03.20.08 -- Portmanteaux

Humpty Dumpty, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland
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Thursday, March 20, 2008
Puzzle by Stephen Edward Anderson, edited by Will Shortz
Folk tales from various European countries claim that only on the March equinox day, can one balance an egg on its point. However a soul can balance an egg on its point any day of the year if one has the patience -- and, further, on this first day of Spring, we have a perfectly balanced crossword puzzle!
Four place-name portmanteaux are the main entries in today’s crossword -- MEXICALIMEXICO (20A. South-of-the-border border town portmanteau); KANORADOKANSAS (25A. Plains border town portmanteau); DELMARDELAWARE (42A. Mid-Atlantic border town portmanteau); and TEXARKANATEXAS (47A. South-central border town portmanteau).
A portmanteau is actually a large suitcase with two compartments, albeit archaic and rare. The definition with which we are now familiar is the combination of parts of two or more words into one, which yields a new meaning. e.g. lunch and breakfast into brunch, or smoke and fog into smog.
In Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, Humpty Dumpty and Alice discuss the poem, ‘Jabberwocky’. The egg explains the word “slithy”: “Well, ‘slithy‘ means ‘lithe and slimy.’ ‘Lithe’ is the same as ‘active.’ You see it’s like a portmanteau - there are two meanings packed up into one word.” Both before and after Lewis Carroll, what is now called the portmanteau was a common way of coining new words. For everyday portmanteaux, go HERE.
There's more!
Across: 1. Big kid?; 5. Burns and Cowper; 10. Sit heavily; 14. Sch. Of the Runnin’ Rebels; 15. Apply; 16. Locale of the highways H1 and H2; 17. Served to perfection?; 18. Animal in the 2005 film “Madagascar”; 19. Sound of silver striking crystal; 23. “NOI certainly do not!”; 24. Te-AMO cigars; 33. Downed; 34. Cellar stock; 35. Cheerful, proud, powerful sort, it’s said; 36. Each state, symbolically; 37. Displayed audacity; 38. Fire starter?; 39. Up to; 40. Cattle-herding canine; 41. Usher to the parlor; 45. Issue pikes and poleaxes, e.g.; 46. Switzerland’s LAC Leman; 55. Minestrone morsels; 56. “The Big Trail” or “The Big Stampede”; 57. Source for an outburst; 59. Two bells, in a sailor’s middle watch; 60. Pressing need?; 61. Milk dispenser; 62. Encounters; 63. Donkey KONG.
Down: 1. Acquisition of the U.S. in the Spanish-American War; 2. A while ago; 3. Doonesbury’s daughter in “Doonesbury”; 4. Takeout alternative; 5. 1950s-’70s Chevy; 6. Jump and a twist; 7. Do trailers?; 8. Run (out of); 9. Like some poorly washed windows; 10. Aphrodisiac, perhaps; 11. Not of the cloth; 12. “Horrors!”; 13. Palooka; 21. Nighttime scavenger, informally; 22. $hopping season?’ 25. Holmes of “Dawson’s Creek”; 26. In the least; 27. Bestow; 28. Doleful air; 29. Buck ONEIL, first African-American coach in Major League Baseball; 30. More foxy; 31. Raptor’s perch; 32. “So SOON?”; 33. Abbr. before a date; 37. Campus digs; 38. Dove; 40. Italian sweetie; 41. Team letters; 43. Hit the limit; 44. Bells and whistles, say; 47. Decision-making diagram; 48. Fitch of Abercrombie & Fitch; 49. Sugar KANE, Marilyn Monroe’s role in “Some Like It Hot”; 50. To ATEE (just so); 51. Straight up; 52. Tic-tac-toe choice; 53. Skin So Soft maker; 54. Trolled; 55. Make up one’s mind.
Best entry today is XORO (52D. Tic-tac-toe choice). The entry XMAS is out of season on this, the first day of Spring! Tied together throughout the puzzle are pairings of NOVA & AVON, GOAT & GUAM, OAHU & OHNO, ORZO & EZRA. EATEN and TVDINNER share E's. Best short entry of the day -- always like seeing LEO, even when Roman numerals are included!

Longer entries also include DORMROOM, STREAKED, PEACENIK, POTION, and MAXOUT (all quite compatible, if you’ve been there). Sounds in the crossword include PLOP, TING, DRUM, DIRGE, SANG, and ALARMS.

However, the entries of Mexicali, Mexico; Kanorado, Kansas; Delmar, Delaware, and Texarkana, Texas are just out of this world!

Hey, if you’re traveling to any of those places, be sure to take your portmanteau!
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For today’s cartoons, go to The Crossword Puzzle Illustrated.
Oh, and about balancing an egg for the Equinox...
Click on image to enlarge.
Puzzle available on the internet at
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games
If you subscribe to home delivery of The New York Times you are eligible to access the daily crossword via The New York Times - Times Reader, without additional charge, as part of your home delivery subscription.

6 comments:

Linda G said...

Thanks for all the info on portmanteau...I wasn't familiar with the word, but I managed to get all of the answers.

Lovely photo of spring flowers. Is it one of yours?

DONALD said...

Forgot to put link to the Wikipedia photo -- it's there now. Wish it were one of mine, it would mean Spring is in the front yard -- but then, of course, what year? Hope the weather in Kanorado is warming up!

russ c said...

i got everything except 7 down, remi, how is that an answer to do trailers?

DONALD said...

"Do" trailers are "re", "mi", fa so la, etc.

Anonymous said...

the dollar $ign was pointle$$ i thought

DONALD said...

More of a knock on $anta than a clue!