03.13.09 -- X FACTOR

X-Factor #34, marvel.com
Friday, March 13, 2009
Puzzle by Joon Pahk, edited by Will Shortz
X FACTOR (45-Down, Hard-to-define influence) is perhaps the best word one could scare up for what a crossword constructor does, both with entries and their clues. Take today’s crossword -- is there any reason for RAS and RACE rather than RIS and RICE?, PYRES and ESSES over PYREX and ESSEX?, etc. If PILAF had to fit in four squares, it would be PIAF; TEARS, TEAS; PALER, ALER; SHALT, HALT; SAUTÉ, SATE, etc. How far apart are SPICA and SPIRAL; ONO and OTO; YEAS and YES SIR? SOP, SAP, SEP, SIP, SUP? FIRM, FORM, FARM, or FERMI? DDT or TNT? OUT or ORT or ORE? OCCUR and OCCULT? Yet, the "crossword community" on the internet continues to argue and spew over inconsequential, if not totally accidental, little fill -- OAS, SAO, SOS, SST, SSS20. O, say; 23. 8 for O, say!
In today’s puzzle,
X FACTOR swims about with, shifty, shady sorts -- MOOT POINT (60A. It’s open to debate), SLAVISH (43D. Blindly imitative), APERCUS (40D. Quick impressions), JOCOSE (46D. Sportive), SENSATE 1D. Having feeling), EXQUISITE (15A. Flawlessly crafted), IDEALS (22D. They can’t get any better), ZINGER (7D. It may be fired back at someone). I don’t consider myself a critic of crosswords, indeed, I think that would be about the most reclusive thing a body could do on a 24-7-365 basis for the last two years, non-stop -- uh, get a life! Give me gregarious or, or... OR ELSE (24D. Ominous words)!
O.K., o.k., ANTIPASTO (64A. Italian meal starter) at TOOTS SHOR (66A. Saloonkeeper of note), PICKUPS (21A. Light haulers) and PLACEMATS (37D. Put-down in a restaurant?), NEUTRINOS (17A. They’re produced in great quantities by supernovas) and the SEA OF AZOV (1A. It’s shared by Russia and Ukraine) -- making sense? No? TRYSTS (4D. Couples might set them up) on LEAP DAY (13D. March preceder, periodically), VESPUCCI (9D. He demonstrated that what Columbus had discovered was not 6-Down) and DESOTO (48D. He joined Pizarro in the conquest o the Inca Empire). AQUINAS (3D. “Summa Contra Gentiles” theologian), NERUDA (25A. “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair” writer) and CARLYLE (54A. “Sartor Resartus” essayist Thomas).
Remains across: 10. Dated will?; 16. Less well-looking; 18. Mosaic work; 19. Honorific that’s Sanskrit for “majesty”; 27. “Silent Spring” subject; 28. “Like Niobe, all TEARS”: Hamlet; 30. It may concern arms or contain legs; 31. Supportive side; 32. Old bombs (EDSELS which were meant to compete with DESOTO); 34. SCAREDY-cat; 36. Finno-Ugric tongue; 38. ÎLES de la Société; 39. Isabella’s home; 42. Piltdown man locale; 46. Make fun of; 47. 100 cents, in East London; 49. Dish cooked in seasoned broth; 50. Extraction target; 51. Wildcats and Cougars play in it; 53. Pro RATA; 56. Payoff; 58. 1951 A.L. strikeout leader Raschi, whatever happened to VIC Damone?; 59. Become part of history; 63. Start to prepare, as 49-Across; 65. A lot of assessments?, yes, it’s ESSES!
Downs: 2. Brought to bear; 4. Tag cry, OUT (and 52D. Tag cry, NOT IT), soooo… Shortzesque!; 5. Tofu specification; 6. See 9-Down; 8. Chiwere dialect; 10. Virgo’s alpha star; 11. Bit of hair; 12. Referred; 26. RAS the Destroyer (rabble-rouser in Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”); 31. Drill bit?; 33. Like some shells; 35. Go for another tour; 39. City due south of San Juan; 41. Specialized M.D.; 44. Deplete; 51. Funeral arrangements; 55. It’s featured in two Vivaldi concertos; 57. Afterthought #3: Abbr.; 61. “Revolution 9” collaborator; 62 Intl. group with 35 members. What?!
It‘s just that damn X FACTOR!
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Anonymous said...

Please explain, "8 for O, say" = atno ??

DONALD said...


8 is the atomic number for oxygen, which is abbreviated as O.