Friday, 9/9/11

NYT 5:37 
LAT 4:23 
CS 8:02 (Sam) 
WSJ (Friday) 6:53 
CHE 4:37 (pannonica) 

Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers, 9 9 11 0909

Whoops, I clicked the wrong button in the NYT applet (the “check my solution” one) so my time doesn’t show up in the leaderboard. Not sure I’ve done that before.

This is an unusual grid in that (1) it’s got left/right symmetry and (2) it’s got 11 of those 15-letter answers running across. The fill is fairly smooth considering, but there are a few ugly patches. Plus two of the 15s include SLEEP—they would constitute a mini-theme if they were TOSSING AND TURNING and SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, but they’re TOSS IN ONE’S SLEEP and SLEEPLESS NIGHTS. Bzzz! (That’s the “sorry, wrong answer” buzzer, not falling asleep after the first letter of a word.)

Joe, Joe, Joe. You’ve gotta quit recycling fill that is conducive to the stacking! This is your third puzzle (the second in two months) with SCARLET TANAGERS in it. The thing about 15s is that they stick in solvers’ heads more than the typical 6-letter answer because they’re relatively rare. Your red birds are heading toward A LOT ON ONE’S PLATE territory now.

The 15s are all good entries, though I’ve never heard Mitch Miller’s 1953 hit “UNDER PARIS SKIES.” With the last 6 letters in place, I was fervently hoping Mitch’s song title had RUSSKIES in it. Alas, no such luck. My favorite answer is HARE-BRAINED IDEA, though FISHERMAN’S WHARF is close behind.

The Down crossings are all 3 to 5 letters long. Three partials: A TUNE, AN ASS, and GO ASK Alice, the book we all read when I was an adolescent that turns out to have been crafted by an adult rather than a teenage girl’s diary. Crosswordese includes variant spelling TIPIS, ITERS, and NABES. Another duplication: I’LL GO and I’LL BE (with a bonus ILL at 28a). I much prefer one-word LEGIT to two-word LEG IT. Do you think anyone ever called Ernie Banks (Mr. Cub) and his teammates “NLERS“? Hmph. HES is an ugly little plural but I’m fine with [Czech religious reformer Jan] HUS because I’ve visited Prague and seen his memorial. Perhaps the ugliest entry in this 66-word grid is RYS, clued as [Roads with train tracks: Abbr.]. Is this short for “railways”? If so, are those considered “roads”? I would actually have preferred [Guitarist Cooder and others], though I don’t know of any other notable Rys. If you’ve seen the movie Paris, Texas, you’ve heard Cooder’s phenomenal and memorable work. 14d: REICE looks like an ugly RE-word, but you know what? I had foot woes last month and I iced and reiced all right.

4.5 stars for the achievement of the 15s, minus .25 for the double SLEEP, minus .2 for the red birds again, minus .5 for the short stuff. What is that, 3.55 stars in the final analysis? Let’s round it up to 3.75.

Bruce Sutphin’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers, 9 9 11

I could tell that the theme answers had lost an “RS,” but I couldn’t figure out why until I reached the explanation at the end of the puzzle: 66a: LOSERS are [Failures (and in another way, a hint to 17-, 27-, 44- and 57-Across)]. Ah! “Lose RS.” Got it. Thus:

  • 17a. [Village with very little gardening equipment?] is a ONE-HOE TOWN (one-horse town).
  • 27a. [Entrance purchases for a conditioning program?] clues FIT CLASS TICKETS (first class tickets). “Fit class” sounds off to me but there’s probably a health club that offers something called “fit class.”
  • 44a. [What Ruth forgot to bring to pool night?], Babe Ruth, is the CUE OF THE BAMBINO. The Curse of the Aforementioned is something that vexed the Yankees or the Red Sox or somebody. Whatever. It was a long time ago.
  • 57a. [Like calls between drudges?] clues PEON-TO-PEON (person-to-person).

Whoop-whoop-whoop! The siren has sounded. What’s this? There’s an RS still lurking in the midst? Yes, there is: 45d: OATERS, [“Hondo” et al.]. I really wish that weren’t in the puzzle, as it detracts from the theme and it’s not an answer anyone’s excited to see anyway.


  • 24a. For [Jacket label letters], I was thinking of sportcoats and letter jackets instead of book jackets and the ISBN. I like a good misdirection.
  • 39a. [Gives credit where credit is due] is a lovely clue for CITES.
  • 47a. Yeah, AFI is a 3-letter abbreviation, but it’s the American Film Institute and [Morgan Freeman won its 2011 Life Achievement Award: Abbr.], and who doesn’t like him?
  • 6d. [Pistons’ place] had me thinking of car engines instead of  THE NBA. Misdirect!
  • 10d. SQUAWK is an awesome word and Scrabbly to boot.
  • 31d. Pronounce the start of [Nice compliment] as “neece”: It’s a capital N, Nice, France. “TRES BIEN!”
  • 42d. [Ones who’ve got your back, in Internet shorthand] are BFFS, or best friends forever.
  • 52d. [White partner] is BLACK. No, wait, it’s WHITE, as in White Stripes’ Jack White and Meg White. Gotta be STRUNK, but how can I fit that into four squares? The answer turns out to be an egg YOLK. I guess the yolk’s on me, then.
  • 53d. Fresh clue for PELE! I guessed right even though I don’t recall ever hearing about [“__ Eterno”: 2004 sports documentary]. (Please don’t Google and find out that I have previously blogged about this clue.)

I realize that going the private-investigator route is a better way to clue PIS, but I kinda always want it to be clued [“Tant __!”]. Oh, well, what are you gonna do?

Overall, the fill’s okay, though ISO SLA IZE OSHEA BUTIS ENLAI ANDS don’t elevate the venture. 3.5 stars.

Updated Friday morning:

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Driving Tests” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution, September 9

Would-be drivers would be well advised to have a go at Sarah Keller’s puzzle as they wait at the DMV. The common troika of driving exams serve as the starters for the three theme entries:

  • 20-Across: Something that is [Permanent, idiomatically] is WRITTEN IN STONE. And usually the first step toward getting a drivers license is taking the WRITTEN test. The first time I took the written test I did so with great confidence–heck, I had seen my folks drive all the time and knew the rules of the road. The second time I was much less cocky and much better prepared.
  • 40-Across: The [Calm storm center] is the EYE OF A HURRICANE. And after taking the written test, aspiring drivers undergo a quick EYE test to make sure they can read road signs and distinguish between pedestrians and yellow lights. Isn’t the expression more commonly “eye of the hurricane?” Yeah, yeah, that would be 17 letters, two too many for the grid–but it’s important to use the more familiar phrasing where possible. Maybe EYE OF THE TIGER would have been a better choice.
  • 57-Across: The [Path for regaining good health] is the ROAD TO RECOVERY. And the last hurdle that stands between the teenager and the all-important license is the ROAD test, what folks in my corner of the country normally call the “driving test.”

Sure, there are “only” three theme entries, but it makes for a complete set. The only other “driving test” I can think of is a field sobriety test. Not only is that one different from the others because it is administered to keep a license (not to obtain one), but also I think there’s no common expression that begins with FIELD SOBRIETY (or even just SOBRIETY). So the theme content is just fine.

For some reason I like that the eight-letter non-theme entries in this puzzle are AGNOSTIC ODDBALLS. It isn’t often that you get an adjective and noun in these pairings, so it’s fun to put them together when it happens. (For the record, I highly doubt that agnostics are oddballs. Get it?)

Some random observations: (1) I liked [It could be jumped] as a clue for BAIL; (2) I wanted OVER-CHARGE for [What H&R Block employees do], but only E-FILE would fit; (3) TARN was new to me–it’s a [Small mountain lake] (darn that tarn!); and (4) STERE, the [Cordwood measure], may be a legitimate entry, but it sure has a Crosswordese feel.

Randolph Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “School Openings”

WSJ crossword answers, 9 9 11 "School Openings"

Light, breezy puzzle this week. The theme ties to the first day of school (which was weeks ago for many of you suburbanites but was just this week for Chicago, New York, Boston, and who knows where else) by having phrases in which the first word can precede school:

  • 23a. [Church outfit] is one’s SUNDAY BEST. Non-churchgoers’ Sunday best is often pajamas.
  • 25a. [Dairy case buy] clues GRADE A MILK. Say what? Nobody calls it that. All milk sold in stores has to be grade A; grade B stuff goes to cut-rate cheese producers, apparently. I had to do some dairy research to find out what this answer meant. There’s a little “Grade A” designation on a jug of milk, but it’s generally anything but prominent. (I wanted GRADE A EGGS but the egg is down below in GOOD EGG.)
  • 32a. A NURSERY RHYME is a [Simple verse].
  • 60a. [Temporary spot for one’s possessions] is PUBLIC STORAGE. I won’t go that route! I won’t do it. If I need it so little that I don’t want it at home, why am I paying to store it elsewhere?
  • 82a. [Expandable piece of jewelry] is a CHARM BRACELET. Charm school! Now available in new Gothic flavor.
  • 90a. [Restricted zone] is a NO-GO AREA. This pertains to the NO-GO SCHOOL movement popular among truants. (Yes, I’m kidding. No, this isn’t a theme answer.)
  • 110a. [Audiophile’s requirement] is HIGH FIDELITY.
  • 121a. [Hussein, to Obama] is his MIDDLE NAME. I’m calling my 6th-grader a middle-schooler even though he’s still in the same school (pre-K through 8th) and still with the homeroom teacher most of the day. I miss the days of calling those grades “junior high.” What happened to that, anyway?
  • 123a. Sam [Spade, for one] is a PRIVATE EYE.
  • 3d. [Last bit of decoration] is the FINISHING TOUCH.
  • 56d. [Enrollees from the very beginning] are CHARTER MEMBERS. Did you read that NYT story about struggling Houston public schools adopting charter school practices? I’d rather see more of that than an expansion of charter schools.

Ten theme entries; solid, except for the slight clunk of GRADE A MILK that is technically a “thing” but that grocery shoppers don’t think about unless they’re also dairy farmers or processors.

Trickiest clue, for me:

  • 57d. [Source of bars inside bars] means bars of music inside drinking establishments: KARAOKE.

Nicest entries: TRAIPSE, CLOBBER, HONDURAS, GOOD EGG, SWEE’PEA (who is usually used in crosswords as the lesser SWEE [__ Pea], STEVIE Wonder, and TRIPLE A.

3.5 stars. Not particularly memorable, but smooth and inoffensive. Sometimes that’s all anyone wants a crossword to be.

Mark Feldman’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Singing Praises” — pannonica’s review

CHE crossword • 9/9/11 • Feldman • "Singing Praises" • answers

Espying the first long across, 17a [Nocturnal singer] NIGHTINGALE, and keeping in mind the title, I naturally assumed the theme had something to do with types of singers, though the repetition of singing/singer was a bit queer. When I broke open 23a [Ancient Hellenic artifact] GRECIAN URN, it was obvious that the theme was in fact the crossword chestnut ODE, also seen as ODES, ODIST, ODISTS. (“Laudatory poem” is a common enough clue.) When I rolled over INDOLENCE in the center, I knew there was a single odist in the picture: John Keats. So I was a little disappointed when the revealer spelled it out so plainly: 62a [What 17, 23, 29, 37, 48, and 54 Across are each the subject of] KEATSIAN ODE.

  • 17a. [Nocturnal singer] NIGHTINGALE.
  • 23a. [Ancient Hellenic artifact] GRECIAN URN.
  • 29a. [Fall] AUTUMN.
  • 37a. [Laziness] INDOLENCE.
  • 48a. [Cupid’s love] PSYCHE.
  • 54a. [Blue state?] MELANCHOLY.

61 letters of theme in a 15×15 crossword? That’s something indeed to sing praises about! I do wonder if some solvers will quibble about the -IAN repetition in Grecian and Keatsian. It doesn’t bother me much, especially since there’s an ostensible differentiation between a themer and a revealer. The ballast fill is a little weak and lack liveliness, which isn’t surprising considering the amount of theme packed into the grid; such a trade-off seems nearly inevitable.

  • There are seven-letter stacks—doubles and triples—in each of the corners, but for the post part they fail to thrill.
  • Oh, here’s a list of abbrevs. in the puzzle: NSA, THOS., NRA, COLL., LSU, EDS., MRI, SSN, GPA, USC, ILO; NBAER and SSE are honorary members of the club.
  • Some clever clues, but I have the sense that they’ve been used many times before. I have in mind [When hands are up?] for NOON, and [Small piece?] for HANDGUN.
  • Favorite clues: 44a [Took a powder] LEFT; 53a [Whom the Swiss Guard guard] POPE.
  • Look! The last clue is 65d [Finish] END. How about that?


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29 Responses to Friday, 9/9/11

  1. Jeffrey says:

    4.8 stars from me. All solid 15s, and the required short downs look ok overall to me. As a train buff, RYS, yes railways, is something I’ve seen. This is an awesome achievement.

  2. Doug P says:

    You’re generous to give the double SLEEP only a minus .25. Seems like a fatal flaw to me. A puzzle-breaker. It doesn’t help that one of them repeats “IN ONE’S” also.

    Speaking of “Constructor of the Friday Puzzle,” Mike Nothnagel has a new gig. Trivia! Check it out here: Any Questions?

  3. Martin says:

    Hey Doug,

    The double SLEEP may be a flaw, but it’s not a fatal flaw (not to Will, obviously). As long as you don’t have, say, the 5-letter word SLEEP (by itself) in one area of the grid and another 5-letter SLEEP (also by itself) in another area, no hard and fast “rule” has been broken.


  4. Dave G. says:

    I had a terrible typo on this one. I entered “ON ONE’S SPARE TIME” and the corresponding down made a word (SHOPS instead of SHIPS) so I didn’t cross check it. I went through the grid three times looking for the error and never saw it. I had to look at the solution here. Lost a good 5-6minutes. I thought the puzzle rated a 4.5 – I am very impressed with all the 15s. I thought the only really weak fill was TIPIS and NABES. I can forgive two pieces of crosswordese for that many stacked fifteens.

  5. joon says:

    the SLEEP duplication stunned me, i have to say. i can’t fathom how/why joe did it or why will accepted it, because it seems like a pretty glaring repeat. but i was even more annoyed by SCARLET TANAGERS again. these recycled 15s are incredibly tiresome.

  6. Matt says:

    Worked through most of the puzzle in a reasonable Fri/Sat time, but got stuck on the bit in the middle on the left. Had LAMEBRAINED instead of HAREBRAINED, and didn’t think of PAS. So, I went out and got some breakfast, and then suitably fortified and caffeinated, I finished it. FWIW, I’m OK with the SLEEP mini-theme, but not so OK with RYS, ITERS, and TIPIS– but 11 out of 15 rows filled with single entries is pretty amazing, even if one of them is a bird I’ve seen before.

  7. Anne E says:

    Wow, I didn’t even notice the SLEEP issue… maybe because I didn’t get much last night! I liked this one a lot (intimidating grid!), and was grateful for 1A, which I got off only a couple letters near the end of the phrase, thanks to growing up in that area. And it isn’t the first time that I got burned by PAS clued that way… I’ve seen that enough that you’d think I would remember it, but even after I had the whole entry completed I went, “huh”? for a while. Now that people are pointing out the flaws, I see them, but I didn’t notice any of them at the time, so… I enjoyed it.

  8. Gareth says:

    NYT: No! No more SCARLETTANAGERS: please. I actually refused to write it in for a while, simply cos I couldn’t believe it could be the answer AGAIN. I agree with Doug, two 15s with SLEEP in is unforgivable IMO too! Not a fan of REG/NEIGE xing. Rest of the puzzle mostly pretty legit, but a pox on those three!

    LAT: Loved the clues “Pool Game Call” and “It involves mapping” and the change to CUEOFTHEBAMBINO. “Fly over the equator” is an oldie but a goodie.

    CS: Curious. Our WRITTEN test is MCQ; then, yep, an EYE test; then a yard test, to see if we can park/3-point turn, then only the ROAD test. Third one is by far the hardest!

  9. Howard B says:

    I noticed the SLEEP and IN ONES dupes while solving and thought it was very strange.
    However, I loved the visual style of the grid (never seen one like this before, I think), and piecing together some of the fill was also fun. The long answers dropped very quickly though, because we’ve seen a few of them before, and the “IN ONES” phrasing gave away a lot of free letters. A sacrifice to the wide-open grid gods, I suppose. But the design was striking and I enjoyed the experience.

  10. ArtLvr says:

    Ha – I enjoyed the NYT and would note that one is SLEEP and the other SLEEPLESS, so there! I also like SCARLET TANAGERS even if a couple have been spotted before. They still are not as common in xwords as an Emu, inspiration for Big Bird or not. My own big bird, a wild turkey almost four feet tall, was pacing along the back fence again recently trying to remember the way out on foot, and finally made it. (I’ve never seen him fly!) What I didn’t care for was SHIPS “traveling on sound waves” — can’t make sense of that?

    The LAT was amusing too, especially ONE HOE TOWN, PEON TO PEON and SQUAWK…

    Best of the day was the WSJ, well conceived and very smooth. Top marks here!

  11. Tony O. says:

    Thanks to a few gimme 15s, the double -INONES- (Howard B’s “free letters”), the 2 SLEEPs and a few others, I ran through this thing like it was a Tuesday. That said, my only objection ultimately is that it didn’t feel hard enough for a Friday, leaving me feeling a little cheated. Matt, I also had LAME- instead of HARE-, which did give me a mini POSER.

    One cluing nit, and maybe some of you can straighten me out: TIN for [Beggar’s receptacle] felt a tad odd. I would say TINCUP or TINCAN, and think maybe of the British sense of TIN=CAN, but wouldn’t use it in this sense. I do see a connotation in RH2 where TIN=any vessel made of tin so, certainly legit – just didn’t feel correct in an everyday usage sense.

    On the flaw aspect of the above-mentioned dupes: yes, it is obviously acceptable and does not break a hard and fast rule – but it is something that all constructors do work really hard to avoid, so when they pop up, I for one often have the following reactions:

    1. Solving uncertainty/hesitation – “Here’s a second fill-in-the-blank 2 to 5-letter word – it must be something else, right?” Uh, wrong.

    2. Lessened appreciation of a cool-looking grid – For sure, hats off to Joe and all other makers of these triple-stack 15s. Hats back on over knitted brows for the dupes, however grid-saving/enabling they may be.

    Which both lead to

    3. Mild anger as a constructor – If so and so can do this, why can’t I? Laboring as I have over making themeless and themed grids, I have been pained when repeating a TO, IN, UP or ON, and gone to further great pains to try to eradicate these slight, roundly-accepted dupes. Am I being too hard on myself? Will no one notice or care but a handful of us? Where does the line between acceptable and unacceptable actually end?

    Admittedly, #3 is a bit exaggerated – but I know that a lot of constructors feel the same way to some degree. I try as hard as possible to keep my constructor’s perspective out of my solver’s, but sometimes it can be hard.

    All that said, but for the ease of solve for me, there was a lot of good to this, and little crosswordese, so why am I complaining? Maybe I’m just INSANELYJEALOUS (15)??

  12. pannonica says:

    Gareth: In the States, your “yard test” is the same as our road test, which doesn’t happen on a real road with actual traffic. At least in the states I’ve lived in.

    ArtLvr: I’m assuming the sound in the SHOP clue is a geographic sound, such as Puget or Long Island, and the waves would be more like rises. While SCARLET TANAGER may not be nearly as common as EMU, as Amy wrote, “the thing about 15s is that they stick in solvers’ heads more than the typical 6-letter [or any ‘regular-length’ —p] answer because they’re relatively rare.

    re: WSJ: Grade B milk may be something unwelcome to consumers, but on the other hand Grade B maple syrup is sometimes preferable to the grade A style. It’s darker and more robust, which some people simply like better. It also can give a different character in baked goods.

    Where I grew up there were elementary schools, K–6, and high schools, 9–12. Depending on the whims of district or who-knows-what, there were intermmediate schools and junior high schools. Intermediate was 7&8, while junior high was 7–9, students had the option of hanging out for jhs 9th and being top dogs or transferring to hs and entering as lower-totem-pole denizens.

    Amy’s NO-GO AREA sounds like a SCHOOL-FREE DRUG ZONE.

  13. pannonica says:

    re: NYT: No criticism of POSER, not poseur? I know the former is acceptable in that sense, but it still seems naïve to me.

  14. pannonica says:

    “My name is Scarlet T and this is my first time at Answers Anonymous…”

  15. Jeffrey says:

    “My name is Matt G…”

  16. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @pannonica, Gareth: Illinois’s driving test includes the eye exam, written test, and a journey on local roads, traffic and all.

    @pannonica: POSER is a tough question or “person who behaves in an affected manner to impress others,” while POSEUR is only the latter.

    @Tony: Yeah, you barely have to be a published constructor at all to take umbrage at published puzzles that you wouldn’t have submitted as is. Like last week’s BIRNEY/BORNES theme—who among us wouldn’t have expected Will and Rich and most other editors to turn it down as having an inconsistent and unpolished theme?

  17. pannonica says:

    Amy: I could have sworn that the NYT’s clue had the latter sense, which I do not care for. Must have been some other puzzle I did in the past 24 hours…

    Aha, yes. It was Victor Fleming’s I Swear crossword: 42a [Pretender] POSER. Do not like, even if it’s accepted.

  18. HH says:

    @Tony O.
    “Mild anger as a constructor – If so and so can do this, why can’t I?”

    Exactly the reaction I had many many years ago when I saw that Dell had published a Maleska crossword that included the answer ERECTION. (Of course, the clue was something like “Building”, but still….)

  19. Tuning Spork says:

    testing… testing…

    Well, that was weird. Two attempts at posting failed. Third time is the charm.

    Anywho, in honor of some of the discussion today, I threw together a puzzle. It’s no great shakes, so I (think) I made it an easy solve.

  20. Shteyman says:

    Shakespeare quotes are not my forte by any means, but are we really expected to pull out any random 5-letter or shorter FITB out of our, ahem, ASS? I know the answer is “you should just make an educated guess, Mike,” but still. Conversely, as constructors, is anything found in a Shakespeare work fair game for a Fri/Sat puz?

    SLEEP duplication didn’t bother me much, though the repetition of INONE’S did – not necessarily in this particular puzzle, but in the majority of triple stacks in general. Otherwise, a pretty clean puzzle overall. Must’ve been a daunting task to construct.

    @Henry, as you know it’s all in the clues… the _____ (obviously) mightier than the sword!

  21. john farmer says:

    Loosely (mis)translated: the building’s mightier than the sword. Who can argue with that?

    I believe the go-to literary citation for “___ ass” is Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.” Except the quote in Dickens is actually “The law is a ass” and AASS isn’t the partial in the puzzle (or one we need to see). I think that Shakespeare gets cited so often because he makes a partial sound a bit classier than it may actually be. Better Shakespeare than Dan Brown. Or a lyric from Beyoncé, for that matter.

    With a gimme at 1A, the puzzle went pretty quickly today. Enjoyed a lot of those long answers and loved the grid design.

  22. pannonica says:

    Aass is also a Norwegian beer. Have seen it in person, but not tasted it.

  23. John Haber says:

    I’m back, with a new office computer working, not that you’re eager. (Home computer no doubt will die in its time before I know it.) I’m in the camp who liked the puzzle a lot. I liked the unusual grid, with its L/R symmetry. And I found the fill exceptionally natural for stacks. I did blink at the doubled SLEEP, and I noted SCARLET TANAGER, although it’s approaching crosswordese maybe only for avid solvers. But I didn’t mind the price for now.

    I actually got the top and bottom (extended) stacks before the middle three. So maybe for me the bird isn’t quite yet crosswordese after all.

  24. Dan M. says:

    Hello, I’m new to this site and an aspiring constructor. I just caught up on the last few days’ puzzles, and I’m puzzled (no pun intended) at the lack of criticism regarding Wednesday’s “follow” theme puzzle. To have the theme clue be “word missing from the answers…” and the answer just be “follow” seems to me to be a fatal flaw in a theme puzzle. Typically, theme clues for a puzzle like this would be an expression that results in omitting a word (“drop kick”, “no way”) not just the word itself.

    Am I being too critical? Just curious how this puzzle would pass muster with Will.

    (Sorry this is a comment on the Wed. puzzle in Friday’s forum, but I didn’t think anyone would see it if I posted in in the Wed. section)

  25. pannonica says:

    Dan M.: I’m not sure I quite follow your line of reasoning (pun intended), but it seems to me you’re asking the theme answers to hew to something akin to the mechanics seen in individual cryptic crossword clues.

    It’s quite common for a standard themed crossword to have a mechanism in wherein X letters or words are added or removed from base phrases; there are thousands upon thousands of puzzles of this type, including all or nearly all “rebus” crosswords (in which multiple letters or symbols are filled in a single square).

    The “theme clue” (what I call a “revealer”) identifying the missing word is merely a courtesy, making the theme easier to grasp. Without it, the puzzle would still be fine, albeit significantly more inscrutable.

    Perhaps someone else will have a different take on your question.

    p.s. Welcome to the site!

  26. Tuning Spork says:

    Pannonica, I think Dave M. is simply noting that in a typical drop-a-word puzzle, the result is a new phrase, such as dropping the word “drop” from, say, “a drop in the bucket” to get A IN THE BUCKET [Discarded test paper with a score of 95], or CAN HEAR A PIN [Notices the sound of an ATM keyboard]. (Meh, you get my drift.)

    In Wednesday’s puzzle the word “follow” was dropped form the main entries, which are words that follow FOLLOW. The resulting FOLLOW-less phrases don’t have a new meaning, they’re just not following FOLLOW as they should. Not as much fun as getting a new phrase, that.

  27. Dan F says:

    Dan, the short answer is, yes, that kind of theme is OK. It’s just a variation of the theme where there’s a more clever kind of revealer — like today’s LAT. Speaking of which, congrats Bruce!

  28. Jeffrey says:

    @spork: I’m not sure I follow.

Comments are closed.