Monday, April 21, 2008
Welcome to the first ever "Weekly Wrap-Up," wherein I will share some reader mail, revisit the best of the week's comments, post any crossword-related pictures I might have received, and celebrate my WORD OF THE WEEK.
This week was all about NABES. Showed up on Friday in the 1A position, crossing the anemic / mystifying NET LEASES, which held the 1D position. Then NABES had the temerity to show its head again on Monday (April 21, today). As one commenter on Monday's write-up ("mike") put it, "It went from being killer fill to a gimme in one weekend." That's just the kind of magical power I've been striving for - the ability to transmogrify the difficulty level of words! I knew that complaining about NABES would cause some blowback from readers to whom the word was familiar, but I was heartened when the very first comment I read was from Wade (or the Texan Jester, as I call him ... to myself):
Knowing for absolute certainty that the answer to 1 down was NETLEASE was no help at all with NABES and in fact threw me into an existential quandary wherein I doubted the continued sanctity of life.
That's solving with your whole body, including your soul! That's how you do it! All or nothing! Sadly for Wade, he got perilously close to nothing (Sartre's Nothingness), but he seems to have pulled himself out of his nosedive since then.
Kate demonstrated how bad the effects of a puzzle beat-down can be on your brain: " I would hate to admit how much time I've spent on this fine day reciting "babes, cabes, dabes, eabes, fabes, gabes, habes..." to myself, hoping something would finally make sense." And then there was Asian Badger's zinger from Saturday's Comments section: "About the only thing I liked about this puzzle was that it didn't have "NABES" in it." Funny. Not fair, but funny.
While I have come to accept that NABES is a [choke] valid answer, I will say that I got messages from more than one constructor who told me that they would never let the word into one of their puzzles. One of themwrote: "I would NEVER use NABE in a puzzle of mine, even if it meant redesigning the grid to lose it." This same constructor went on to vent about USH (not in a puzzle this week, but inevitably coming back to a puzzle near you in the near future). I could only nod my head in sad agreement. He couldn't see the nod, as we were communicating via computer, but I'm sure he felt it.
Here's one of my favorite comments of the week. It's from Barb in Chicago (from Sunday's Comments section), and has Nothing to do with puzzles, but I hardly care. It's an EAP ([Literary monogram]) story waiting to happen!
At this very moment a hand is appearing under the 6-foot fence surrounding my yard, and some sort of yummy treats are being slipped to my chocolate lab by my odd next door neighbor. It makes me feel sort of Addams-family-ish uncomfortable, but the dog is deliriously happy.
The most helpful bit of mail I received this week came from "PD" who would like me (and now you) to know that "Lon NOL [in Friday's puzzle] is one of the few politicians whose name is a palindrome. Easy to remember."
My favorite wrong answer of the week is also from Friday's puzzle: several people apparently tried LEMURS as an answer to [What big eyes they have]. Real answer: OGLERS. LEMURS is sooo much better.
And our first ever Word of the Week: CABOTINAGE
(9D: Engage in cabotinage (emote) - from Saturday's brutal Bob Klahn puzzle)
[F, fr. cabotin strolling actor, charlatan (fr. Cabotin, 17th cent. Fr. actor) + -age]: behavior befitting a second-rate actor: obviously playing to the audience: THEATRICALITY
A word for this political season if ever there was one.
I'll leave you with a couple pictures. The first one is of Linus, from the Charles Schulz museum in Santa Rosa, CA, sent to me by reader Steve R. That pic is followed by reader SethG's photo of some of his "friends" on their visit to AYERS Rock, otherwise known as ULURU (great potential crossword answers both). Enjoy the rest of your day. -RP
PS Thanks to Bonafide Hearsay for the nice write-up of my site today. Much appreciated. -RP