THURSDAY, Aug. 23, 2007 - Joe Krozel

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: B-word homophones - all instances where Across and Down clues share the same first letter feature homphones that start with the letter "B"; the Across answer is clued, the Down is not (its clue is just a "-")

I can't believe 23 of you commented on my non-commentary! Thanks. I am reasonably well, thanks for asking.

This puzzle:

I too did not get the "B" in BODE (27A: Point to) until the extremely bitter end, as I ran through the alphabet many times, with "B" never ever registering as a viable option. My mind treated the possibility of BODE the same way it would have PODE or GODE.

I did not notice that all the homophones were "B" words until I read someone's comment here. Shows you how observant I was feeling last night.

I did the puzzle without ever seeing the "Notepad" that explained the use of dashes as clues. Would have felt like cheating. Got the whole NW, saw that the "-" clue was a homophone of 1A: Obstruction at the entrance of a cave, maybe (boulder), and thus solved the rest of the puzzle's "-" clues easily. That BOULDER clue should have "... in cartoons or B-movies" added to it, as I'm reasonably sure I've never seen a BOULDER blocking the entrance to a cave in the real world (not that I have had occasion to see many caves).

Today was a day where being a puzzle addict helped, as stuff like DIRK (19A: Weapon in old hand-to-hand fighting) and IDA (58D: _____ B. Wells, early civil rights advocate) and OROS (31A: Rich Spanish decorations) and EOE (6D: Want ad abbr.) and N-TESTS (32A: Big blasts) even the horrid DESEX (15D: Neuter) were all easy first guesses.

"Recondite" is one of my favorite words - an SAT word I think I actually learned when I was preparing to take my SATs, and a word I have some occasion to use (if only in describing the scholarship of some of my peers). So 39D: Recondite (obscure) was gettable with just a cross or two. SEWERS took me a few seconds because, well, just look at it. SEWERS carry sewage. Only in very clear context do they SEW. Still, this answer goes well with 25D: Lowers the cuffs on, maybe (alters).

Just now, looking at the grid, I was wondering what POSEDAS meant in Spanish. Turns out it's two words - 66A: Pretended to be (posed as).

OK, that's all for this puzzle. Just wanted to have something up. I won't be getting back from Ithaca til late tonight, so Friday commentary might not be up til morning, but (I hope) no later than 9 am.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


thehowie 12:16 PM  

I, for one, am relieved. (you have quite a community caring about you!) Hang in there. best, h

Wade 12:32 PM  

Yeah, I was getting . . . puzzled.

hobbyist 12:42 PM  

I too have been worried. If you are going to eat, then at least YOU are ok. Hope your family is as well.

karmasartre 12:44 PM  

Rex deserves a day off....

Beata 12:55 PM  

been worried... hope all's ok

Orange 1:09 PM  

You didn't end up with dry socket, did you?

And karma's right—you do deserve a day off.

Wade 1:28 PM  

This wasn't an easy puzzle for me and the last square took me probably five minutes: the "B" in BODE/BOWED. I went through the alphabet numerous times in my head and just didn't hear "BODE" as a word (which of course it is.) I kept trying to make it be "MODE/MOWED."

Alex 2:09 PM  

I quit this puzzle in frustration because I didn't know what was going on with the "-" clues as displayed in Across Light. Now I see that the "Notepad" does explain what's going on. They should have the notepad pop up automatically when there's actually text in it.

Anonymous 2:25 PM  


all of the "theme" answers/homophones begin with B.

Orange 3:22 PM  

Right, but there's nothing in the theme clues to tip you off to that, the clue for BODE was awfully vague, and the lack of a Down clue gave you nothing else to go on. I'll bet that square was the very last square for a lot of people.

Chip Ahoy 3:33 PM  

This puzzle took me f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Thought the "-" meant blank so filled in words meaning empty and got quite far until hitting a brick wall. In desperation resorted to looking at the notepad. Grrrrrrrr. And I still don't have a word for shoulder that that begins with r. Therefore, I did not have fun with this. *slams lid on laptop*

campesite 3:47 PM  

Orange, you're right on the money on two counts: that B was my last square as well, and Rex deserves a day off.

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

This one has bugged the stew out of me. I usually have trouble with Thursdays, so I rely on Rex to give me a leg up on one or two clues to help me finish.

I'm going through withdrawal. Help!

P.S. I thought the shoulder muscle was "deltoid" (though it hasn't helped me with any of the adjacent words). Am I wrong?

Chip Ahoy 3:48 PM  

*opens laptop*
pish tosh.

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

Thanks, Chip. That put me over the top. I should have known that since my best friend just underwent surgery for a torn one of those.

But, can someone explain how the answer to 44A satisfies/relates to the clue? Same question for 48A. And, I wonder if all those road crews know about 22A.

P.S. It 13D's me when Rex says a puzzle is easy and then it takes me what seems like forever to solve it.

Badir 4:35 PM  

Hi Rex, hope you're feeling okay.

I breezed through this, cause I read the notepad! :) It was my fastest Thursday ever! I didn't really have any hangups,
even with BODE/BOWED. But my solving group at work, who do the puzzle every day with only the down clues, did this pretty quickly, even without the notepad! They were working in the upper left, and someone suggested BOULDER. Someone else thought that went well with the partial words going across, and the first guy said, "I meant going across." "Well, why not down, too?", and then they had it. They also noticed the B's, which I hadn't.

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

4:30 - 44A - "Oboe" is, presumably, the word used to represent "O" in old radio lingo, as "Peter" represented "P".

48A - "N is" for Nest, like in an old children's spelling book.

Fergus 4:41 PM  

Kept looking in the wrong area for numbered clues. Had this reflex throughout the entire puzzle. Got a bit annoyed with the habit so ingrained.

Beata 4:41 PM  

Hi all, it was my worst Thursday ever too. i was confused all over the place.


liebestraum 4:44 PM  

Actually, I kind of liked this puzzle and the theme. I did it without paying attention to the notepad and figured out the theme when I'd filled in about half the squares.

Now, I'm not saying I did it quickly or that it was easy for me, but I enjoyed doing it. The one clue I thought was going to kill me was RECONDITE because it was, uh, OBSCURE (to me).

And Rex - we all understand. I know I couldn't keep up a blog like this and still do my university teaching, so more power to you that you can.

Have yourself a salubrious libation!


Remy 4:53 PM  

Moved through without too many problems except scratching my head over "eider"--that's a Fri/Sat sort of word and cluing, my brain doesn't function well enough on Thursday for that sort of thing.

Wade 5:07 PM  

Anonymous at 2:25. I is a moron.

PuzzleGirl 5:41 PM  

Breezed through this one, which I believe is the first time EVER for a Thursday. I didn't see that there was a notepad until I was done. Got BOULDER/BOLDER from the crosses and that was all I needed. I got a kick out of 7D.

Anonymous 4:39 - Thanks for explaining 48A. I NEVER understand those until someone explains it and then I feel like an idiot.

Anonymouse 4:30 - I assumed they were looking for something like the NATO phonetic alphabet used by military/police: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc. (BTW, O is Oscar).

Rex Parker 5:41 PM  

To the dude whose comment I just erased (yet another "Anonymous"),

Feel free to re-post the comment, but this time leave all references to your genitals out of it.

And don't worry that you are such a slow solver. Just keep at it, buckaroo. I'm sure you'll get better.


Karen 5:45 PM  

I did fine with BODE/BOWED, but I had CASED/CASTE up when I thought it was just homophones, not b-squareds. No, I'm not sure how I was pronouncing them either.

Anonymous 6:57 PM  

So, no one got the single-cluing (no down, no across) of this puzzle?

Notepads are meant to be read -- it is not cheating -- who sets the standard for cheating anyway -- and who the #$@&* cares?

Get over it!

Anonymous 7:02 PM  

Rex - Glad you so like the word recondite. If you have a chance you should listen to a recording of Puccini's Tosca, in which the first scene aria sung by the tenor/hero is Recondit 'Armonia (Mysterious Harmony), one of the most beautiful in all opera. I especially recommend Placido Domingo as the hero.

Fergus 7:43 PM  

The BOULDER blocking a cave must be a reference to Jesus some time just before Easter -- at least that's what I thought. I sometimes use Recondite in conversation, but more in its curious, hard to explain meaning then the merely OBSCURE.

Why would anyone bother to post angry and crass comments? An amiable dispute is fine, but to rag on others' imputed ego-trips seems both hypocritical and a waste of time. If that was meant as joke, I think Rex's deletion says all that's necessary.

Sue 7:55 PM  

"Cheating" on the puzzle is clearly subject to a personal definition. How easy it is to get over a little hump by googling, if that's within one's personal allowance. Remember 10 years ago? The closest aids were encyclopedias and maps. And working a puzzle on an airplane can be a revelation. Not even a dictionary to consult. I like to be just that austere if possible.

But! When I don't quite get something, it sure is nice to have this site. We are glad to have you, Rex.

Beata 8:00 PM  

I've never even noticed the notepad... dumb of me... strugled... needed linda G to finish


green mantis 8:26 PM  

Re: cheating... in the paper, the note explaining what the deal is with this puzzle is the first thing you see, right on top of all the clues. Ergo, it's meant to be seen, and it ain't cheating. Unless I am a superhero with super x-ray secret mysterious vision who can see super secret cheating notes about how to do the puzzle that nobody else can see. That would be cheating. But then, I could do a lot of good with my powers, so it all kind of evens out.

karmasartre 8:41 PM  

In all the various google/cheating/learning discussions, no one has brought up oneacross(dot)com. I used it in desperate moments when I was starting the NYT, circa '95. I remember it being an extremely slow server, and not often helpful. Anyone else seen it?

My philosopy these days is to play against the clock till I'm through, which sometimes (alright, too often) means an incomplete Fri or Sat. Then go to RPDTNYTCP and see what I can learn. Then google if I want to explore something further. On Sunday I have the hard copy, so I may put it down and await enlightenment, which may take hours.

jae 9:15 PM  

Glad your OK, I was contemplating calling the Confluence cops this morning to check out the Paker residence to make sure you were alright. This was a very easy Thursday for me but I did see the notepad. I'm relatively new to online puzzle so I thought I was supposed to read it?

skua76 9:23 PM  

The B in BODE was my last square as well. And I've never noticed the notepad before.

I am familiar with the normal layout of the hard copy puzzle in the paper with across and down, how was this one presented?

Mac 9:28 PM  

Yes, bode's b was my last letter..... I think the best clue was "duck down", by far. Was also looking for the clues in the wrong places, annoying.

Anonymous 9:30 PM  

Thanks for pointing out the notepad - that made things a whole lot easier.

ps - a quibble from an MD: there is no rotator muscle in the shoulder; the rotator cuff is a collection of muscles, tendons, etc.


Mac 9:33 PM  

Rex, thanks for cleaning up the site. Too many illiterate and rude posts all over the internet.

green mantis 10:01 PM  

The hard copy version just had all the clues written in one long sequence, annoying me (and fergus?) no end as I scanned back from the grid in search of a clue where it *should* have lived.

Jerome 10:12 PM  

Many of these comments don't BODE well for you, rex.

Kitt 10:23 PM  

Sue -- What??? you don't take a dictionary with you on the plane?

I've been know to do it but that's just me : ) Gotta have something to do up there.

Take Care.

Sorry you're having blogger trouble today, Rex. And hope whatever it was from last night is better now.

scriberpat 10:52 PM  

How is a homophone different from a homonym?

Orange 12:10 AM  

Homonyms are generally spelled the same, while homophones sound the same. In this puzzle, the word pairs shared pronunciations but weren't spelled the same. That Wikipedia link mentions that some people's definitions muddle these distinctions.

shelby -- montclair, nj 8:20 AM  


I agree with you about always looking in the wrong place for the clues. I think that is why it took me as long as it did.

I don't mind when a puzzle takes me awhile to finish--as long as I finish it, I feel good. But if I have to look up anything to help me with an answer, I feel as though that is "cheating" and I really have not been successful in completeing the puzzle. Luckily, as long as I have the time, 99% of the time, I finish without "cheating". To me, it is just a matter of time and patience. The means are so much better than the end in solving crosswords.

Anonymous 4:54 PM  

I'm the "dude" who posted the comment that said solvers who brag about their solving prowess (and speed) are like folks who exaggerate about other things (including "genital" size). I didn't realize using the recognized, clinical word for male genitalia (rather than any of the slangy, arguably obscene substitutes) was defendu on a site dedicated to the proper use of the English language.

I'm glad to see, though, that prudery is alive and kicking, even among pseudo-intellectuals.

P.S. I guess the words "breast" and "vagina" are considered offensive by some of you as well, eh?

Rex Parker 5:11 PM  

Dear Anonymous,

Your comment (which I erased) had to do with your own penis and how you use it, which, believe me, no one wants to hear. It's not clever, or interesting. It's creepy. Profanity is not the issue. Unmotivated and inappropriate hostility is.

Further, "defendu" is the most "pseudo-intellectual" thing anyone has ever written at this site.

Lastly, if you don't like this site, please don't visit anymore. Why take the time to comment on something you don't enjoy? Just go elsewhere. Start your own blog, maybe ...


Anonymous 5:16 PM  

I was amused in the SW corner. I had WEAK and WEEK at 54, instead of BEAT and BEET. But that gave me (what I thought was) the correct word at 65. The clue was "grade again", so my RERAKE (for soil grade) sounded good instead of the correct RERATE. But, I had VIKAL at #47 instead of VITAL. I kept telling myself that vikal was some odd word I'd never seen before.

Mike from CA

Gir 4:10 PM  

I'm not a crossword expert so I was looking forward to finishing this puzzle without cheating (save looking up recondite in the dictionary) until I got to 17 across/6 down. bode/bowed also had me stumped until the end.

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