September 15, 2007

Sunday, 9/16

LAT 11:11
WaPo 9:05
PI 8:37
NYT 8:22
BG 7:05
CS 4:35

All righty, the husband and kid are off at the park playing ball, so I had some quiet time to do crosswords. Wow, my Sunday morning just opened up beautifully! I should do all the Sunday puzzles that are available early on Saturdays.

Mike Nothnagel's New York Times crossword, "Lingo," is a beaut. Mike found seven phrases that could tack LING onto the end of one word to make a new word and a phrase that could be plausibly clued and also evoke some amusing images. The [Local cutiepie?] is the TOWN DUMPLING, and I picture her holding court at the local landfill. [Fraternization on an army base?] is MILITARY COUPLING, and I'm picturing the generals in the junta getting cozy with one another. SQUID INKLING? SpongeBob's neighbor Squidward has plenty of ideas, many involving getting rid of SpongeBob so he and his clarinet can live in grumpy peace. I wonder how many unused theme candidate Mike had—can you think of any other good ones?

To this puzzle and its constructor, I say 14-Down: I LIKE YOU. I got a kick out of the cluing, and I liked that a bunch of answers contained Scrabbly letters. JEREMIADS (great word meaning [Prolonged complaints]) and JABBER, KANJI crossing K.D. LANG (or k.d. lang, as she prefers—her All You Can Eat album is among my favorites, and if you like warm, yearning, torchy songs, check it out), TALL SIZES crossing DEEP-SIXED, and more.

The clues I enjoyed most: [Chant at a basketball game] for DEFENSE ("Dee-fense! Dee-fense!"); [Load bearer?] for clothes DRYER; [Least populous U.N. member] for TUVALU (love that geography!); [1992 Oscar-nominated title role for Robert Downey Jr] for CHAPLIN (which I've never seen, but I want to because Downey is talented and he has lovely eyes—and why isn't it available on DVD so I can get it from Netflix?); [With geniality] for AMIABLY (I love the word amiable because it's such a favorable word to sound like the adjectival form of my name—can anyone top that? I mean, Elizabethan isn't cute at all.); [Particular purpose] for NONCE (derivation: from Middle English "then anes," mangled by misdivision—just like "a norange" and "an ekename" somehow became "an orange" and "a nickname"); [Saturn, for one] for GOD (not car, not SUV, not the planet); [Calf feature] for SILENT L and [Start of an itinerary] for POINT A; [It should have a head and a good body] for BEER; [Injured, in baseball lingo] for ON THE DL, as in "on the disabled list" ("on the DL" can also mean on the down-low," describing men who purport to be straight but also have sex with men on the sly); [Sound's partner] for SAFE up above [One trying to find the right combination?] for YEGG, slang for safecracker; [Anatomical part whose name comes from the Latin for "grape"] for UVEA (I just read this and totally blanked on it); and [What a train goes down] for AISLE (as in the train of a wedding gown). I either forgot or never knew [1980 N.F.L. M.V.P. Brian] SIPE.

Other Puzzles:

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's online Boston Globe puzzle, "Quartets," has 10 theme entries that contain four of a kind—if Alabama weren't in a clue, it would qualify as an answer here because the letter A appears in it four times. The last of the 10 contains two different letter quartets, and I think no theme entry features the same foursome. Fairly easy puzzle, as these things go, with one word I didn't quite realize was a word (DUPERY, the noun form of dupe) and another unfamiliar word, RATLINE (ratlines are the ropes one can climb to ascend the riggings on a sailing ship, apparently). Hey, if you like these Sunday puzzles (with bylines alternating between Cox and Rathvon, a.k.a. Hex, and Henry Hook) and you feel a tad guilty getting the puzzles for free in Across Lite, consider buying one of the many book collections of Globe puzzles. I've got a volume somewhere around here.

Alex Boisvert's Washington Post puzzle, "Do Be Do Be Do," made me smile when I figured out the funniest of the 10 theme answers. Each one's a phrase in which the letters BE have been changed to DO (as in "beg pardon" into DOG PARDON) or vice versa ("China doll" into Asian/Mexican fusion fast-food eatery CHINA BELL). The DO -> BE entries are on the left side of the grid, and the BE -> DOs on the right. Anyway, it took me a while to figure out what to do with [Disparaging psychiatrist?]: DR. BELITTLE!

You'll need to don your Hat of Pun Sensibility to tackle Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle, "Pun Party." There's a short fill-in-the-blank clue here, [Shih ___]. I can spell TZU. Some months back, though, a purebred (one of Merl's trickiest clues this weekend: [A pure and thorough conclusion] for BRED) owner in my neighborhood lost his dog and posted this sign:


Rich Norris's themeless puzzle for the CrosSynergy syndicate has some high notes and low notes. The highs: [Question after a trip] for ARE YOU OK; [Follow a boat, in a way] for WATERSKI; [High] for EUPHORIA; [Change one's mind about, as a computer option] for DESELECT (which is a terrible word in regular English but a perfectly descriptive one in computerese); the sarcastic ["Oh, joy"] for I CAN'T WAIT; [Got ready to go up] for TAXIED, as in a plane heading to the runway]. Lows: [Bourg's department] for AIN (that's a new one on me, I think) and [Eared seal] for OTARY (it's been a good long while since I've seen that one).

Rich Norris, in drag with the "Lila Cherry" pseudonym (anagram of "really Rich"), made the syndicated LA Times puzzle: nine two-word phrases that have an LP split between the end of the first word and start of the second. Hence, COCKTAIL PARTY, and the title "Broken Records." The puzzle wasn't as hard as my comparative times would suggest—I was off the clues' wavelength and did half the puzzle while talking on the phone.