Michael Pahk of Pinehurst, North Carolina, writes: "It seems that one fill answer appears in several crosswords for a particular day. Coinkydinky or?"It's a good question Micheal. But I know what you are really asking: are crossword puzzle constructors part of some secret cabal that meets semiregularly in an undisclosed location to plot to work together to disseminate secret messages to an unsuspecting public? How I wish that were to be the case. I admit it, I want to belong to some sort of Masonic club not only for the opportunity to wear boss Druid outfits, but also for the chance to learn things like shape shifting and mind control. And hey, aren't those all members only drinking clubs, anyway? Beer plus dark magic sounds like a winning formula to me. Maybe we can finally get this ball rolling at this year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament? What do you say, team? Who's with me for starting a secret puzzler's cabal?
Alas, the answer's less sexy than that. The facts are that when building puzzles you want to have as many marquee answers like ZZZQUIL, JACQUIZZ RODGERS, and QBERT QUBES as possible. Alas, not every entry can be that eye-poppingly crazy. And so, in order to make it all work, we must rely on the old standbys, the vowel-heavy short answers to hold it all together. Hey, let's face it, there are only so many "acceptable" answers that are going to work in a puzzle. They are mostly everyday words, with common letters, and once you throw in the accepted "canon" of crosswordese, you've got a substantial arsenal to solve with. So, Michael, if you happen to see the same answer repeated in many puzzles on any given day, it's not the work of a secret cabal. It's a coinkydink.
Share the puzzle. New one on Monday.