06.21.09 -- Electronic Acrostic

Sunday, June 21, 2009
ACROSTIC, Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, edited by Will Shortz
We've been robbed!
The Author’s Name and Title of the Work: SUE GRAFTON
The Defined Words: A. Openly shocked or bewildered (hyph.), SLACK-JAWED; B. Principle that nature’s laws hold throughout the cosmos, UNIFORMITY; C. “Be virtuous and you will be ECCENTRIC” (Mark Twain); D. Game in which books are made (2 wds.), GO FISH; E. An answer to an answer, REJOINDER; F. Birds of a region, AVIFAUNA; G. Extreme in one’s enthusiasm, FANATIC; H. Sci-fi tale of a teleportation-lab fiasco (2 wds.), THE FLY; I. Dish whose name is derived from the Latin word “lamella,” meaning “thin plate”, OMELET; J. “Sorry, but that’s impossible” (3 wds.), NO CAN DO; K. Cow-bison hybrid, BEEFALO; L. Per Shakespeare, what not to admit “to the marriage of true minds”, IMPEDIMENTS; M. Blue state, SADNESS; N. Out of a guy’s usual range, FALSETTO; O. 8/14 of an Italian sonnet, OCTAVE; p. Fail to follow suit when required and able, RENEGE; Q. Allow air to pass though, as a fabric, BREATHE; R. One who may take another’s role, UNDERSTUDY; S. Unkempt, disorderly; motley, RAGTAG; T. Seeming to require an epoch to move, GLACIAL; U. Prudhomme’s successor at Commander’s Palace, New Orleans, LAGASSE; V. Taking self-denial a bit far, ASCETIC; W. Believer in Ethiopia as the true Zion, RASTAFARIAN.
Note on Wordplay, the Crossword Blog of The New York Times, from Will Shortz on Sunday puzzles: As readers of the print edition of the Times noted last week, the Magazine’s “trim size” was reduced for the June 14 issue. Unfortunately, with this new size, which is 9% smaller than the old one, the traditional second Sunday puzzles (acrostics, diagramlesses, cryptics, etc.) could no longer physically fit below the crossword.
Click on image to enlarge.
Puzzle available on the internet at
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games
If you subscribe to home delivery of The New York Times you are eligible to access the daily crossword via The New York Times - Times Reader, without additional charge, as part of your home delivery.


Anonymous said...

What they are saying:

What [annoys me] about all the “changes” the Times keeps making ( to save their skin) is their smarmy assertion that they are “improvements” - additions rather than subtractions. Will’s note here was great, but I’m sure he and all the acrostic solvers would have preferred a big, boldface note on the puzzle page. Speaking of deathbeds, what else is going to slip away un-eulogized?

— Sara

It has been my habit for many years to start doing the Acrostic puzzle, which appeared every other week in the NYTimes Magazine, on Saturday night when the early edition of the Sunday Times is available. It has been the alphabetic equivilent of comfort food.

Now the Acrostic has been banished to the Times website; so that now, on Saturday evening, it is unavailable until midnight (I suppose).

Is it so difficult to simply include it regularly in the newly shrunken magazine? Does it have to appear on the page with the crossword? There must be a solution.

— John Willenbecher

Ironic that a death bed theme came the same day when Will notes the shrinkage of the NYTimes Mag. I guess old gray ladies shrink before taking their final breaths. I gave up on this lady years ago, and only get it on line now for the puzzles.

— Wags

i REALLY miss the print edition of the acrostic puzzle. i am very sad about this. we wouldn’t buy the paper if it weren’t for the puzzles in it. i could do without a lot of things but not the acrostic. does the nytimes money manager know how many old ladies he is reducing to tears with this decision?

— marcia wilson

In the present economy, what makes them think that the advertising is going to increase in the foreseeable future?
And yet they manage to find room for Kenken?

— Jerrold

I really miss having the acrostic or second puzzle on the same page as the crossword. The last thing I want to do on a Sunday morning is to have to turn my computer on and do a puzzle online, or have to print something out. I, too, often enjoy doing the acrostic/diagramless/etc. on Saturday night. Can they find room for it in a different section of the paper?

— Rob

Excellent suggestion, Rob!
After all, they did not shrink the size of the pages in the OTHER sections.
How about it, Will Shortz?
How about it, Magazine editors?

— Jerrold

The 2nd Kenken in a row has broken my heart. Moving Henry and Emily to online-only is a cruel blow. BRING BACK OUR SECOND PUZZLE!

I don’t want to do math, I want to do wordplay. Forcing me to print out a second puzzle every week, and somehow, what, STAPLE it to the rest of my magazine so I can carry it around easily? Fold it into a little square? This won’t do. This simply won’t do.


— Tavie

How refreshing to read the outrage about the acrostic being banished. I have told everyone I talked to today how I was disappointed once again by The New York Times.

Anonymous said...

More of what they are saying:

The Sunday print magazine features KenKen (with a note that the acrostic is online). Will this be a regular feature? Does this mean that we will get a Kenken on a weekly basis with all word puzzles being relegated to online use?

I know I have been a vocal proponent of less acrostics, MORE other WORD puzzles. What’s this nonsense about Kenken taking up precious space? Also, why is it that we get this unpleasant surprise without any warning?

[I do like the new format for the crossword puzzle, but hate it when brain twisting word puzzles are sold out for commercial junk like Kenken - I know some of you will be Kenken fans, but I do love my word puzzles too much!]

— Tim

I hope that this does NOT mean that next week’s
“Novelty” puzzle (e.g. Split Decisions or Vowelless)
will be replaced by Kenken.

— Jerrold

You’re not going to get an answer to question #2, just as I got no answer to my letter to the editor last week asking about this. You will have to pay $40 a year to get what you used to get by buying the newspaper. The Times does not care about its loyal readers (of 35 years’ standing, in my case). “Commercial junk like KenKen” is where the Times sees its future. Ohne mich.

— Susanne Fusso

It’s a sad day when the acrostic is removed to the internet. What about all the people who have no computer, but manage to subscribe to the NYT. It is a huge loss to us oldsters who have been loyal not only to the NYT but to the wonderful puzzle page, and I don’t mean KenKen. A very insensitive decision, indeed. HELP!

— gloria

I am so angry at the loss of the acrostic. I cannot dowload it on my computer without going through about 10 steps. Why in the world remove this one and keep KenKen? I’ve accepted all the previous changes in the paper, but this one may be the one that does me in.

— Blanche Phythyon

I enjoy word puzzles and care nothing for number games. And I take the NYT with me when I go out, and I can’t do these puzzles if they’re not in the paper. For a long as you publish a hard copy, please provide printed puzzles. My history with acrostics goes back to the early days of Thomas Middleton and I hate to see iy all end.

— David

I look forward to the double crostic in the paper and hate ken-ken. Please do not make this a permanent change!!

— Patti Moss

I’m glad to see so many fellow acrostic fans have expressed their disappointment. I have been doing it every other week for countless years. Yes, since the days of Thomas Middleton. To have to go on line and print it out is showing total disregard for so many long time faithful readers. I hope the editors read our comments and reconsider what they’ve done.

— Pat Doyle

Every other week’s acrostic is one of a small number of regular, periodic pleasures I allow myself to anticipate. No more. Jumping through PC hoops to print out the acrostic is a real drag. And what’s with this Ken-Ken? Is The Times being paid to promote it? I know people who are hooked on Soduku, as well as crosswords, but I haven’t heard anyone oohing and ahing over the joys of Ken-Ken. Bring back the acrostic and keep the puzzle page devoted to word games.

— Sammy

Leon said...

As far as no room in the magazine, I can’t go for that, No Can Do !

oliver1 said...

This a very sad day for puzzle enthusiasts who for many years have looked forward to the acrostic . If the Times continues to eliminate the features that we love, will there be any need to buy the paper at all?
Don't leave editorial & content decisions to accountants!
Margaret Fraser

Anonymous said...

Another old lady heard from!!!!! How could they do this???????? I am sure we puzzle enthusiasts are one of the largest and long term subscribers to the NYT where ever we have lived or moved too. How could the NYT do this to us??????

Anonymous said...

More of what they are saying:

Giving us Kenken after taking away the “Second Sunday” is so inadequate as to be ridiculous. It would be as if you had a Rolls-Royce, and I took it away and then gave you a Volkswagen in compensation.
— Jerrold

I agree with other commenters who are deeply saddened, angered and disappointed about the loss of the printed acrostic. TheTimes seems to have no trouble these days adding on expensive new features–a useless glitzy sports magazine, more and more and more decor and fashion supplements featuring pricey items most of us can’t afford–but loyal readers are deprived of a simple pleasure like the Acrostic. The note at the bottom of the June 21st puzzle page says “Acrostic is online.” HA! Try to find it. I still haven’t been able to locate the link. Luckily, my search did lead me to this page and let me know I’m not alone in my dismay.
— Emily

Dear Mr. Shortz – Please ask your people to reconsider relegating the second puzzles to the Net and filling in our beloved puzzle page with non-word-related stuff. I’ve been a Sunday Times puzzle solver for 40 years now, and that page is a big part of my weekend. Unlike the kids with their cells and their pods and whatever, the vast majority of your puzzle page target fanbase (40+ Boomers) don’t necessarily have immediate access to computers for printing out our Sunday fix. Please consider us, your oldest (in both senses of the word) subscribers. Thanks.
PS: KenKen? What’s next–Find the Hidden Picture?!! Seems a bit sophomoric for the New York Times….
— Tom

You have completely spoiled my Sunday and one of the joys of the Times Magazine by replacing the acrostic puzzle with kenken. If it’s not broke……….
— Jane

I just want to add my voice to all of those who are upset about the removal of the second Sunday puzzle. I have been buying the Sunday Times for years, mostly for the Book Review, which is an increasingly unsatisfying read, and for the pleasure I get from spending my morning doing the two Sunday word puzzles. I’ve been a longtime subscriber to the online puzzles, so if this KenKen is going to be a permanent feature and I have to go to the trouble of printing out the second puzzle online anyway, why should I purchase an actual paper?
— Chris Ziemkiewicz

I must agree with all the other posters. I look forward to doing the double-crostic every other week and was incredibly dismayed that I had to go print it out. And to make things even worse, there wasn’t even a link to it in the “Times Magazine” section on the Web site (its obvious place), but was shunted off to the crosswords section.

I very often do the Sunday crossword and double-crostic while I’m on vacation or on the train, traveling. What happens now? I really hope the editors will reconsider and put the Second Sunday puzzle back in the magazine where it belongs.
— Stephanie Leveene

Anonymous said...


Please, please, please continue to print two word puzzles on Sunday. There is a lot of dreck in the Magazine which could be eliminated instead if you are short of space.
— Louis Menand

Well, my Sunday morning sanctuary time of coffee, Sunday Morning Baroque on NPR, and the Times puzzles has met with an awful intrusion this morning. And, it took me until now to find the online acrostic - it was not included on the Crossword link on the Times Reader - and it came up with 0 search results for it. I too am a loyal boomer to the crosswords for almost 40 years. They have gotten increasingly more enjoyable over time, and today have fallen off the cliff. I was hoping to be too old to do the puzzles before the beloved print format disappeared. I also agree that KenKen is no substitude for good Word Play - add them in for those like that sort of thing, but not at the expense of the Word puzzles. Ugh, my Acrostic is finished printing - let me take the new-fangled thing back to my seat.
— Gina

If moving the acrostic to the computer were not irritating enough (never mind excluding subscribers who do not have computers), it is impossible to find the damn thing on the computer!! At the very least you shoiuld have made it very easy to access!

Just when I think erratic home delivery is my main problem you manage to top yourself!
— Gloria Wilner

That’s it. No more buying the NYT. The cost went up and the services go down. Perhaps the NYT is considering running for national office.

I have bought and read the NYT for over 40 years. The fact that the deciders didn’t even cue in the puzzle people shows how little they value this community. So goodbye, good luck and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
— Spencer

I live in a part of Florida where there is no NYTimes home delivery, so I schlep 17 miles down the Keys to pay, now, $6 (plus tax) for my Sunday Times and the acrostic is a special treat every other week. Pace Jim Horne, there is *no acrostic* in this week’s magazine. There is a ten-page advertising section, that appalling ken ken, and no acrostic.
— Susanne Woods

I not only HATE Ken-ken—-I am a faithful Acrostic solver who looks forward to engrossing myself in it every other week. Please tell me the Ken-ken thing isn’t permanent! Not everyone uses a computer, and therefore many Acrostic fans will not be using this space to voice their dissatisfaction with the Times’ decision for the Sunday Magazine. Please count my message at least ten times in support of the pencil users among us!
— Jane Clair

Why on earth would they take away our second puzzle and stick that stupid Kenken in its place? Kenken is for numbers people. Acrostics are for word people. Who knows if numbers people can even read the magazine? Put their puzzle on-line and leave mine be! (And if it’s a matter of space, why waste two full pages on the table of contents?
— Clem

Anonymous said...


I’m adding my voice to those of the other posters who are devastated by the removal of the acrostic from the magazine. My mother and I have been doing the acrostics for years and look forward to them every other week. I agree with L. Menand who suggests that there is plenty of “dreck” in the magazine that could be removed to make room for the acrostic. My mother is 81 years young, and while she’s a crack acrostic solver she’s not as facile with the computer. If I hadn’t been able to come over and print this one out for her she would have missed it completely. Shame on the Times for increasing the cost and trying to get us to accept the inferior “KENKEN” in place of the acrostic. The dumbing down of the country is everywhere….
— Julia Abbott

Add my disappointment, chagrin, and bewilderment re the replacement of Acrostic with KenKen to all the others. After a number of fruitless tries, I finally called the NYT to find out how to access the Acrostic source. Please bring the two word puzzle format back.and don’t eliminate the diagramless…I love the challenge! Put KenKen someplace else.

— Dolores

KenKen does not replace the beloved acrostic. If I have to pay 39.95 for the Sunday acrostic on their Premium Puzzle site, I might as well stop buying the paper. Decreasing readership will only hurt the NY Times, not help it.
— Mary Ellen

I am totally disheartened by the removal of the acrostic to the internet!! Kenken??? I would rather eat dirt!!

I buy the Sunday NYT almost solely for the puzzles. I can get the crossword in my local paper a week after it is published, so if the acrostic is going on-line, I guess that I can save $6 each week.
— donna roberts

I like KenKen puzzles, but find them easily on NYTimes online every day. Today’s acrostic was HARD to find, and I just plain miss having it in the magazine. When we are away from home, not having the second puzzles in the magazine will make life less fun. Please reconsider and put the word puzzles back in the magazine.
— Molly Turlish

I strongly dislike your decision to remove the acrostic to the internet. ( I like working back and forth between the crossword and the acrostic.) I do not like accessing my computer on Sundays. I don’t like seeing a number puzzle alongside by word puzzle. As far as I am concerned you have made poor decision and I hope you’ll put the acrostic back where it belongs. With these changes and the increased price of the NYT, I am getting closer to canceling my subscription.
— Ellie

Although I could get high-speed internet in my rural Berkshire village, I could not get Times home delivery. In fact several days a year the local outlets did not receive the Times because of snow. Therefore, several months ago I decided to save about $600 a year by getting my puzzles online. I print out the puzzle every day, and take it to breakfast - rain or shine. I travel with my laptop, so I don’t have to figure out the location of the nearest Starbucks when in a small town.

Even though I am a dedicated online solver, the elimination of the acrostic seems like a seriously underthought decision. If indeed the puzzles are sufficiently popular to justify an online subscription price exclusive of the rest of the paper. Doesn’t it stand to reason that an equally large number of non-computer users are similarly subscribing. This seems like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

I don’t want to denigrate the number puzzles, but they are keyed to a different kind of thinking than word problems. I do want to speak up in concert with the outraged solvers- after all, when they come for my computer, there could be no one left to speak for me.
— michael tide

Anonymous said...

I get that newspapers are in a hard place, but forcing me subscribe to premium puzzles to get the acrostic at the same time as raising the price of a diminished Sunday paper does nothing to encourage loyalty to the paper.