Friday, July 29, 2011

How to . . . excel at crosswords

Posted By on 07.29.11 at 09:10 AM

crosswords_Lori-L.-Stalteri_mag.jpg
  • Lori L. Stalteri
The best and most befuddling crossword puzzles feature sly puns, internal jokes, and tricky clues. The least befuddling rely on synonyms and crossword cliches that regular solvers will see again and again. As a public service, we present a selection:

1 Nape refers to the back of the neck, or the area by which some animals pick up their young. Nape was also the surname of a policeman involved in a 1905 duel in Chicago. Nape and his partner Tripp were pitted against a reprobate named Ryan, who lost—after taking a bullet, the New York Times reported, Ryan “rolled into the gutter.”

2 Stet, from the Latin meaning “let it stand,” is a proofreader’s indication to disregard previous changes—it reverses something that’s been, say, marked for deletion. Proofreading is widely expected to join dueling as one of the great lost arts.

3 When he reviewed ambient-music pioneer Brian Eno’s album Music for Airports, Robert Christgau listened to it against four settings: “sex (neutral to arid), baseball (pleasant, otiose), dinner at my parents’ (conversation piece), abstract writing (useful but less analgesic than Discreet Music or my David Behrman record).” If he received royalties each time his name appeared in a puzzle, Eno could probably buy a private island.

4 The hard little balls lobbed during a game of jai alai, a sport of Basque lineage, have been clocked at up to 180 miles an hour—leading some promoters to call it the “game of dodging death.”

Want a safer form of recreation? Dodge boredom with our crossword, the Inkwell (PDF).

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