Cross Words

New York Times, Jan. 10

Hola! I just returned from a most excellent vacation (OK, it was a honeymoon!) in Mexico. The weather was colder than it should have been, and the only newspaper available at the resort was USA Today … so that’s why I missed last week’s puzzle. But lucky for me — and for you, dear reader! — the Philadelphia Inquirer gets the syndicated (read: one week late) Sunday NYT puzzles, so I have a copy of “Antique Finish” and will finish and post my thoughts ASAP.

But first let’s take a look at today’s puzzle which, honestly, didn’t really float my boat. “Cross Words” is literally what the theme answers are: two-word phrases that share a middle letter so they can cross each other in the grid, like PLANNED ECONOMY (26 Across, “With 4-Down, alternative to free enterprise”) in the upper left corner:

"Cross words" in the Sunday NYT puzzle

There were several others, including: PARTIAL DENTURE (28 Across, “With 16-Down, certain plate”); PRAIRIE PROVINCES (67 Across, “With 47-Down, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta”); CALCIUM BLOCKER (110 Across, “With 91-Down, hypertension control option”); WEATHER STATION (114 Across, “With 95-Down, meteorological post”); and LUNAR MONTH (55 Across, “With 45-Down, about 29.5 days).

Not a bad concept, but the execution was deadly boring. Partial denture? Really? And weather station? Geez, at least have some fun with it. Puns, maybe, or even rhyming words — something. (One “cross word” did rhyme — LEGAL EAGLE [83 Across/70 Down] — but that was it.)

Other answers that caught my eye: AHORA (56 Down, “Nogales ‘now'”), mostly because of my trip to Mexico and my pitiful command of Spanish; and ALTOONA (23 Across, “Penn State campus site”), one of those beat-up former industrial towns in western Pennsylvania that rarely sees celebrity in The New York Times.

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy

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