New York Times, Nov. 8

“Colonization” is kind of a loaded word, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this puzzle. Colonies? Aliens? Ants? Alien Ant Farm?

Turns out it was ANTs. Lots of them. Take a common phrase, insert the word “ANT” and — voila! — a cute theme answer. So a¬†“Resident of a military installation?” (25 Across) is a BASE TENANT; an “Online beauty contest?” (108 Across) is a WEB PAGEANT; a “Tropical fruit seller?” (40 Across) is a PLANTAIN DEALER; and “What overuse of a credit card might result in?” (67 Across) is a GIANT BILL.

My favorite, 84 Across (“Gentleman’s intransigent reply?”), is a play on the palindrome “Madam, I’m Adam” — MADAM I’M ADAMANT. I think a hipper clue would have been “New Wave rocker’s reply?” yielding MADAM I’M ADAM ANT. Then again, when you’re using LENA (54 Across, “Singer Horne”) and CARLY (39 ACROSS, “Singer Simon”) in your grid, I’m guessing Adam Ant isn’t in your iTunes library.

I’m grateful that the AL-ER (1 Across, short for “American Leaguer”) was clued as an Oriole and not a dreaded Yankee. As we all know, the Bronx Bombers dethroned my world-champion Phillies earlier this week. But Philly did get a shout-out with 53 Across (“Philadelphia’s Historic Gloria ___ Church”): DEI. Learn more about the church, known as Old Swedes’, by clicking¬†here.

Finally, speaking of ants, there was a bonus critter hidden in 100 Down (“Fidgety”): ANTSY.

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy