I've just been itching for another Mike Nothnagel puzzle. In recent months, we've had what I dubbed his best themed puzzle (the Timothy Leary quote), his best themeless puzzle, and then his most difficult...which I couldn't finish. Now he's back in his Sunday best, and I was so on his wavelength.
The title of the puzzle, LINGO, made me think we'd just be dealing with the language of a particular line of work, but it was better than that.
The letters LING were added to the end of a word that's part of a well-known phrase. The resulting answers were appropriately clued, each with a ? at the end.
And the theme answers are:
24A: Bit of news at the aviary? (A Starling is Born). I think I've said before that I loved the Kris Kristofferson/Barbra Streisand version of A Star is Born. His portrayal of John Howard Norman haunts me to this day.
34A: Notion of an underwater creature? (squid inkling).
47A: Fraternization on an army base? (military coupling)...my favorite of the bunch.
63A: How courteous swordsmen fight? (with all dueling respects)...or maybe this one. Did anyone else notice that he also gave us banjo...at 1A, clued as Grand Ole Opry sight.
80A: Farm young 'un with a blanket? (duckling and cover). Although this one was pretty good, too. In 1962, we did drills requiring us to take cover under our desks...at a time when girls wore skirts or dresses...prepared in case of nuclear attack. According to the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization (I still have the 1962 calendar on my desk at home), "Beyond the 5-mile radius of total destruction, but still within range of the immediate killing power of the bomb, you would have split seconds to save your life. You would have to act with instinctive speed to take cover behind whatever was at hand." Comforting words for a fourth grader to read.
93A: Local cutie pie? (town dumpling).
108A: Capture of a Mafia runner, e.g.? (underling arrest).
For the third day in a row, we have a pangram. In this particular puzzle, we have Scrabbly letters appearing multiple times...in words such as:
10A: Style of Japanese writing (Kanji), with two Scrabbly crossings...at 10D: Singer who spells her name in all lowercase letters (k. d. lang) and 13D: Stir (jog).
40A: Least populous U.N. member (Tuvalu), crossing with 36D: Anatomical part whose name comes from the Latin for "grape" (uvea). I didn't have a clue on either of those, but with enough other letters in place, I could guess them correctly.
71A: Elegance (luxe), with 62D: Something bad that may be put on you (hex).
103A: Junked (deep sixed), crossing with 105D: Delete (X out).
111A: Ultraviolet filter (ozone), with 76D: What a specialist men's store may offer (tall sizes). I wanted XXX sizes. How cool would that have been.
118A: "Think big" company (IMAX)...short for Image Maximum..., crossing with 95D: Amount paid on some out-of-state purchases (use tax).
There were several obscure (to me) words, all of which I could get from crosses. 15A: N.H.L. great from the Czech Republic (Jagr), 58A: 1980 N.F.L. M.V.P. Brian (Sipe), 72A: Particular purpose (nonce), 100A: Je ne __ quoi (sais)...I had c'est, one of the only French words I know, 4D: Prolonged complaints (jeremiads)...I have never heard that word and was sure I had something wrong when I had the JERE..., and 65D: Coloring (tinct)...does the word tincture come from that?
I liked 27A: Nag (racehorse), 96A: Calf feature (silent L), even though it stumped me for a long while, 101A: Start of an itinerary (point A), 1D: It should have a head and a good body (beer), 18D: Instruction before "repeat" (rinse), 37D: Like many Scots (kilted), 45D: One may be double or free (agent), 90D: Part of a season (episode), and 102D: It might get your kitty going (ante).
I wracked my brain to remember 5D: Injured, in baseball lingo (on the DL)...that's disabled list. Some days it just doesn't pay to think.
I know I've missed several other good ones, but I should go pay some attention to Don and the dogs. They're all very good about the time I spend on this computer every night.
I'm trying to cut back on the time I spend blogging and reading other blogs...you know, to practice for Hawaii. We're taking the laptop with us, so I'll still be able to read...and maybe occasionally comment. This could be rough, but I'm relieved I won't have to quit cold turkey. That would just be ugly.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.