July 11, 2006


Ben Tausig's Chicago Reader puzzle, "World Figures," plays on numbers in foreign languages that sound like English words. I liked the LIBERAL DOS the best. Tausigean touches include KLONDIKE bars, DEEPDISH pizza, a bunch of 8- and 9-letter fill, BOSE stereos, "'Simpsons' dad" for APU (father of octuplets, vs. Homer's mere three children), and silken and firm TOFUS. IFNI is pretty obscure (it's a Moroccan area the Spaniards used to lay claim to), but I've seen it in another crossword in the past year, so it's not completely out there.

Joe Bower's Sun puzzle, "Under There," has a laugh-out-loud punchline at theme's end. Anyone who knows Joe has been trained to sniff out lewdness and double entendres in anything he writes, but I think the puzzle's innuendo is only in my mind. I mean, he's got the word ORAL in there, but the clue relates to...Rev. Roberts. And "it has a button on its tip" puts the Joe-savvy solver in mind of something other than an EPEE. Anyway, the puzzle's great fun, and well-crafted to boot (I can certainly forgive ACT UP crossing FED UP—there was another puzzle the other day that had WEAR crossing WORN or WORE in some form, and I didn't hear anyone whinging about that).

There's some nice fill (QUASH, WHAT IF, PINKIE) in Richard Chisholm's NYT, which could have been titled, "From Right to Left" (the theme entries contain an R-to-L letter change). This crossword's not unusual in cluing IDA as "actress Lupino." Did you know she was also a director? It's true. She specialized in melodramas, one of which I saw as part of a "Women in the Director's Chair" film series.

Are you a fan of the song Gary Louris wrote for the Wordplay closing credits, "Read Every Word"? Then eat your heart out. My husband's been listening to the song on that Minnesota Public Radio program, and now he can sing it and play it on guitar. Until such time as IFC arranges for a soundtrack album or gives us a way to download Gary's recording, I will make do with the household live cover version. (See? This is why the girls go for the guys in earnest college bands.)

Tausig 4:54
NYS 4:49
NYT 3:39
LAT 2:54
CS 2:54