New York Times, March 28
What makes “it” itch? Well, “ch” of course.
The theme answers in this puzzle are common phrases tweaked by the addition of a CH — like 16 Down’s “Hit below the belt?”: MAKE A BAD PUNCH.
Others: A “Problem for a crane operator?” is a NO WINCH SITUATION (23 Across); an “Exceptional soldier on his only tour?” is a ONE HITCH WONDER (38 Across); “What kind, decent people wear?” is MENSCH FASHION (68 Across, on the eve of Passover, no less!); “Hidden help for one who’s trying to quit smoking?” is a PATCH ON THE BACK (98 Across); “Instruction #1 for roofers?” is GET A LOAD OF THATCH (117 Across); and a “Really angry group?” is a HOT CROSS BUNCH (56 Down).
Not a whole lot else stood out for me in this grid, to tell the truth. Michael Douglas might want to frame a finished puzzle, seeing as how wife (Catherine) ZETA JONES is the answer to 9 Down (“Academy Award winner for ‘Chicago,’ 2002”) — a fun entry. Had never heard of an AGIO, a “Currency exchange premium” (8 Down), despite the fact I’ve apparently paid one more times than I can count. I just thought it was called a sucker’s fee.
Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy