Matter, then speak

Matter, then speak

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Tuesday’s Puzzle — In order to share how fascinated I was with today’s grid answers, I have to share something else first: I’m Canadian, now living in the United States. Even though I’ve trained myself to check the weather in Fahrenheit and measure in inches, I feel a pang of pride whenever Canadian terminology appears in a puzzle.

There are two such references in this crossword, brought to you by Grant Burrow (his second for The New York Times). Its theme is simply delightful, and it just requires a desire to pronounce things a little differently.

You may find today’s theme divisive. What I mean is that each thematic entry may look like a single word, but it should be broken down to satisfy the terms of the key. For example, 65A, “neckwear reserved for fancy occasions?” The answer is Specialties, which sounds strange until you realize that it’s read as Special Ties.

A similar epiphany occurs in other themed entries. 26-on, “The flute-playing Greek god tries?” Makes you realize that PAN trice; 40-on, in-key cooking directions teach you how to prepare pies. I found 17-Across particularly absurd, but it made me smile. Here, smile with me.

11A. Since “ruler divs.” Ending in brevity, we know that filling should also be concise. The rulers show inches, but the correct answer is CMS, for centimeters. Score one for Canada with this metric measurement! (And minus one for using the American spelling of the word when I explained it.)

38A. “Some skin care products” take the Latin plural form for serum: SERA.

56A. In baseball-speak, a single bounce on a ground ball is known as ONE HOP. Coincidentally, that’s also how I request my lightest beer to be brewed.

69A. The “1960s folk quartet” in question is the Mamas and the Papas. Both parts of this name will fit in the box, so I hope you get lucky with the correct name — ambiguity makes for great crossword clues!

1 d. The correct entry here is TOQUE, a word with roots in French, Spanish, and Arabic. It’s also the Canadians’ preferred term for your basic winter hat, which some Americans call a beanie. Canada is back on board!

30 d. Call me a prospector, because I just gained some knowledge: A LODE is a vein-like deposit of ore that appears in fractured rocks after tectonic activity.

41 d. If you’re ever in France, it might help to learn to say A MOI. You can use it to get dibs on, well, whatever you need to get dibs on in France.

62 d. “Climb” can be a noun or a verb, and can also be the answer: RISE.

One night at a high school concert, I went to the concession stand to get a soda. Looking at the hand-written menu on the wall, I asked in confusion what “Special Relationships” was. (In my defense, the gap between the “L” and the “T” was too wide.) That very minor embarrassment lingered long enough in my memory to become the basis of a crossword puzzle theme 20 years later.

I would have preferred to use some longer theme answers, but the pool of words that fit the formula was somewhat limited. I find that short theme answers are more restrictive on the grid structure than long answers, as all fills are assumed to be shorter than short theme entries in the same direction, which limits block placement options in the rest of the grid.

I loved CAMPINESS and MOUSETRAP together, TAMPA on OCEAN and PARSECS and INERTIA presenting the science series in symmetrical locations. Special thanks to my mom, Metah Boro, for being my test solver!

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For tips on how to get started, read our series, “How to Make a Crossword Puzzle.”

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#Matter #speak

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