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Author Topic: Vowels and P's: The March 20 crosswords  (Read 2232 times)


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Vowels and P's: The March 20 crosswords
« on: March 20, 2016, 06:19:17 PM »
I am always amazed that crossword creators continue to come up with clever themes. However, I was not amazed by Rebecca Durant's puzzle in today's Los Angeles Times. It has a theme but it is one of the weakest themes I have every seen. Titled "Border Pairs," the puzzle includes phrases which begin and end with two vowels, including AEGEANSEA, OATMEALCOOKIE, OOLONGTEA and EUCALYPTUSTREE. Another answer, VOWELLANGUAGE, hints at the puzzle's theme. "Vowel language"? Yuk!

The grid also includes ALTE, AOUT (French for "August"), DEI, ESSE and ISLA, none of which are used in English, and our old familiar friends Mel OTT and UMA Thurman. "Moonlight Sonata directive" is PPP. In written music, a P is what is known as a "dynamic indicator," a symbol that tells the musician how softly the passage should be played. P stands for piano, which means "soft." PP, pianissimo, means "very soft" and PPP, pianississimo, means "very very soft." There are a few classical works in which certain passages are marked with as many as six P's, such as the bassoon solo in Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony. Musical notation can also include an F for forte ("loud") or FF for fortissimo ("very loud").

Joel Fagliardo's New York Times crossword is titled "Double Crossed" and has a theme that is clever as well as cerebral. Each of the ten theme answers contains several pairs of letters and another letter which appears only once. Here are some examples: HIPPOCRATICOATH has seven pairs of letters but only one R. GOESUNDERGROUND has seven pairs of letters but only one S. PRETTYPENNY has five pairs of letters but only one R. When the puzzle is completed, the solver can form a word from the unmatched letters in those phrases. From top to bottom, they spell REMAINDERS. Whew!

"Fairly recent" is NEWISH -- a very awkward word. "Out of favor" is INBAD -- a very awkward phrase.  "Small-capped mushrooms" is ENOKIS. I had never seen that word before. And "Feliz ___ Nuevo" is ANO, which is misspelled -- it should be AÑO -- and is not used in English.

"____ Hawkins dance" is SADIE. Al Capp drew the Li'l Abner comic strip from 1934 until 1977 when declining health forced him to retire. He would die of emphysema two years later. In 1937, a series of strips featured a homely unmarried 35-year-old named Sadie Hawkins, whose father came up with the idea of a "Sadie Hawkins Day" featuring a foot race. All the eligible bachelors in the town of Dogpatch took off running and if Sadie could catch one of them, he'd have to marry her. Sadie Hawkins Day became an annual tradition in Li'l Abner, with all the unmarried women chasing after the unmarried men. Sadie Hawkins Day was the inspiration for the Sadie Hawkins Dance, any school dance in which the girls invite the boys, instead of the other way around. For more about Sadie Hawkins Dances, go to


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