03.11.10 — Say The Magic Word!

Ali Baba by Maxfield Parrish, 1909


The young Ali Baba works collecting and cutting firewood (a valuable commodity) in the forest, and one day he happens to overhear a group of forty thieves visiting their treasure store in the forest. The treasure is in a cave, the mouth of which is sealed by magic. It opens on the words "Open, Simsim (commonly written as "Open Sesame" in English), and seals itself on the words "Close, Simsim" ("Close Sesame"). When the thieves are gone, Ali Baba enters the cave himself, and takes some of the treasure home. "Open sesame," the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights, reflects the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Puzzle by John Farmer, edited by Will Shortz

Note with today’s puzzle: When this puzzle is finished, the six circled letters can be arranged to spell an answer to the catchphrase reading diagonally from upper left to lower right.

In this enchanting and wizardly Thursday crossword, SAY THE MAGIC WORD runs diagonally from the upper left to the lower right, referring to three across incantations: 18. HOCUS POCUS, 37. ABRACADABRA and 57. OPEN SESAME and also to the magic word — PLEASE, scrambled in circled letters. Three more words?  Exquisite, delightful and charming!

Lots of people in the puzzle — 38. When We Were Kings” subject, ALI; AMIE (55D. Billet-doux writer); AMY TAN (3D. “The Joy Luck Club” author); BEATS (4D. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and others); the BOSOX (49D. Bronx Bombers’ foes); CEY (28A. Former Dodgers third baseman whom Chris Berman nicknamed “Born in the U.S.”); 61A. DEREK Bok, former Harvard president; 29D. EMA Savahl (couture label) or Ema Koja; an ENS (59D. Junior officer: Abbr.); ENYA (17A. Grammy winner from County Donegal); IAN (34D. Janis who sang “At Seventeen”); KNUTE (8D. Coach Rockne); a LIBRA (26D. First sign of fall); LUCRETIA (11D. Mrs. James A. Garfield); MAME (14A. “We Need a Little Christmas” musical); a MAV (53A. Texas N.B.A.’er); OH CAROL (21D. Top 10 hit for Neil Sedaka); OLIN (62A. “The Reader” actress Lena); OWENS (56A. Olympian Jesse); OTT (44A. Polo Grounds legend); a RACER (7D. Speed demon); a REB (25A. Confederate flag flier); SABU (19D. “Elephant Boy” actor); 33A. TAMMIE Green, 1987 L.P.G.A. Rookie of the Year; ZETAS (22A. Some brothers and sisters).

Other across16. Infiniti rival, ACURA; 2. It may pay off if it has your number, LOTTO; 24. Lab monitor?, LEASH; 31 “It’s time to fly” advertiser), UNITED; 40. Ancient Britain, ANGLIA; 41. Rolling features of some golf courses, KNOLLS; 51. Former capital of Crete, CANEA; 54. “Welcome to the islands”, ALOHA; 64. Dissertation defenses, ORALS.

Down — 1. Needs airing out, maybe, SMELLS; 2. Paddlers’ craft, CANOES; 12. Equipment that comes with sticks, DRUM SET; 13. Mouthed off to, SASSED; 32. Acronym associated with Oreos, NABISCO; 33. Security that matures in a year or less, briefly, T-BILL; 37. Herbalist’s supply, ALOE VERA; 39. In theory, ON PAPER; 41. KOMODO dragon (largest living lizard); 44. New Year’s Day, date wise, ONE ONE; 45. Professor’s privilege, TENURE; 46. Took a sample of, TASTED; 50. Lesson writer?, CHALK; 52. Stand by for, AWAIT.

Short stuff — ABC, ABIT, AOUT, ASKS, ATAN, ATOZ, BAH, BARK, ECO, EDGE, EIS, INRE, LESE, MAPS, 58D. “Volare (NEL Blue Dipinto di Blue)”, OLIO, OPEL, RMS, SALE, SCAB, SSN, TEED, XKES, 30D. “It’s fun to stay at the YMCA”: Village People.

Say the magic word!

Click on image to enlarge.

Puzzle available on the internet at

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Remaining clues -- ACROSS: 1. One crossing through the strike zone?; 3. “Speak” response; 9. Gin runs; 15. ___ all-time high; 16. Infiniti rival; 18. Incantation #1; 23. ___ Titanic; 26. ___ majeste; 27. Nine-digit ID; 36. Somewhat; 37. Incantation #2; 39. Grab bag; 43. Rathskeller cooler; 47. Carmaker since 1899; 48. “Alphabet web,” to Variety; 57. Incantation #3; 60. Vacation time in France; 63. About; 65. Classic Jags; 66. _)__ off (began). DOWN: 5. Rejection interjection; 6. From ___ (the works); 9. Google feature; 10. Modern prefix with balance; 35. Margin; 42. Kind of price; 54. Expresses wonder?

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