Saturday, February 17, 2007


This is not going to become a crossword puzzle blog...

... yet I can't help but notice that my last post (ten days ago!) was also about crossword puzzles.

B and I are in the "it gets interesting around Thursday" phase (see Althouse's comment to my previous post) and getting just a bit cocky, when today we get totally stumped!

We overcame what I consider to be a couple of lame crossword tricks -- words like "rearousal" (clue: "further stirring") and "amusers" (clue: "toys, for tots") that are technically words but that no native-speaker would ever use in speech or writing. And we rolled our eyes at the seemingly inevitable repeat words -- [boxer Lennox] "Lewis" for the second time in a week!

But then we were stumped.

9 Down -- "givers of unfriendly hugs"
9 Across -- "one using the metric system?"

Both four letter words.

The "giver of unfriendly hugs," I guess right away as "boas," but if that's correct, then 15-accross, "less likely to reconcile" is "sorer." Yet another one of those technical words -- who says or writes "sorer," for god sake? -- but there it is on, meaning more sore or annoyed.

So it is "boas," meaning that "one using the metric system" is either "bard" or "barp," the last letter forming the first letter of 12-down, "valets, sometimes" -- since valets could be "dressers" or "pressers."

How is a "bard" a user of the metric system? Sometimes, many times, the trick is in the clue, not the answer. And sometimes you have a blind spot. Duh!

Duh, indeed. (I will 'splain in a moment). I thought the hug one could also be "bear" but that won't help you with the other words...

However, a Bard is a poet, and poets use meter, so poetry is a kind of "metric system" (rather a clever clue, actually, IMO).

(have you considered creating a crossword using verifictionary words?)
What voxwoman said. And valets are dressers.
With the NYT, the fun...or pun... is ALWAYS the clue. You just have to stare at it forever until it hits you and yes, you roll your eyes. And I totally agree with your annoyance at "re-arousal." I've been doing it faithfully for 12 years or so, and those "non-word" words are becoming more and more common. It started when Will Shortz began editing. It seems kinda unfair. But soon, with practice, you'll memorize all of the lame ones, see the puns repeated, and finish, even Thursday's, in no time. Sigh.
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