05.17.08 -- Plain English

Elizabeth I: The Pelican Portrait, c1575, attributed to Nicholas Hilliard.
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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Puzzle by Mike Nothnagel, edited by Will Shortz

The people who put crossword puzzles together (e.g., the author, or in crosswordese, constructor), along with their blogging intimates (e.g., adoring critics) are fond of the odd word, double-consonant, over-voweled or simply obscure entry, whether it be slang or sonorous academeaology, fakakta abbreviation or partial phrase indicated by blank spaces -- all of this clued by way of fourth definitions from Webster’s or street speak from Timbuktu. Current standard practice has it that the entire lot appear at the end of the week in unison on Saturday, devoid of any inter-related entries or gimmickry. Success in illusory superiority for the author occurs when a solver scans through the entire puzzle once without securing a single entry. This achievement is highly touted in the pedagogically-oriented crossword blogosphere. Semi-precious cybercells are then cavalierly squandered on vaunted assessments of the mutual experience of the aforementioned etymological cat-and-mousiness shared by the puzzlemeister and the supersolver.

Ho hum!

This Saturday’s arcanum is appropriately led by TOWNANDGOWN (24D. Of a university’s relationship with its surroundings) and THEDEADZONE (5D. 1979 novel, 1983 film and 2002-07 TV series), well befitting the SYMPTOMS (7D. Signs) ALLUDEDTO (33D. Intimate). Two 14-letter entries are featured in today’s crossword -- KITEEATINGTREE (22A. Dreaded victimizer of Charlie Brown) and UNREQUITEDLOVE (44A. Torch song subject).

SHTETLS (1A. Places such as Anatevka in “Fiddler on the Roof”); LOUISII (17A. Holy Roman Emperor, 855-75); IOWEYOU (56A. Grateful person’s reply), unless it’s an IOU; HASBEENS (11D. Distant stars?); ILIKEIKE (12D. Motto of a 1950s grass-roots movement) and LIONSDEN (34D. Terrifying thing to be thrown into) all meet the mark -- not to mention NEREUS (43D. Shape-shifting Greek god); NOMAYO (41D. Dieter’s request, perhaps); QATAR (45D. Land of Wahhabis), which is a common entry, but a very uncommon definition.

Remaining seven-letter entries: HERSHEY (14A. Big syrup maker); CHAGALL (15A. Designer of a stained-glass window in the U. N. building); ASATEAM (16A. Together); WALTZES (32A. Moves briskly and easily); JANSSEN (36A. Star of the 1970s detective drama “Harry O”); REDHATS (50A. Cardinals’ wear); BROCADE (53A. Elegant fabric); ATEAWAY (55A. Caused to disappear over time) and TENDONS (58A. Jumper’s cables).

Six-letter: TECHIE (8A. Helper after a crash); SWANKY (31A. Smart); ALISON Hargreaves, first woman to complete a solo climb of Everest, 1995 (37A.); WONDER (57A. Want to know); SHARKS (1D. Swindlers, in slang); HESAID (2D. One of two sides of a story?); TRACTS (3D. Political essays) and AVEDON (42D. Photographer who was the inspiration for “Funny Face“).

Five-letter: THONG (8D. Go-go dancer’s tip holder), who knew?; CLANG (15D. Chuck wagon bell sound), whatever; ALIEN (23D. Not natural), are we running out of definitions for this entry yet?; SATIE (31D. “Rel√Ęche” composer); BUGSY (40D. Crime syndicate sobriquet); LACED (46D. Unexpectedly potent); RACED (18A. Shot); ALONG (27A. As a companion); ONEIL (28A. Newsman Roger); SLOAN (39A. “McSorley‘s Bar“ painter); BASIN (40A. Great depression?) and GAMER (49A. World of Warcraft participant, e.g.).

Four-letter: PLAN (19A. Architectural starting point); DIME (30A. Turning point?); PUTA hold on (38A.); AGRA (48A. Site of a much-visited mausoleum); “We’ll give a long cheer for ELIS men” (“Down the field” lyric) (13D.), long way to go for a short entry!; LINE (20D. Prompt delivery); RNAS (25D. They’re stranded in the body); Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Tale of TSAR Saltan” (35D.), another long way to go!; PAIR (38D. Four and four, say) and CRAW (47D. Holder of bird food?).

Three-letter: BKS (21A. Jacket locales: Abbr.); SDS (26A. Old activist org. revived in 2006); NAN (41A. One of the Bobbsey twins); CDS (47A. Int. generators); LEA (6D. Place for woolgathering?); EAU (9D. Fontaine contents); CGI (10D. Film special effects, for short); LYN St. James, first woman to be named the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, 1992 (29D.), the full treatment!; WAS (32D. Functioned as); ROE (54D. Main ingredient in taramasalata); HAD (51D. Bamboozled) and finally...

AWE (52D. It’s inspired)!

Now, how about a little plain English?

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Puzzle available on the internet at
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games
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