Letter Writing – The New York Times


Mike Holmes, bartender and owner of the Wickman House in Wisconsin, makes a Moscow Mule.Credit Mike Roemer for The New York Times

THURSDAY PUZZLE It gets me almost every time. You’d think that by now I would recognize all the ways in which a crossword constructor can mess with my head. And yet it still happens.

Maybe you bounced around the grid as I did, growling quietly to yourself about how this must be a rebus puzzle because, darn it, nothing is going into the grid in a way that makes sense.

Adam Perl asks us to pine for the LOST ARTs (39A) using “Letter writing …” as an example and while I’m all for reminiscing about the good old days when people wrote letters longhand, I’m a little sore that it took me so long to figure out what was going on in his puzzle. That’s just sour grapes on my part. When you can cram eight theme entries into a puzzle and still fill it reasonably well, that’s a very cool thing.

Today’s Theme

I knew something was up when I got to 10A and was forced to write in PIES from the crossings as a response to the clue “Has a ball.” Now, I like PIE as much as the next person, but I think we can all agree that that can’t be all there is to it because the tenses don’t match (“Has a ball” is a verb phrase and PIES is a noun.)

After a few minutes of bouncing around with little progress and feeling sorry for myself, I realized that I needed to look for and solve a revealer. That help came, of course, in the form of LOST ART. But what does LOST ART have to do with having a ball with PIES? Think, Deb, think.


The key is to keep an open mind about the meaning of the words. LOST ART, in today’s puzzle, is all about subtraction: You need to lose the word ART in the correct answer in order to fit it in the grid. So “Having a ball” is meant to be PARTIES, not PIES. But Mr. Perl has successfully found a set of words where you can do that and still have real — mystifying, but real — words in his…

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