April 30, 2018

The New Yorker introduces a crossword puzzle.

David Remnick describes it like this:
Five constructors will take turns crafting the puzzles; they are crossword experts whose answers and clues exhibit the same qualities we aim for in all of our writing: wit, intelligence, a wide-ranging interest in the world, and a love of language....

The great Richard Wilbur, who died last fall, once published a poem in The New Yorker about doing a crossword—“a ghostly grille / Through which, as often, we begin to see / The confluence of the Oka and the Aare”—on a train. “It is a rite / Of finitude,” he wrote, “a picture in whose frame / Roc, oast, and Inca decompose at once / Into the ABCs of every day.” Even if you find that you have to look up a few words (oast: “a usually conical kiln used for drying hops, malt, or tobacco”), we hope that the ritual provides you with some pleasurable procrastination.
Oh! He's giving us the go-ahead to look up words. Well, I did the puzzle, and I didn't look anything up to complete it, though I'd have to look up 42 down to know what it referred to. I'm not doing any spoilers here, but having looked it up, I see why I couldn't read what I had.

It's only a weekly puzzle, so there won't be the kind of predictable changing levels of difficulty that you see in a week of NYT puzzles. But it took me about as long as my average for a NYT Friday puzzle, so I'm going to say it's at what we NYT puzzle-solvers call the Friday level. Friday is my favorite level of NYT difficulty, so I'm happy with the New Yorker puzzle so far.

It was nicely literary in a few places: "'Champion Literary Phallocrat,' per Foster Wallace" (which took me a few crosses to see was not Mailer, though DFW names Mailer as one of the "famous phallocrats of his generation" in the "Champion Literary Phallocrat" essay). And "1928 Virginia Wolf 'biography'" (which I got right on first guess, though I doubted myself for a while).

I liked seeing Camille Paglia ("Group that embodied 'a new kind of feminism,' per Camille Paglia”). And Germaine Greer is in there too ("'A ludicrous invention,' per Germaine Greer").

Anyway, nice start for the New Yorker crossword!

18 comments:

the 4chan Guy who reads Althouse said...

Like, a note to The New Yorker: I can’t use this perfumed watered down white people crossword. Neither can 50% of ur customers. Annoying.

tcrosse said...

23 across - Widely reviled blogress with nothing left to lose.

Teller said...

Bet Rex Parker will review it glowingly just to piss off Will Shortz.

rhhardin said...

4 letters beginning and ending with D, McCain when he stops grandstanding.

Michael K said...

Some people my age use crosswords to stave off senility.

I prefer Calculus.

tcrosse said...

Some people my age use crosswords to stave off senility.

Doesn't work.

John Pickering said...

Oh Ann, there's about hardly none of your readers -- or at least commenters -- who know what you mean by a Friday-style NYT crossword, and even fewer (like me) who can do one.
I think you're coming around, you're too curious and funny and bright to slog along much longer with the incorrigibles

Bad Lieutenant said...

Oh, John Bitchering, you surely are a stranger here.

May I ask, politely (I'm done) and sincerely, what gave you the idea to walk in here and take charge of Ann Althouse's blog? Did you google "influential blogs that need me to run them and tell their hosts what to think?" Or did you use Bing?

Michael K said...


Blogger tcrosse said...
Some people my age use crosswords to stave off senility.

Doesn't work.


Oh, it probably worked well for my former partner who died at 96 two years ago.

Of course, you can't exactly run a controlled trail.

I think thinking, either doing crosswords or calculus or genetics, will keep your thinking muscles going.

TV kills.

tomaig said...

Friday NYT puzzles are my favorites, too.
Thursdays have their charms; Saturdays can be ponderous, and Sundays are rather cutesy but not that difficult.
Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are too easy.

mccullough said...

I didn’t know Richard Wilbur died until reading this post. I really liked his poetry. Not many poets after Wirld War 2 could be fresh within the formalistic poetic structures. Ashbery and Wilbur were the two poets I read in college who were still alive and we’re good. Sad to hear they both passed away last year.

jaydub said...

No need for a spoiler alert on the New Yorker puzzle. You're likely the only one here who reads that pretentious rag.

The Saturday NYT puzzle is my favorite, but Friday is a close second. The NYT offers an online puzzle subscription which allows me to enjoy the puzzle without feeling guilty about buying a NYT paper. Maybe the New Yorker will follow suit and become my third favorite. Also with the NYT online subscription you get access to their puzzle archive going back to 1993. Monday through Wednesday I work a Friday or Saturday puzzle from the archive. Fortunately, I'm already senile and seldom remember any that are more than 15 years old. In a few years I will probably be able to work the last week's NYT Saturday puzzle every day for the whole week and won't need the archive at all.

Jim Gust said...

I recommend the Wall Street Journal crossword puzzles.

I have to, because I won't pay for the NYTimes but I do subscribe to the WSJ.

Jupiter said...

("'A ludicrous invention,' per Germaine Greer").

The underwater bicycle?

Peter said...

Why don’t Americans do cryptics?

James K said...

You're likely the only one here who reads that pretentious rag.

Remnick ruined The New Yorker by turning it into yet another howling TDS forum, even the cartoons. I subscribed for 30 years, despite the liberal slant, but cancelled after the 2016 election.

tcrosse said...

Why don’t Americans do cryptics?

I do.

gpm said...

I guess I like the challenge of the Saturday Times puzzles. Been going to the ACPT for the last few years, but I'm too slow to do more than at best about the 50th percentile. First one I went to was in Brooklyn, where I'd never been and which was more interesting than the last few in Stamford, though, due to the timing, the weather's a lot better.

>>I prefer Calculus.

Well, I did the calculus and, one of my all-time favorites, complex analysis (even better, number theory!) some forty or fifty years ago, so now I have to be content with the crosswords.

And just maybe the crosswords helped my mother's mental state before she died at age 95. Didn't see her that much, since I lived a thousand miles away for nearly 40 years, but I thought she knew more about what was going on when I was "home" for Christmas than some of my siblings who treated her like a baby.

>>Why don’t Americans do cryptics?

Started doing the Guardian cryptics a month or so ago. Five days a week (and a "prize" puzzle on Saturdays). Tough sledding when you start, but you start to get the hang of it.

>>No need for a spoiler alert

I don't like it when Althouse does same-day posts about the Times puzzles before I've gotten around to them

And "John Pickering," whoever you are, fuck off, just fuck off.

--gpm