Alice and the pack of cards, by Arthur Rackham
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Puzzle by Peter A. Collins, edited by Will Shortz
Today's main entries consist of SHUFFLE (40A. With 42-Across, prepare to play cards [and a hint to this puzzle's circled letters]) THEDECK (42A. See 40-Across) -- accompanied by four long entries each with four circled letters containing the shuffled word DECK -- HARDBACKEDITION (17A Library copy of a book, commonly); BAKEDCAKES (24A. Prepared some desserts); DUCKDECOYS (52A. Hunting aids); BUICKDEALERSHIP (64A. Place to get an Electra, once). It's not written in stone anywhere that a "hint" should be of use in the solution of a crossword, but in this instance it is simply useless -- an after-the-fact, see-how-clever, I-get-it moment obtained at the finale. So CLEAR (55D. Word that may go before 42-Across) the deck!
DUKAKIS (7D. 1988 presidential candidate) hangs in the center of the crossword, perhaps reminding one of the lame debate between the current candidates last night -- where are the great men when we need them? We'll just have to do it ourselves! PLAYBALL (5D. Umpire's shout)!
TOOTALL (46D. Nickname for former N.F.L.'er Ed Jones) continues this puzzle's people parade followed by AMOS (56A. Book before Obadiah); AVA (21A. Gardner of "The Barefoot Contessa"); CICERO (26D. Roman who originated the phrase "While there's life, there's hope"); DADA (19D. Baby's word); DRYS (18D. Prohibitionists); ELISA (34A. Girl in a "Paint Your Wagon" song); ESQ (31A. J.D.'s title); EVA (70A. "Little" woman of '60s music); FIRPO (3D. Dempsey's 1923 opponent); HIPSTERS (43D. Coffeehouse patrons, once) with their FOLK (41D. Coffeehouse music genre); LEE (67D. Rock's Tommy, ex-husband of Pamela Anderson); 57D. "Real Time With Bill MAHER"; NANAS (13D. Certain family members); 4D. Kemo SABE; SHARI (28A. Puppeteer Lewis); STEVE (8D. Wozniak, who co-founded Apple Computer) and that extraterrestrial ALF (1A. 1980s sitcom built around the Tanner family).
EAT (10D. With 11-Down, preceders of "be merry") and DRINK (11D. See 10-Down) along with CIDER (36A. Hard or soft drink); 62A. Hot TAMALE; 23A. La CHOY (Chinese food brand); those CAKES; A few RLESS (72A. Like non-oyster months) items; and perhaps an OLIVE (58D. Green shade) provide the meager menu of not-so USUAL (53D. Run-of-the-mill) sustenance.
Other mid-size entries include ADHOC (1D. Having only one purpose); ALERT (69A. On one's toes) and ALEUT (15A. Northern native); AMORE (12D. Mediterranean emotion); ARIES (25D. First sign); ATANY (35D. Words before time or cost); CAIRO (54D. Africa's most populous city); DEBTS (52D. Red ink cause); HEFTED (29D. Tested the weight of); LEASH (2D. Collar attachment); ONPOT (50A. High, in a way); OSPREY (20A. Coastal raptor); SHOOT (44A. "Dang it!"); SEDAN (9A. Alternative to a wagon); SEPAL (59D. Flower part); SLOTS (71A. Casino section); SPADS (4D. W.W. I French fighter planes); STAIR (45A. Rail site); TAROT (68A. The Sun, The Moon or The Star).
Fill: AEC, AIR, ALT, ARID, ARTS, COT, DEAD, DEI, DEW, ECO, ESA, ESS, KTS, LED (48A. Played the first card), NRA, QUO, REL, RKO, SHH, SKI, TAMS, WOO (47A. It may be pitched).
About that debate -- what could be worse than the last hand dealt!
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Xword info -- Across: 14. Agnus ___; 22. Org. with an eagle in its logo; 30. Show; 61. Computer key; 73. Cath., for one. Down: 6. Former govt. agcy. Formed after W.W. II; 9. Item that’s often waxed; 27. Like a desert; 31. Serpentine shape; 32. “Keep it down”; 33. “___ Vadis”; 37. You may get your feet wet with this; 38. Prefix with tourist; 39. Studio behind many Astaire/Rogers films; 49. Like some batteries; 51. Highland headgear; 63. Some are fine; 65. Camp bed; 66. Gold meas.