11.19.07 -- Wisp

Monday, November 19, 2007

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Puzzle by Lynn Lempel, edited by Will Shortz
This crossword puzzle opens with a WISP (1A Bit of smoke) and a WAFT (1D Blow gently) and closes with MEET (61D Assemble) and NEAT (71A Spiffy) -- for what more could one ask?
Extra! Read all about it! In the center is PAPER (40A Where you may find the ends of 17-, 23-, 52- and 63- Across) tying together four long across entries -- FIFTHCOLUMN (17A Subversive group); TOILETARTICLE (23A Soap or lotion, say); SCARLETLETTER (52A Notorious stigma); and BESTPICTURE (63A Coveted film honor).
Weaving into the four long entries are PAULA (8D Newswoman Zahn) crossing FIFTH COLUMN; and there’s SOFTTOUCH (3D One who’ll easily lend money for a hard-luck story), which is also a trade name for beauty products, intersecting TOILET ARTICLE; TOSCA (55D Puccini opera) with an ARIA (60D Met highlight), appropriately emanating from SCARLET LETTER, with SIN (10D What it is “to tell a lie“) at safe distance; and OPTIC (46D Eye-related) meeting BEST PICTURE.
Pairs abound -- a near miss for Smith & Wesson with SMITH (52D Suffix with black or silver) and HESTON (51D Charlton of The Ten Commandments), long-time head of the NRA. More odd couples, with HAILS & HAIRY; VILE & VIALS; ILIE & ODIE; ELI & ILE; ROE & TOE; INLET & LETON; SEDGE & SAGES; ROOT & RIOT; BUB (63D Fella) and PAL (19A Buddy) paring up to give a certain music to this Monday back-to-work puzzle.
Perhaps hoping the weekend was a SERENE (49D Calm) INTERLUDE (35D Period between) from TGIF to today, this puzzle exclaims CRIPES (5A “Jeepers!”), maybe when looking at the cost of PETROL (4D Fuel by the litre), or joining the MELEE (13D Fracas) headed to their destinations of employment -- while on the TOPIC (11D Subject of discussion), the car radio may give us news of ISLAM (59A Mullah’s teaching), Britney’s latest UNCOOL (67A Hardly hip) escapade, a SNUB (42A Social slight) for a politician; or perhaps a new siting of the LOCH Ness monster (38A) from a CANOE (53D It gets a paddling).
People in the puzzle are TIM (11A Burton who produced The Nightmare Before Christmas); ELI (21A QB Manning); AVA (29A Gardner of Hollywood); ETHAN (43A Actor Hawke); ILIE (2D Tennis champ Natase); ELMIRA (9D New York city where Mark Twain is buried); EDGAR (25D Ventriloquist Bergen); BURR (36D Jefferson’s first vice president); among others.
Loose stitches in the weave, INALL (12D With everything counted), are no less interesting -- DENALI (15A Native name for Mount McKinley); ALIBI (34A Suspect’s excuse); GOPHERS (50A Furry burrowers); and BEANIE (70A Freshman’s topper). Our TETRA (20A Four: Prefix)- letter words today include ALOE, LEAP, TILE, IBIS, while ANNEX (54D Building add-on) stands alone.
Finally, as I TROLLED (27A Searched) the entries, I found MANY (57A Umpteen) three-letter entries, including HEX, ONE, POI, IFS, TRI, INN, a dozen already mentioned, and the initials of EPA, NFL, TVA, IOU, CDC and REO, all old friends of crossword solvers.
A very pleasant wisp of a puzzle for Monday!


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Puzzle available on the internet at
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games
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