); EVENUP (66A Tie, as a score) and ATODDS (43D In disagreement); EMISSARY (65A Representative) and TYPEB (15D Easygoing); and today’s only people in the puzzle, AGEE (2D Author James): LANA (34A Actress Turner); and the KAISER (50D Onetime German leader). There certainly is a fair amount of medium-use fill, happenstance and otherwise -- ACHE, ADO, ALA, AFAR, ALIT, ANT, ATWT, AURA, AVE, AWLS, COY, EEE, ENE, EDNA, EQUI, ESPN, ESQS, IFS, INS, IQS, ISLA, INIT, KIX, LEI, MERE, MMES, NET, OAK, OLES, OOZY, ORO, ORYX, OVI, PET, PLEA, PROG, ROWS, RSVP, SET, SEE, SPEE, SERA, SAPS, SASH, SUED, TAO, TOUT, TIME, and URI. I’m leaving out, for no particular reason, PUTTY (21A It can be silly); LAPSE (32A Slip); SHREW (45A Relative of a mole); MTIDA (53A Highest peak of Crete); RETAIN (69A Keep); MANILA (6D Port seized by Adm. Dewey, 1898); RANUP (27D Incurred, as charges); OPERA (28D La Traviata,” e.g.); CAPRI (30D Kind of pants); KNEEL (31D Prepare to propose); and CLAYS (48D Pottery materials). October is Black History Month -- so here’s a little history for one of today’s entries, PROQUARTERBACK.
For today's cartoon, go to The Crossword Puzzle Illustrated.
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THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games
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