Doubleheaders

New York Times, Nov. 14

As I listen to the Giants-Cowboys game in the background, I can’t help but think … how many days until pitchers and catchers report? And it’s not because of Dallas’ dismal record.

The title of today’s puzzle — “Doubleheaders” — has put me in the mood for baseball. Not that the theme has anything to do with sports. The crossword by constructor Patrick Berry is about common phrases tweaked by the double-insertion of another word: “Factors to consider while trying to sleep on a campout?” are BEDROCK AND BED ROLL (23 Across).

Others: “What the marshal declared the moonshiner’s shed to be?” is FIREWATER FIRE HAZARD (30 Across); “Ohio State athlete who forgot his uniform?” is a BUCK NAKED BUCKEYE (48 Across);  “C.E.O.’s tricycle?” is the BIG WHEEL OF BIG CHEESE (63 Across); “Wild Bill Hickok holding his aces and eights?” is DEADWOOD DEAD DUCK (81 Across); “Garbage receptacle that you and I insult?” is TRASH CAN WE TRASH TALK (97 Across); and “‘That high lonesome sound,’ as played by Atlantic crustaceans?” is BLUE CRAB BLUEGRASS (108 Across).

Glad for the reminder that the phrase is “buck naked” as opposed to the increasingly used “butt naked” — but I have to say I’m still not sure what the “buck” refers to. (All bucks are naked, I guess, but so are stags and does, right?) And though I got the Deadwood, S.D., reference in 81 Across, I wasn’t familiar with the “dead duck” part of the answer. Turns out “aces and eights” is the “Dead Man’s hand,” which I will be careful to avoid from now on. (My incurable solitaire habit makes that easy.)

But It Tastes Awful Dept.: “Fragrant cake” is a BAR OF SOAP (43 Down).

Am I The Only One Who Didn’t Know This? Dept.: “City where TV’s ‘Glee’ is set” is LIMA (35 Down), as in Ohio, although I had to fill in all the crossing words to get that.

Star Gazing Dept.: “Picture that shows you what’s up?” is a SKYSCAPE (88 Across), which I’ve never heard of but I guess makes sense.

Merry Olde England Dept.: “One who puts U in disfavor?” is a BRIT (62 Across).

Double-Entendres Dept.: “Round container” is a GUN (44 Down) while “Former union members?” are EXES (80 Down).

Alpha Dog Dept.: “Buggy versions, maybe” are BETAS (1 Across). Which reminds me that the Facebook Scrabble app I’ve been using for the past two years (since the dear departed Scrabulous was scrapped) is STILL labeled “beta.” How long can something be a beta version before it just … is?

Coming Full Circle Dept.: I know what mushroom spores are, but not so much the verb “to spoor” — which apparently means to track or trail wild game . Thus “Followed the game” is SPOORED (5 Down). “Game” had me thinking of sports — particularly the Giants-Cowboys matchup, which was sort of hard to “follow” at times because the power kept going out.

Questions or comments? Tweet me @crosswordkathy.

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