08.22.08 -- The Puzzle of Puzzle People

Friday, August 22, 2008
Puzzle by Kevin G. Der, edited by Will Shortz
Writing a crossword blog is a frivolity on a frivolity -- -- commenting on crossword blogs is pure madness!
Across: 1. It has 33 letters, RUSSIANLANGUAGE; 2. 16. All-Star Game, e.g., INTERLEAGUEPLAY; 17. Optionally, ASANALTERNATIVE; 18. High seats, THRONES; 19. “Lucia di Lammermoor” lord and namesakes, ENRICOS; 20. Oscar nominee for “My Man Godfrey”, AUER; 21. Storms, RAGES; 23. Field with bases, MATH; 24. Wandered from the direct course, STRAGGLED; 26. Actress Berger, SENTA; 27. Skid’s cause, maybe, SLEET; 28. Protected by law, VESTED; 29. Four-year sch. of higher learning in Providence, RIC; 32. Condomless vis-à-vis protected, UNSAFER; 34. Tacoma-to-Walla Walla dir., ESE; 35. Shows one’s feelings, EMOTES; 37. Rio TINTO, multinational coal-mining giant; 39. PALOS Verdes Estates, Calif.; 40. Chaotic place, MARESNEST; 44. Classic 1974 role for Marty Feldman, IGOR; 45. Middle: Prefix, CENTR; 46. Inner opening?, ENTO; 47. Gun, to Guillermo, PISTOLA; 49. Ham, e.g., RADIOER; 51. Pro at protection, INSURANCEBROKER; 53. Health form field, NEARESTRELATIVE; 54. “An Inconvenient Truth” topic, GREENHOUSEGASES.
Down: 1. Neck ties?, RIATAS; 2. Open, UNSHUT; 3. Burlesque-goer, typically, STARER; 4. Mantilla wearers, SENORAS; 5. Setting of the 2007 animated film “Persepolis”, IRAN; 6. They might make you tear up, ALLERGENS; 7. Store figure, NETSALES; 8. New Guinea port, LAE; 9. “You’re absolutely right”, AGREED; 10. Ex-senator Sam of Georgia and others, NUNNS; 11. Duds, GEAR; 12. When computers are working, UPTIMES; 13. Spanish city and province on the Mediterranean, ALICANTE; 14. Baroque dances, GAVOTTES; 15. Freebie on some airplane flights, EYESHADE; 22. Lie in the sun, GETATAN; 25. Sticks, GLUES; 26. Some Rockefeller Center murals, SERTS; 28. Time-honored, VENERABLE; 29. Plumber’s job, maybe, REPIPING; 30. Idea person, IMAGINER; 31. Ancient city to which Paul wrote an Epistle, COLOSSAE; 33. Angels are sometimes seen over them, FIRTREES; 36. Love is reciprocal TORTURE”: Marcel Proust; 38. At all, ONEIOTA; 40. Treating badly, MEANTO; 41. Japanese mushrooms, ENOKIS; 43. Baseball’s Joe and others, TORRES; 45. Battle, CLASH; 48. OREN Ishii, character in “Kill Bill”; 50. Men might dress in this, DRAG; 52. High-quality vineyard, CRU.
“I know that I'm a partisan divider, but to me it seems that puzzle people are fleeing from real puzzles—fleeing the complexity, the fear of the unknown, fleeing from the messiness of life that cannot be contained in a box, fleeing to an illusion of mastery and control. They're control freaks seeking control of something worthless: ‘I can fill in a bunch of boxes with letters!’
“Those little crossword-puzzle boxes serve as the fragile containment structures for their darker fears, cells they lock themselves into in order to hide from the world. Hide from the fact that there are so many things they will never find answers for.
“That sometimes one only wants numbness. One doesn't want to be reminded of the full-blooded life that one can find in reading. That full-blooded life can only make one think of the death that awaits you or someone you love.”
The Puzzle of Puzzle People by Ron Rosenbaum
For today’s cartoon, go to The Crossword Puzzle Illustrated.
Click on image to enlarge. Puzzle available on the internet at
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games
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Anonymous said...

Does anyone know something two letters that means 'bright, but stupid'?

It does not start with an I or B.

DONALD said...

Is that a question?

john said...

I suppose one answer is "ME."
At any rate, this may not be a big deal, but I thought this puzzle was full of questionable answers, namely 24a STRAGGLED (not necessarily wandering), 32a UNSAFER (poor English word), 45a CENTR (not a complete prefix), 49a RADIOER (poor English word), 11d GEAR (only marginally fits duds), 22d GETATAN (only a hoped-for outcome, not guaranteed), 25d GLUES (often doesn't stick), 30d IMAGINER (poor English word), 52d CRU (premier cru is high-quality, cru just means "growth" or "vineyard").
oh well...

DONALD said...


Good summary!