Closing Bell

New York Times, Sept. 20

What is the sound of a bell? Rrrrriiiiingggggggg? Ding-dong? That was the question after seeing the title of today’s puzzle. “Closing Bell” indicated to me that the theme answers would all end with the sound of a bell.

At first, I might thought it be “RING.” But then, using crossing words and my utterly useless knowledge that Sun-Maid makes raisins, I figured out the cute answer to 23 Across (“Goal of Sun-Maid’s marketing department?”): RAISIN BRANDING. That’s RAISIN BRAN plus a closing bell — DING!

So after solving one theme answer, I now knew the last four letters of every other one. But the answers themselves were still clever enough to make me smile. (For the record, I think “DING!” is also the Southwest Airlines indication that you are now free to move about the country.)

As a novice yoga enthusiast, I certainly appreciated the GENTLE BENDING of 98 Across (“Exercise for beginning yoga students?”); I also liked LONG TIME NO SEEDING (69 Across, “Reason that nothing’s growing on the farm?”) and GREENS FEEDING (39 Across, “Salad bar activity?”).

Others: AINT WE GOT FUNDING (88 Across, “Question from a campaign committee?”), DRAWING PENDING (120 Across, “Tardy illustrator’s assurance?”) and OF MICE AND MENDING (52 Across, “Book on how to repair rodent damage?”).

I suppose for some the closing bell would indicate the end of school, meaning the puzzle theme might be more appropriate for June instead of September. But for others — Wall Streeters for example — it’s pretty fitting any time of year. Just look at 43 Down (“Closing bell place: Abbr.”): NYSE.

Ring-Dings, anyone?

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy

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