Sunday, December 5, 2010
ACROSTIC, Puzzle by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, edited by Will Shortz
This Sunday’s rewarding acrostic draws a quotation from Richard Lederer’s Word Circus: A Letter-Perfect Book with illustrations by Dave Morice, that along with the text creates a circus, complete with acrobats, clowns, animal tamers, lions, tigers where cartoons and drawings interacting with the wordplay.
The quotation: AN ISOGRAM IS A WORD IN WHICH NO LETTER OF THE ALPHABET APPEARS MORE THAN ONCE. IN “UNCOPYRIGHTABLE”, EACH MAJOR VOWEL PLUS Y APPEARS ONLY ONCE. THE ELEVEN-LETTER WORD “PALINDROMES” RECEIVES EXTREMELY HONORABLE MENTION.
The author's name and the title of the work: RICHARD LEDERER WORD CIRCUS
The defined words:
A. Entrepreneur who founded an Odditorium, RIPLEY
B. Thick application of paint on a canvas, IMPASTO
C. Some motley characters, CLOWNS
D. “There is no humor in HEAVEN” (Mark Twain)
E. State of suspension, ABEYANCE
F. Someone using quarters, ROOMER
G. Recess of a culinary class, DINETTE
H. Concern when having a fit, LENGTH
I. Player of Robin Hood (1938) and Don Juan (1948) (2 wds.), ERROL FLYNN
J. Start of a breakup (2 wds.), DEAR JOHN
K. Highest part of a paradise, abode of God and the angels, EMPYREAN
L. Extra piece, REMNANT
M. Stuff found in a canal, EARWAX
N. Name of a West Wing meeting room, ROOSEVELT
O. Ringmaster’s attention-getter, WHIPLASH
P. Control, conduct, manage, OPERATE
Q. Line stretching from 1613 to 1917, ROMANOV
R. Statistic of water vapor in air (2 wds.), DEWPOINT
S. Unsportsmanlike comment (2 wds.), CHEAP SHOT
T. Not the brightest bulb in the box, IMBECILE
U. What you may do after a crash, REBOOT
V. Hold close to the heart, CHERISH
W. Amount of space between the wine and cork in a bottle, ULLAGE
X. Guesswork … or an example of the thing described in this puzzle’s quote, SPECULATION.
Richard Lederer gets a greater charge out of the English language than a kid gets from a Volkswagen full of clowns. His playful examination of "the most tintinnabulating of the world's tongues" in The Word Circus is more fun than a barrel of monkeys (however fun that is), and Dave Morice's illustrations are no sideshow: they are as clever and charming as the text they accompany.
There's a lot going on in Lederer's big tent. Words are beheaded in one ring (the devil becomes evil) and curtailed in another (watch this priest become someone who pries). Over there, they're being cut right in two (does he bewilder? Be wilder!). Step right up, barks our emcee at the homophone (ewe/u/yew/you), and watch me juggle one phrase to make another: hand me the nudist colony and I'll show you no untidy clothes.
Palindromes, like push-me-pull-yous, parade to and fro. And oh, the verbal freaks you'll meet: grammagrams, heteronyms, vowelless things; consonant packs (catchphrase) and silent strings (Brougham). --Jane Steinberg, Editorial Review, Amazon.com
Click on image to enlarge.
Puzzle available on the internet at