Figure of Speech

New York Times, Oct. 17

At first, “Figure of Speech” had me thinking up all kinds of grammatical terms — conjunction, preposition, verb — until I realized those aren’t figures but parts of speech (and much too long to be theme-worthy). Turns out the “figure” is a literal one — 8 — and the “speech” part means you substitute the number for the sound. So the “Singer with the #1 country hit ‘Hello Darlin”” is CONW8WITTY (25 Across), crossing with AB8 (“Lessen,” 14 Down).

Not surprisingly, constructor Patrick Blindauer dropped eight “8”s into the puzzle grid, making for 15 answers containing the “figure of speech” — 40 Down is a twofer: THE L8 L8 SHOW (“Insomniac’s TV viewing” — though Craig Ferguson might take umbrage at that.). That crosses with LIFTED W8S (“Repeatedly raised the bar?” 60 Across) and P8ON PLACE (“Racy best-selling novel of 1956,” 76 Across).

Others: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7, in New York City” is a SUBW8RAIN (3 Down), crossing with CR8 (“Egg protector, 31 Across); “Suspenseful 1966 Broadway hit” is W8 UNTIL DARK (37 Across), crossing with TAILG8 (“Follow too closely,” 7 Down — though in Philly, a better clue might have been, “Pre-game party,” what with today’s home Eagles and Phillies games.)

Also: “Fast-talking salesman’s tactic” is B8 AND SWITCH (99 Across), crossing with ST8S (“Conditions,” 89 Down); “X Games competitor” is a SK8 BOARDER (116 Across), crossing with M8AG (“Largest employer in Newton, Iowa, until 2006,” 109 Down); and a “Movie producer’s time of stress” is the RELEASE D8 (84 Down), crossing with … well, I’m not really sure to tell you the truth. The clue for 127 Across is “Spat,” and I’m just at a loss. Feel free to help me out.

Christmas Is Coming Dept.: “Dancer’s controls?” (105 Down) are REINS, because Dancer is one of Santa’s reindeer.

Nerd Alert Dept.: “Square sorts” (44 Down) are DWEEBS.

It’s In The Way You Say It Dept.: “Prominent tower, for short” (4 Down) is confusing unless you pronounce it “tow-er,” as in tow truck. Then the answer is obvious: AAA. Similarly, the space in “Pan handler” (15 Across) is key to the culinary (as opposed to indigent) answer: CHEF.

Pennsylvania Geography Dept.: “Part of a postal address for Gannon University” (93 Across) is ERIE PA.

Gotta go. The Phillies are calling.

Questions or comments? Tweet me @crosswordkathy.

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7 thoughts on “Figure of Speech”

  1. What a colossal waste of time. I’m glad I gave up and went looking for sanity in some clues. I never would have put frickin’ numbers in for words.

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