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Author Topic: The July 15 crossword leaves me cold  (Read 3819 times)


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The July 15 crossword leaves me cold
« on: July 15, 2019, 09:34:08 PM »
As I documented a few years ago, and as every crossword solver is well aware, there are dozens of three-, four- and five-letter words that appear in several puzzles every week. Among them are AIL, AMP, ERE, EVE, EWE, IRE, IRK, ODE  SEA, SSN, UTE, UKE, AREA, ISLE, ALOHA and ARENA. Today's crossword by Gary Larson – no relation to the same-named cartoonist of The Far Side – includes an unusually high number of those overused words: ABS, APE, ASH, CEL, LEI, ORE, ASEA, EDEN, ERIE, OBOE and OLIO.

The puzzle also includes TALCED ("Sprinkled with baby powder"). Talc is hydrous magnesium silicate – Mg3(Si4O10)(OH)2, for all you mineralogists in the audience – and is used in talcum powder, lubricants and insulation. I had never seen "talc" used as a verb. My Merriam-Webster dictionary shows "talc" as a noun only but I found "talc" as a verb in the Collins Dictionary, The Free Dictionary and The Oxford English Dictionary and on The OED gives the past tense as "talced." The other three sources show the past tense as "talcked; talced." Neither spelling looks right to me. I doubt I will ever use "talc" as a verb, at least not in writing.

Here are the theme answers:

Flattering deception: SNOWJOB
Stop-action effect: FREEZEFRAME
Metaphorical tablet for the overly nervous: CHILLPILL
2005 Disney figure-skating film: ICEPRINCESS

Harbinger of lower temperatures, and a hint to the above answers: COLDFRONT

The Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois defines "cold front" as "the transition zone where a cold air mass is replacing a warmer air mass. Cold fronts generally move from northwest to southeast. The air behind a cold front is noticeably colder and drier than the air ahead of it." As a cold front approaches, temperatures can drop 15 degrees in an hour. So cold air replacing warm air is called a "cold front." Warm air replacing cold air is called a.......well, a "warm front." Duh! More details are at

We're in mid-July. We likely will have no cold fronts for at least the next three months – other than the one in today's crossword. Time to go turn the air conditioner on.


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