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SILENT TREATMENT

New York Times, Sunday, June 18, 2017

Author: Sam Trabucco
Editor: Will Shortz
Sam Trabucco
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
610/29/20159/8/20170
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2100120
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.70030

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 puzzle. I'm not entirely ... more
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 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 letter is ignored. I ... more
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 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 Down
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 = mc^2 : 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
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: 20 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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