It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge for best results.

SILENT TREATMENT

New York Times, Sunday, June 18, 2017

Author:
Sam Trabucco
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2110/29/20157/20/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3102357
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.68150
Sam Trabucco

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 73 Missing: {JX} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Trabucco. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Sam Trabucco notes:
I've always disproportionately enjoyed plays on silent letters; this is the second crossword I've written themed around them, the first being what eventually became my 2016 Indie 500 ... read more

I've always disproportionately enjoyed plays on silent letters; this is the second crossword I've written themed around them, the first being what eventually became my 2016 Indie 500 puzzle. I'm not entirely certain what's so interesting to me about silent letters. Maybe it's how strange they are as a construct, and how unpredictably they can appear in English (much to the chagrin of non-native speakers). Or maybe it's the fact that, despite their ubiquity as a concept, different people can mean different things when they talk about them. Not sure! All I know is I've gotten some nice crossword mileage out of them.

In creating this puzzle, I narrowed my definition of a silent letter to be one which, when removed from its word, leaves a string whose most reasonable pronunciation is identical to the that of the original. In the case of the theme entries, this is natural — since I was leaving a legitimate English word (homophonous to the original), the most reasonable pronunciation would have to be unchanged. When I decided to make myself cross the silent letters with other words where they're also silent, though, suddenly I needed to be very particular about which words I used. For instance, under my narrow definition, the G in SIGN is not actually silent — removing the G leaves SIN, which is pronounced differently. This made finding crossing Downs all the more difficult, adding additional filling constraints everywhere.

Originally I thought it would be best to include a note or something to explain why the silent letters spell KNIGHT. The note would read something like "What holiday standard is hinted at by the circled letters?", which leaves you with SILENT NIGHT (after applying "Silent Treatment" to the K). I hope that meta element isn't lost on solvers!

Also, I see 49A was edited from my original submission (TAP -> TRY), most notably changing PSL into YSL. This means I've lost a bet with my friend, who predicted this turn of events. I guess the NYT isn't yet basic enough for that. (I'll note that I made sure excising PSL would be easy before I put it in the grid :P).

Jeff Chen notes:
Silent letters have been played upon in many crosswords, but there's still room for a new twist. I like what Sam did today, featuring base phrases turned into kooky ones when the silent ... read more

Silent letters have been played upon in many crosswords, but there's still room for a new twist. I like what Sam did today, featuring base phrases turned into kooky ones when the silent letter is ignored. I laughed at GIVES A DAM(N), giving a handout to the downtrodden beavers. I had heard RENAISSANCE FA(I)RE used with this wordplay before, but it's still fun to think about giant turkey legs waved about.

I hadn't heard of a TAROT SPREAD. Apparently, it's the way a reader spreads out … tarot cards? Not sure it's snazzy enough to work as a featured theme answer. It didn't resonate with me nearly as well as the others.

Given that there are so many words with silent letters — and also so many phrases using words with silent letters — I appreciated that Sam spelled out something with those key letters. KNIGHT is sort of appropriate given that it also has a silent letter — how meta! — but it didn't have quite the a-ha moment of brilliance that I was hoping for. Hmm.

Sam executed so well on his grid, keeping his crossword glue to just minor nits like ERN, ARIE, TGEL, OYE, DTS. One could argue that some of these are perfectly fine. GOTAC (GOT A C) felt a bit arbitrary, but again, one could make a case that C students are the most common type of students, if grading is done on a bell curve.

And some outstanding bonus entries, DATA STORAGE, THE IDEA!, DON'T BE CRUEL, NEON TUBE elevating my solve. SNOOP LION too! (Apologies to the rap haters out there.) Going from Snoop Dogg to SNOOP LION (and back?) is interesting.

Finally, an outstanding clue for PAC-MAN. It's already a great entry, but it's raised even further clued as one "following the dotted lines." A single clue like that can make an entire puzzle so memorable.

Fun theme, if not quite different enough from other silent letter puzzles for my taste. But Sam's strong execution helped to make my solve enjoyable.

1
O
2
R
3
A
4
N
5
G
6
S
7
P
8
S
9
A
10
L
11
I
12
P
13
S
14
U
15
T
16
E
17
S
18
L
O
Q
U
A
T
19
A
N
T
20
I
21
A
V
I
A
22
R
O
M
O
23
D
O
U
B
L
E
24
K
N
O
T
S
25
R
A
C
Y
26
G
O
A
L
27
P
T
A
28
E
R
N
29
O
I
L
30
T
A
N
K
S
31
E
R
I
E
32
A
R
C
33
S
E
A
34
S
P
R
A
Y
35
I
M
O
36
K
37
E
L
M
38
L
O
A
39
D
40
O
V
U
L
E
41
G
42
I
V
E
S
A
43
D
A
M
N
44
S
T
R
A
45
W
46
E
L
I
47
B
A
M
48
V
O
L
E
49
T
R
50
Y
51
F
O
52
A
L
53
P
54
A
55
C
56
M
A
N
57
R
58
E
59
N
A
I
S
60
S
A
N
C
E
61
F
A
I
R
E
62
T
63
G
64
E
65
L
66
A
P
O
S
T
L
E
67
T
H
E
I
D
E
A
68
B
O
C
A
69
B
O
O
T
S
70
M
71
A
72
S
S
73
T
R
E
E
74
B
E
T
A
S
75
I
D
N
O
76
A
P
R
I
O
77
R
I
78
P
79
R
E
C
A
S
T
80
D
E
E
R
81
R
E
I
G
N
I
N
82
G
83
M
O
N
A
R
C
H
S
84
A
85
L
G
R
E
N
86
A
G
E
E
87
A
D
U
88
I
89
A
G
O
90
E
91
L
S
92
T
A
93
D
94
S
E
95
G
96
A
97
R
98
A
F
T
E
R
99
H
100
O
101
U
R
S
102
G
O
D
E
103
L
104
L
U
R
E
105
N
O
W
106
D
O
W
N
107
A
108
B
O
V
E
P
A
109
R
110
I
M
S
111
D
R
O
112
Z
113
N
E
O
114
N
T
U
B
E
115
O
Y
E
116
N
Y
T
117
O
G
R
E
118
E
D
D
A
119
T
A
R
120
O
T
S
P
121
R
E
A
D
122
N
E
S
T
123
S
T
O
P
124
S
L
I
P
125
U
R
B
A
N
A
126
E
T
T
A
127
T
O
S
S
128
D
T
S
129
P
O
I
N
T
Y
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0618 ( 24,694 )
Across
1
Chimp relatives : ORANGS
7
Free spot, for short : PSA
10
Mouth pieces : LIPS
14
Pac-12 team : UTES
18
Asian plumlike fruit : LOQUAT
19
Rihanna's 2016 ___ World Tour : ANTI
21
Puma alternative : AVIA
22
QB Tony : ROMO
23
Reversals of reversals in sentences? : DOUBLEKNOTS
25
Ribald : RACY
26
Making the honor roll, e.g. : GOAL
27
Org. involved in an annual open house : PTA
28
Directional suffix : ERN
29
Shell containers : OILTANKS
31
Railroad name starting in 1832 : ERIE
32
Golf ball's path : ARC
33
Result of waves hitting rocks : SEASPRAY
35
"Don't worry about me!" : IMOK
37
With 73-Across, a symbol of Massachusetts : ELM
38
Laundry unit : LOAD
40
Small egg : OVULE
41
Donates shelter to some beavers? : GIVESADAMN
44
Bedding in a horse's stall : STRAW
46
Name that's Hebrew for "my God" : ELI
47
Relative of "POW!" : BAM
48
Crop-damaging rodent : VOLE
49
"Don't give up!" : TRY
51
New pony : FOAL
53
One following the dotted lines? : PACMAN
57
Soup, black bread and, for the wealthy, meat? : RENAISSANCEFAIRE
62
Neutrogena dandruff shampoo : TGEL
66
John or James : APOSTLE
67
"What nerve!" : THEIDEA
68
___ Raton, Fla. : BOCA
69
Gear for a hike : BOOTS
70
Part of E = mc2 : MASS
73
See 37-Across : TREE
74
Not quite leaders of the pack : BETAS
75
Social Security fig. : IDNO
76
Based on theoretical deduction : APRIORI
78
Like concrete that's shaped in advance : PRECAST
80
Road sign silhouette : DEER
81
Kings and queens bringing their steeds to a halt? : REIGNINGMONARCHS
84
Nelson who wrote "The Man With the Golden Arm" : ALGREN
86
James who wrote "A Death in the Family" : AGEE
87
Freddy once hailed as "the next Pelé" : ADU
88
Husband to Emilia in "Othello" : IAGO
90
Golfer Ernie : ELS
92
Tiny bit : TAD
94
Popeye creator E. C. ___ : SEGAR
98
"Excuse me, but my partner's and my kids go first!" : AFTERHOURS
102
"___, Escher, Bach" (Pulitzer-winning book) : GODEL
104
Tackle box item : LURE
105
When repeated, "All right, that's enough!" : NOW
106
Up (for), paradoxically : DOWN
107
Better than normal : ABOVEPAR
110
Gchat notes, e.g. : IMS
111
Medical professional on TV : DROZ
113
Part of a classic diner sign : NEONTUBE
115
"Listen up, Luis!" : OYE
116
WSJ competitor : NYT
117
Fantasy game role : OGRE
118
Icelandic saga : EDDA
119
Feast consisting entirely of Hawaiian foodstuffs? : TAROTSPREAD
122
Flight destination? : NEST
123
"Enough!" : STOP
124
Word with pink or cow : SLIP
125
Illinois college town : URBANA
126
James of R&B : ETTA
127
Ring ___ : TOSS
128
Sot's woe : DTS
129
Like elves' ears : POINTY
Down
1
Cronies : OLDPALS
2
Plant disease whose two words differ by only one letter : ROOTROT
3
Amphibious auto : AQUACAR
4
Essence of an idea : NUB
5
Powerful winds : GALES
6
Lead-in to phonic : STEREO
7
Greek god depicted on the cover of "The Wind in the Willows" : PAN
8
Onetime rap moniker : SNOOPLION
9
Clothe : ATTIRE
10
Tomb raider ___ Croft : LARA
11
"The Terrible" czar : IVANIV
12
When repeated, plea to a stage magician : PICKME
13
Powers to decide : SAYSOS
14
Goad : URGE
15
"Ugh, that hits close to home!" : TOOREAL
16
"Shoot over your response" : EMAILME
17
Very serious : SOLEMN
20
Part of las Filipinas : ISLA
24
Scoundrel : KNAVE
30
Popular rapper with a feline-sounding name : TYGA
34
Bacteria-battling drug : SULFA
36
Intoxicating Polynesian drink : KAVA
39
Cloud's purpose : DATASTORAGE
42
Hurt : IMPAIR
43
#1 Presley hit : DONTBECRUEL
45
Court orders : WRITS
47
"Ugh!" : BLEH
50
Big fashion inits. : YSL
52
Follows, as advice : ACTSON
54
One might represent a representative : AIDE
55
Sleazeball : CREEPO
56
___ culpa : MEA
57
Frothing at the mouth : RABID
58
Lyric poem : EPODE
59
Who has ever won a debate over the internet? : NOONE
60
Start of the Marines' motto : SEMPER
61
Honoring grandly : FETING
63
Did so-so at school : GOTAC
64
Digital currency : ECASH
65
Hangs in there : LASTS
71
Singer India.___ : ARIE
72
One of 56 in 1776 : SIGNER
74
Some Mardi Gras wear : BEADS
76
S. Amer. land : ARG
77
Inlets : RIAS
79
Genetic material : RNA
82
"Oh, boohoo!" : GETOVERIT
83
Gettysburg general : MEADE
85
Head of an estate : LORD
88
"Hmm ... it's escaping me" : IFORGET
89
"If all else fails ..." : ATWORST
91
Exam for future attys. : LSAT
93
Warehouse : DEPOT
95
Native of Conakry : GUINEAN
96
Little raider : ARMYANT
97
Athlete's time off : RESTDAY
98
Single shot awarded for being fouled while scoring, in basketball lingo : ANDONE
99
Straight : HONEST
100
Had because of : OWEDTO
101
Start of a Spanish count : UNODOS
102
Clear one's head? : GOBALD
103
Confines due to injury : LAYSUP
108
Qualifying words : BUTS
109
Facsimile, for short : REPRO
112
It follows epsilon : ZETA
114
Fuzzes : NAPS
120
Photo ___ : OPS
121
Stat for Lou Gehrig or Manny Ramirez : RBI

Answer summary: 18 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?