Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2107, Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel


SILENTPARTNER is the theme today. Hmmm... It took me a minute or two to understand what that meant, but then I saw that two identical silent letters are found in each theme answer. Kind of cool, really. In the first, CAMPAIGNSIGNS, the silent G is paired with, and lengthens, a vowel (or vowel cluster) both times. Or does it? It lengthens the I, but AI would be the same with or without it, right? Because "pain" is the same as "paign," but "sin" is different from "sign." ... Anyway, in the second, GENGHISKHAN, it hardens the G and ... does what to the K? Who knows? That one is obviously a direct borrowing from another language, and so does not require any explanation in English.

Turns out, silent letters would require me to do a little research if I wanted to provide a full explanation here. Let's just say that I liked the idea, once I understood it, and we'll move right along to the fill, which, sadly, I liked less.


1A: Tacks on (ADDS) - D.
Favorite: SOANDSO (46D: Scoundrel) - I was not expecting this.
Least: maybe HOS (30D: Sounds from the Jolly Green Giant), although there were plenty to choose from.

Interesting, but slightly off-putting entries today included DOGMEAT (3D: Serving in Asia that's taboo in the West) and HAGGIS (9D: Sheep dish popular in Scotland), and perhaps those choices are what brought on the idea for STARVES (48D: Doesn't eat for a long while). ELANDS, EDS, PSA, SOP, FROS, MAA, WIPING and SKEE all seemed a bit blah, and even the longer stuff like DRLAURA and ASHTREE wasn't terribly exciting.

I don't know, I guess I was kind of underwhelmed by the whole thing. Sometimes you'll have that.

- Horace


  1. 9:26
    The HAGGIS and DOGMEAT would certainly make me STARVES for as long as I could stand it, which would be many, many days. I'd rather some PASTA, ALGA and OAT go past my TONSILS. GORSE was unexpected, no? And I liked WRONGANSWER best of the themes, but I didn't know K.T. OSLIN, and was slightly slowed down with him or her because I'd never heard of an IDENTIKIT, but all-in-all I think the good outweighs the bad. Nice clue for HILO (55A U.S. city whose name looks oxymoronic).

  2. This puzzle lost me on the last clue: "Smokey Bear was in an early one, for short." Smokey Bear was not in any PSAs that I recall from my youth. Smokey THE Bear was in those commercials. "Smokey the Bear, Smokey the Bear, prowlin' and a-growlin' and a-sniffin' the air; he can find a fire before it starts to flame--that's why they call him Smokey, and that's how he got his name." My other beef is that SILENTPARTNERs are half of a pair in which the other partner ISN'T silent. Also, too many lame balls. SOANDSO was clever.

  3. 9:27

    Liked IRONAGE.

    As foe what silent letters are doing there or how they affect pronunciation, I'm no linguist but I gather they can show up for different reasons and there may or may not be much rhyme or reason. I totally missed the thing about each themer having two copies of the silent letter, so maybe the revealer clue could have been reworded (or maybe I just wasn't paying attention).

  4. 4:52
    I liked the theme just fine, but starting with APACHES and DOGMEAT, not to mention taking out TONSILS, was rough. Mind you, I had it worse for a moment. I put in TONaILS, which would be even more painful to have removed. And the word itself might be pained by having its E removed, I don't know.