New York Times, Sept. 27
My brain hurts. But in a good way.
This puzzle squeezes two letters into a single square. That’s not exactly unique, but the twist here is that these letters are meant to be said out loud (“That Is Two Say”).
I had an inkling of the squeeze tactic from the “two” in the title, and the fact that the longest answer in the grid (70 Across, “1873 adventure novel that begins and ends in London”) was one square short for the answer: Around the World in 80 Days. It meant that either “80” was squeezed into one square, or there was some other squeezing going on.
Turns out the answer was AROUND THE WORLD IN (8E) DAYS, where the audible “8-E” is squeezed into one square. This theme was scattered throughout the puzzle, and not necessarily in the longest answers. Take 14 Down, “Casual farewell”: (CU) LATER, for “See you later.”
Among others, there was also POISON (IV) in 108 Across (“It’s not to be touched”); GREEN WITH (NV) in 116 Across (“Jealous”); TOOTH (DK) in 31 Across (“Dental problem”); (KC) JONES in 94 Down (“Driver of the Cannonball Special”); (QP) DOLL in 104 Down (“Carny booth prize”); and TO (XS) — “to excess” — in 67 Down (“How drunks drink”).
But you didn’t need to read the squeezed letters aloud for the crossing answers. Take 14 Across (“Club”), which was (CU)DGEL; 74 Across (“‘Fer-de-Lance’ mystery novelist), which was RE(XS)TOUT; and 93 Across (“Dipstick housing”), which was CRAN(KC)ASE.
I’m going to take issue with a couple of answers, though. In 60 Down (“‘Married … With Children’ actress”), the grid answer is (K8) SAGAL, for “Kate” Sagal. But her name is Katey Sagal, not Kate. The (K8) is also used in 60 Across (“Music compilation marketer”) for the answer (K8)EL, or K-Tel, if you remember those incessant commercials (“All these hit songs for just $19.95 plus shipping and handling!!!”).
I also wasn’t convinced by 55 Down (“Units of fineness”), which uses the (8E) to spell KAR(8E)S. That seems like it would read “karaties” or “karates,” when I think the answer is simply “karats.”
Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy