Ease-E Does It

New York Times, Feb. 28

Blame Canada!

Hard to focus on crosswords after that hockey game, but I’ll give it a shot.

Today’s title was pretty much a giveaway, implying that the theme answers would be common phrases with an extra “E” in them. It ended up being a slight twist on that — instead of adding an E, they substituted it: A “Buck’s candid conversation opener?” is FRANKLY MY DEER (15 Down); a “Bit of advice when packing anglers’ lunches?” is REEL MEN DON’T EAT QUICHE (103 Down); a “Dating service in a northern German city?” is HAMBURGER MEET; to “Summer next door to the nudist camp?” is — ewww! — PEEK SEASON (55 Across); “The point when Fido’s master starts walking?” is A TIME TO HEEL (90 Across); “What a pursued perp might do?” is FLEE COLLAR (71 Across); and, in what I thought a rather weak one, an “Item at a golf boutique” is an AROMATIC TEE (36 Across).

Lastly, I just got back from a honeymoon two months ago and yet that clue — 22 Across, “Inappropriate on a honeymoon?” — stumped me the longest. Not for the faint of heart? Meek of heart? Oh, geez. NOT FOR THE WEEK OF HEART. (I was even gone a week, too!)

Of note: 96 Across, “City near Bethlehem” — EASTON — is a Pennsylvania reference, not a Biblical one. Easton, a couple hours north of Philadelphia on the Delaware River, is the home of champion boxer Larry Holmes (and the site of major flooding a few summers ago, which I was sent to cover). CAMELEERS (87 Across “Desert drivers”) is not a word I’ve ever come across, while SCALERS (56 Down, “Dental hygienists, at times”) is not something I’ve ever associated with dental hygienists. Is it because I’ve never had a cavity?

A few more: 100 Down, “Prefix with mom” — OCTO — gets major points for currency. I’ve never thought of a “Scoundrel” as a SO AND SO (44 Down), but I guess in mixed company that would work. And rare is the day that it’s Pia’s last name, not her first, that makes a grid — ZADORA (61 Across, “‘Butterfly’ actress, 1981”)

Finally, what a great quote: “Imitation is the sincerest form of television” (40 Across). The speaker? FRED ALLEN.

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy

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