Saturday, September 15, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Lingo" - familiar terms and phrases have "LING" added to them to create silly terms and phrases, which are clued
A familiar theme conceit - add some letter combo, get new wacky terms - and yet it doesn't feel stale here because, for the most part, the wacky terms (all seven of them) are quite good. For the second day in a row I really felt like I torched the puzzle, and my time was very well within the "2 x best solver" metric (taking the top solver's time from the NYT applet, online) - somewhere in the low 14's. I stumbled twice, in both the Central and Southern California sections of the puzzle, where first a brutal crossing, and later a couple of cleverly disguised two-part phrases, forced me to flail around a bit before I set everything in order.
- 24A: Bit of news at the aviary? (a starLING is born) - first one I got, thought the theme was about birds, then (like any good solver) I actually read the puzzle's title
- 34A: Notion of an underwater creature? (squid inkLING)
- 47A: Fraternization on an army base? (military coupLING) - had MILITARY COURTING for a while, forgetting that the puzzle's title was "Lingo," not "Tingo"
- 63A: How courteous swordsmen fight? (with all dueLING respect) - nice
- 80A: Farm young 'un with a blanket? (duckLING and cover)
- 93A: Local cutie pie? (town dumpLING) - my favorite, possibly because the LING changes the context of the word So Much
- 108A: Capture of a Mafia runner, e.g.? (underLING arrest)
In addition to SILENT L and POINT A, there were a couple of other words that ended in odd or unexpected letter combinations: 15A: N.H.L. great from the Czech Republic (Jagr) was rough, especially because his tell-tale first name (Jaromir) was denied to me; and in other sports-related madness, 5D: Injured, in baseball lingo ["LINGO," cute] (on the DL). For the sports-impaired, the "DL" is the Disabled List.
As with yesterday's puzzle (and perhaps with just about any puzzle), if you solve regularly, certain "difficult" words will begin to become familiar. Here are some important words for your solving vocabulary:
- 40A: Least populous U.N. member (Tuvalu) - usually clued in terms of its tiny population, this little country involves insane but occasionally handy letter combinations
- 3D: Small interval of time: Abbr. (N-Sec) - because you never know when you'll need a four-letter word beginning "NS"
- 8D: Work of Michelangelo, e.g. (arte) - it's just Italian. Get used to it.
- 79D: One trying to find the right combination? (yegg) - one of my favorite words, and one I actually learned from collecting vintage paperbacks (especially crime fiction). A YEGG is a safecracker, in old-timey crime "LINGO" (!)
- 71A: Elegance (luxe) - no one would use this word as a synonym for "elegance" and yet I've seen it twice clued this way in recent days
- 87A: Jordanian queen (Noor)
- 119A: Ethyl cinnamate, for one (ester) - god the puzzle loves this word
Stuff I didn't know:
- 75A: Gwen _____, Spider-Man's first love (Stacy) - I do not read Marvel Comics, so ???
- 73D: Russian conductor/composer Markevitch (Igor) - luckily, his name is common enough
- 118A: "Think big" company (IMAX) - somehow I don't think of IMAX as a company
My favorite answers in today's puzzle are:
- 4D: Prolonged complaints (jeremiads)
- 103A: Junked (deep-sixed)
- 10A: Style of Japanese writing (kanji)
- 76D: What a specialist men's store may offer (tall sizes)
Trickiest clue of the day:
39A: Load bearer? (dryer) - even when I had it, I didn't get it. Then the laundry frame of reference came to me, and it all seems obvious in retrospect.
Enjoy your Sunday.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of Crossworld