WEEKLY WRAP-UP: April 14-20, 2008

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


Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Nice new feature. I too couldn't believe NABES as Monday fill after the commotion it caused Friday!

USH seems fair game to me, though -- I've heard this humorous back-formation from "usher" years before I first saw it in a crossword. I still await the corresponding TOOT from "tutor" (though of course TOOT can be clued in other ways).

Yes, Lon NOL is one of two famous palindromic politicos' (politici's?) names, and U Nu already what the other such name is.


Joon 12:42 PM  

according to that wikipedia link, lon nol had two brothers, also politicians, named lon nil and lon non. that's so awesome that i don't even know what to say about it.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

Joon, agreed. It's like a "Who's on first" routine waiting to be written by Beckett.

Rex, I'm honored. It somewhat assuages the lingering pain of my deletion.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Really like the new feature Rex!

McGuff 1:28 PM  

Truly great addition.

As someone who usually can't wade through the comments section every day, there's now a chance to catch some of the knowledge and witticisms of your many co-contributors.


kate 1:28 PM  

ooh, I got a mention in the first ever Weekly Wrap Up! Nice feature, I like it.

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Love it, I feel like a junkie getting a free fix!
Joe in NE

dk 2:13 PM  

Something more to strive for, mention in the wrap up.

High 5 to Kate and the rest of you.

Two Ponies 3:55 PM  

Weekly Wrap-up is brilliant. Monday is a great day to have it since we are usually cruising through the puzzle and perhaps licking our wounds from being flogged on F-Sat-Sun. Congrats to Wade and the others for their moment in the spotlight. I can't wait for next week.

Joon 5:23 PM  

hey, speaking of saturday's brutal puzzle: anybody who felt jl4hned by that killer puzzle should definitely check out today's new york sun puzzle, also by bob klahn. it's got all kinds of klahny goodness while not actually being very tough.

randis mcgee 5:56 PM  

I don't like the new feature. I was annoyed as I scrolled past it. What makes the blog so darn addictive is the instant gratification, i.e. puzzle->my thoughts->your better thoughts. I will never read this feature again. Not because it's not cogent, witty, etc. But, because it lacks immediacy.

I understand we're going professional. I have been barely able to //withstand the temptation to push the button that even now beckons him ever closer// and, thus, have not yet PayPal'ed my favorite blog. However, let's not get carried away. I'll pay for the old stuff.

Anonymous 7:13 PM  

And sio begins the quandary I've encountered on other blogs:

Do I post all new comments to this thread, since it's the newest, or do I still post Monday comments on the Monday thread, since, well, it's Monday stuff. (FWIW, I chose to post a Monday comment in Monday's thread even after this thread appeared.)

I assume this is fairly standard, but seems someone always ends up on both sides. Maybe Rex could clarify since it's his baby, or maybe someone can enlighten me into standard blogosphere netiquette.

Professor Stern 7:16 PM  

Wow.. Linus is symmetric. Or at least his puzzle is.

Rex Parker 7:38 PM  


There's no need for a quandary. People will be reading the Monday write-up all day long, so Monday-related comments should go there.


Anonymous 8:22 PM  

I have the total opposite view of randal burns. I really enjoyed this weekly wrap-up! It allowed me to have a few chuckles and go over some of those pesky words that I need to commit to memory. Thanks Rex and I look forward to more weekly wrap-ups to come!

Bill D 8:34 PM  

Wow - More blogging! I'm in heaven. I can see the commentary picking up as we in the trenches fight to be "mentioned in dispatches" after each week of combat with Klahn and his pals. Cheerio, Sportos!

mac 8:49 PM  

Rex, why don't you just do your weekly wrap-up without allowing people to comment. We have plenty of space in the regular Monday site and you don't need to keep up with two comment-places!

Orange 9:08 PM  

This new feature suxxor!!! You should just pack it in and quit blogging FOREVER, loser.

Wait, scratch that. I like the new feature.

Anonymous 10:07 PM  

ooh, I got a mention in the first ever Weekly Wrap Up! Nice feature, I like it.

I couldn't have said it better Kate, and I even got the first mention! And I am a very rare poster but an addicted lurker (poor grammar). I don't usually post unless I have something unique to say, or am particularly motivated which was the case with NABES. I didn't do the friday until saturday and had to go to rex for the answer which was the first time in a while, When it showed up today I couldn't control myself.

Like the new section.

Margaret 10:16 PM  

I know this is old news for most on this blog but as a newbie to doing the puzzle daily, it has been a unexpected delight to discover that the interplay between constructor/editor and solver can continue over a series of puzzles. I love that there is a level of wordplay/puzzleplay that plays itself out over the week or even longer. Seeing the patterns over time just brings another level of enjoyment to the process. So it seems only apt that the blog, too, should look at the puzzles in this larger context.

Rex Parker 10:11 AM  

If you google "jl4hned," this site is the only hit you get. I can't imagine "jl4hned" will catch on (as a word meaning "pwn3d by a Bob Klahn puzzle"), but I sure hope so.

Joon 11:19 AM  

sweet--"jl4hned" is now a HAPAX legomenon of the entire internet. i can't tell you how exciting this is! (i certainly can't talk about it on any other page, as that would cause its uniqueness to go up in smoke.)

PuzzleGirl 11:32 AM  

Awesome new feature, Rex. Thanks!

Joon 11:39 AM  

nuts--i think i used "jl4hned" over on jimH's blog last night. oh well, so much for the googlewhackblatt. i guess the only thing to do now is go for as many hits as possible.

how much longer until "jl4hned" has more hits than "porn"?

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