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All Thumbs

Illustration: 19A OWEN (Wilson of "Zoolander")

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Puzzle by Jayne and Alex Boisvert, edited by Will Shortz

It appears that most folks, including today’s puzzle celebrity, are all THUMBs when it comes to committing suicide. At times, when it’s done “unintentionally”, it succeeds (e.g., the doctor who performed an appendectomy upon himself, but unfortunately fainted during the procedure).
OWEN (19A Wilson of “Zoolander”), thankfully is one of those who was all THUMBs in attempting to do so -- read Owen Wilson Suicide Attempt. Owen Cunningham Wilson (born November 18, 1968) is an Academy Award-nominated actor and writer (for his work on the screenplay of “The Royal Tenenbaums”), but he is best known for his successful comedic roles in Wedding Crashers and as Hansel in Zoolander.

Today’s puzzle gives us no less than four THUMBs in four squares of the puzzle -- e.g., the word THUMB is squeezed into a tiny little box four times. THUMBONESNOSE (20A Expresses scorn); UNDERMYTHUMB (29A 1966 Rolling Stones hit); THUMBTHROUGH (43A Scan); OPPOSABLETHUMB (51A Human hand characteristic); along with their obligatory downs of TOMTHUMB (1D Barnum midget); SORETHUMB (26D It may stick out); THUMBNAIL (33D King of sketch); and THUMBSUP (56D Encouraging sign).

The entries above and below OWEN, e.g., LOON (16A Canadian dollar bird) and WAYS (22A Means’ partner) are, I am sure, purely coincidental. Other than that, the remainder of the puzzle is fairly standard stuff, with a few exceptions -- BORAX (15A 20 Mule Team compound); ARENT (18A Ain’t grammatical?); SCREED (26A Blowhard’s speech); PENAL (41A Prison-related) and PUSS (63A Face, slangily); ELEE again, this time properly clued as 21D Gen. Robert _____; and URIAH (29D Dickens’s _____ Heep) crossing NAIAD (38A Nymph of Greek myth) in dead center of the grid, resulting in the central square containing the letter and/or word “I”.

Longer entries hanging around throughout the puzzle include NEUROSIS (38D Anxiety may be a symptom of it); TRINKETS (4D Tchotchkes); ABASED (5D Brought down); FLOWER (10D Lapel insert); RHYMES (44D Rappers’ skill); AUDIBLES (39D Quarterback’ play changes); and EXTENDED (9D Like some warranties).

Shorter, less-frequently seen entries include SAONE (58A Rhone feeder); PANE and PONE side by side; joining with the oft-seen ODOR, MAGI, TILT, KLEE, NYE, IAN, ORATE, ALLA, ESC, MULTI, ZITI, HER, QUAY and QTIP, IDLE, INNER, SEEDS, SEEP, ECRU, YALTA, MILLE, META, URDU, ZONES, LOGO, IDAS, OREO, RISERS, VANS, IOWA, JOEY, INNS, YEN, NEAL; with pleasant appearances by BORNE (6D Held up); CRUST (27D Pie part); RANCH (28D Dressing choice); GREEN (35A Eco-friendly); and, if one is not all thumbs, REDEAL (45A Start a new hand).

Last, but not least, we have POE (41D Rue Morgue’s creator).

Remind you of anyone?

For whatever AILS (50D Has a fever say) today’s puzzle celebrity -- get well soon!


Today's video rerun --
A Nightmare of a Crossword

Cartoon? The Crossword Puzzle Illustrated.