What Makes It Itch?

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

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