Question Box

New York Times crossword June 16 / Constructed by Mel Rosen

Apologies for the late post. Had a rare weekend shift at work and didn’t even get to look at this marvelously constructed riddle-within-a-puzzle-within-a-puzzle until about 6 p.m.

The extensive editor’s note gives the instructions for the title’s “Question Box,” which uses circled letters to answer the four-part trivia question spread throughout the grid. First you have to solve the 10 starred clues; then you have to place those 10 answers in the central box so they interlock in crossword fashion.

Solvers get a lesson in animal dentistry in this puzzle.
Solvers get a lesson in animal dentistry in this puzzle.

In a nutshell: IF A GIRAFFE HAS FOURTEEN (23 Across) MORE THAN A WALRUS AND (34 Across) A SQUIRREL HAS HALF AS (82 Across) MANY AS A PIG, WHAT ARE THEY (98 Across)? The answer is TEETH. (At this point I’d like to make some kind of veterinarian/dentistry joke, but I’m kind of pressed for time. Use your imagination.)

The starred clues were pretty run-of-the-mill words, though I’ll quibble with “*Some boat covers” being T-TOPS (1 Across). I know convertible cars can have T-tops – but boats? Guess I don’t get out on the water much.

Filling in the “Question Box” came remarkably easy to me, though I wouldn’t necessarily expect the same result next time I have to try it. Basically, I listed all the words on a separate sheet of paper, and then I looked for two words starting with the same letter that could anchor the box from across the top and down the left side.

Twitter friend @afaul1971 summed it up pretty well when he tweeted that the grid was “a remarkable constructing feat” but with a lot of bad fill.

Twofers Dept.: The doubled clue “Wallops” yields both KO’S (28 Across) and THUMPS (29 Across). And a “Shul reading” comes from the TORAH (59 Across), which is kept in an ARK (“Shul fixture,” 99 Down).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: Few people realize that SUNOCO (“Company whose logo has a diagonal red arrow,” 93 Across) is headquartered here in Philadelphia. I’m also going include in this category the answer TRAPS (“*Sandy spots, maybe,” 54 Down), which refers to golf. As I write this, Justin Rose has just won the U.S. Open at the Merion Golf Club, which is just across the Philly city line.

Whoops! Dept.: You’ll see a few places where my initial answers, upon further consideration, required some revisions. “Partition into multiple bits” was not BREAK UP, as I originally wrote, but CARVE UP (81 Down). “Three-part” is not TRINITY but TRINARY (33 Across), which provides the R for the unusual entry SIEUR (“French lord,” 16 Down). I never thought about the root of the title “monsieur” until I saw that – it literally combines the words “mon sieur,” or “my lord.” I had lightly entered POSH for “Exorbitant” (6 Across) but later realized it was simply HIGH. Maybe if I watched more tennis I would have gotten the H from HAAS (“Tennis great Tommy,” 6 Down). And a “Cliche, often” is an ADAGE (88 Down), whereas I had first written TRITE. (Not that my answer was wrong, generally speaking. It’s just wrong in this grid.)

Need some solving tips and tricks? I’ve posted some here. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. You can also visit my Facebook page, or tweet me @crosswordkathy.

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2 thoughts on “Question Box”

  1. Thank you for the comment about t-tops in this week’s puzzle “Question Box”. I too have never heard of t-tops on boats. Cars, yes—but boats, never!! 🙂

  2. Hi Robert … That was seriously weird, right? Glad I wasn’t the only one to think so! Thanks for reading (and writing)!

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