You Are There

New York Times, July 19

This week’s theme is one for the texters and IMers among us: “You Are There” translates to “UR There” — and boy, are there a lot of URs in this puzzle.

Each theme answer is a common phrase tweaked by the insertion of the letters UR: “Holy matrimony” becomes HOURLY MATRIMONY in 101 Across (“Scheduled activity at a Vegas chapel?”); “sine wave” (remember trigonometry?) becomes URSINE WAVE in 72 Across (“Greeting from Smokey the Bear?”); and “by all accounts” becomes BURY ALL ACCOUNTS in 24 Across (“Corrupt financier’s command?”).

My favorites, though, since I’m a big fan of children’s books were CURRIED WOLF for “cried wolf” in 40 Down (“Triumphant spicy meal for the Three Little Pigs?”) and FURRY COOK for “fry cook” in 30 Across (“Mama Bear at the stove?”).

One clue that made me wince was 15 Down: “Globe : Boston :: ___ : Baltimore.” It refers to the two cities’ daily newspapers (the answer is SUN). But if you’ve been reading about either of those institutions (or newspapers in general), you realize how time sensitive that clue sadly might be.

A side note: Before I wrote this post, I read some tweets indicating this week’s puzzle theme is essentially a repeat of one from Aug. 5. I can understand how that would disappoint some fans. But the concept of inserting a pair of letters into theme answers to create punny phrases is hardly novel; it’s a chestnut repeated often, albeit with different letter combinations. I’m sure this combination (and many others) have been used more than once in the history of the Times puzzle, but as long as the answers themselves are new and clever, I can’t really fault them for using it.

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy

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